Seeing as you’ve stumbled upon this article, I bet you’re looking for a fast and simple way to start an online business in the EU.
The Estonian e-Residency program was launched in December 2014, and allows non-residents to access Estonian services such as incorporate companies, do banking, payment processing and taxation. The program gives every e-Resident a smart card to use for signing documents and access Estonian services from anywhere in the world. Ultimately this program makes it easier for anyone to start their own business in the EU.
As me you’re probably tired of the endless piles of paperwork, the printing and scanning of documents, and having to show up in person to get things done. These are some of the many reasons why incorporating in Estonia might be your cup of tea.
Complete these three steps and you’re well on your way:
- Apply for Estonian e-Residency
- Sign up with a business service provider to help you incorporate (for example Xolo Leap)
- Open a bank account in Estonia
If you use the code ONLINEBUSINESS when registering for Xolo’s service, you’ll get a 100 EUR credit towards your membership fees.
Before I continue, let me remind you that Estonian e-Residency is not the same as residency, it is not a travel document, and is not a way to avoid taxes in your country of residence. I also encourage anyone that plan to incorporate a company at all, to do proper research on their own.
Step 1: Apply for Estonian e-Residency
All you need for the e-Residency application is:
- A copy of a government-issued ID
- A passport-style digital photo
- A statement of motivation
- A Visa or MasterCard for payment
With an Estonian e-Residency you can do all business-related activities online, using the e-Resident Digi-ID. With the Digi-ID you can:
- Establish your company 100% online from anywhere.
- Access your business banking (LHV, Swedbank etc) and online payment service providers (Paypal, TransferWise etc) from anywhere.
- Sign and authenticate legal documents digitally from anywhere in the world.
- Operate your company online while traveling and easily declare any taxes online.
By starting your own business with the e-Residency program you also become the sole owner of your company, as there is no local director needed.
If you went ahead and applied for an Estonian e-Residency right now: great! You will most likely receive the result of your application by email within a few weeks.
Step 2: Choose a business service provider
If your application for e-Residency is approved, you can start setting up your online business by utilizing a verified service provider. Of course, it is not required to use a service provider, but in my opinion it’s worth it. You can check out the list of service providers here.
It’s quite simple to register and manage a business in Estonia if you use a business service provider to provide you with a business address, deal with incorporation, accounting, regulations, VAT and taxes. Stuff that you probably want to spend the least amount of time on.
I personally chose Xolo (formerly LeapIN) because of their easy signup process, detailed FAQ pages and reasonable prices. I’m very pleased with their customer service and their slick administration dashboard. I haven’t used any other service provider, but they might be just as good.
Use the code ONLINEBUSINESS when signing up for Xolo’s service which gives you 100 EUR credit to use on your membership fees.
Step 3: Open an Estonian bank account
All companies need a business bank account, and banking in Estonia is pretty good. Being an e-Resident and having an Estonian company makes it much easier to open a business bank account. Here is a few Estonian banks that might suit you if you decide to incorporate your business in Estonia:
The only catch of opening an LHV or Swedbank account is that you have to travel to Estonia to open one. Everything else related to the incorporation of your Estonian company can be completed online. Tallinn is a great city, so in my opinion it’s worth the trip. I chose LHV for my business banking because it’s integrated with Xolo’s service, which makes everything work smoothly. You can read more about Xolo's service in this article.
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