Estonian e-Residency

Estonian e-Residency kit.

The essence of the e-Residency

E-Residency is meant to be simple solution for foreigners to apply for a digital residency in Estonia. The project was started by Taavi Kotka. The idea of making ID cards for foreigners itself was discussed before 2007.

Later, in year 2012 it was proposed this to Estonian Development Foundation and this project was beginning to develop. E-Residency service is only available in Estonia as country is the first to make this possible for people interested in secure digital residency application to Estonia.

E-Residency is government made digital identity status that opens the opportunity to access to Estonia’s e-services and start a business in the territory. When someone allies for Estonian e-Residency there is a smart ID card given from the government that gives digital authorization and identification pass. The digital ID card has a special chip inside it. This allows the applicant to have electronic signature and gives option to already start signing documents, make money transactions even before moving to Estonia.

E-Residency has developed only recently but government issued digital ID cards are already used in some advanced countries. Estonia is considered to be very advanced in technologies and has earned a name "e-Estonia" therefore expanding this digital ID concept and using it to inspire other countries was desirable for the country.

 

How to acquire e-Residency in Estonia

To apply for e-residency in Estonia, applicant must fill some electronic application forms and after that is submitted; Estonian Police together with Border Guard does a background check for applicants and countries safety. After approval of the application, pick up place for new digital Identification has to be chosen within 38 Estonian embassies and consulates around the globe. To get the ID card at the pickup location, valid travel documents for country of origin must be shown and submitted with fingerprints for verification.

Filling the application form must be done by also attaching photos and describing purpose of application to e-residency. The fee is 100 EUR for e-Residency creation. The time period that is takes to have the background check for the applicant could take up to 10 days. At the location applicant picks up digital ID card and a smart card reader and overall the whole process could take from 2 to 4 weeks maximum. E-Estonia website claims that there have been 50 000 people that have applied to e-Residency.

The process is one of the easiest and most efficient in the world, therefore e-Residency has gained popularity in other countries and the option to creating other country versions, has been surfacing.

 

What opportunities Estonian e-Residency provides

After the e-residency is gotten, there will be a chance to digitally identify applicant’s actions by digitally signed documents, authenticated documents, and encrypted documents for up to 3 years. Estonian e-Residency card isn’t physical card as the usual IDs which make e-residency digital identification useless as travel document. E-Residency does not give citizenship, tax residence and permits of rights, as well as entry in the European Union. E-residency and digital ID gives a chance to switch traditional bank to modern mobile app banking service brand. Estonia provides entrepreneurs to benefit from their country with most minimal bureaucracy involved in procedure to create a business.Tallinn business center panorama.

Benefits of e-Residency are the presence in European Union market with the assess to European Union business community, accesses to internationally made payment providers, for example, Google, PayPal, and other, business entity that's made with simplified establishment process, simpler tax system with 0 percent corporate income tax when profits are invested in growing the business. Other benefits are remote control in form of secure access to bank data and business data by e-Residency no matter of current location as well as electronical administrative documents only.

Digital signature also is a part of the benefits letting the owner have a security of its signature not being used legally. Overall the e-Residency is more suited to the foreigner entrepreneurs, because of its specific benefits to the business environment.

 

The challenges of e-Residency

Just as the e-Residency gives many benefits to new and aspiring entrepreneurs, there are many disadvantages and minuses to this identification. As mentioned previously, e-Residency doesn’t give citizenship, tax residence and permits of rights, as well as entry in the European Union. In year 2017 there were some errors in Estonian government when it stopped the work with e-Residency creation when they discovered a huge security flaw that possibly could have made identity stealing simple for thefts. Therefore, some ID cards issued from end of year 2014 to year 2017 were suspended.

The claim from government is that the digital ID is now safer but still there aren’t many details about the error with safety in year 2017. Every interested person must evaluate the convenience and functionality of e-Residency and then make a decision about it.

A pile of passports with visa stamps.

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