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Estonia E-Residency 101

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In a recent panel discussion on E-commerce and the services Industries held in Barbados, the concept of e-Residency was raised by Mr. Jeremy Stephen, one of the panelist. The concept seemed interesting so we went about finding some more information on the subject.
E-residency is a transnational digital identity available to anyone in the world interested in administering a location-independent business online. e-Residency additionally enables secure and convenient digital services that facilitate credibility and trust online.
e-Residency is not related to citizenship and does not give the right to enter or reside in Estonia.
The Republic of Estonia is the first country to offer e-Residency — non-residents can gain a secure digital identity (ID card) issued by Estonia. This enables them to use the services provided by Estonian state agencies and private sector.

Benefits Of E-Residency

e-Residents can:

  • Digitally sign documents and contracts
  • Verify the authenticity of signed documents
  • Encrypt and transmit documents securely
  • Establish an Estonian company online.
  • Administer the company from anywhere in the world.
  • Conduct e-banking and remote money transfers.
  • Access online payment service providers
  • Declare Estonian taxes online.

The biggest problem with using the e-residency is a simplified understanding, that once one has acquired it one can then easily register a company in Estonia. In fact, this is not quite so for 2 reasons:

  1. Registration of a company is partly a legal, partly a technical process, and without any previous actual experience or professional assistance one is either not able to register the company, or is doing it in a way which later would not satisfy one’s needs.
  2. If e-residency holder does not have a bank account in Estonia, then it is very complicated to register the company with paid-in share capital, which means that subsequently one will come to face unexpected problems.
The Application Process

There are several companies providing services helping entities with various aspects of setup and the application process. Here is a simple break down of the process:

  1. Go to apply.e-estonia.com. There, you’ll find an online application form. You’ll need to upload your photos, describe your purpose for applying, and pay the 100 euro e-Residency state fee.
  2. Once your application has been submitted, you’ll need to wait about 10 business days for the background check to be completed.
  3. After you verify your identity at the pickup location, you’ll get an e-Resident starter kit which contains your digital ID card and a smart card reader.

Depending on the service you want the process should take between two to four weeks and can cost as low as 100 euros. In the first year thousands of entrepreneurs have applied for e-residency and the annual figure continues to rise steadily since.

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