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E-Residency in Estonia

We have already entered into another phase in globalization. A new system in Estonia (namely e-Residency) makes it easier for non-resident persons to use the great e-service system in Estonia. In October 2014, the digital e-residency service were made available for Estonians. In December 2014, it became available also for foreigners.

It is expected that this new system will bring about 10 million new “e-residents” by the end of 2025. We need to highlight the fact that it is a great number considering that the total population of Estonia is less than 1.5 million.

We should also state that e-residency is an online service which is used for identifying people and providing digital signature for e-services. It also allows people use online services such as bank managements, business registration and company management.

As we have already stated, e-residency provides a digital signature service. We should also underline the fact that a digital signature has the same legal consequences as a real signature unless otherwise is stated by the relevant law.

What will entrepreneurs be able to do with this e-residency system?

-Establish companies online

-Access their tax accounts and use online tax returns

-Use Estonian public services

-Access and manage their bank accounts with a smart card

What is required for the application?

E-residency is available for everyone who is interested in Estonian e-services. However, if the person in question is under the age of 15, the legal guardian of the child should submit the identification documents. If the this guardian is a court-appointed one, a document showing the right of representation should also be submitted.

Procedure

E-residency applications can be made via Estonian embassies and consular offices. It can also be applied within Estonia. Once you submit the relevant documents, they are reviewed by the officials.

Currently, the required documents for the application are as follows:

  • Physical identification document from your original country
  • Photograph
  • Application form
  • Biometric information such as fingerprints
  • EUR 50 (Application fee)

After you submit the required documents there should be a background check of the applicant which may take up to 14 days. After the background check is finalized successfully, a notification will be sent to the applicant via the e-mail address stated at the application form. If the application is successful, the date, time and location to get the card will also be stated within this e-mail.

We need to state that the use of some services may also require additional documents.

The data you provide is subject to legal protection by the Personal Data Protection Act. Accordingly, the Estonian Data Protection Inspection Agency is responsible for data protection in Estonia. However, it should be noted that the data on the card is considered as public data (name and personal ID) in Estonia. Therefore, they are publicly available. But, since it is a limited amount of data, it will not constitute a big problem. Additionally, in case someone wants to access this publicly available data, he/she needs to hold the card itself to access the system. So, you should feel safe as your physical card includes very little amount of data. Your data is kept in databases rather than your physical card.

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