Are current ‘life certificate’-methods up to date?

11 juli 2023

When residing abroad as a British citizen, the so-called ‘life certificate’ holds significant importance in various financial procedures, including pension payments, benefits, and insurance payouts. Individuals are required to provide evidence of their continued existence. This can be accomplished through different means, such as sending a letter, email, or visiting an embassy or consulate in person. However, in a world where digital interactions are becoming increasingly prevalent, it begs the question of whether these methods are still up to date and user-friendly enough. 
Firstly, sending a letter or email is quite a cumbersome process, not to mention the associated risks. You need to print out forms obtained from your pension provider, for instance, and manually fill them out. These completed forms are then sent back to the pension provider by mail. When sending a letter from abroad, it can take a significant amount of time for it to reach its destination. Additionally, there is a risk that the letter might not arrive at all. This risk applies not only to letters but also to emails. Consequently, this leads to additional administrative burdens and does not contribute to a positive customer experience. 
In certain cases, you may be required to visit an embassy or consulate in person to have a form signed for your life certificate. This necessitates physical presence and can be both time-consuming and costly, especially if there is no nearby embassy or consulate. Moreover, this task can be particularly challenging for individuals with mobility issues. Anyone who has been to an embassy knows that long waiting times and limited visiting hours are often the norm. In summary, it is unnecessarily inconvenient. 
An improved option would be to submit the necessary forms online, preferably through a dedicated portal provided by the relevant institution. Unfortunately, this frequently entails having a form completed by a third party, such as an embassy or consulate, which does not simplify matters. 
Fortunately, there are alternative online methods available. For instance, a person can prove their existence by submitting a scan of their identification document along with a selfie. This is a quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive approach. Moreover, it offers increased security since physical document transfer or local storage is no longer necessary. 
Consider, for example, an online portal optimized for smartphone use, which facilitates a simple and straightforward process. By sending an invitation link to the portal via their phone, individuals can complete all the required steps: taking a photo of their ID, capturing a selfie for verification, and updating any additional information, such as their current address. There is no need to visit other agencies or switch devices in the process. Furthermore, each step can be accompanied by clear instructions. In the unlikely event that assistance is required, having a readily available help desk to support customers is convenient. 
It is evident that traditional "proof of life" methods are no longer entirely in sync with our current times. Delivering the necessary documentation digitally is faster, easier, cheaper, and more secure. However, the adoption of these methods may pose a challenge for some clients. Therefore, it is important not to completely abandon traditional methods but rather allow for the coexistence of traditional and modern approaches, at least for now. 
What about your organization? Are you already assisting your clients in making this process as seamless as possible?