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Estonia’s notaries use online verification provided by a local startup to keep working during the COVID-19 situation

Estonia’s notaries keep working during the emergency situation: while a lot of their work is done using online verification provided by one of Estonia's leading startups, the online identity verification company Veriff, some physical offices remain open.

Though Estonia’s government declared an emergency situation on March 12, notaries are allowed to keep working in their physical offices as long as they keep in mind the safety of their clients and the notary offices’ employees. However, by now a lot of the notaries’ work is already done online.

According to the head of the Chamber of Notaries Merle Saar-Johanson, it is clear that the current situation affects Estonia’s notaries but access to the notary service has to be provided even during an emergency situation. “Already last Monday, we decided that notaries have the right to decide for themselves if they wish to keep their physical offices open or start working online,” Saar-Johanson noted.

“We recommend our clients to use our new self-service platform and – if possible – take advantage of the distance verification that allows all transactions to be made using an online video connection.” An electronic ID issued in Estonia is needed – such as an ID card, mobile ID, digital ID or e-Residency and the range of services provided is limited – meaning that for example marriages still cannot be registered online.

The verification service is provided by one of Estonia’s startup success stories, Veriff. In February when the service was first launched, it was in use to provide verification for Estonia’s numerous e-residents, technology portal DigiPro writes. Now the newly-built service has come to the aid of Estonia’s residents in need of conducting notarial transactions.

The founder of the online verification provider Veriff, Kaarel Kotkas, told the technology portal that wider use of the service is expected because of the emergency situation. “During the current situation when face-to-face communication is kept to an absolute minimum, distance-verification becomes more important and online identity verification is just the solution to be used,” he noted.

According to Saar-Johanson, the use of online verification instead of a physical visit to a notary is growing rapidly. If, however, a physical visit is needed during the next weeks, it is recommended that only people directly needed for the transaction attend and third parties such as realtors or family members of the parties do not. Special measures are in use – for example, changing paper copies of documuments is kept to a minimum. People who have arrived in Estonia from abroad during the two past weeks prior to a planned visit are not allowed to physically visit the notaries’ offices.

Developing the cooperation with the state of Estonia is not the only large-scale step that Veriff has taken to help during the COVID-19. The company recently announced that 1 million verifications will be donated to the world in crisis. Non-profit organizations across the world can apply on their webpage to use Veriff’s services free of charge.

In fact, Estonia can be invested in completely digitally . If you wish to know more about investing or doing business in Estonia, please use our e-Consulting service.

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