Digital Signature Across Borders


Establishing a company in a foreign country usually proves to be a very difficult and cumbersome process (especially for SMEs). In order to overcome at least some of the obstacles on the way – Portugal and Estonia started an innovative co-operation process in order to allow online cross-border establishment of companies in either Portugal or Estonia by using qualified electronic signatures of both countries. Both countries have established electronic company registration – ‘Portal da Empresa‘ and ‘Ettevõtjaportaal’ (CReP) are equally recognized as best-practice all over Europe. Also secure authentication using eID has been established in Estonia as well as in Portugal. Today, we have come to the point that it is now possible for the holders of Estonian electronic signature to start a business in Portugal and vice versa without leaving their homes – i.e. one does not need to travel to the other country any more. All one needs is a computer, ID-card and valid PIN passwords that come with the ID-card to sign the application digitally. The whole project has been carried out in very business friendly solution in two languages (Estonian , English; Portuguese, English).

The result of Cross-border digital signature project is: The Company Registration Portal in Estonia accepts Portuguese, Finnish, Belgian and Lithuanian citizen and entrepreneurs e-applications to start a private limited company and later send annual reports. In May 2009 we had our first cross-border establishment of a Private limited company with Finnish digital signatures. All the applications are signed with qualified digital signature by using national ID-cards.


Ingmar Vali is Head of the Court Registers Department at the Center of Registers and Information Systems (RIK). RIK is a state agency working under the Ministry of Justice. RIK’s main goal is to provide an innovative and integrated environment of e-services for the more efficient implementation of governmental administration, law and criminal jurisdiction.