More than 200 EU businesses have been established online in Ukraine

Estonia’s e-Residency programme is providing entrepreneurs in Ukraine with greater freedom to conduct business globally online.

In this article:

  • Why Ukrainians are now the fastest adopters of e-Residency
  • How to establish an EU business through e-Residency without leaving Ukraine
  • Where to learn more about e-Residency at upcoming events in Kyiv, Lviv and Dnipro

Ukraine is celebrating the start of visa-free travel across most of Europe, but Ukrainians don’t even need to leave home anymore if they want the freedom to run an EU company.

More than 1,200 applications have been submitted from Ukraine for Estonia’s e-Residency programme, which provides them with a government-issued digital identity and access to public services online.

Ukrainian e-residents can then use Estonia’s advanced digital infrastructure to establish and manage an EU company entirely online with low costs and minimal bureaucracy — while still living, working and paying taxes in Ukraine.

The only two countries with more applications are Estonia’s neighbours — Finland and Russia — which is understandable as these countries have a far larger number of people with existing business connections to Estonia who quickly recognised the benefits of e-Residency.

However, there are two interesting points to make about the data for Ukraine.

Firstly, Ukrainians are signing up for e-Residency at a faster rate than anywhere else — even exceeding the post-Brexit surge in UK applications for e-Residency.

Secondly, Ukrainians are using the e-Residency programme to establish new companies at a much faster rate than anywhere else too. There are now 211 EU businesses run online by e-residents in Ukraine and we know a significant portion of the rest plan to set up a business in the near future. This data is arguably far more interesting as it shows where e-residents are currently getting the most value from the programme.

So what’s going on?

Why Ukrainians are now the fastest adopters of e-Residency

Internet access is increasing everywhere, yet there’s an enormous variation in access to opportunities online just because of your location offline. Unfortunately, Ukrainians are among the worst affected by location-based restrictions on a wide variety of online tools and services.

As a consumer, it can be frustrating to discover that an online retailer like Amazon won’t ship to your home or a music streaming service like Spotify won’t let you listen in.

As an entrepreneur however, not being able to access business banking, international payment providers or other modern business tools can prevent your company from growing — or ever getting started.

Despite these challenges, Ukraine certainly has no shortage of entrepreneurial talent, ideas or enthusiasm.

The country has a highly skilled and educated workforce, which includes world leading IT professionals who are keeping the world’s largest companies running smoothly. It’s already one of Europe’s top outsourcing hubs with $2bn of exports in software development and support each year. It also has fast growing technology and e-commerce sectors, which have the potential to make Ukraine one of Europe’s leading startup hubs.

When Ukrainians are held back from building new businesses, launching freelance careers or finding remote work, it doesn’t just affect individuals. These location-based restrictions are depriving an entire country’s economy of additional income that could be generated from abroad.

This is why Estonia established its e-Residency programme to help unleash the world’s entrepreneurial potential. It means anyone, anywhere can access Estonia’s advanced digital infrastructure and then benefit from the same opportunities online that Estonians already possess.

An EU company established through e-Residency doesn’t just make it easier to conduct within Europe, but also benefits from the EU’s legal frameworks and higher levels of trust when conducting business globally. That’s why e-Residency companies have access to all the tools needed to easily conduct business across borders and grow globally.

In recognition of the benefits of the programme, even the UN has now partnered with e-Residency to help improve access to e-commerce in the developing world.

Crucially, e-Residency is not tax residency so e-resident entrepreneurs in Ukraine can continue contributing taxes to Ukraine, while Estonia benefits already from increased connections with entrepreneurs in Ukraine and elsewhere.

E-Residency provides a business environment built on openness and transparency where anyone has the opportunity to succeed as an entrepreneur. Ukrainians are signing up because there is enormous demand there for greater trust in their ability to conduct business globally.

How to establish an EU business without leaving Ukraine

The e-Residency programme has launched a new website at e-resident.gov.ee where you can apply for e-Residency and learn more about starting an EU company.

e-resident.gov.ee

E-Residency is a digital identity so it does not provide citizenship or physical residency — although our colleagues at Work in Estonia and Startup Estonia are doing a lot of great work to find opportunities for Ukrainians who wish to physically move to Estonia if they want to fast-track their career or grow their business.

If you want to stay in Ukraine though and operate inside the EU business environment then e-Residency can be obtained through an easy online application and a cost of €100, which covers the background checks conducted by the Police and Border Guard Board in Estonia.

This is an important part of the process because you are receiving a secure government-backed digital identity, which protects both the legitimacy and transparency of the e-Residency business environment.

Once approved, you will then be notified by email that your e-Residency starter kit is ready to collect from the Estonian Embassy in Kyiv. You can also select other locations globally if you plan to be outside Ukraine. The starter kit contains your digital ID card, an ID card reader that you can plug it into your computer’s USB slot, and your pin codes to authenticate your identity and digitally sign documents.

You will then have access to Estonia’s advanced digital infrastructure and the same abilities as Estonians to establish and manage EU businesses online. There’s no need for a local director, for example, so you will own and control 100% of your EU company.

Your e-Residency card connects to your computer through a USB port

You will also be able to sign documents and contracts instantly online as your secure digital signature is legally equivalent to handwritten signatures in Estonia, across the EU in the near future, and between any partners globally on agreement.

You can now visit e-resident.gov.ee/start-a-company and follow the process to obtain a legal address in Estonia and set up your company. About 90% of e-residents choose an e-Residency business service provider, which can guide you through this process and provide services such as accountancy and a virtual office. A full list of options is available at e-resident.gov.ee/run-a-company.

Once your company is established, you can then set up business banking too. Until now, e-residents have had to travel to Estonia to establish their account at LHV or Swedbank with the help of a business service provider, but there are good travel connections from Ukraine and the feedback from e-residents about their service has been very positive.

However, the e-Residency programme has now partnered with the Finnish fintech firm Holvi to offer borderless business banking for e-residents that can be accessed entirely online. This means the entire process of establishing an EU company with EU business banking can be completed from Ukraine for the first time.

As an e-resident entrepreneur, you will now be able to run your EU company entirely online from Ukraine or take it with you when you travel.

Where to learn more about e-Residency at events in Kyiv, Lviv and Dnipro

We’re always keen to speak with entrepreneurs who want to learn more about e-Residency or existing e-residents who want to get more benefits out of the programme. There will be events in Kyiv, Lviv and Dnipro in June so you are welcome to speak with us in English, Ukrainian or Russian.

Dnipro

ITEM 2017
Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 June 
Lavina Park / Menorah business & cultural centre
English

Dnipro Deputy Mayor Jaanika Merilo is a champion of digital solutions

E-Residency is sponsoring ITEM, the largest IT conference in central Ukraine, where you will get the chance to hear about the future of governance and business from the programme. The conference will be opened by the Deputy Mayor of Dnipro, Jaanika Merilo, who is originally from Estonia, but is now a champion of digital solutions for Ukraine.

You are welcome to visit our booth at any time over the two day period to discuss e-Residency. In addition, Head of Growth at e-Residency Oleg Gutsol will be speaking on stage during the first day at 11.20 then taking part in a Q&A at 1200.

The full agenda for ITEM is available online here and you can buy your tickets here.

Lviv

Workshop: How to start an EU company in Ukraine through e-Residency
Communa co-working space
Monday 19 June, 1900 to 2030
English, Ukrainian and Russian

This workshop will cover the entire process of becoming an e-resident, establishing a company through e-Residency and managing it from Ukraine. You can also find out about business opportunities around the e-Residency programme as a service provider to the growing community of e-residents.

The workshop will be led in English, but you are welcome to ask questions in Ukrainian and Russian too.

Let us know you are interested or plan to attend by clicking our Facebook event.

Ukrainian-born entrepreneur Oleg Gutsol is Head of Growth at e-Residency

Kyiv

Pop up e-Residency consultancy
Estonian Embassy in Kyiv
Wednesday 21 June
1000 to 1400
English, Ukrainian and Russian

This consultancy is for anyone interested in becoming an e-resident, establishing their business after becoming an e-resident, growing their business after establishing it through e-Residency, or becoming a business service provider to the programme. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and receive advice in English, Ukrainian or Russian from members of the e-Residency programme.

Book your appointment by emailing me on adam.rang@eas.ee.

Fryday W: Estonia’s Digital Revolution
iHUB Kyiv
1830 to 2100
English

Estonian Ambassador to Ukraine Gert Antsu will speak at Fryday W in Kyiv

Estonian Ambassador to Ukraine Gert Antsu will talk about Estonia’s digital revolution at this business networking event organised by Fryday Kyiv. Discover how Estonia emerged as an advanced digital nation and why it decided to offer e-Residency to the world. Members of the e-Residency programme will also be attending to answer questions.

The event is free, but you will need to RSVP here. You can also click that you are going on Facebook here.

Workshop: How to start an EU company in Ukraine through e-Residency
Chasopys co-working space
Thursday 22 June, 1900 to 2030
English, Ukrainian and Russian

This workshop will cover the entire process of becoming an e-resident, establishing a company through e-Residency and managing it from Ukraine. You can also find out about business opportunities around the e-Residency programme as a service provider to the growing community of e-residents. Fryday W attendees from the previous night are welcome to join us.

The workshop will be led in English, but you are welcome to ask questions in Ukrainian and Russian too.

Let us know you are interested or plan to attend by clicking our Facebook event.

We look forward to seeing you in Ukraine. Until then, you can learn more about e-Residency and sign up at e-resident.gov.ee.

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