Estonia launches e-Residency application portal at e-resident.gov.ee on May 13, 2015, enabling anyone in the world to participate in the public beta of the revolutionary digital identity program. e-Residency is a step towards fulfilling Estonia’s aspirations of pioneering the first borderless e-society, and is the first government-backed digital identity in the world.
The Republic of Estonia is the first country to offer e-Residency – a transnational digital identity available to anyone interested in establishing and administering a location-independent business online. Estonian e-Residents can register a company online, perform e-banking transactions, access international payment service providers, declare taxes online, manage a company remotely, and digitally sign documents and contracts.
The streamlined application process is the result of an exceptional cross-governmental collaboration between the Ministry of the Interior and its IT and Development Centre, Police and Border Guard Board, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Estonian embassies and consulates worldwide, Ministry of Finance, Information System Authority, Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, Government Office of the Republic of Estonia, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Enterprise Estonia and others. “Estonia is the only country in the world that can move at this speed, and one of the only governments that can be this collaborative. We have a remarkable opportunity here to set the standard for digital identity on the internet, and help millions of entrepreneurs establish and grow their businesses,” said Taavi Kotka, the Chief Information Officer of the Republic of Estonia.
Because of this cross-governmental partnership, the online application is expected to take just about 10 minutes to complete. After paying a nominal fee and completing a background check, e-Residents need only visit an Estonian embassy or police station once to receive their e-Resident digi-ID. e-Residents can pick up their digi-ID in one of 34 countries around the world where Estonia maintains an embassy or a consulate, or at a Police and Border Guard Board service point in Estonia. The entire application process, from online entry to card pickup, is expected to average just one month.
In addition to the government ministries, several private partners ensured the highest standards of website security and design, including Fujitsu, Stagnation Lab and Velvet. Their work enhanced the reliability and usability of the website portal. Banks such as LHV, Swedbank and SEB, the Chamber of Notaries, Estonian Bar Association, as well as several other private sector partners are strong contributors to the growth and development of e-Residency.
Before today, the e-Residency application portal was in a private alpha phase in which security and usability were extensively tested. Now, with the launch of the public beta, anyone can apply for e-Residency. The program is still in development, and certain elements of establishing an Estonian company online, such as opening a bank account, require a trip to Estonia. The e-Residency program team is working hard to improve this process. Prospective e-Residents may subscribe to the program newsletter for updates at e-resident.gov.ee
“We created e-Residency to grow the digital economy, attract new investment, and connect with new businesses. e-Residency provides enormous advantages in convenience and flexibility for anyone who has an existing business or other connection to Estonia. But it also provides anyone, not just those connected to Estonia, with the tools and systems to own and operate their own business. In creating this program, Estonia hopes to unleash the world-s entrepreneurial potential,” said Kaspar Korjus, e-Residency program director.
There are currently over 1500 e-Residents from 73 countries around the world that participated in the private alpha phase during which testing was carried out and two visits to the Estonian Police were required. Over half of them are from Estonia’s neighbouring countries: Finland (34%), Russia (15%), Ukraine (6%), Latvia (6%) and USA (3,5%) closely followed by Germany, UK, Lithuania and Italy. Over 18,000 prospective e-Residents worldwide have subscribed to the program newsletter.
e-Residency does not confer citizenship, tax residency, residence or right of entry to Estonia or to the European Union. The e-Resident smart ID card is not a physical identification or a travel document, and does not display a photo.
The e-Residency application portal was officially launched at Nordic Digital Day, a one-day conference about Nordic ICT innovations and reforms held during ICT Week 2015 in Tallinn, Estonia. Nordic Digital Day takes place in the framework of EU Structural Funds programme “Raising public awareness about the information society” and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. ICT Week 2015 is organised with the support of the European Regional Development Fund.
On May 14, 2015 at Latitude59 tech conference in Tallinn, three well-known global investors are given e-Residencies of Estonia: Michael Jackson, Paul Bragiel and Fadi Bishara. All three men already have existing business ties with Estonia: Michael Jackson is a former top executive of Skype and Paul Bragiel co-founded Estonian accelerator Gamefounders that is just expanding to Asia. Being active players in technology ecosystem, they will contribute as ambassadors spreading the word about Estonia and our e-Residency among their portfolio companies that are seeking to expand to Europe and run their businesses remotely.