Live Enrollment for Identity Documents in Europe: The Cases of Sweden, Norway, Kosovo, and Estonia

Research paper by Tarmo Kalvet, Henrik Karlzén, Amund Hunstad, Marek Tiits

Indexed on: 23 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: eJournal of eDemocracy and Open Government


Digital image alterations (morphing) of identity document photos is a major concern, and may potentially allow citizens with malicious intent to enroll for identity document(s) later in order to be used by another individual. Taking the photo in the application office —live enrollment —can address this issue. However, this is a break with tradition and entails a sizeable overhaul in the public sector, which can be reluctant to change and often lacks the necessary formal methods that ensure a smooth transition. The objective of this paper is to map the main barriers and drivers related to live enrollment based on theoretical research and interviews conducted with high-ranking officers at passport authorities in Estonia, Kosovo, Norway, and Sweden. These countries have successfully switched to live enrollment. The main motivation for live enrollment has been increased security; for Estonia, user convenience was important and was behind the decision of keeping alternative application processes for the citizens. The absence of legacy systems makes it easier to implement public sector innovations, such as live enrollment. Behind the successful implementation is proper risk management: covering technological, political, and organizational risks. Finally, the research results indicate varying experiences, obstacles, cultural differences, and trade-offs, while emphasizing the need to understand barriers and drivers in a contextualized way.