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Estonia’s e-Residency celebrates first anniversary as it adds new services

One year has passed since British journalist Edward Lucas became the world’s first e-resident and the Estonian e-Residency program was officially launched.

Non-Estonians around the world were invited to join the program and take advantage of Estonia’s convenient e-services. As of today more than 7200 people from 121 countries have joined and Estonian e-residents have established more than 240 new companies. More than 530 entrepreneurs use e-Residency to administer their businesses.

“E-Residency puts Estonia on the frontline of public digital services,” said Taavi Rõivas, the Prime Minister of Estonia. “More than 7,200 e-residents, among them more than 530 entrepreneurs and more than 240 established companies during beta launch inspires but also binds us to develop the program further, to offer more relevant services,” he said. “We are especially happy to see different service partners joining the platform, thus bringing this rather avant-garde technology to mainstream use.”

The utility and versatility of e-Residency has grown substantially since its launch a year ago. NASDAQ recently announced its intent to cooperate with Estonia developing secure e-services. E-residents can get information on best places to live and work from Teleport.org, invest in startups via Fundwise, and will be soon able to lead and trade investments on the Funderbeam’s worldwide startup marketplace. SignWise‘s digital authentication and e-signature solutions make it easy for e-residents to transform paper-based business processes into fully digital ones.There is also a business networking platform, eResNetwork, which provides secure and transparent communications for e-residents.

“Although the keystone to e-residency program appears to be the e-resident’s digital ID, the platform goes far beyond that, taking full advantage of Estonia’s simple tax system and transparent business environment,” said the head of e-Residency program board and CIO of Estonia, Taavi Kotka. “It is like an app store – the more partners and services we have, the more people in the world can take advantage of all the good things we have to offer but also increasing Estonian economic space,” said he.

The e-Residency program director Kaspar Korjus said that at times during the last year the applications of would-be e-residents exceeded Estonia’s ability to process them. The team has learned from the experience of handling the unexpected demand and more officials will be working to process future applications.

According to Korjus the program is still in beta and the team is thankful for all the feedback that early adopters of e-Residency have offered. “Estonians have enjoyed e-services for years, we vote digitally, we sign papers digitally, but opening up the system to foreigners is still an enormous work since we need to translate the interfaces, amend the laws and optimize many parts of the system,” said he. “At the same time we also are winning from all these changes, because it improves the services locally as well. I think it is the coolest government startup in the world!”

“People may trust a foreign government more than they trust their own government and I think just as we have competing credit cards – we have VISA, Mastercard, American Express and so on – we should have competing providers of identity,” said the first e-resident of Estonia, Edward Lucas. “This is the way forward and I think you have done a really good job in getting your offering on the table first.”

E-residents from outside the European Union can establish companies and use Estonia as a base of operations in EU. Companies launched in Estonia can be managed and administered from anywhere in the world and e-residents can conduct banking business, use international payment service providers, declare taxes, and sign all relevant documents and contracts remotely.

E-resident’s digital ID is neither a physical identification document nor a travel document. It has no photo. E-residency does not represent citizenship or tax residency and does not confer the right to live in or visit Estonia or the European Union.

Anyone in the world who is interested in running a location-independent business is invited to apply for e-Residency. The application (50€ application fee) can be completed online and, if the application is accepted, the card can be picked up from one of 38 Estonian foreign representations around the world, or from a police and border guard service point within Estonia. Applicants for e-Residency must agree to a background check and provide their fingerprints. Applications are accepted at the sole discretion of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board. More information and the online application can be found here.

More information about third party partners:

  • Fundwise for investing in startups
  • Funderbeam, the world’s first startup marketplace to use Estonian e-Residency for investor authentication
  • Teleport provides information on best places to live and work
  • eResNetwork provides secure and transparent communications for e-residents
  • SignWise for simplifying document handling

E-Residency’s 1st anniversary event on Youtube:

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