How to access a PayPal business account from any country
Financial services like PayPal are often restricted by location, but Estonia offers e-Residency so that anyone, anywhere can access the tools to conduct business globally.
In this article, I will take you through the steps to access a PayPal business account as an e-resident:
- Become an e-resident
- Establish a global EU company through e-Residency
- Access EU business banking for your new EU company
- Register for a PayPal business account
- …or choose an alternative provider.
Financial exclusion is one of the biggest challenges facing the world today, particularly for entrepreneurs.
Huge numbers of people are still unable to access the financial services that they need, such as banking and payment providers, because these services are either unaffordable or unavailable — often just because of their location.
One of the most valuable online tools for entrepreneurs is PayPal. It’s a secure, easy and fast payment network that has been a major driving force behind the growth of e-commerce globally. PayPal now operates in 25 currencies across more than 200 countries and territories.
However, not everyone has equal access.
In many of those locations it is only possible to send money as an individual and not receive money as a company. That’s holding back people’s entrepreneurial potential, as well as limiting economic growth.
The problem isn’t with PayPal, which is actually a huge supporter of greater financial inclusion and has already made an incredible contribution by providing more opportunities online for millions of entrepreneurs. You can read more here about how PayPal is working to build a future in which people of all backgrounds and economic standings have the opportunity to participate and thrive in the global economy.
The key issue is trust online.
PayPal is a trusted payment platform and it has a duty to protect the integrity of its service in order to keep expanding the benefits of e-commerce globally. This is not yet possible in every location due to issues that are too varied and complex to discuss here. Unfortunately, the result is that huge numbers of entrepreneurs are unable to succeed online just because of their location offline.
Accessing PayPal as an e-resident
One country where PayPal can be accessed without restrictions is Estonia, an EU country that has one of the world’s most welcoming and transparent business environments.
This is significant for everyone facing financial exclusion around the world because Estonia is also the first country to offer e-Residency — a secure digital identity that can enable anyone to access the same business advantages enjoyed by citizens and residents of Estonia.
E-residents can establish a trusted EU business online and then manage them remotely from anywhere in the world with low costs and minimal bureaucracy. They also have access to all the fintech services required to grow that business.
The e-Residency programme was launched two years ago and there have now been more than 20,000 applications from 138 countries. The programme has even now partnered with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to launch the e-Trade For All initiative, which is helping developing countries empower their citizens to access entrepreneurship and e-commerce.
I work as Customer Excellence Specialist at e-Residency so I know PayPal is now widely used across the e-Residency community globally, even in countries where its services are restricted to companies registered locally.
Ukraine, for example, has a large and highly skilled population that offers globally competitive services, such as IT outsourcing. Yet Ukrainian companies are blocked from opening business accounts with PayPal and have enormous difficulties receiving money from customers abroad.
As a consequence, Ukraine has the fastest rate of applications for e-Residency as well as the highest rate of e-residents who then establish businesses through the programme. We recently met with entrepreneurs at e-Residency events in Kyiv, Lviv and Dnipro and PayPal was one of the biggest topics that people wanted to discuss.
In Turkey, PayPal operated a full service for local entrepreneurs until last year when their operations in the country were suspended due to a regulatory dispute. Tens of thousands of businesses had to find a new way to process payments — and in some cases a new business model — so some discovered e-Residency as the solution.
Arzu Altinay from Istanbul has been running guided tours of her city through her company, Walks in Istanbul, since 2008. Her tours are incredibly popular with great online reviews and a steady flow of customers who would book in advance through PayPal.
When PayPal ended its service in Turkey last June, she began searching for an alternative payment platform. At the same time however, Turkey also experienced a decline in tourism so Altinay had to think further outside the box — and borders — to sustain her business.
She discovered e-Residency and then established Walks in Europe as an EU company so that she could access international payment providers, but also expand her business across the continent.
How to open a PayPal business account as an e-resident
PayPal is a private company that has the right to decide who it can open accounts for so no one but them can guarantee that you will be able to open one.
What we can do however is tell you the steps that others have gone through in order to access a PayPal business account.
1. Apply for e-Residency
Visit e-resident.gov.ee to begin your application. It costs €100, which then covers the administration and background checks by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board. These background checks take up to 30 days and are important because you are receiving a secure, government-issued digital identity, which then allows you to operate online with a higher level of trust.
After your application is approved, your e-Residency starter kit will be sent to your nearest Estonian Embassy or other pick-up location that you have chosen and will be ready to collect in the following weeks. This contains your ID card, a card reader that enables you to plug it into your computer’s USB, and your pin codes.
You are now an e-resident and can use your digital ID to securely access both public and private services online.
2. Start a company through e-Residency
The main advantage of becoming an e-resident at present is your ability to start and manage a trusted company entirely online. It will be an EU company, but also location-independent so you can conduct business globally from anywhere in the world.
Registering a company as an e-resident is easy and costs €190. Simply visit e-resident.gov.ee/start-a-company and follow the steps.
About 90% of e-residents choose a business service provider for help with things like incorporation, accountancy and running a virtual office. The typical monthly spend is around €60 to €100, which represents good value-for-money compared to the cost of these services globally.
You can learn more about them at e-resident.gov.ee/run-a-company.
3. Access EU business banking for your new company
Until recently, e-residents could only choose between LHV and Swedbank in order to open an Estonian bank account for an e-Residency company. To open an account with them, these banks still require a visit to Estonia and often want to see a connection to Estonia too.
Holvi provides ‘banking for Makers and Doers’ — as they describe it — and enable business owners to manage all their finances in one easy-to-use service. Each account has its own unique EU IBAN number and a merchant account is included so that money can be easily received from customers online. Holvi is a fully digital service so anyone can now apply to open a business account with them entirely online without having to travel to Estonia.
Once you are an e-resident and have registered your company in Estonia, you can open your business account with Holvi here: https://about.holvi.com/e-residents.
Alternatively, if you wish to open a bank account with a traditional bank in Estonia then we recommend that you speak to a business services provider before booking any travel to Estonia.
4. Register for a PayPal business account
PayPal gives you the option of opening a personal, premier or business account. As an e-resident with a limited company, you can now choose a business account and access the widest range of features.
Your company will be able to send and receive money globally with all payment types, including from customers without PayPal accounts. You can add payment buttons to your website and even use special tools for things like subscriptions and auctions.
The PayPal business account is obviously for your company, which is based in Estonia so you can choose this location and then add the IBAN and BIC from your banking provider. Make sure you visit the Estonian PayPal website, instead of the version that is automatically shown first in your country.
We often get asked if it is possible to open a PayPal business account if your banking provider is based in a different country to your company (as Holvi is based in Finland). You can actually add any European IBAN number and BIC code as long as it is SEPA compliant so Holvi, LHV and Swedbank are all suitable for e-residents who want to use PayPal.
If there are any problems then you can contact PayPal’s customer support line and they will add the IBAN number for you. For this, you will need a certificate from your banking provider to prove that it is yours, but Holvi will be happy to help.
PayPal occasionally asks for additional information, such as bills with your company address, particularly if you are resident outside the EU or you want to raise your limits. Your business services provider should also be able to help you in these cases.
Start your application for a PayPal Business account at PayPal.ee.
5. …or use an alternative provider
As an e-resident with a trusted digital identity backed by the Government of Estonia, you now have access to a wide range of financial services online so you may want to consider all your options.
Remember, you are 100% in control of the company you establish through e-Residency (if you choose to do so) as there are no requirements for a local director. If there are any problems accessing PayPal or you feel a different payment provider is better suited to your business then you are welcome to try them instead.
In fact, that’s what happened to Altinay from Turkey who I mentioned earlier. She chose to use an alternative payment platform that she could now also access as an e-resident because it was more affordable and specialised in her industry.
If you set up your banking with Holvi then you’ll notice that they have a wide range of features to support entrepreneurs, such as a Mastercard attached to your account, paperless bookkeeping and easy invoicing. Through their own online store that is connected to your Holvi account, you can also sell products and collect payments easily from your customers. All funds are in real time on your merchant account ready to be used wherever you need them.
You can learn more at: https://about.holvi.com/products
You are now a member of a growing community of e-resident entrepreneurs who can conduct business from our new digital nation without some of the the restrictions imposed by national boundaries.
You can now concentrate on building your business and start trading globally with greater ease than ever before.
Access to PayPal and other financial services is an important factor behind the growth of e-Residency, but the benefits extend much further. You can now conduct business with minimal bureaucracy and low costs entirely online no matter where you are in the world.
Good luck. We can’t wait to hear about the business you are building.
For more information, visit e-resident.gov.ee.