You may have seen this logo (left) at Aalborg Kommune’s Borgerservice on Rantzausgade. Or at the library. Or at yet another location that offers public services. It is part of a campaign to alert people that mail from the kommune, SKAT, health service, Danish government and other public authorities is set to go completely digital on 1 November of this year and you will need to be set up to receive that mail or risk missing important notices, bills, and other correspondence. Moreover, you can also receive mail from private companies such as banks, pension firms, utilities, and others through your digital postbox.
Denmark is the first country in Europe to make digital correspondence between citizen and the state mandatory. Recognizing that the majority of citizens are online and that many already access government services online, e.g. to check their tax statements on skat.dk, look up rules about maternity leave, etc., government leaders decided to take the next logical step and require all residents with a CPR number who are 15 years and older to set up a digital mailbox in order to correspond with public authorities. The initiative is the first part of the government’s 12-prong eGovernment Strategy 2011-2015, titled The Digital Path to Future Welfare. By eliminating paper mail and shifting to digital correspondence, the government and regional and municipal authorities hope to save taxpayers up to DKK 400 million per year.
So what do you need to know in order to set up your digital mailbox?
- First, you need NemID. If you have a bank account in Denmark and money from an employer or public authority is deposited in your account, you already have NemID. (It’s what you need to sign into online banking, too.) Please note that if you are able to access your account online using NemID but find that you cannot access your information via public authorities, you will need to attach a public digital signature to your NemID in order to do so. [This happened to me. I had been using my NemID to check my bank account online periodically but when I visited the JobCenter to register as ‘seeking work’, I could not log in using my NemID. As my Danish was quite poor at that point, a kind staff member called the kommune and asked why that was and they told him that I needed to set up my public digital signature in order to access any public services via NemID. You can do this online here or visit Borgerservice in person.] If you do NOT have NemID, however, you can read more about it and sign up here. You will also need the latest version of Java on your computer; NemID sign in only works with the most recent version, which is updated periodically.
- Second, armed with your NemID and public digital signature, you can register to access your digital mailbox either through borger.dk or e-boks.dk. In fact, it is e-Boks.dk that runs the Digital Post system in Denmark but you, as an individual, can access your digital mailbox through either site. And voilà! You’re set up to send and receive mail from the government, regional and municipal authorities, SKAT, as well as correspondence from your bank, internet provider, insurance company, etc. if you so choose.
The Digital Post system is easy to use once you set up your mailbox; it operates like many email services with a simple interface. You can also sign up to receive notifications via email and/or SMS when you receive mail in your digital mailbox to ensure that you do not miss any important correspondence.
The Danish government recognizes that some people will have difficulty accessing and/or using mail electronically. Therefore, they have enlisted the help of other organizations, e.g. local libraries, Ældre Sagen, Danske Seniorer, Telecentre-Danmark, adult continuing education programs (AOF, DOF, FOF, LOF, NETOP), and Faglige Seniorer, to assist people (the elderly, in particular) with learning how to use the Internet and Digital Post. You can also give a family member access to your account and request that they read your mail on a regular basis. In addition, you may qualify for an exemption if you:
- do not have access to a computer with adequate Internet connection in your place of residence
- have a physical or cognitive disability that prevents you from receiving digital mail
- are registered as having left Denmark (and are thus not covered under the law; see Udlandansker under Hjælp og Fritagelse here)
- are homeless
- have language difficulties
- have practical difficulties in obtaining NemID
However, in order to qualify to be exempt from the requirement to register for Digital Post, you must visit Borgerservice, sign a form indicating which of the exemptions applies to you, and show identification. [Please note: even if you qualify for one of the exemptions, notifications about state-paid salaries and state education support (SU) payments will only be made digitally; contact the SU authorities about the latter if you wish to be exempt from receiving SU-related correspondence by Digital Post.] Many of the exemptions will be temporary; it is expected that language barriers and access to Internet, for example, can be overcome. Therefore, such exemptions will only apply from the date you register for the exemption until 1 November of the second calendar year after registration. Permanent exemptions, such as a disability, dementia, etc., will be recognized as such by the public authorities.