Ville Säävuori

Sounds ridiculous, right? However, this is indeed the case in Estonia. This small Baltic country is in need of a new population and more particularly a new workforce. As a solution, a digital option of residence was invented.

How does this all work?

You will be surprised at how easy it is. First of all, you just need to fill in an online form which asks for the most important personal information. Next, your application is reviewed by the police in order to check whether you had any problems with law and whether everything is fine with your financial situation. If everything is alright, then the last step is to receive your own Estonian ID card. Most amazingly, you don’t even need to visit Estonia, the ID can be picked up at the local Estonian council.

What does the e-residency entitle you?

The main thing to understand is that becoming an e-resident is not the same as receiving a citizenship. This residency can be better described as a tool for running businesses in a more easy way for people not situated in the EU. When becoming an e-resident, one can establish a company and run it fully online, including declaring the taxes, and signing and transmitting the documents securely. It gives an opportunity to enlarge your business by situating it in the European Union.

Why does Estonia want e-residents?

One of the main reasons for launching such a program is to increase the number of businesses and overall population in Estonia. This country has only 60 thousand businesses, and the aim of the project is to considerably increase this number. One of the other goals is to have 1 million e-residents.

Another reason is that this program allows European countries to get access to the internet based entrepreneurs all over the world easily, as they will have access to an official online payment provider once they become e-residents. It will help Estonia to expand their international network. One of the other advantages seen by the Estonian government is that this program allows start-ups from countries that lack financial governmental support to receive it overseas, which will be beneficial for both the start-up company and the country it is based in.

At first, the e-residence was said to be an effect of the Panama papers, as people became in need of more transparency in offshore businesses. However, an owner of such businesses still has to pay the taxes of his/hers home country, unless most of the business is operated in Estonia. The Estonian government also expects a boost in e-residency after the UK announced itself leaving the EU.

Is this program indeed working?

It looks like it. After just several months into the program, more than 12,000 people became e-residents. Some of them did it for the main reason (business), whereas others are just supporters of the idea, which is completely fine; says Kaspar Korjus (the program director of e-residency).

Moreover, during the first months, 1,000 new businesses were launched in Estonia, which is an increase of 2% compared to the amount before the program. The program provides non-residents of the EU with a great opportunity to legally establish their business there, and is another example of how technology is stepping in into all fields of people’s lives.