E-Residency in Estonia
E-Residency gives foreigners the ability to apply for a digital residency in Estonia even if they don't actually live there.
When a person signs up for Estonian e-Residency, this person receives a government-issued smart ID card that provides digital identification. Person can digitally sign important documents, access secure services and make secure transactions - even if a person doesn't live in Estonia.
E-Residency allows an Indian entrepreneur to establish an Estonian company from Singapore to serve clients based in Italy. He'd also be able to use his digital signature to sign contracts throughout the EU. All would be done online remotely.
How does it work?
E-Residents are given ID card that contains special chip. This card enables them to use Estonian public and private sector services, sign documents and encrypt files remotely.
The program has become a success story all over the world. Media outlets swarmed as soon as the program started allowing people to be notified of an official launch. Within hours, people in different countries signed up for a notification. Then more than 6 000 people applied.
Some of the world's biggest names are among the list of Estonian e-Residents like Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki, and Timothy Draper from the venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
E-Residency is a new concept. Idea of a government-issued digital ID card is not. Estonians have been using these cards for a long time. Since Estonia is often called e-Estonia because of technological advances, it made sense to expand this ID service to the rest of the world. By extending every public and private sector transaction to people in other countries, Estonia created a long-term value in the idea of secure digital identities.
The main goal of the e-Residency is to make life and business easier for freelancers, digital nomads, business owners, international partners, and any other non-residents. If a person want to start a business, expand business, make investments or study in the EU - Estonian e-Residency makes it simple.
e-Resident is be able to:
- Create and run a company online
- Conduct banking online
- Access international payment service providers
- Digitally sign documents
- Verify the authenticity of documents
- Encrypt documents securely
- Declare taxes online
Benefits of E-Residency in Estonia
A person will be able to digitally identify himself - a person can digitally sign documents, authenticate documents, and encrypt documents for three years. A person will be able to enjoy all of the convenience that Estonian residents have been taking advantage of.
A personal Estonian e-Residency card is not a physical ID card - it can't be used for travel. E-Residency will not grant a person citizenship, tax residency, residence permit or entry into Estonia or the rest of the European Union.
But why would a person want to run a personal business in Estonia?
Person will benefit greatly from switching a business to a country with minimal bureaucracy, fewer administrative hassles, and an infrastructure that is easy to use remotely.
Specifically, a person will get:
- A presence in the EU market
- Access to international payments providers
- A trusted and transparent business entity
- Access to a simple and fair tax system
- Full remote control
- Paperless administration
- Digital signature and encryption
In a world where businesses, people and money can move with relative ease, having a competitive tax code has become even more important to economic success. Estonia has the most competitive tax system in the OECD and shares a place at the top of list for Internet Freedom.
Estonia has a unique income tax where corporate tax is charged on profit distribution only, and is capped at 20%. As long as a person keeps profits within the company, a person will not have to pay any corporate income tax.
All a person has to do is to fill out the online application. Then Estonian Police and Border Guard will do a background check. Once a personal application is approved, a person will choose where to pick up a digital ID card. A person can select one of the 38 Estonian embassies and consulates around the world.
Once a digital ID card arrives at pickup location a person will need to show valid travel documents for a country of nationality and submit fingerprints for verification.
The whole process should take to four weeks, depending on the location and the number of waiting applicants.