How to choose an e-Residency service provider for your Estonian company

Xolo
Written by Xolo
on April 11, 2022

The creation of the Estonian e-residency program in 2014 was an outstanding breakthrough in global business practice, enabling entrepreneurs all over the world to open an EU-based business. However, most will need the services of an e-Residency service provider in order to do so. In fact, the Estonian e-Residency department suggests that 90% of companies established under the scheme use this kind of help.

What is an e-Residency service provider?

Every business in the world interacts with a range of professional services wherever they are, and even the simplest freelancer set-up needs to operate within local requirements for tax, business regulations, and so on. If you become an employer, enter into contracts with other people, and generally add complexity, naturally the admin gets more complex too. And it’s important to remember that rules and requirements are not the same in every country — even within the EU there are differences.

An e-resident business service provider understands exactly what you need to do, to set up and run your Estonian e-resident business. The exact services may vary, but in general:

  • They help you set up your e-resident business in the first place, and can point you at the different forms and procedures involved in getting your Estonian ID card, then through the company formation process (which is refreshingly fast and straightforward in Estonia!)
  • They are expert at local tax compliance, ensuring you don’t fall foul of any deadlines or key dates, which may differ from your home country’s requirements
  • They provide a physical address in Estonia, for receipt of the rare bits of paper which still exist, even in e-Estonia! For companies with a foreign management board and ownership, it’s required to use a licensed company or notary to provide a legal address and contact person in Estonia
  • They give you a business portal which enables you to streamline administration, such as raising invoices and accounting for expenses
  • They help you establish the banking and financial services you need to operate within Estonia, including access to EU and other funding programs

The benefits of working with an e-Residency service provider

OK, so you’re a fiercely-independent freelancer, or maybe a serial entrepreneur — perhaps you’re thinking, "I could do all of those things myself, surely? Why do I need a dedicated business service provider in Estonia?"

And yes, you could, in theory, go the full DIY route of course. Estonia is probably the most digitized nation in the world, and there is very little which cannot be done online, in English, without ever having to visit Estonia!

However, there is a legal requirement for foreign-owned businesses (the majority of resident companies) to have local representation, and you would have to pay for this anyway. You would also need someone to file your taxes for you, and make sure you don’t miss any payment or reporting deadlines, which could cost you penalties.

After that, you’d find yourself looking for software to raise invoices, perhaps something else to manage your expenses, a service to help you pay your employees, to crunch your management accounts, to reconcile your bank accounts… There are independent solutions for all of these challenges, of course. And maybe you just love admin, and figuring all this stuff out for yourself, and making it all integrate with itself across all the multiple apps and services you end up using.

Most entrepreneurs and freelancers, however, want to hit the ground running — and did not go into business because of a love of paperwork and spreadsheets. 

They want to automate and streamline and simplify. To forward in expenses as email attachments, to get an immediate overview of their cash position, to raise invoices in a snap, and to have financial reports and filing requirements prepared for them in good time — so they simply have to sign them off using their EID.

The real benefit of using the right e-Residency service provider, is all the time and head-space you get back — to spend on developing your business, serving your customers, and maximizing your profits.

In summary then, the benefits of using a business service provider for your Estonian e-resident business include:

  • Support with company formation, and even obtaining the Estonian digital ID
  • Complying with local representation requirements, for foreign owned businesses
  • Tax and financial regulation compliance, professionally managed for you
  • Dedicated, integrated, business software stack designed to support the way you do business
  • Streamlined minimised admin, so you can concentrate on growing your e-resident company with minimal friction

 

How do I choose an e-Residency service provider for my Estonian company?

As the Estonian e-Residency program goes from strength to strength, a broad range of business service providers has emerged. These providers support a growing number of e-residents around the world, whose requirements are diversifying along with their individual needs.

Your choice of business service provider is an important one, because the right provider will act as a real partner to you — supporting you from the earliest days of company formation, through to accounting for your profits and calculating your dividend payments. They will be at your side, responsive and communicative when you have concerns and doubts, and providing an array of automated and individual services which matches the needs of your business as it grows (if growth is your intention).

Some questions worth asking yourself and your prospective provider include:

Is this provider listed in the e-Residency department’s marketplace

This stamp of recognition is not an actual recommendation from the Estonian government, but it is a sign of approval, because the e-Residency team does perform due diligence on each potential member candidate, checking if the service provider meets the onboarding criteria related to the status, business activities, reputation, level of expertise on e-Residency, level of services, as well as other relevant aspects, before they are listed.

How much admin do you want to do yourself for your e-resident business?

Sarcasm aside, perhaps you genuinely do want to do as much business admin as you can on your own behalf. It might be a real strength or professional niche for you. Or you may not expect to make a profit at first and want to keep costs right down, or your affairs are actually extremely straightforward — if you won’t be paying salaries, coordinating business travel, taking dividends, or triggering auditing requirements, perhaps your support needs are minimal, and can be met very inexpensively.

On the other hand, you might want to outsource as much as possible and look for the most streamlined solution you can find, especially if you’re a solopreneur with a professional skill. You probably know it’s far more profitable to send that time developing and delivering your core business services than stressing over spreadsheets.

These needs may well shift over time of course, so it’s good to choose a service provider who can grow with you — adding in new tiers of support, as you bring in the work to pay for it, if necessary.

What are the business development and growth plans for your Estonian e-resident business?

For a small country, Estonia certainly punches above its weight for business growth success. The number of ‘unicorn’ tech startups it has brought to the world, from Wise to Pipedrive to Veriff, is proof of that. So if you are intending to scale up fast, you’ll need a provider who supports the ability to work with multiple owners, investors, board members, and employees — even if you don’t have any of those things in place at the point of company formation.

Equally, many e-residents happily operate lifestyle businesses where growth is not the objective. Or a solopreneur practice where success is measured quite differently — through factors like the ability to live and work anywhere they want to, to select projects and clients that are interesting and exciting, or to do social good in the world.

If you are just getting started, it’s good to keep your intentions fluid and responsive. But equally, you probably have some goals and intentions for how you want to develop. And you should choose your e-Residency service provider with your future needs in mind, just as much as your present ones. 

For example, you might want to freelance forever, without ever hiring or even outsourcing professional services. So far, so simple! BUT, your income plans include digital product sales, or physical drop-shipping, or managing events in different countries… and so, you will want to choose a service provider partner who can definitely support that, at a level you will need, now and in the future.

What about banking? Many Estonian e-residents operate perfectly successfully using the latest fintech apps, which can be operated on a smartphone from anywhere. However, you might prefer the security and guarantees of a traditional business bank, or require this for certain kinds of investment. This may entail a physical identification visit to Estonia's capital, Tallinn, but your business service provider can advise on this and coordinate appointments for you.

How do you prefer to interact with your Estonian business administration service?

You may be the kind of person who spends time at their desk, and enjoys analyzing detailed management accounts, to really dig into these aspects of your business. So being able to discuss your business performance and growth plans with experts will be important to you.

Or, you may be constantly dashing around on business or personal travel, and spend more of your time on your phone — so the ability to scan a receipt quickly, get immediate notifications, stay on top of plans, and get support in any timezone, may be your priority.

Bearing in mind these different tendencies and priorities will help you to choose an e-Residency service provider in Estonia who resonates with your personal mindset and inclination, as well as your business needs.

Why do Estonian e-residents choose Xolo?

Xolo has been providing support services to Estonian e-residents since 2015 — back in the early days of the e-Residency program itself, when the company was branded as ‘LeapIn’.

Since then, Xolo has helped over 110,000 global entrepreneurs to ‘make the Leap’ and start doing business in Estonia, whether they need to establish a completely remote limited company via Xolo Leap, or simply manage bookkeeping as a freelancer, in the EU, USA and Canada, through Xolo Go.

As well as these Estonian-based services (which are perfect for e-residents all over the world), Xolo is now offering automated accounting, compliance and tax reporting for freelancers in Spain and Italy, with other region-specific services in the pipeline. All the learning and experience gleaned from Estonia’s advanced digital business administration technology is increasingly within reach of entrepreneurs everywhere, without necessarily having to go down the route of business formation.

Finally, the recent launch of Xolo Teams has expanded the possibilities for scaling and growth — making it easy for e-resident businesses to onboard, manage, and pay contractors, while on their way to being the new unicorn success story!

Regardless of selected plan, some reasons solos across the globe choose Xolo as their Estonian e-Residency service provider include:

 

  1. Company formation, for those who require it: a complete EU-based osaühing (Estonian limited company, abbreviated to OÜ.)
  2. Dedicated business services in English or Spanish (if you know the word osaühing, that’s one more word than absolutely necessary to operate your Estonian e-resident business through Xolo!). The Xolo accounts support team feature heavily in our feedback and testimonials, for their friendly, responsive and knowledgeable communications
  3. Business travel management, making it easy to log business trips and account for all the allowances and costs involved.
  4. Simple accounting for expenses, which can be submitted in a range of ways — from a bulk upload to a dedicated forwarding mail-drop, even via a snapshot on your phone. This includes out-of-pocket expenses, and a floating owners’ loan account within the dashboard
  5. An easy tool for raising and sending professional invoices, in multiple currencies — ensuring a consistent, business-like appearance, even though it literally takes moments to do all your monthly billing. The portal also checks compliant VAT status against the VIES database, to ensure your VAT collection is up-to-date and accurate, and enables the specification of the correct payment and currency details for each customer
  6. A dedicated and bespoke business portal (with native mobile app), offering an instant snapshot of your business at any time — expenses, loans, cash position, income, and all you need to know
  7. Integration with business banking, so you know exactly what’s going on and exactly how much you’ve got, even in multiple currencies
  8. Integration with payment gateways, such as PayPal, Stripe, and e-commerce portals — taking care of compliance and reporting, wherever your customers are located 
  9. Tax reporting, according to your stage of growth and formation: Monthly VAT calculation and payment, annual reports, and even support for auditing when you reach that level of turnover and profit

 

So, if you are making the important decision about the right Estonian e-Residency service provider, these are the kinds of benefits you might want to consider as you compare different possible partners within the marketplace.

If an informal conversation to clarify which of the Xolo service plans might be right for you, why not reach out to our most supportive of support teams at hello@xolo.io