Is e-Residency for me?

Some businesses are more well-suited to e-Residency than others — learn the most commonly applied based on real case studies

Photo: Getter Kuusmaa

We’re frequently asked by people whether e-Residency is a good solution for them.

The answer to this seemingly simple question very much depends on individual circumstances, which are certainly diverse in the e-resident community…

Since the beginning, we have been very clear that e-Residency suits certain business types and objectives, sectors, or geographies better than others. This is largely thanks to the inherently digital nature of e-Residency itself.

E-Residency’s unique, government-issued digital identity allows people outside of Estonia to verify themselves securely online and access diverse public and private Estonian e-services and the EU market from wherever they are in the world.

It follows therefore that a major motivation and value-driver of e-residents to start a company based in the EU and run it remotely comes down to location-independence. From digital nomads to business owners constantly on the road, any tools that support mobile business management are essential, e-Residency being no exception.

Nearly 80,000 people from over 170 countries have applied for e-Residency since the programme began in 2014. E-residents have founded over 15,000 companies. While our e-residents are as diverse as any global community, we do see a few common value-drivers behind their decisions to take up e-Residency, like location (or lack of), business type, industry, and personal goals.

To illustrate further, we thought it would be interesting to present to you some of the most suitable cases by introducing you to real life e-residents.

This way, we hope we can go someway to answer the overarching, million dollar question…

Is e-Residency for me?

In general, e-Residency is best suited to entrepreneurs or freelancers who:

  • sell services or digital products online in a broad range of sectors, including IT, marketing, publishing, consulting and more,
  • want to reduce bureaucracy and paperwork, in order to save time and money,
  • do not have a fixed location, or
  • want their business to stay in — or enter — the EU market so they can expand regionally or globally, trade in euros, access financial services or EU funding, or stay within the EU’s legal frameworks.

Let’s break these down a little more by considering a few common scenarios.

1. I’m based in Berlin and work full-time but also have a small side-business providing editing and translation services to a few clients around the EU. Maybe one day it will grow from a side project to my full time business.

Is e-Residency for me?

Yes — you have described an extremely common setup among our e-resident community. A host of full-time and part-time freelancers, consultants, and solopreneurs provide services or digital products to clients through their Estonian companies in a variety of sectors, including IT, marketing, management consulting, coaching, publishing, and more.

Why? Because:

  • it’s quick and easy to start your private limited company or OÜ
  • running business fully online and remotely takes minimal time and resources
  • invoicing and reporting can be automated or delegated to expert service providers (like those on the e-Residency Marketplace).

These were just some of the benefits that attracted Italian e-resident Mike, who builds, markets, and supports multiple SaaS products through his Estonian company. Read his story:

Additionally, setting up an OÜ now is a good way to start small and easy to grow your few invoices to a steady stream. This is how German e-resident Luka grew his multilingual translation and content creation company The Happy Beavers into a global business with e-Residency. Read more:

2. I’m a small business owner in the UK providing corporate coaching services, but business is doing so well I might expand in the future. I’ve recently attracted new clients based in the Nordics and Baltics. Brexit means I need to set up in the EU as running business from the UK is overly-bureaucratic and expensive and I’m looking for a more streamlined way to operate as my business expands.

Is e-Residency for me?

Yes — think of Estonia as a safe haven from Brexit and e-Residency as an effective bridge between you and the EU market. You can move or keep your company in the EU and use Estonia as a digital base to expand regionally and beyond.

E-Resident Priya set up her company in Estonia to avoid any ramifications from Brexit. Read more about her decision:

Plus, even entrepreneurs with a fixed location quickly find that running their digital business out of Estonia reduces bureaucracy and allows for more efficiency. An Estonian company will be a recognised business form for your Nordic, Baltic and EU clients and a great vehicle with which to expand into these regions further.

David and three co-directors became e-residents and registered Saher Europe in Estonia as the European arm of their security consultancy. Read their story:

3. I have no fixed address and instead travel around the world staying and working in different places for 3–6 months. I already have a successful marketing agency that I co-direct with my business partner out of the US but we’re thinking of setting up in the EU too as we’ve just won a great contract with a new client there.

Is e-Residency for me?

Yes — e-Residency is highly suited to people like you, i.e. location-independent entrepreneurs or digital nomads. Company registration and setup is quick and easy, administration is minimal, and you can carry your business in your pocket with you while you travel.

Perpetual traveller and e-resident Nevena is one such case of how e-Residency can support a nomadic lifestyle. She runs her recruitment business Recrooit with minimal fuss on the road from Serbia to the US and many other locations in between. Read Nevena’s story:

Multi-director companies require all directors to become e-residents before you establish the legal entity. Once it’s set up though, experience how seamless remote business management can be regardless of where each of you happen to be at any moment.

Global marketing consulting company Mansiontech OÜ is co-directed by e-residents Georg, from Austria, and Ian, from Brazil. Despite working in very different time zones, the founders manage the company remotely thanks to e-Residency. Read their story:

4. I am an entrepreneur currently based in Ukraine experienced in marketing. I have clients in the EU so need to operate in euros and they would also prefer to deal with a company based in the EU. Plus I am hoping to have better access to banking and payment services.

Is e-Residency for me?

Yes — there are many entrepreneurs from Ukraine or neighbouring CIS countries operating similar businesses selling digital products and services with the help of e-Residency.

Ukrainian e-residents like Konstantin, who is growing his software development company Redwerk OÜ from its digital base in Estonia. Read more:

Having an Estonian company opens up the range of financial services and business tools available to you. It also means you are operating your business in an open business environment and within the EU’s legal frameworks. It will also be easier to trade in euros, a convenient and stable currency for clients, and more easily make payments within the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). Estonia’s digital infrastructure, as well as almost all private services, can be accessed in Russian or English (or Estonian if you’re a talented linguist!), so you’re likely to find it easy to use all of these services in a language familiar to you.

These were many of the reasons that Ukrainian Alexander became an e-resident and founded PRNEWS.IO in Estonia in 2018. Read Alexander’s story:

It’s important to point out that the above examples are not exhaustive. Other business types and situations may have good reasons to operate in Estonia with e-Residency.

Remember, when deciding whether e-Residency is suitable, context matters.

Context matters

In addition to your business plans, it’s key to look at other more systemic or context-specific factors, like:

  • Legal and trade barriers, like taxation, customs, banking regulations, movement of goods and logistics, currency, etc
  • Contextual factors relating to your personal circumstances, such as your location, languages spoken, or criminal record
  • Geography: if you’re based in a country where there is no card pickup point, a lack of experienced service providers, or barriers to banking or taxation, e-Residency may not be suitable for you … at least not yet.

To ask about your own specific circumstances, contact our customer support team.

And finally, let’s cover the people who definitely WON’T BENEFIT from e-Residency:

  • People who want to avoid paying tax: e-Residency is not a tax residency nor does it override existing international tax rules so all entrepreneurs must fairly pay their taxes where they are owed.
  • People seeking citizenship or the right to travel or reside in Estonia or the EU: E-Residency is not a travel permit, visa or physical residency status for Estonia or the EU
  • People with criminal intentions: the e-Residency digital ID provides secure and privileged access to Estonia’s public e-services and transparent business environment. All applicants receive background checks by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board. You cannot use e-Residency to hide your business interests because data about shareholders, owners and taxation is public.
  • People who are unable to obtain international financial services because they live within a jurisdiction categorised as ‘high risk and non-cooperative’ by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Note that this is based on residency, not nationality, so people from these countries living abroad may still successfully benefit from e-Residency.

Apply for e-Residency today and join our growing global community of diverse but like-minded entrepreneurs!

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