eID in Finland: Nordic pioneers

The Finnish eID card, introduced in 1999, was the first ever operational national eID scheme.

In June 2003, The Population Register Centre announces a chip upgrade to the country's eID card to enable the use of fully functional digital signatures instead of the current "citizen certificate". The upgrade to the card allows citizens to carry out secure transactions with public authorities, businesses and other service providers via the Internet and through mobile devices.

In June 2004 the combined electronic ID/health insurance card was launched. Finnish citizens have the possibility to request to have their health insurance data included in their electronic ID card, with a view to carry one card instead of two. Citizens deciding to include their health insurance data in their electronic ID card no longer have to carry the health insurance card issued by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

Gemalto has been providing Sealys eID cards for the Finnish eID cards since 2004. Each polycarbonate smart card, based on JavaTM technology, is developed and manufactured by Gemalto in Finland. Coesys Issuance solutions and Coesys Enrolment are being used for issuance as well in Gemalto’s site in Vantaa, near Helsinki.

The second card generation, available from June 2005, is based on Sealys MultiApp ID, a more powerful 64K Java-based smart card developed by Gemalto.

The eID card is voluntary in Finland, is issued by the Finnish police authorities and is valid for five years. As with the previous version, this eID card can also be used as an official travel document instead of passport in several European countries, and it can also be combined with the Health Insurance Card.