Here’s why Estonian companies have high levels of transparency

In Estonia, transparency is not just a buzzword.

The value of transparency in business

Entering into a relationship with any company as a customer, investor, supplier or other stakeholder can involve a certain level of risk, but this can be offset by conducting due diligence. Due diligence is the reasonable level of investigation required to understand if a company can be trusted. If this process doesn’t reduce risks to a satisfactory level or is simply more difficult to perform then the likelihood of proceeding with that business relationship is lower.

How to access public data about Estonian companies

The Estonian Tax and Customs Board has already put together an excellent overview about how to use Estonian e-services and other methods to conduct due diligence on companies here, but I’ll summarise it below too.

  • Estonia’s Business Register. This is the best place to start for a wide range of official data about Estonian companies, including the documents that require a small fee.
  • European Business Register. As an e-resident, this Estonian e-service will give you access to all the official data that is made public by other EU member states.
  • The Estonian Tax and Customs Board. They have a number of useful tools including VAT ID verification (the EU-wide version is here) and a tax arrears verification tool.
  • Credit data reporting databases. There are a range of private companies that specialise in gathering the public data about companies so they can use it as part of their own data analysis services. Examples include inforegister, creditinfo and teatmik.
  • Register of economic activities. This provides information about activity licenses, activity notifications, precepts and prohibitions issued to companies. Many e-residents don’t require these licenses, but if they do then it will be listed here.
  • Criminal Records database. This covers more extreme breaches, of course, but can sometimes be needed especially if you want to know if someone has tax and fraud related offenses.
  • Register of judicial decisions. On a related note, you can also search for court decisions related to both individuals and companies here.
  • Providers of government grants and registries. If a company claims to have a grant underpinning their business then this is worth checking. You can search for projects funded by Enterprise Estonia or the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board.
  • The Estonian patent office. This is where you will find all trademarks and designs owned by an Estonian company (although not the ones that they have purchased a license for).

Can e-Residency be more transparent about this transparency?

Here at the e-Residency programme, we do talk often about the transparent nature of Estonia’s business environment and why that is a good thing for location-independent entrepreneurs.

In summary

E-Residency is useful for people who want a paperless EU company that is trusted globally and can be run entirely online with minimal cost and hassle — thanks in part to Estonia’s very high level of transparency.

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Adam Rang

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