As of 01.02.2020, Estonian citizens abroad and Estonian e-residents do not have to come to Estonia or use an authorized representative to perform certain notarial acts and transactions. After the completion of the IT developments, paperless remote verification via a video bridge will be possible in cooperation with Estonian notaries and foreign missions.
When is it possible to verify remotely?
With remote verification, it will be possible to carry out transfer or pledge transactions of a share of a company and certify and revoke a power of attorney. In addition, it will also be possible to initiate succession proceedings, accept or waive the inheritance, and file for marriage and divorce.
A participant in a remote verification transaction must have an identity card of the Republic of Estonia, a digital identity card, or an e-resident’s digital identity card. Unfortunately, digital authentication cannot be performed with digital documents from other countries.
For example, Estonian citizen Sofia and Swedish citizen Karl, who is an Estonian e-resident and who both live in Sweden, want to get married in Estonia. In order to submit a joint marriage application, they no longer have to come to Estonia in person, but can book an appointment at the nearest foreign mission of the Republic of Estonia.
In the foreign mission, the identities of Sofia and Karl are verified and an encrypted video bridge with a notary located in Estonia is created using special hardware. Sofia and Karl log in to a special program and sign the marriage application with an ID card. In addition, Sofia and Karl must submit documents regarding the absence of circumstances hindering the contraction of marriage to the notary.
The act is considered to have been performed in the presence of a notary in Estonia – making it possible to swiftly “teleport” to Estonia and back.
What are the costs involved?
Remote verification involves a state fee of 30 euros and a notary fee which is 20 euros higher than the usual notary fee. Depending on the location of the participant in the transaction, i.e. the distance from the nearest foreign mission providing the service, this can mean significant time and financial savings compared to the costs that would be involved in traveling to Estonia.
When using the technology, one must be prepared for technical failures – if the internet connection is poor or the video connection is being interrupted, the notary may interrupt the transaction if he or she is not sure of the identity of the participant or the will of the person cannot be established.
Although the capacity to implement remote verification is currently available in 33 foreign missions, remote verification will initially be tested only in the foreign missions of the Republic of Estonia in Helsinki, New Delhi, and Stockholm. Hopefully, the success of the project and sufficient demand for the remote verification service will gradually make it available in all foreign missions of Estonia.
This would simplify the administration of Estonian citizens and e-residents living abroad and would motivate more foreigners to apply for e-residency, as well as attract necessary investments to Estonia.