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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Saturday, 16.01.2021, 17:16

Estonia's e-residency program has earned state over EUR 50 mln since launch

BC, Tallinn, 01.12.2020.Print version
Estonia's e-residency program, which celebrates its sixth anniversary on Tuesday, has since its launch earned the state over 50 million euros in direct economic gain, having continued its strong growth even during the emergency situation, informs LETA/BNS.

In addition, e-residency has supported Estonia's reputation as one of the most digital societies in the world, thereby contributing to increasing the country's soft power, including its diplomatic influence in the world. Since the previous anniversary, more than 11,500 e-residents have joined, and currently there are more than 75,000, Enterprise Estonia said in a press release.

Last year, the anniversary of the e-residency program was celebrated in cooperation with Estonian foreign missions in 21 countries around the world. No special events are planned this year, but the heads of the program are pleased that throughout 2020 and in the conditions of the spread of COVID-19, the opportunities created by both the Estonian e-state and e-residency, which promote remote work and location-free business for both Estonian people and e-residents in difficult situations, have received positive attention.

"A global pandemic is a challenge for the whole world. In light of COVID-19, Estonia's decision to move public sector services to the digital world now seems particularly forward-looking and citizen-friendly -- offering e-services and location-free business opportunities makes Estonia stand out worldwide and enables successful business operations even in situations where it is difficult to have meetings in person. For six years already, Estonian e-services have also been open to foreigners who have applied for e-resident status, and I hope that the impact and benefits of the e-residency program on the Estonian state and economy will increase even more in the future," Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Raul Siem said.

A survey conducted in April revealed that more than 61 percent of e-residents considered having e-residency and running a business remotely as tools for coping better with the crisis.

Thanks to the possibility of creating and managing a digital company free from red tape, the e-residency program received more and more attention in the European Union in 2020, for example in Germany, where almost 4,500 Estonian e-residents have already created more than 1,000 companies. Of course, e-residency still offers opportunities for citizens of countries that want access to the European market. Currently, the largest number of e-residents come from Finland, Ukraine, Russia, Germany and China. In total, e-residents have created almost 15,000 Estonian companies in six years.

According to Enterprise Estonia, the e-residency program was set up at the same time as the peak of the European migration crisis, when the world began to close. Estonia continued to guard its borders, but opened up digitally. "E-residency is a great alternative to migration. It gives many people around the world the opportunity to improve their standard of living without having to leave their home country. In this way, e-residency contributes to ensuring stability in the world and at the same time helps to make Estonia bigger and more visible," Ruth Annus, one of the founders of the e-residency program and head of the citizenship and migration policy department of the Ministry of the Interior, said.

E-residency is a success story of Estonian state agencies, the long-term survival of which is ensured by the influx of innovative ideas. In 2020, at the initiative of state agencies and in cooperation with e-residency, the possibility of remote notarization of documents, the digital nomad visa, realization of new points of issue and partnerships with private service providers were realized. The e-residency team continues to contribute to innovative national initiatives. Be it international outreach on the digital nomad visa or the sharing of know-how on innovative technological solutions, Enterprise Estonia said.

"We are continuing to look for opportunities to apply e-residency in increasingly innovative projects and keep our product under constant development. For example, we have been actively looking for an opportunity to offer cardless and contactless e-residency for over a year. The bold plan gained further momentum due to the movement restrictions established during the coronavirus crisis and the difficulties in obtaining an e-resident ID-card, which currently requires proof of identity at the embassy or point of issue. We are open to innovation and we want to continue to take the opportunities of the Estonian digital state outside our small home country," Dagmar Vlassov, deputy head of the e-residency program, said.

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