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19 Jul 2024

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e-Residency is positioning Estonia as the first digitally transformed country in the world
Blockchain

e-Residency is positioning Estonia as the first digitally transformed country in the world 

Interview Lauri Haav, Managing Director of e-Residency by Óscar Domínguez

In your Twitter profile it says that you are ex-fintech, ex-ecommerce and ex-customsoftware, after your experience in these industries, what led you to be managing director of e-Residency?

I was headhunted for this role and I accepted gladly, seeing it as my service to Estonia. E-Residency is the most known brand globally promoting Estonia as the first digitally transformed country in the world with 99% of the state services being online. Even before I stepped into the role of Managing Director, I had heard a lot of my fintech network talking about it.

For the people who can read this interview, what is the e-Residency program in Estonia?

e-Residency is Estonian government start-up that has revolutionised the way a country can cater to entrepreneurs from outside its borders.

Since 2014, e-Residency has empowered global startup founders and freelancers alike by providing them with a secure means of digital identification and the ability to register a truly location-independent business in an EU member state and in the world’s most digital society.

Any entrepreneur with an e-Resident ID can access Estonian e-services, sign documents digitally and launch and run their business 100% online with minimum bureaucracy, with low administrative burden whilst also making starting and running a business relatively affordable.

Although there is no obligation for an e-resident to be Estonian tax-resident, Estonia has the most competitive tax system among the OECD countries based on The International Tax Competativeness (ICTI) Index for the ninth year in a row.

For example, from the start of 2023, minimum share capital requirement is abolished. In addition, the Estonian government has always been focused on company growth, therefore there is 0% tax on re-invested profits.

E-residency has been a massive success story for Estonia.

We have almost 100 000 e-residents from 176 countries. But that’s not all. Every fifth new business in Estonia has been created by e-residents and third of Estonia’s startup founders are in fact e-residents.

As Estonia is one of world’s fastest growing start-up ecosystems with the most unicorns per capita in the EU, it means that the programme brings considerable direct and indirect benefits for the country.

According to data collected by, in September 2022, there were a total of 3,816 e-residents with Spanish nationality and 4,873 digital residents living in Spain. These figures are on the rise, as during the last 6 months around 90 new applications have been received from Spanish citizens per month.

What requirements must be met to be an e-Resident?

The e-Residency is open to people from all countries, from Germany to Ukraine, Brazil to Spain. To become an e-resident one needs to fill in a questionnaire with personal information that takes about an hour and wait for Estonian Police and Borderguard Agency’s approval that everything is in order. To become an e-resident you have to register here.

What advantages does it bring to an entrepreneur?

Thanks to e-Residency, foreigners can open and run an EU-based 100% online business that allows complete location-freedom.

Your Estonian company will be essentially paperless and allows you to minimise costs and time spent on administering it as all the business services are in English and accessible with your e-residency digital ID.

For example, you can manage your business whilst travelling in South-East Asia or in Latin America. The comparison between company establishment in Spain vs in Estonia is covered more in-depth in our blog.

The way it works is the Estonian government issues an official secure digital identity to any would-be e-resident, providing them with access to its ecosystem of e-services.

Using this state-issued digital identity, e-residents can sign documents with a digital signature, file their taxes within minutes using Estonia’s e-tax system, and create and administer companies online. In addition, if the company you create through e-Residency belongs to the European Union, it will be able to operate in a stable and transparent business environment with access to the EU’s single market.

By becoming an e-resident, one gains access to a safe, convenient, and flexible digital ecosystem. Estonia has also reached an unprecedented level of transparency in governance.

What is the investment that must be made to create a company in Estonia?

The great thing about creating and running a business in Estonia is that everything can be done online. This minimizes administrative fees and bureaucracy, making it easy for absolutely everyone.

Costs of starting and running your business will vary depending on the business form, volume of activities, the fees of your service providers, and the types of services you need.

At a basic level for a private limited company (In Estonia it’s called: OÜ), the costs will include:

E-Residency application state fee = €100-€130, depending on pickup point

Company registration state fee = €265

Fee for legal address + licensed contact person in Estonia = €200-400 per year, on average

Fees for additional services (e.g. bookkeeping, accounting) start at €50 per month

You can read more about it here: https://www.e-resident.gov.ee/start-a-company/

In our sector (cryptocurrencies, blockchain) how is the regulation in Estonia, is it favorable?

Estonia is the only country that has been developing blockchain-based public services for almost two decades.

We started testing them already in 2008 before the Bitcoin White Paper was published. Key blockchain-based services have been available to Estonian citizens through their digital ID since 2011, and have been available to non-residents through e-Residency since 2014.

In Estonia, blockchain technology provides an excellent foundation for critical government services, providing traceability, transparency and ultimately trust.

Regarding companies that provide cryptocurrency- related services , Estonia is one of a few countries that has launched the regulation already in 2020, based on this the industry players need to apply for a license.

Earlier this year, new amendments were added to the regulation.

The most relevant aspects are highlighted in the resources by us and our Virtual Marketplace business service providers here, here and here.

The usercases of e-residents whose business are active and successful in the industry are described here and here.

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