Shaleen Jain

· 4 min read

My Journey with Estonia's E-residency program

🔗 Overview

Estonia has a robust online and digital platform for availing all government services and accessing gov website by virtue of a digital ID card that is issued to every citizen.

Estonia’s E-residency program is an extension of that infrastructure that lets any non-citizen of Estonia get access to their digital government services from anywhere across the globe. This includes being able to incorporate and run a business, file taxes, etc completely online and remotely.

Here I describe how my experience of being an e-resident and running an online business has been.

Table of Contents

🔗 Getting the E-residency card

To become an e-resident, actually applying to the e-residency program is quite straightforward and a completely online process. You fill up the form and provide a statement of purpose with your current/future business model or services you provide. With me being an android developer and having a few apps on the play store, I attached a screenshot of my Play Store Developer page, just to make it easier for them.

Applications for e-residency are usually quite easily accepted especially if your business or service is inherently digital, online and location independent.

Once your application is accepted, you’ll receive an email with details on how to collect your ID card from the nearest collection point. Most likely it’s the Estonian embassy that’s near to you. Once there, they’ll verify your passport and scan your fingerprints for their records. You should have now gotten a box on the way out which contains the e-residency ID card, USB card reader, the cards secret PIN and PIN2 and a few informational documents.

🔗 Using the digital-ID card

Once you have your digital/eID smart card in hand, you’ll require setting up some software in order to use it.

🔗 Web eID

To log in to websites we need to install the “Web eID” extension:

For more detail and extensions for other browsers see their official website here.

🔗 DigiDoc

To be able to sign and read encrypted documents we need to download the “DigiDoc” desktop application. The download link for your OS can be found here.

If you’re on Linux, you need to follow a few additional setup instructions found here.

🔗 Smart-ID

Using the smart card ID every time for logging in to your service provider or bank website can quickly get cumbersome. For quick and simple access to websites with eID login I recommend setting up and using Smart-ID.

🔗 Choosing a Service Provider

You’re now set to be able to sing and carry out all business legal operations yourself including filing incorporation document, tax reports, annual report, etc.

However, you’ll rarely want to or have the time/knowledge to do so yourself, this is where Estonia’s service provider marketplace comes in. Here you can hire/enter into a contract with professional service providers that handle your company’s incorporation, having a legally required contract-person in Estonia and filing your tax/annual report among others.

Check out the marketplace to select the ones that fit your requirements.

I’ve personally used and talked with Xolo and 1Office, so I’ll be sharing my review and feedback of using their services.

🔗 Xolo

Xolo’s great in a number of ways:

However, they have a quite strict scope of the type of businesses/services they can accept and service. It’s mostly so they can automate and scale their services while keeping the operational overhead low. It’s how they manage to keep their prices relatively low.

This means, for example, they don’t accept businesses who sell physical goods or services including drop-shipping and e-commerce sites. Also, they only support Wise or LHV for business banking.

🔗 1Office

1Office on the other hand, is more like a traditional accountant/auditing firm and provide services to any legal business under the sun.

Some benefits I found:

The major downsides I found was they are a bit more expensive and have a more bespoke payment plan (they list payment plans on their site however when contacting their sales team, they ask for your requirements and end up quoting a completely custom payment plan and tier) and charge individually for every service besides the basics.

🔗 Closing

Here you have it! A quick run down detailing my experience with e-residency. Hope that helps you in your entrepreneurial journey!

And if you do decide to go with Xolo consider using my referral link in order to get additional €100 when you sign up and get incorporated with Xolo!

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