Estonia’s e-Residency programme makes starting and running a global business ridiculously easy. If you’re considering becoming an e-resident and starting a business in Estonia then read this step by step guide to applying for e-Residency.
Estonia was the first country to offer e-Residency — a government-issued digital identity and status that provides access to Estonia's transparent business environment. And since its launch, e-resident entrepreneurs from around the world have used their e-resident status to start and manage their EU based company and manage their business completely online, from anywhere in the world.
E-residency in Estonia allows you to sign documents, start a company in Estonia, open an Estonian bank account and conduct business. What’s more, your e-residency card can be used as a “digital signature” that’s valid anywhere in the EU. With e-Residency, you can also use online services in Estonia like government websites or online banking.
Estonia’s e-Residency is not a path to citizenship, nor is it a legal residency. It won’t grant you a step towards citizenship. You can’t use e-Residency to move to Estonia and live there as a full-time domiciled resident.
Your Estonian e-Residency card is not a physical ID card, and it can't be used as a travel document. It also doesn't grant you tax residency, residence permit of rights, or entry into Estonia or the rest of the European Union. It’s not a visa, a right to remain, nor does it come with any of the social rights that local Estonians have.
E-Residency is not a way to get out of paying taxes in your home country. And it shouldn’t be seen as a way of avoiding tax.
Find out whether e-Residency is for you on the e-Residency website. There are testimonials and further information about the programme. So ensure it’s suitable for you.
To become an e-resident you’ll need the following:
Go to the e-Residency application page provided by Estonian Police and Border Guard Board. In order to apply you must first create an account using your e-mail. You’ll need to upload your photos, describe your purpose for applying (motivation statement), and pay your €120 e-Residency state fee.
You’ll also enter your personal details, the scan of your government-issued ID, and a proper passport-like picture. The application process itself should take around 30 minutes if you have prepared all the documents.
You’ll also need to determine your pickup location for your card and equipment. (Ensure your chosen pick-up location is in a country or region you’re entitled to enter!
Once your application has been submitted, you'll receive a confirmation e-mail from 'Politsei- ja Piirivalveamet'. All the communication will be via e-mail from the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, so check your e-mails regularly (also junk e-mail box). The processing of your application can take up to 30 days from the date when the application is accepted for processing.
You might be asked for additional information or documents to ensure the security of, and trust of, the e-Residency programme.
Once your application is approved, you’ll be notified by e-mail. If you’re granted e-Residency, you’ll be invited to pick up your e-Residency kit from your chosen location as specified in Step 3.
Mostly you can pick up the card at an Estonian embassy or consulate, or inside Estonia. A list of pickup locations by country can be found here. If there were no selected locations in your own country you’ll need to collect from another country, which you stated in your application.
It can take 2-5 weeks for your e-Residency kit to arrive at your pickup location after your application has been approved. Once it has arrived, your pickup location will send instructions related to scheduling your pick up. You’ll need to pick it up within 6 months.
You will need to collect your document in person as your fingerprints are required. You also need to bring the same ID document you submitted in the online application form. You’ll be given your e-Residency kit, including your digital ID card and card reader.
The digital ID card and e-services are built on state-of-the-art technological solutions, including 384-bit ECC public key encryption. The digital ID card contains a microchip with two security certificates: PIN1 for authentication (that it’s you accessing the technology) and PIN2 for digital signing. Never reveal these two PIN codes to anyone!
7. Start using your Digital ID
Insert the card reader with your e-Residency card into your computer’s USB port.
Now you have your Digital ID — to begin using it you’ll first need to download the ID software, called DigiDoc4, to your desktop. Once the software has been installed you can insert your card reader into your computer’s USB port, with the side of the card with the gold-coloured chip facing upwards, and all the way into the card reader.
Estonian e-Residency has easily become one of the most revolutionary developments to come from Estonia. For digitally-based entrepreneurs looking for better efficiency, location independence and looking to set up a business within the EU, e-Residency is the perfect fit.
Once you have your e-Residency and subsequent tools you can begin the process of setting up an Estonian business. Should you wish to have someone guide you through the e-Residency process then speak to one of the support specialists at Xolo.Company setup e-Residency
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