Use of confidential data for scientific purposes

Legal persons and organisations can use for research confidential data held by Statistics Estonia. The data can be used remotely in research environment.

Submit an application for the use of confidential data here:

Apply for data

A more detailed description of processing the application and data use conditions can be found in the standard “Procedure for the dissemination of confidential data for scientific purposes".

Processing of personal data of special categories is also subject to authorisation by the ethics committee and/or the Data Protection Inspectorate. An application for authorisation must be made to the ethics committee in the scientific area. More information on the criteria for applying for authorisation is available on the website of the Data Protection Inspectorate

Find the metadata of Statistics Estonia’s surveys.

Guidelines for using confidential data

Conditions for granting an application

The party entering into a contract is a legal representative of a legal person. 

The study has a scientific or statistical purpose. In the case of studies concerning personal data, the applicant shall obtain permission from the Data Protection Inspectorate (AKI) prior to the decision of the Confidentiality Council.

  • If a study conducted for policy-making purposes uses personal data for which queries to other databases or registers are required, permission shall be sought from AKI. See (in Estonian).

  • If a study is conducted using special categories of personal data, permission from the ethics committee in the relevant scientific field is required. If there is no ethics committees in this field of research, permission shall be sought from AKI. 

Permission of AKI is not required if anonymised data are used in the study or if the persons participating in the study have given their consent to the processing of data.

Term for review of application

Statistics Estonia will notify of the approval of the application within 15 work days. If the application cannot be approved because of insufficiencies in the data submitted, Statistics Estonia will contact the applicant within two work days in order to specify the details.

Prices of contract work

The person requesting confidential data shall pay for the processing of the application and, if necessary, for the preparation of data. The use of confidential data on a secure workstation is free of charge.

Contract work price list can be viewed here.

Frequently asked questions on applications involving special categories of personal data

  • How are the necessary personal data made available to the researcher?

    There are several possibilities. Usually, Statistics Estonia prepares the requested data (obtained from various registers pursuant to the Official Statistics Act) for analysis. The prepared data can be accessed over VPN via Statistics Estonia’s secure workstation, unless agreed otherwise with the customer (see the procedure for the use of confidential data).

    When do I need permission from the ethics committee? When do I need permission from the Data Protection Inspectorate?

    The Personal Data Protection Act specifies when permission is needed for the use of data for research. The permission is granted either by the ethics committee of the relevant scientific field or by the Data Protection Inspectorate. In certain cases, it is necessary to get permission both from the ethics committee and the Data Protection Inspectorate. This concerns studies carried out for policy development that involve special categories of personal data. 

    Permission from the Data Protection Inspectorate is required for research that involves the processing of special categories of personal data and that is carried out in a domain without a dedicated ethics committee. Research using non-sensitive personal data does not require permission from the Data Protection Inspectorate or from the ethics committee.

    If the research involves special categories of personal data and the relevant scientific field has its own ethics committee, the researcher must obtain permission from the ethics committee.

    More information about the conditions and requirements concerning the use of personal data is available on the Data Protection Inspectorate’s website (in Estonian).

    What is the process of transferring personal data from the source to the researcher?

    We use different solutions, depending on the nature of the research project.

    Example. An organisation submits an application to Statistics Estonia with the project numbers and the list of requested data. Statistics Estonia prepares a pseudonymised dataset accessible via the data processing environment. The researcher can use the prepared dataset for statistical processing, in accordance with subsection 6 (1) of the Personal Data Protection Act and with the purpose specified in the initial application.

    The applicant informs Statistics Estonia of the types of data needed. The data pseudonymised by Statistics Estonia can be processed in Statistics Estonia’s environment. The processing is done by the applicant’s authorised representative, and aggregated data can be exported from Statistics Estonia’s environment after processing. Importantly, data can be exported from the secure environment only in aggregated format which prevents the identification of individual data subjects. When preparing the datasets for analysis, Statistics Estonia applies statistical disclosure control. Statistics Estonia always signs a confidentiality agreement with the organisation and with all authorised users from the organisation.

    It is important to consider which register datasets are combined. Statistics Estonia has pseudonymised data. The pseudonymisation of personal data is usually carried out by Statistics Estonia.

    How are research data preserved by Statistics Estonia?

    The personal data aggregated for analysis (in a pseudonymised format) can only be processed in Statistics Estonia’s data processing environment, and users can only export aggregated data after Statistics Estonia’s approval.

    The data prepared for a specific project are preserved for the period agreed in the contract. Metadata required for the production of official statistics by Statistics Estonia are preserved in accordance with Statistics Estonia’s document management policy.

    As a rule, Statistics Estonia preserves the code keys used for pseudonymisation.