The Finnish eID card, introduced in 1999, was the first-ever operational national eID scheme.
In June 2003, The Population Register Centre announced a chip upgrade to the national ID 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.
A combined ID and health card
In June 2004, the combined electronic ID/health insurance card was launched. Finnish citizens can request to have their health insurance data included in their electronic ID card, 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.
Thales has been providing its eID cards for the Finnish eID cards since 2004.
Each polycarbonate smart card, based on JavaTM technology, is developed and manufactured by Thales in Finland. Issuance solutions and enrolment systems are being used for issuance at Thales' site in Vantaa, near Helsinki.
The second card generation, available from June 2005, is based on its MultiApp ID, a more powerful 64K Java-based smart card developed by Thales.
A new ID card design for 2017
The new ID card design has been revealed to the public at the end of 2016. It now is being rolled out as of January 2017.
The new ID forms part of the program "celebrating Finland's 100th anniversary": the Finland 100 jubilee logo is UV printed on the identity card.
The national ID card is voluntary in Finland. It 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 a passport in several European countries, and it can also be combined with the Health Insurance Card.
From the beginning of 2017, there is a new and even more convenient process of applying for and collecting passports and IDs. Citizens can now benefit from a nationwide network of 700 trusted retail outlets and delivery points.
Partnership with Estonia
According to Postimees of 25 June 2017, Estonia and Finland will be the first two nations in Europe to develop a joint data exchange platform to make electronic services mutually accessible for inhabitants by the end of the year.
The system will support both Estonian and Finnish ID-cards. Electronic signatures are already officially recognized by both countries.
Finland is also pressing for the swifter introduction of an electronic ID card which would work in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden as part of the government’s digitalisation initiatives, as reported by Euractiv web site in January 2020.