The Republic of Estonia is the first country to offer what it’s calling e-Residency: “a digital identity available to anyone in the world interested in setting a location-independent business online.” E-Residency offers a government-issued digital identity to every citizen of the world and the opportunity to run a company online.

You can get more information at e-estonia.com — but what is e-Residency worth in the day-to-day business? And what the f* is Estonia?

How powerful is Estonia?

Estonia is a little country in north-eastern Europe, between Russia and the Baltic Sea. It was a Soviet socialist republic up until 1990 when it seceded from the USSR and is strongly independent against Russia ever since. The country is part of NATO and the EU and is considered an European tiger state (in analogy to the Asian tiger states like Hongkong or Taiwan). Estonia is highly digitalized.


What is life really like in Estonia? (via YouTube)

Along with its neighbors Latvia and Lithuania it comprises the so-called Baltic states.

Beginning in 2015, the Estonian government declared that it will make it easier for enterprises to conduct their business in the country and therefore within the European Union. The little country at the Baltic sea was part of the Soviet Union during the Cold War and became independent in the 1990s. Since then, its development sky-rocketed. Since 2001, Estonia is one of the leading countries in digitalizing their goverrnment and administration. Right now, you can vote online at elections (e-government), can visit an e-school, and the e-police can check everything digitally in their data banks. Kristiina Omri from the Estonian embassy in Germany says:

E-Estonians save about a work week per year through this [our digital administration] system. And much paper.

Foreign people can apply for a e-residency and become so called e-Estonians. The e-residency is not a formal citizenship document, and e-Estonians are not Estonian citizens by law. However, they can benefit from many Estonian public services like online banking or healthcare, and will have an easier access to make business within the country.

Tallinn is the capital of the Baltic country of Estonia.

Tallinn is the capital of the Baltic country of Estonia.

According to the Estonian government, anyone can apply for e-residency. They get an Estonian digital ID card for a fee of 50 euros (about $60). The e-residency is part of the “10 million Estonians” campaign (the country has currently 1.3 million inhabitants).
Estonia has to open up for investors and business partners. “We can offer them a hassle-free business and administrative environment and a foothold in the EU,” says Taavi Kotka, at the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.

What is e-Residency?

Let us explain how this system works and why it’s a good thing: For some time now, the Republic of Estonia offers so-called e-Residency. It is a quasi-citizenship; however with some restrictions. Over at the Tropical MBA podcast they did a show about e-Residency and how to apply:

http://s3.amazonaws.com/TMBAPodcastAll/TMBAPODCAST365.mp3
Estonian E-Residency: Is It For You? (via Tropical MBA podcast)

In short, e-Residents can do:

  • Digitally sign binding documents and contracts
  • Verify the authenticity of signed documents
  • Encrypt and transmit documents securely
  • Establish an Estonian company online (for that, you need a physical address in Estonia; just contact us)
  • You can run the company from anywhere in the world
  • Conduct e-banking and remote money transfers (you may need to set it up personally, but this depends from business to business)
  • Access online payment service providers
  • Declare Estonian taxes online (we advice to consult a tax professional on how to set this up)


What is a Digital Signature (via YouTube)

What can you do with e-Residency?

The European Union is strongly dedicated in terms of unification. Within the Union, we have open borders, free trade of goods and information as well as free work and travel. When you are an E-Estonian, you have an easier access to all this.

This could be your mailbox in Germany when you choose Mailbox Germany.

This could be your mailbox in Germany when you choose Mailbox Germany.

Welcome to the European Union!

Estonia is part of the European Union, as is Germany. That means free trade of goods, people, information, and knowledge. You can set up camp in Estonia and get many services reserved for EU citizens.

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Image credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 via Dennis Jarvis/flickr.com

Christian Allner
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Christian Allner

Freelancer at Schrift-Architekt.de
Your guy with a bachelor's degree, a passion for cooking, freelancing social media consultant, organizer of workshops and seminars for social media, Facebook marketing, and so on.

I have a neverending curiosity how things work. I'm involved with Mailbox Germany since 2014. Let us explore this world and its logistics!

Since 2011, I work as Schrift-Architekt, a freelance consultant for social media and for some time now I am an avid German podcaster with #Onlinegeister, radio about internet culture, social media, and PR.
Christian Allner
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