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How to start a business in Estonia?

Written by Pavel Cherkashin

April 25, 2021

There are many requests from aspiring entrepreneurs related to starting or relocating a business to Europe. Many EU countries offer their own conditions and programs, in this article we will talk about the E-residency program of Estonia, which is ideal for digital nomads.

What is E-residence and what does it give?

Estonia has had an E-residency program for 7 years, which allows you to do all the necessary documents online and open a company. By the way, once still have to brave the offline meeting at the Embassy of Estonia, but all other procedures are done online.

For all time, the program has already used more than 80,000 people from 170 + countries around the world who have established more than 16,000 companies. Fans of sticking with numbers and graphs can have a look at detailed statistics here – Dashboard | e-Residency.

Despite the presence of the word “resident” one should not confuse the E-Residency program with visa programs that give the right to reside and travel within the EU.

**IMPORTANT! The E-residency program does NOT confer any benefits in obtaining a residence permit / permanent residency and is not a visa, but allows you to use public services, perform transactions and sign documents necessary to conduct business!

In fact, you are given a unique number, a digital signature and proof of your identity, after which you can use services on the Estonian portal of public services. One of the services is just that – company registration.

Detailed information about the procedure for obtaining e-residency can be found on the official website of the program
What is e-Residency | How to Start an EU Company Online

The official blog of the program on Medium – E-Residency Blog, E-residentsuse blogi – Medium

There are a lot of useful articles and materials in official Facebook group – E-Residency – Home | Facebook

I can also recommend unofficial Facebook groups:
E-residents of Estonia
Estonian E-Residency Interest
Estonia e-Residency Group Membership

How to apply for Estonian E-residency status?

The procedure of acquiring the E-Residency status starts from the website – What is e-Residency | How to Start an EU Company Online

On the site choose “Become an e-resident” and click on “APPLY NOW!” to fill in the application form.

For the questionnaire you will need:

  • A bent passport (scan)
  • digital photo
  • resume in English
  • bank card

The cost of processing the application form is €100 if you will be picking up the set (flash drive + card) in Estonia, and €120 if you choose the Estonian Embassy in another country.

The questionnaire itself is filled in on the website Application for e-Resident’s digital ID, each candidate has a personal account. Approximate time to fill in the questionnaire is 30 minutes, you can continue to fill in the questionnaire at any convenient time. Account will be 2 months, after that you will need to do the questionnaire again.

There are no any difficulties or recommendations to fill in the questionnaire, the standard questions.

Estonian police takes from 3 to 8 weeks to review the application. In reality, it takes much faster – 10-14 days.

In the course of the check, they may ask for additional information if there are any questions. All communication is done by e-mail.

If the decision is positive, you will receive an e-mail with your personal number and an approximate time when the package (flash drive + card) will arrive at the Estonian Embassy.

It takes 2 to 5 weeks to produce and deliver the E-resident kit, most E-residents pick up their kits sooner.

When your documents and kit arrive at the Estonian Embassy – you will receive an e-mail notification and only have to book a date and time to pick them up at the Embassy.

The documents are issued in 10 minutes and you have to sign for them and leave your fingerprints.

Hooray! Congratulations! You are the happy owner of E-resident status!

How to register a company?
To register a company you can use the official marketplace of the program services – E-residency Marketplace.

There are dozens of companies which provide turnkey company registration services.

One of the first companies to provide registration services is XOLO.io. Here’s their page on the marketplace – E-residency Marketplace

The cost of registering a company and opening an account is €215, plus you’ll need to choose a monthly maintenance fee.

If you need to integrate with payment systems such as Stripe or PayPal, then I recommend to pay attention to the tariff – Leap PRO for €119 per month Affordable and flexible plans to run your business | Xolo Pricing

The procedure itself takes 2-3 days, depending on how you will promptly respond to the manager’s requests and sign documents.

For signing documents you just need a flash drive and a card. DigiDOC software works under both Windows and MacOS, so you shouldn’t have any problems.

One question is where and how do you want to open an account? XOLO offers you to open an account at the bank LHV – Non-residents – LHV if you can come to Estonia and visit the bank office, or at Wise – Multi Currency Account | Foreign Currency Account by Wise if you prefer to do everything online.

After a few days you will receive the company registration number, which is entered in the registry and the account details.

Conclusion

As you see, the procedure of opening a company in Estonia is really not complicated, under favorable conditions it takes less than 1 month, one-time cost is €335.

I wish all entrepreneurs good luck with company registration in Estonia!

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