Estonia Offers E-Residency: Operate A Location-Independent Online Business

Journalist:
Lester Coleman
May 13, 2015

The Republic of Estonia has officially introduced e-Residency, a government-issued digital identity card that provides a way to operate a location-independent business online. Estonia announced the e-Residency program today at Nordic Digital Day, an e-government conference at the Swissotel Tallinn, Estonia.

The e-Residency program enables secure and convenient digital services that facilitate credibility and trust online. Applicants can apply online for e-Residency at e-resident.gov.ee.

A one-month process

Applicants must fill in the online application, upload their photo and a photo of an identity document. They must state their reason for applying and pay a 50 euro state fee.

Once the application is submitted, the Estonian Police and Border Guard conduct a background check. Once the application is approved, the applicant will be directed to a pickup location where they will give fingerprints and receive their e-Resident smart ID card and card reader. Cards can be picked up at foreign embassies and consulates in 34 countries or at Estonian police and border guard service points. Estonian honorary consuls do not issue e-Residency.

The entire process will take one month, according to the e-Residency website.

The e-Residency allows the following capabilities: Digitally sign documents; verify the authenticity of documents; encrypt and send documents securely; establish an Estonian business online within a day; administer company business from any place in the world; conduct banking and remote money transfers; access online payment providers; declare Estonian taxes online.

The e-Residency does not automatically establish tax residency. Users must consult with a tax professional to avoid double taxation.

The e-Resident identification card uses 2048-bit public key encryption. It is a smart card containing a microchip with two security certificates. One for identification and another for digital signing.The program does not provide citizenship, tax residency, or right of entry to Estonia or the European Union. It is not a physical card or a travel document.

Also read: Estonia takes leading strides in digital age

Digital age: no new risks

“A digital identity itself does not bring along new risks, such as money laundering,” said Kaspar Korjus, program director for the e-Residency team in a prepared statement. “Instead, it makes existing risks more visible and manageable as digital footprints are easily traceable. We have extensive logging and fraud analysis, which we make use of at our discretion and on reasonable suspicion. We also thoroughly check the background of prospective e-Residents to make sure we can trust them as future members of the Estonian e-Society.”

Lester Coleman

Lester Coleman is a media relations consultant for the payments and automated retailing industries.