Here’s how you can create an EU company with EU banking (anywhere on Earth)

A step-by-step guide for using Estonia’s e-Residency programme to become a location-independent entrepreneur.

Who is e-Residency for?

Anyone can apply for e-Residency no matter where you live or which passport you carry.

  • Entrepreneurs with no fixed location (perhaps because they are traveling ‘digital nomads’, want to move countries in future or simply reject the costs and constraints of an office and fixed location).
  • Entrepreneurs who want to easily operate across borders, but without requiring a physical presence in multiple countries.
  • Entrepreneurs who work alone (as freelancers, contractors or solo entrepreneurs).
  • Entrepreneurs who want to lower the administrative costs and reduce the hassle of running their company (including for private sector services such as accounting).
  • Entrepreneurs who are unable to access financial services and business tools they need (like PayPal) because they are restricted from companies registered in their territory.
  • Entrepreneurs who want to operate inside the EU’s legal frameworks in order to benefit from increased trust online.
  • Entrepreneurs who want to operate inside the EU business environment for greater ease of conducting business globally and with other EU companies.
  • Entrepreneurs who want to operate within the EU business environment in order to increase their chance of accessing funding.
  • Entrepreneurs who want to trade in euros (which may be more convenient and/or a more stable currency) or more easily make payments within the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA).
  • Entrepreneurs who speak English or Russian (or Estonian!). Estonia’s digital infrastructure, as well as almost all private services, can be accessed in these languages, although business service providers are adding their own languages too (1Office now serves clients in all three, plus Finnish and Latvian).
Sir Richard Branson learning about e-Residency from Programme Director Kaspar Korjus
  • People seeking citizenship or the right to travel or reside in Estonia or the European Union. E-Residency provides online access to Estonia’s public services and business environment, although you are welcome to speak to our friends at Work in Estonia or Startup Estonia (who even have a Startup Visa).
  • People with criminal intentions. E-Residency is a trusted, government-issued digital ID that provides access to our open and transparent business environment. All applicants receive background checks by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board to ensure that it is used by legitimate entrepreneurs. You can not use e-Residency to hide your business interests because data about shareholders, owners and taxation is public.
  • Larger companies, particularly those involved in manufacturing. These companies have complex needs and considerations, as well as fixed locations, so do not benefit from reducing their administrative overheads online through location-independence in the same way that smaller and single-person companies can. However, larger companies do benefit from e-Residency in other ways — such as using the digital signature to replace ink signatures or integrating the digital ID to improve their KYC and onboarding processes.
  • People who are unable to obtain international financial services because they live within a jurisdiction categorised as ‘high risk and non-cooperative’ by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). At present, these are North Korea, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Serbia, Ethiopia, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu, and Yemen. Note that this is based on residency, not nationality, so people from these countries living abroad have still successfully benefited from e-Residency.

Is e-Residency a ‘loophole’?

No.

Step 1: Apply for e-Residency

Visit e-resident.gov.ee and fill out the simple form to join our new digital nation. You will need:

  • A passport-style digital photo
  • A motivation statement
  • A Visa or Mastercard to pay the state fee

Why does Estonia offer e-Residency?

E-Residency is Estonia’s gift to the world — but why?

Live-Residency statistics: goo.gl/Zp9L93

Step 2: Start a limited company through e-Residency

Some e-residents want to start their companies immediately, while many others choose to wait up to six months or even a year as they finalise their business plans ahead of launch. In some cases, they haven’t even told their existing bosses yet!

  • Answers to basic questions about your company’s structure and area of business
  • An address and contact person for your company in Estonia
  • What will your initial area of activity be?
  • Who are the shareholders and how large are the partner’s share capital contributions?
  • What will the private limited company’s place of business and the address of its location be?
  • How will the management of the private limited company take place?

Using e-Residency services providers

A full list of service providers recommended by other e-residents is available at e-resident.gov.ee/run-a-company, and more are being added.

Step 3: Open an EU IBAN account

You will need a business account with an IBAN (International Business Account Number) so your company can easily receive, hold and send money (as well as pay in share capital and pay out to yourself).

The ‘traditional’ banks

There are two banks in Estonia that provide business accounts to e-residents — LHV and Swedbank.

The fintech firms

In May 2017, the Finnish fintech firm Holvi became the first company to launch a business account for e-residents. The company already has a great reputation where it provides services in Finland, Germany and Austria and they have effectively chosen ‘e-Estonia’ as their next national market.

Step 4: Conduct business globally

I was recently asked to explain the difference between a ‘virtual company’ established online through e-Residency and a ‘real company’ established in person by an EU citizen.

Comply with regulations

Eesti.ee is Estonia’s state information portal and it has a comprehensive section for entrepreneurs here. Everything is in Estonian, English and Russian. This is also where you will find overviews of different regulations depending on your area of business.

Pay taxes

Estonia currently ranks first in the International Tax Competitiveness Index and enables entrepreneurs to pay Estonian taxes entirely online with minimal hassle.

Pay in share capital

If you decided to defer your payment of minimum share capital at registration then you will just need to pay in and register it before dividends can be paid out.

Make and receive payments globally (including through PayPal)

You should now have an EU IBAN account for your company, which means you can easily send and receive money within the Euro Single Payments Area (SEPA).

Good luck!

E-Residency can minimise the cost and hassle of almost every aspect of starting and running a company.

Further resources

The official e-Residency website is e-resident.gov.ee and contains more information about applying for e-Residency, starting a company and running a company — including lists of service providers recommended by other e-residents.

--

--

Archived blog! The official blog of the Republic of Estonia’s e-Residency programme is now at e-resident.gov.ee/blog.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Adam Rang

Saunapreneur at EstonianSaunas.com. Previously Chief Evangelist at Estonia’s e-Residency programme.