Estonia made history in December 2014 by starting the first supranational e-Residency scheme in the world – a state-issued, secure digital identity for non-residents that allows digital authentication and the digital signing of documents – thus moving towards the idea of a country without borders.
Estonia’s first e-resident was The Economist editor Edward Lucas, who called the e-resident’s card an “Estonian Express” that offers a degree of security, convenience and privacy that no other national ID scheme does. In a short period of time, thousands of foreign entrepreneurs, professionals and media figures have followed Lucas’s suit to become Estonian e-residents, among them Shinzō Abe – the Prime Minister of Japan.
In Estonia, it is customary for citizens and residents to use the digital ID card for paying taxes, transferring money, voting, buying prescriptions and signing documents online. But if you come to Estonia temporarily or have business connections in the country, but live elsewhere, an Estonian e-Residency is a good opportunity as it gives you access to use Estonia’s digital services. When you become an Estonian e-resident, you will obtain a smart digital ID card that will allow you to use the country’s secure digital ID system for electronic banking, company registration, sending secure e-mails, signing and encrypting documents, and accessing other public services, not only in Estonia, but throughout the whole European Union; as under the EU law, each EU country’s digital ID is valid in every other country.
How do I apply?
How to apply for e-Residency?
It is possible to apply for e-Residency online. You can join the Estonian digital society and become an e-resident in four simple steps.
The average processing time for e-Residency is one month, and may vary based on demand and pickup location.
e-Residency is generally available online to applicants aged 18 years or older, who have never been convicted of a criminal felony, and at the sole discretion of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board.
The application consists of the following:
- Your name and identifying information;
- A scanned passport photo;
- A scanned copy of government-issued identity documentation;
- A minimum of one paragraph describing your interest and motivations behind applying for e-Residency. (This helps the Police and Border Guard Board with risk management and background check);
- The application fee for e-Residency is 100 euros. (Visa and MasterCard are accepted for payment).
- Your desired pickup location: one of 38 Estonian embassies and consulates around the world, or an Estonian Police and Border Board station.
See the e-Residency website for details.
Things to remember
- The Estonian e-Residency card does not qualify you for Estonian citizenship or a residence permit;
- The e-resident card does not carry a person’s photo and therefore is not an identity card outside the digital domain.