What is e-Residency?
Estonian company formation: At the end of 2014, Estonia became the first country in the world to offer e-Residency to any foreigner from around the world. e-Residency allows you to use the country’s advanced digital public services, essentially, to do business from anywhere. This digital citizenship would allow, say, an Indian entrepreneur to establish an Estonian company that he runs from Singapore to serve clients based in Germany. He’d also be able to use his electronic signature to sign contracts with customers throughout the EU. All done online, remotely, hassle-free.
Estonian e-residents receive a government-issued smart ID-card, which provides:
Digital identification and authentication to secure services
Digital signing of documents
Digital verification of document authenticity
However, e-Residency doesn’t grant citizenship, tax residency, residence or right of entry to Estonia or to the European Union. The e-Residency ID-card isn’t a physical identification or travel document and doesn’t display a photo.
Who should apply?
Setup and manage your business – digitally – while you travel
Start a company with access to the EU market and payments
Grow your company with access to EU customers and EU startup funding
Go-to-market in the EU quickly without excess paperwork or travel
Benefits of e-Residency
Be location independent
- Start a company 100% online from anywhere in the world
- Travel and operate your business remotely
- Move abroad without the need to re-establish your company
Start an EU company
- Register an EU-based company entirely online
- Accept online payments through providers like PayPal
- Own your company without the need to appoint a local director
Grow business remotely
- Sign, authenticate, encrypt and send documents digitally
- Declare business taxes online
- Access EU Single Market and cross-border capital
Join a global community
- Network with e-Residents across 150+ countries
- Connect with service providers in a growing marketplace
- Discover new ways to grow your business
How to apply
You will need:
- A copy of your government-issued ID
- A passport-style digital photo
- Motivation statement
- Visa or Mastercard
Pay state fee and receive confirmation email after successfully submitting. Cost: €100
Estonian Police & Border Guard Board conducts background check and will notify you by email when the process is complete. Processing: 6-8 weeks
Pick up e-Residency kit
If granted e-Residency, you will be invited to:
- Collect e-Residency kit at location selected on your application
- Bring government-issued ID submitted with application
- Submit fingerprints
Please keep in mind:
You must pick up your e-Residency kit at an available pick-up location within 6 months. If you do not have a pick-up location in your country, you can arrange to collect the kit in another country. Please make sure that your chosen pick-up location is in a country or region where you are entitled to enter.
What do I need in order to use my digital ID-card and Company services online?
Electronic use of the e-Residency ID-card is your key to a range of online private and governmental e-services. It allows you to digitally sign and encrypt documents for safe transfers. The Republic of Estonia guarantees your electronic identity, therefore allowing you to communicate and make secure electronic transactions with your ID-card online.
To use your e-Residency ID-card electronically you need:
e-Residency & digital ID-card
PIN-codes – issued together with the ID-card.
A computer with an active internet connection
A smart card reader – many newer computers have built-in card readers in the computer itself or the keyboard. You’ll also be given an e-Residency starter kit, including a smart ID card and a card reader when you collect your card.
ID-software – install it from here and make sure you always have the latest version of the software installed. ID-software is widely-used and allows you to use your ID-card electronically. 3 programs will be installed on your computer: ID-card utility, DigiDoc3 Client and DigiDoc3 Crypto:
With the ID-card Utility, you can check the functioning of your ID-card and validity of the certificates, change PIN and PUK codes.
DigiDoc3 Client is a program that can be used to sign digitally with your ID-card, check the validity of digital signatures and open and save documents inside the signature container.
DigiDoc3 Crypto enables you to secure files for safe transfer using your ID-card and to view secured documents (decrypt). Securing or encrypting enables you to protect sensitive information from other people in the short term.
Valid certificates – once expired, you can renew them in the ID-card Utility software. You can read more details about renewing the certificates on the ID.ee website.
How do I apply for the e-Residency and how much does it cost?
In order to run Company, you need to become an e-resident.
e-Residency is generally available online to applicants aged 18 years or older, who’ve never been convicted of a criminal felony, and at the sole discretion of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board.
The e-resident digital-ID can be issued to a foreigner who has links with the country of Estonia or a reasonable interest in using public e-services in Estonia, and who:
Is not a foreigner currently residing in Estonia with a residence permit or the right of residence;
Is not a foreigner currently staying in Estonia under the International Military Cooperation Act, and holding an identity card or residence card issued by the Police and Border Guard Board.
The application consists of the following:
Your name and personal information
A scanned passport photo.
A scanned copy of your government-issued ID.
A minimum of one paragraph describing your interest and motivations behind applying for e-Residency.
Payment of the state fee of €100 via Visa or Mastercard.
Your desired pickup location: one of 38 Estonian embassies and consulates around the world, or an Estonian Police and Border Guard Board station
Visit the Estonian e-Residency site and start your application.
What is the next step after I’ve received my e-Residency?
When you’ve received your e-Residency ID-card you first need to authenticate yourself. To do that follow the instructions that came with your e-Residency kit. After you’ve installed the ID-card software and connected the card to your computer, please log into LeapIN using your ID-card and authenticate yourself.
Once you’ve completed this step you’re able to accept the Terms of Service, and pay your first Company fee.
After that, you can start running your business, invoicing your customers, and uploading expense documents.