Entering e-Estonia: First Country To Introduce e-Residency

Palju õnne Vabariigi aastapäeva puhul! Hoist the sinimustvalge and make room for kiluvõileib! Happy Independence Day to Estonia, e-Country of the future!

Last month on the 20th of January 2017 I had the pleasure of Listening to Taavi Kotka’s e-Estonia presentation in Central, Hong Kong at the Metta Space Ecosystem meetup. Although it was a day before his birthday and he was far from his family; Kotka was very informative about how Estonia’s e-Residency could benefit new and experienced entrepreneurs. Kotka was humorous and informative about the amazing e-Estonia program.

As we move forward in an increasingly automated world, more and more manual jobs are being terminated in favor of machines which are more efficient and less costly. Because of this trend, more jobs will have to be created in order to sustain families and communities who used to rely on traditional jobs.

Enter Estonia, a small country of the European Union nestled between Russian, Finland, and Latvia. With a population of 1.3 million, Estonia is roughly the size of West Virginia; But in spite of its size Estonia has become one of the most progressive countries in the world!

Tallinn in the winter

Because Estonia is located in the within 500 miles of the Arctic Circle, Estonian winters are terribly harsh and unforgiving. Due to its severe environment, most people who live in Estonia are programmers or technicians in other computer related occupations.

While the enchanting forests and medieval architecture may paint Estonia as a fairy tale setting in a faraway land from a long-ago time, they are anything but; Estonia endows its citizens with universal healthcare and free education. Estonia is ranked at number 8 in the World Freedom Index out of the 165 countries reviewed while the United States of America is ranked number 27.

Tallinn in the summer

What sets Estonia apart from the rest of the world is e-Estonia; e-Estonia is the brainchild of Taavi Kotka. In 2004 Kotka proposed a plan for an online citizenship that acts as your national identification. Since the implication of this system e-Estonia has made it much easier for people to register their companies online, sign documents digitally, exchange encrypted documents, conduct online bank transfers, and declare taxes online.

Kotka has set a steep goal for his project, he envisions e-Estonia to 10 million e-Residents by 2025. While the country of Estonia only has a population of 1.3 million, since May 2015 e-Estonia has been an open registration to anyone who takes the time to apply. One of the advantages of e-Residency, is the versatility of starting an online business. e-Residency would allow a Canadian entrepreneur to establish an Estonian company that he runs from Jamaica to serve clients in Sweden. The entrepreneur can use his digital signature to sign contracts with customers throughout the European Union, all done online!

e-Residency card

To apply for e-Residency you will have to submit an application along with proof of identification, A scanned passport photo, and a €100 payment through Visa or MasterCard for processing fees. The process time for each person on average is between one to three months. After the background check, the applicant will be notified that their ID card is ready for pick up. There are many embassies scattered across the world where the ID can be shipped to but in order to receive their ID, the applicant must go to one of the embassies.

Being a e-Resident means you will never have to go to Estonia it is still highly recommended to visit as a tourist. Estonia has a rich history dotted with castles all over the landscape, mild summers and bitter winters. Estonia has always been a land of many cultures; many of the architecture and influences come from Denmark, Germany, Russia, Sweden and Poland. On February 24, 1918 Estonia finally became an independent country. The citizens of Estonia come from all over Europe and Estonia has become a cultural hub of sorts. The people are proud of their heritage and are known to be welcoming to people from all walks of life! Because today is the 99th Independence Day of Estonia, why not apply for e-Residency now and visit Estonia in 2018?

Kevin Lim is a writer and a humanitarian from Dallas, Texas. His dream is to cross the Gobi Desert on foot and experience the nomadic life. In his free time, you can find him playing with his cat Catherine. You can contact him at Kevinlim@tikainnovation.com