Smart ID card

Estonian e-Residency

Boat trip to Lobos Island last Sunday was great, but the surfing on Wednesday didn’t go that well. I got small wound in my feet, I sprained my left thumb and hurt my ribs. I’m not sure how and when it happened exactly, but at some point the surf board must have hit my ribs hard enough to cause some internal bruises. So now I’ve been medicating myself with basic painkillers, Voltadol (and with a Mojito or two 😉 and taking it easy – no running or gym for four days now – and it will take at least few more before I dear to do any physical training.

Estonian e-Residency

I looked into Estonian e-Residency last year, but at that point I didn’t find the service useful for me, since I was still working in Finland. However things have changed now a bit since I’m traveling and working at the same time. The Estonian e-Residency gives you a digital identification and authorisation features through a smart ID card and access to some Estonian online services. The name of the service is quite brilliant, but don’t let it fool you – e-Residency has very little to do with the real Estonian residency. I see the e-Residency as a unique and modern service aimed for people interested in doing location-independent business in Europe.

e-Residency offers to every world citizen a government-issued digital identity and the opportunity to run a trusted company online, unleashing the world’s entrepreneurial potential. -

e-Residency gives access to various services, but I see the following ones as the most beneficial for a digital nomad:

  • Possibilities to digitally sign and verify different kind of contracts and papers online
  • Encrypt and Transmit documents safely online
  • Establish an Estonian company online
  • Possibility to do the company taxes and administer the company online
  • Access to online banking
  • Access to online payment services
  • I’ve also understood accounting and other administrative services for e-residents’ companies are available for reasonable prices

In the past you had to make a visit to Estonia to get the e-Residency and/or bank account, but based on discussions with a fellow nomad and a pro-gradu study things are changing and banks may not be legally entitled to meet the new customer face-to-face anymore. I’m not 100 % what is the situation NOW, but it may be possible the Estonian business service providers can already arrange a bank account and all the other things you need to establish a company completely online without a physical visit to Estonia.

I’m going to keep my company in Finland also in future and pay my personal taxes to Finland – in the end I’m grateful for the 18 years of free school and studying in Finland and I kinda feel obligated to give something back in form of taxes – but it still could be possible to benefit from the possibilities the Estonian e-residency provides. I haven’t applied for the e-residency just yet, but I’m definitely considering to do it in near future.

Most of all I’m interested about the e-Residency system Estonia has built so I’d like to try it out myself and follow what new features they are bringing into the system and in what direction they are taking it. For example basic thing like physical company post handling is a challenging task to do for a Finnish company if you’re traveling and working location-independently. If the Estonian e-residency core system and related business administration services allow running a business completely online for a reasonable costs I definitely see the potential there.

Currently the e-Residency is not hugely popular yet, but due to brexit and other unforeseen events these kind of services may suddenly become useful for a larger audience. Also it is nice to see initiatives which are more about enabling people to do things and work together – albeit in location-independent way – instead of building physical or virtual walls into borders.

I sure hope we’re also pushing forward our own digitalisation projects in Finnish government agencies and enterprises. We can do quite a lot online in Finland already, but the services are quite scattered and we still need to meet government, bank and other officials face to face or send paper letters to handle certain things so we have still lots to improve.

Some related resources: