You might have heard about the Estonian e-residency program. It’s a program where you become a virtual resident of the country. It doesn’t allow you to live there and it isn’t a travel document. It does allow you to digitally sign documents, open companies, bank accounts, etc.
I recently visited Tallinn, Estonia’s capital city and was amazed how efficient and modern the Estonians are, compared to their neighbour Latvia for example. When I got back I decided to become an e-resident, just because I can.. 🙂
The application takes some weeks..
You apply online (https://e-resident.gov.ee/become-an-e-resident/) and pay a fee of 100 EUR. The Estonian police will do a background check on you and if they find you’ve been a good boy or girl they’ll let you know you can pick up your residency package at your local embassy and consulate.
The package contains a registration code, USB device and a chipcard. After activating your card online and entering some (pin)codes you are good to go!
There are various providers out there who will help you to setup the company. The most popular one seems to be https://www.leapin.eu/ but they only accept “digital workers”, which means if you sell tangible products (using a webshop for example) they won’t accept you. I decided to go with https://nordicconsult.ee/en/, their prices are very competitive and it turned out they do a great job.
After providing some basic info about your company (name, shareholders, directors, field of business) it will be registered in Estonia’s company registry. Both you and the Estonian provider need to sign (digitally of course) and within 24–48 hours your business is active (it took less than 12 with mine).
There is a 2500 EUR share capital requirement, but you are allowed to deposit that whenever you want, no deadlines…
Recently both Estonia and Latvia have been the center in reports about massive tax evasion and money laundering. So if you don’t have any actual ties with Estonia (you live there, was born there, have family there, etc..) it’s now almost impossible to get a bank account there.
However, there are more and more alternatives to those old-fashioned institutions called banks.. Think about Transferwise, Revolut, Mistertango, etc.. I decided to go with https://holvi.com/, a Fintech company from Finland (a stone throw away from Estonia). After providing them with some basic info and a couple of PDF documents from the Estonian business registry my account was approved and active with 24 hours. Complete with IBAN account and Mastercard debit card.
I don’t have any plans with the company yet, I’ve done this mostly out of curiosity. I’ll consult a tax specialist to see if maybe it can work in my advantage. I’m no perpetual traveler or full-time digital nomad, so I just have to pay taxes in the country I live in, but Estonia does have some interesting flat rate taxes and treaties with many countries..