There are two laws related to the ID-card, indicating the two directions of work during the creation and application phases of the ID-card idea. The Identity Documents Act establishes the essence and general requirements to new kind of identity documents, whereas the Digital Signatures Act describes the requirements, definitions and services relating to the digital part of the ID-card.
The Identity Documents Act (IDA) was passed on 15 February 1999 and it entered into force on 1 January 2000. The law prescribed a mandatory identity document to all citizens of Estonia as well as to all aliens permanently residing in the country since 1 January 2002. The identity card was meant for internal use only as a travel document was still needed for travelling abroad.
Several other regulations of the Government relate to issuing ID-cards as well as the data on the cards:
- “List of proofs and data to be submitted upon application for issue of an identity card, a passport of a citizen of Estonia, a seafarer's discharge book, an alien’s passport, a temporary travel document, a travel document for refugee or a certificate of record of service on Estonian ships as well as due dates for issue of such documents” (read from here)
- “Establishment of Format and Technical Description of Identity Card and List of Data Entered on Identity Card and Determination of Period of Validity of Digital Data Entered on Identity Card” (read from here)
Preparation of the Digital Signatures Act (DSA) began already in March 1997 when a respective work group was established in the Informatics Centre. The work turned out to be rather time consuming and the Riigikogu passed the law only on 9 March 2001.
The DSA laid down the establishment of the State Register of Certificates (SRC) under the Ministry of Transport and Communications from 15 December 2000. The SRC that was run by the Communications Board became operational in February 2001.
The directive 1999/93/EC “On a Community Framework for Electronic Signatures” of the European Union determines the requirements for digital signatures and providers of certification services. The directive describes several categories of certification and digital signing. The ID-card, the certification activities of AS Sertifitseerimiskeskus and signatures issued by way of the ID-card comply with the directive’s category with the highest requirements (advanced electronic signature, secure-signature-creation device, qualified certificate, certification-service-provider issuing qualified certificates).
On 15 July 2003, the European Commission published reference numbers of generally recognised standards for electronic signature in the Official Journal of the European Union.