Finnish identity card

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The front and reverse of a Finnish identity card

The Finnish identity card (Finnish: henkilökortti / Swedish: identitetskort) is one of two official identity documents in Finland, the other being the Finnish passport. Any citizen can get an identification card. It is available as an electronic ID card (Finnish: sähköinen henkilökortti; Swedish: elektroniskt identitetskort), which enables logging into certain government services on the Internet. ID card is applied at a police station and it is issued by the police.

Possession of an ID card or any ID document is non-compulsory in Finland, though interactions with officials and companies, like voting, picking up a parcel from Itella offices or buying alcohol when a salesperson suspects buyer to be under 18 or 20 years old, can be difficult or impossible without an ID card, a passport or a driving licence.

Driving licenses and KELA (social security) cards with a photo are also widely used for general identification purposes even though they are not officially recognized as such. However, KELA has ended the practice of issuing social security cards with the photograph of the bearer, while it has become possible to embed the social security information onto the national ID card.

Electronic ID Card[edit]

The electronic card was introduced in 1999 and the current version, which is valid for 5 years, was introduced in 2003.[1] All issued ID cards nowadays are electronic with the exception of card for minors and temporary cards.

It was initially planned as a general network authentication device for both public and private sector strong authentication needs. In 2009, however, the card was viewed by a government committee as a failure. There has been less than 300000 cards around by 2011 out of population of 5.3 million. The rationale to apply for a card has mostly been traveling abroad. Only few dozen government services have adopted it, and only one bank adopted it as login card to their netbank. All banks in Finland use a national standard called TUPAS, which uses one-time passwords. Banks also provide TUPAS authentication to other Internet-enabled businesses. Since TUPAS requires no dedicated hardware, cost of a card reader and card itself have been main causes in the failure of the eID card.

Also the card itself is quite expensive, 51 € in 2011.[2] Earlier cost for a passport of the same 5 year validity period was the same as the cost of an ID card. In 2011 passport is only 2 € more expensive. Thus pricing and validity period have also been too close to passport and have offered no benefits compared to passport with the exception of being easier to carry in a wallet or a handbag.

Though most of the Finnish traveling abroad is to EU-countries and other ID card accepting countries, the situation is actually quite mixed when considering neighboring countries: Russia requires a passport and a visa, Estonia requires ID card or passport and in Sweden and Norway even a driving licence is enough. This and growing popularity of long-distance travel to passport-requiring countries are against applying for an ID card, since either a passport has to be acquired or even a driving licence is enough.

In domestic non-electronic identification the driving licence has remained in a leading position, since most of the population have to have a licence anyway, and a driving licence is valid for almost every situation where non-electronic personal identification is needed.

In 2009 a committee recommended discontinuation of eID card. The card and certification service development and maintenance costs were listed as being excessive compared to limited use the card had seen.[3] However, as of 2011 no action has been taken regarding the card or the citizen certificate. Finnish eID card experience, which is based on voluntary adoption and users-pay-full-costs-of-the-cards model, has proven to be a very different experience when compared to for example neighboring Estonian card.

See also[edit]

References[edit]