Estonian e-residency in reality
what you can and what you can't do
and what problems you might face
What is e-residency
E-residency is a status by which 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 connected usually to/ linked usually with the ID card.
e-residents are able to:
- give digital signatures
- encrypt documents
- use Estonia's state portal Eesti.ee
- found enterprises in Estonia
- provide reports to Estonian Tax and Customs Board and E-Business Register
- fill Estonian tax declarations on the Internet
- use Estonian online banking systems
All this can be done with the same password/PIN codes
It is believed that e-residency might be most useful for entrepreneurs, as it is customary in Estonia to provide services and paperwork online, registering a new enterprise can be done quickly online and there is no corporate income tax on undistributed profits.
All e-residents get a plastic ID card with pin codes to identify themselves in the digital environment using a digital card reader connected to a computer. In order to use the card reader, the user has to install special software available at www.id.ee.
In Estonia most companies and all state/municipal institutions usually use digitally signed agreements, thereby eliminating the need for physical presence. By law all state and municipal institutions MUST accept digitally signed documents
Read also from e-estonia com:
Here is on personal experience story:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
Without a bank account a company is usually useless. In order to open a bank account for a company, or turn the start-up account into an operating account, the board members have to identify themselves to the bank. Although many banks send e-mails to new companies and actively promote their services, in reality they usually refuse to open bank accounts because in their minds e-residents have no links with Estonia. This means that opening of a company’s bank account and getting an internet banking contract could become an art instead of a transparent process where you know the result.
And even if it was possible to open the account, the decision-making in banks could take even as much as a week or two and require your presence in Estonia at least once but often twice.
It is also important to know that even though a company can be established without paid-in share capital then later, when you present the company’s registration documents to your partners or officials, the documents would plainly state "founded without making the contribution", which sounds as if you have no money. Later, when you pay in the share capital, the process of registering this amendment involves certain aspects that often make the process time consuming and complicated.
As long as the share capital is not paid in it is not allowed to distribute dividends.
Company with e-residency
There are two reasonable ways to start a company with e-residency.
Most people choose a ready-made company from our list or order a tailor made company, which means that we create the company and prepare all the paperwork based on your needs. When everything is ready (it takes usually 1 - 3 days) the company and the access to the corporate bank account is transferred to the new owner. If the new owner is present in Tallinn, it usually takes just a couple of hours to complete everything.
It is also possible to get everything (including opening a bank account) done remotely, without visiting Estonia. In this case it takes usually 2 - 4 weeks to complete the process.
Based on the data given by the client we prepare everything in the company registration portal so that the client only needs to access the file and give one digital signature. When this is done we can pay the required state fees and complete the registration.
After the registration process is completed the client can come to Tallinn and open a bank account; alternatively, this can be done remotely (without visiting Estonia) on the basis of a power of attorney (POA). After that the client can start operating the company and the account.
Time required to complete the registration process
Option 1 can be completed in 1 day; however, it usually takes a couple of days or a week to clear all details.
Option 2 usually takes at least one week, but often it can take several weeks before everything is clear and settled.
Read more about the registration steps and the timeframe.
Data required for starting the process
Read what data and documents we need to prepare the company registration and/or transfer: Link