Recently, the Civil Registry Law of 2002 (L.141 (I) 2002) has been amended, to introduce provisions on the electronic identity card (“EID”). More specifically, chapter three of the Civil Registry Law establishes the legal framework governing the EID matters. The new EID was created to help individuals to prove and verify themselves, without visiting the competent authorities and/or departments in person. EID users will therefore gain access to the Government’s online services, by purely using their EID.
An example of the use of the EID in private sector would be that of the banking services, where an interested party will be able to use the EID when applying for a bank loan, without having to visit the commercial establishments of the bank. Although this constitutes a common practice abroad, Cyprus authorities have not yet adopted the use of the EID in online services sector. Hence, the Government has initiated the proceedings for establishing the EID regime in Cyprus.
What is an EID?
An EID is a digital ID that can be used in the place of an ID card and can be stored digitally. EID is particularly useful for individuals who wish to prove and verify their identity electronically and gain access to various online services, offered both in public and private sector, in Cyprus and across the European Union (“EU”).
The purpose of the EID
The purpose of the EID is to provide a safe and convenient way to individuals to prove and verify their identity online, every time they access a public or a private service. Therefore, individuals will be able to arrange any outstanding obligations they might have electronically anywhere in the world, at any given time, without having to visit in person the competent department/authority. EID is therefore equivalent to an identity card and is considered as a valid, safe, and reliable method to access online services.
It is worth noting that the electronic identity card is recognized in all Member States, so EU citizens can use the EID for identification purposes anywhere in the territory of the EU. One of the reasons that EU decided to adopt the concept of an EID is to eliminate the leak of personal data, especially during the sign up procedure on social networks and websites. In a few years’ time, EID will be used in such a way that users will no longer need to provide their personal details and data to every website that they are signing up and creating an account.
Who is eligible for electronic identity?
According to article 65A of the Civil Registry Law, a person who satisfies the following criteria has the right to apply for an EID in the Republic of Cyprus:
- Has a Cypriot citizenship
- Is over 18 (eighteen) years old
- Holds a valid biometric ID card issued by the Republic of Cyprus
- Does not hold any other valid EID
How can I apply for Electronic Identity?
According to the decree issued by the Ministry of Interior on the basis of article 65G of the Civil Registry Law, the application for the issuance of an EID can be submitted either electronically or in person, by visiting the premises of the EID provider. It must be noted that the EID provider will be a private company, which would be in charge for the operation of the authentication and verification procedure of the EID applicants. The name of the EID provider is yet to be announced.
The EID provider will double check the applicants’ details and if they are valid and verified, it will then communicate with the officer in charge from the Civil Registry Department. The latter will approve or reject the application and he/she shall inform the EID provider accordingly. It should be noted that the whole procedure for the issuance and renewal of an EID will take up to five (5) working days from the date of the submission of the relevant application. According to article 65A (7) of the Civil Registry Law, EID will be valid for three (3) years. The holder of an EID also has the right to renew his/her EID before its expiration date. The EID can be suspended or revoked, where deemed necessary.