e-Residency of Estonia

e-Residency of Estonia (also called virtual residency or E-residency) is a program launched by Estonia on 1 December 2014. The program allows non-Estonians access to Estonian services such as company formation, banking, payment processing, and taxation. The program gives the e-resident a smart card which they can use to sign documents. The program is aimed towards location-independent entrepreneurs such as software developers and writers. The first e-resident of Estonia was British journalist Edward Lucas; the first person to apply for and be granted e-residency through the standard process was Hamid Tahsildoost from the United States.[1][2][3][4]

Edward Lucas, 2010-10-22
Estonia's first e-resident, British journalist Edward Lucas
E-Residency card
e-residency identity card


An application for e-residency can be made online by filling in a form, supplying a scan of a national passport and a photograph, and giving the reason for applying (which does not strongly affect the outcome of the application). Kaspar Korjus, managing director of the e-residency programme, said that applicants who had been involved in financial misbehaviour such as money laundering would be rejected. Successful applicants would be invited to an interview in Tallinn or an Estonian embassy about three months after applying, and would then, if successful, be issued with their card.[5] The certificates of the document are valid for three years. After that period, if a person wishes to continue using e-services, they have to apply for a new document. The application process will be the same as when they first applied. A state fee needs to be paid again when they submit a new application.

Benefits and limitations of e-residency

E-residents will have their financial footprint monitored digitally, in a manner stated to be transparent; the reaction to the widespread financial misbehaviour at high level revealed by the Panama Papers leak was suggested to be a factor helping the more transparent Estonian initiative according to Korjus. E-residency itself does not have an effect on income taxation — neither does it establish an income tax liability in Estonia nor does it relieve from income taxation in the resident's home country.[5]

E-residency allows company registration, document signing, encrypted-document exchange, online banking, tax declaration, and fulfilment of medical prescriptions. Other services become available as the scheme is expanded.[6] A digital ID smart card issued by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board in Estonia or at an embassy is used for access to services.[7]

Korjus said that registering an Estonian business was "useful for internet entrepreneurs in emerging markets who don’t have access to an online payment provider", and for startups from countries such as Ukraine or Belarus which suffer financial limitations from their governments.[5]

E-residency is not related to citizenship and does not give the right to physically enter or reside in Estonia.[7]


E-residency was led by Taavi Kotka, the vice chancellor of communications and state information systems in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.[8] Although the idea of issuing ID cards to non-residents had been discussed at least from about 2007,[9][10] and proposed again in 2012 by Estonian cybersecurity expert Anto Veldre,[11] the concrete proposal ("10 million e-residents by 2025") was presented by Taavi Kotka, Ruth Annus, and Siim Sikkut on an idea contest by Estonian Development Foundation in 2014. The project was initiated with the prize money from the contest. It is developed by a state-owned foundation, Enterprise Estonia.[12][13]

Kotka stated that, while the further goal of the project would be to gain millions of e-residents, its purpose was to increase the number of active enterprises in Estonia. The private sector must be able to develop concrete services on the legal and technical platform provided by e-residency, while the state would continue developing the legal framework according to the needs of the enterprises.[9][14] It has also been discussed in Estonian media that e-residency could be used to spread knowledge about Estonian culture online to develop cultural export.[15] By January 18, 2015, there had been applications from 225 countries, most of them from Finland (224), Russia (109), Latvia (38), the United States (34) and Great Britain (22).[16]


In general the e-residency project was positively reviewed in the news media, being recognized for its innovativeness and potential.[17][18] Estonia's former Minister of Finance Jürgen Ligi noted in 2014 that it was as yet unclear how e-residency would bring capital to Estonia.[19] Some legal experts warn that using e-residency to incorporate a letterbox company in Estonia might under certain circumstances make that company's profits subject to double taxation, as this is a completely new legal status that has not been considered in the framework of existing international agreements to avoid double taxation.[20]

There has been international interest in different countries, with the issue being covered by media in the United States (The Atlantic,[21] The Wall Street Journal,[22] Ars Technica),[23][24] United Kingdom (The Guardian,[25][26] Wired UK),[27] Finland (Helsinki Times),[28] Australia (ABC),[29] Italy (Wired.it),[30] and others. In neighbouring Finland, it elicited some fear that e-residency might give Finnish enterprises an urge to move to Estonia.[28]

There was an increase in interest after the Panama Papers leak pointed out the need for greater transparency in offshore business. After Britain voted to leave the European Union, companies were seeking options to continue to be able to trade in euros, and others had other reasons: in the two weeks following the referendum, applications from Britain (with 616 e-residents hitherto) increased tenfold.[5]

Security concerns

In 2017, the Estonian government froze[31] the digital ID cards of the e-residency program, two months after discovering a major security flaw that could enable identity theft. ID cards that were issued between October 16, 2014, and November 25, 2017, were suspended until owners updated to a new security certificate by March 2018.

The Estonian government first revealed the original flaw in September[32], but gave no details until much later.

Partner services

In May 2017 Finnish online banking service Holvi announced it had partnered with the e-residency programme to enable business banking for e-residents without a necessity to visit Estonia to set up an account.[33][34]

In August 2018 e-Residency announced their latest partnership with one more online digital banking service LeoPay. The main reason is to offer e-residents an even wider range of options, conditions and terms to ensure better services and lower fees for everyone.[35]

See also


  1. ^ President Ilves annab täna üle esimese e-residendi kaardi Estonian Development Foundation, 1 Dec 2014 (in Estonian) (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  2. ^ Eesti avab 2014. aasta lõpus oma e-teenused ülejäänud maailmale Majandus- ja kommunikatsiooniministeerium (in Estonian) (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  3. ^ Milliste hüvede osaliseks saab Eesti esimene e-resident Edward Lucas? Eesti Päevaleht, 29 Nov 2014 (in Estonian) (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  4. ^ E-residency – up against great expectations E-Estonia.com, 13.01.2015 (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  5. ^ a b c d Maeve Shearlaw (15 September 2016). "A Brexit bolthole? For €100 you can become an e-resident of an EU country you've never visited". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Estonian e-Residency - Which services can I use as an e-Resident?". e-estonia.com. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  7. ^ a b "About e-Residency". Government of the Republic of Estonia. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Eesti infoühiskonna arengukava 2020", pp. 2, 15, 22 (in Estonian) (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  9. ^ a b Hans Lõugas Taavi Kotka: e-residentsus on üksnes vahend, vaja on paremat majanduskeskkonda Eesti Päevaleht, 14 Oct 2014 (in Estonian) (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  10. ^ Kalev Kallemets E-residentsus aitab välisinvestoreid Eestisse Läänlane, 18 Sept 2014 (in Estonian) (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  11. ^ Anto Veldre Infoühiskonnast hereetiliselt Postimees, 9 Nov 2012 (in Estonian) (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  12. ^ Indrek Kald Arengufondi ideekonkursil kolm võitjat" Äripäev, 12 June 2014 (in Estonian) (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  13. ^ "10 miljoni eestlase" idee pääses Arengufondi konkursi kolme võitja sekka ERR, 12 June 2014 (in Estonian) (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  14. ^ Taavi Kotka Kui seda ei tee Eesti, siis teeb seda keegi teine Memokraat, 13 Oct 2014 (in Estonian)(Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  15. ^ Ülo Pikkov E-residentsus ja Eesti virtuaalne kultuuriruum Sirp, 16 Jan 2015 (in Estonian) (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  16. ^ Kas e-residentsus toob rohkem venelasi Eestisse kinnisvara ostma? Äripäev (in Estonian), 06.02.2015 (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  17. ^ Kaupo Kask Mida kujutab endast e-residentsus? Advokaadibüroo Biin & Biin (in Estonian) (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  18. ^ Üks küsimus Äripäev, 15 Dec 2014 (in Estonian) (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  19. ^ Ligi: on ebaselge, kuidas e-residentsus raha sisse toob Postimees, 6 Dec 2014 (in Estonian) (Accessed on February 8, 2015)
  20. ^ Kärt Anna Maire Kelder E-residentsuse varjatud karid ehk mis juhtub teisest riigist juhitud äriühinguga Eesti Päevaleht, 29 Nov 2014 (in Estonian) (Accessed on February 6, 2015)
  21. ^ Uri Friedman The World Now Has Its First E-Resident The Atlantic, Dec 1 2014 (Accessed on February 8, 2015)
  22. ^ Liis Kängsepp Estonia to Offer ‘E-Residency’ to Foreigners The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 21, 2014 (Accessed on February 8, 2015)
  23. ^ Cyrus Farivar Estonia wants to give us all digital ID cards, make us “e-residents” Ars Technica, December 8, 2014 (Accessed on October 26, 2015)
  24. ^ Cyrus Farivar I’m now an Estonian e-resident, but I still don’t know what to do with it Ars Technica, August 22, 2015 (Accessed on October 26, 2015)
  25. ^ Nabeelah Shabbir Estonia offers e-residency to foreigners The Guardian, 26 December 2014 (Accessed on February 8, 2015)
  26. ^ Anthony Cuthbertson Estonia First Country to Offer E-Residency Digital Citizenship International Business Times, October 7, 2014 (Accessed on February 8, 2015)
  27. ^ Ben Hammersley Why you should be an e-resident of Estonia July 2015 (Accessed on October 15, 2015)
  28. ^ a b Merle Must Estonian e-residency attracts Finnish businessmen Helsinki Times, 12 Dec 2014 (Accessed on February 8, 2015)
  29. ^ Kirsten Drysdale Estonia offers e-residency to allow non-citizens access to government services and business online ABC, 25 Nov 2014 (Accessed on February 8, 2015)
  30. ^ Mila Ligugnana e-residency: residenza virtuale e digitale, in Estonia è già realtà Wired.it, ottobre 17, 2014 (in Italian) (Accessed on February 8, 2015)
  31. ^ "Estonia has frozen its popular e-residency ID cards because of a massive security flaw". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-03-01.
  32. ^ Korjus, Kaspar (2017-09-05). "Here's what e-residents need to know about the potential security vulnerability". Medium. Retrieved 2018-03-01.
  33. ^ "E-residency program announces e-banking partnership with Finland's Holvi". Eesti Rahvusringhääling. 2017-05-25. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  34. ^ Eeva Haaramo (2017-05-31). "Borderless banking: Estonia's e-residents can open accounts without going there". ZDNet. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  35. ^ Joel (2018-08-09). "LeuPay provides e-residents with more choice for banking". Medium. Retrieved 2018-09-27.

External links

Digital signature in Estonia

Electronic signature allows users to electronically perform the actions for which they previously had to give a signature on paper. Estonia's digital signature system is the foundation for some of its most popular e-services including registering a company online, e-banks, the e-voting system and electronic tax filing – essentially any services that require signatures to prove their validity.


e-Estonia refers to a movement by the government of Estonia to facilitate citizen interactions with the state through the use of electronic solutions. E-services created under this initiative include i-Voting, e-Tax Board, e-Business, e-Banking, e-Ticket, e-School, University via internet, the e-Governance Academy , as well as the release of several mobile applications.


Estcoin is a proposed national cryptocurrency, devised by the Government of Estonia in August 2017. In June 2018, amid criticism from banking authorities, Estcoin's plans were revised to no longer peg its value to the euro, nor for it to be a national cryptocurrency, but that Estonia would plans to “explore various possibilities” for blockchain technology such as Estcoin becoming the official currency of its e-Residency of Estonia program. As will be restricted to individuals within the Estonia E-Residency program, it cannot be exchanged freely and thus technically doesn't qualify as a cryptocurrency.

Estonian alien's passport

An Estonian Alien's Passport (Estonian: välismaalase pass) is a travel document that may be issued to a person who is stateless or of undefined citizenship residing in Estonia by the Police and Border Guard Board of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It can also be used as an identity document. Estonia has about 80,000 to 90,000 alien's passports.

Estonian identity card

The Estonian identity card (Estonian: ID-kaart) is a mandatory identity document for citizens of Estonia. In addition to regular identification of a person, an ID-card can also be used for establishing one's identity in electronic environment and for giving one's digital signature. Within Europe (except Belarus, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine) as well as French overseas territories and Georgia, the Estonian ID Card can be used by the citizens of Estonia as a travel document.

The mandatory identity document of a citizen of the European Union is also an identity card, also known as an ID card. The Estonian ID Card can be used to cross the Estonian border, however Estonian authorities cannot guarantee that other EU member states will accept the card as a travel document.In addition to regular identification of a person, an ID-card can also be used for establishing one's identity in electronic environment and for giving one's digital signature. With the Estonian ID-card the citizen will receive personal @eesti.ee e-mail address, which is used by the state to send important information. In order to use the @eesti.ee e-mail address, the citizen have to forward it to his personal e-mail address using the State Portal eesti.ee.

In August 2017, a potential security threat was discovered. This threat could affect 750,000 ID and e-residency cards issued between 16 October 2014 and 26 October 2017.The relevant Estonian organisations responsible for the ID card have since released a patch in the form of a certificate update, and published a detailed walkthrough on https://www.id.ee to check if an update is required, and how to perform it. The update can also be performed in the service offices of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board. Online updating can be performed until 31 March 2018 (incl.), after which the certificates of affected cards will be invalidated. Thereafter, a new e-residency or ID-card must be applied for in order to use it electronically.On 2 November 2017, the Estonian government announced, that online updating of vulnerable ID-cards would be suspended to all users for between 3–5 November 2017 in favour of the country's officials and the 35,000 doctors, who use their cards most actively.This temporary suspension of updates to all users has since been lifted, so that owners of ID cards and e-residency cards can now update their certificates.

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) on 25 September 2018 introduced the newest version of Estonia's ID card, featuring additional security elements and a contactless interface, which will begin to be rolled out no later than next year. The new cards also utilise Estonia's own font and elements of its brand. One new detail is the inclusion of a QR code, which will make it easier to check the validity of the ID card. The new design also features a color photo of its bearer, which doubles as a security element and is made up of lines; looking at the card at an angle, another photo appears. The new ID cards, however, have contactless functionality built in. The new chip has a higher capacity, allowing us to add new applications to it.

Estonian passport

Estonian passport (Eesti kodaniku pass) is an international travel document issued to citizens of Estonia, and may also serve as proof of Estonian citizenship. Besides enabling the bearer to travel internationally and serving as indication of Estonian citizenship, the passport facilitates the process of securing assistance from Estonian consular officials abroad or other European Union member states in case an Estonian consular is absent, if needed. If an Estonian citizen wishes to receive an identity document, especially an Estonian passport, somewhere other than the foreign representation of the Republic of Estonia, then the bearer of the Estonian citizenship staying abroad could receive the travel documents in embassies of any EU country worldwide by paying 50 Euro. Many countries require passport validity of no less than 6 months and one or two blank pages.

Every Estonian citizen is also a citizen of the European Union. The passport, along with the national identity card allows for free rights of movement and residence in any of the states of the European Union and European Economic Area.

An Estonian certificate of return shall be issued to an Estonian citizen staying in a foreign state whose Estonian passport becomes unusable or is destroyed or lost. An Estonian certificate of return shall be issued on the basis of a birth certificate to a child of less than one year of age who was born to a citizen of Estonia in a foreign state. An Estonian certificate of return may be issued to an Estonian citizen who has no valid Estonian document if the issue of such document is in the public interest. An Estonian certificate of return shall be issued with a period of validity of up to twelve months. Upon entry into Estonia, a certificate of return shall be returned to the Police and Border Guard Board who shall forward the certificate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.A return support can be applied by ethnic Estonians and Estonian citizens who have lived outside Estonia for 10 years or more or were born in a foreign country. A return support will be paid to those who need help, if they want to settle in Estonia.

Index of Estonia-related articles

This page list topics related to Estonia.

LHV Pank

LHV Pank (originally Lõhmus, Haavel & Viisemann) is an Estonian banking and financial services company headquartered in Tallinn. The Bank's clients include private individuals, small and medium-sized companies and institutional investors. LHV has branch offices in Tallinn, Tartu, Riga, Vilnius and Helsinki. LHV Pank employs over 180 people. More than 50 000 clients use the Bank's services.

LHV Pank is one of the largest brokers on NASDAQ OMX Baltic stock exchanges and the largest broker for Baltic retail investors in international markets.LHV Pank was fully cash-free—operating only with electronic transfers and card payments—until August 2015, when they opened their first 10 Automated teller machine (9 in Tallinn and one in Tartu). All machines allow cash deposits in addition to withdrawals.LHV Pank has been identified as a partner in the virtual E-residency of Estonia program, enabling e-Residents to open a bank account in Estonia.Starting November 2018, the bank decided to charge all non-residents and their controlled companies (which includes e-residents and their companies) €10 in case of EU/EEA residents or €20 of others monthly, citing the need for extra financial and anti-laundering control.

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