Estonia’s Efficient Construction Permit Process: A Digital Success Story

Estonia’s digital success story continues with its efficient construction permit application process. The average time taken to get a building permit in Estonia is just 31 days, a stark contrast to the 246 days it takes in the Czech Republic. Taavi Jakobson, the spokesperson for Estonia’s building authority, shared this information. 98% of all applications are processed online via an electronic building portal.

Estonia’s Ministry of Climate oversees the building authority and has set a target to streamline the process further. They aim to reduce the processing time to 30 days, in line with the legal limit for handling construction permit applications. According to Jakobson, the current average processing time in 2023 is 31 days, six days less than in 2022.

This improvement was mainly achieved by reducing bureaucracy and increasing transparency. The local authorities eliminated many unnecessary operations from the process and made almost the entire process accessible to all citizens online. This electronic system checks applications automatically and returns incomplete applications to the applicant. Thanks to these factors, the average processing time has been reduced by almost a week.

In the Czech Republic, obtaining a building permit is much longer. Under the old building law (SSZ), the average processing time is 246 days. However, the new building law (NSZ), which comes into effect on 1 January 2024, is expected to shorten this period. The NSZ simplifies and speeds up the process by only leading one procedure instead of the current two.

While the Czech Republic is yet to introduce the option of electronic submission for construction permits, Jakobson shared that 98% of all applications in Estonia are submitted electronically. The only difference between personal and electronic submission at the office is the time it takes – the electronic method is faster. This story is a testament to how Estonia continues to lead the way in digital governance, setting a benchmark for other countries to follow.