Unless you have been cocooned away for the past five years, you have no doubt heard about the innovative e-solutions that the Estonian government has introduced to make interaction between the state and its residents smoother and easier. Estonians take great pride in being able to file their taxes online, to authorise transactions and enforce contracts with digital signatures, to observe all their personal data records online in one place and to even vote online.
Some of these opportunities will become available to non-residents as well from December 1st, enabling you to take advantage of the business-friendly economic environment that Estonia has become well-known for. The Parliament of Estonia (Riigikogu) recently approved changes to the Identity Documents Act and State Fees Act, which give non-residents and foreigners the right to apply for a digital identity that enables access to Estonian digital services from anywhere in the world.
E-residency will be convenient for entrepreneurs
Any physical person who has been issued an Estonian digital identity will become an e-resident and thus receive access to Estonia’s digital services and an opportunity to give digital signatures in an electronic environment which are legally equal to handwritten signatures in the EU.
E-residency can be used for a large variety of useful services such as opening of bank accounts, the ability to make bank transfers in seconds, submitting tax returns in Estonia, access to Estonian e-health services or even participation in political petitions through the e-petition system.
It should also be mentioned that e-residency will be especially convenient for entrepreneurs because the digital identity will provide the opportunity to establish a company in Estonia within an hour, purchase Estonian companies through the internet and participate actively in the management of companies from a distance.
Visit Estonia to submit your application
The new regulation will come into effect as of the 1st of December 2014 and to apply for an Estonian e-residency an applicant will need to visit a Police and Border Guard office in Estonia – there the individual will need to submit an application and provide biometrical data (facial image and fingerprints) for a background check. If everything is in order, the decision to issue the card will be made within two weeks and the identity card will be handed over to the applicant in-person at the Police and Border Guard office.
There will only be a one-time state fee of 50 euros for the card. Fees for digital services will depend on service providers but public digital services will be offered mostly free-of-charge.
Additionally there are plans to enable Estonian embassies to process e-residency applications and issue cards abroad by the end of 2015.« Back to news