e-Residency in Estonia – the electronic assistant to foreign entrepreneurs

Estonia can be a very attractive choice for an entrepreneur to start business. The Estonian government is very supportive of entrepreneurs, the tax system is transparent and favourable, the digitalization is advanced and there are already multiple unicorn startup success stories.

Once an entrepreneur has chosen Estonia for registering their company and starting their business, the Estonian e-services are a great support for everyday business actions and administrative matters. Paperwork and bureaucracy can be very time consuming, and the e-services can help to make that time quite short.

For a foreigner to get access to the Estonian e-services system, they must first apply for Estonian e-Residency. The e-Residency program was launched in 2014 with the aim to attract foreigners to do business in Estonia in a borderless digital world.

The e-Residency creates the digital identity for the foreigner in the Estonian digital infrastructure. The application for e-Residency must be done online at https://www.e-resident.gov.ee/ and it may take a few months to get approval and card delivery as the Estonian authorities do a background check of the applicant. Once the application is processed and approved by the Estonian authorities, the applicant can receive their card from their chosen pickup location around the world (e.g., an Estonian embassy). Once receiving the e-Residency card, the foreigner can immediately start using the Estonian e-services.

The Estonian e-services enable the entrepreneur to do multiple things online 24/7, for example:

  • access the e-Business register and set up a company online;
  • sign contracts and other documents digitally;
  • access e-Tax system and submit tax declarations
  • access an Estonian internet bank and conduct transactions;
  • encrypt files and documents securely.

The Estonian e-services are fast and secure and help with flexibility and transparency for everyday administrative matters and business. The e-services help to save a lot of time and focus on other matters instead.

However convenient the e-Residency is, it is important to emphasize that the e-Residency does not equal as a visa or residence permit or as an identification document. The e-Residency creates a digital identity and thus, it can only be used in the Estonian digital infrastructure. Thus, if an e-Resident wishes to visit Estonia, they must follow the migration law like everyone else.

Even though an e-Resident can access e-services worldwide 24/7, the taxation and accounting requirements still need to be met in Estonia. The e-Residency also does not rule out the possibility of a permanent establishment in another country outside Estonia.

Leinonen can help throughout the process – from applying for e-Residency and setting up the company to everyday legal and accounting matters. All that is needed from one place – so the entrepreneur can focus on their business and passion instead.

Helen Kaur

Senior Legal Advisor

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