Estonian e-Residency of the Future: Prospects, Long-Awaited Features, and Points of Growth

Jun 15, 2021 · 5 min read

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Estonian e-Residency program is one of the coolest initiatives for businesses in the EU. Released in 2014, the program has allowed dozens of thousands of people from all over the globe to start and manage some processes for their company.

Just like many other people out there, we love e-Residency. However, there is always room for improvement, especially when you strive for excellence. That's why we would like to take a look at what might be added to the program in the future and what might be improved. While working on this article, we've collected opinions from our team members, e-Residents, and our clients. Let's go!

Why Estonian e-Residency is a Breakthrough?

But first, let's talk a bit about e-Residency and why it's so unique.
A new level of digitalization. Estonia is a well-known e-governance pioneer — up to 99% of the government services are done fully online and these processes are constantly being simplified. E-Residency goes even further — it gives the opportunity for foreigners to use Estonian e-governance services and run their own business without any physical presence in the country. Our team members also note that other programs and services linked with e-Residency such as VAT or EORI are easy-to-obtain and the applications are done smoothly by our users directly. Estonian authorities maintain modern digital infrastructure and have a highly professional IT staff to make all this happen. Only a few countries provide services that are so highly digitalized and adopted.

A growth point for Estonia. Estonia is in tricky conditions. The country is tiny enough, it has no special geographical or historical benefits, it has a small domestic market, no natural resources. That's why one of the best ways for the country's development is openness for talents and business transparency.

E-Residency became a helping hand for Estonia to compete with European biggest jurisdictions like France, Germany, and England. The program attracts thousands of talented entrepreneurs from around the world, investors in local businesses, and funds for the Estonian economy. This is followed by an increase in job opportunities, budget enlargement, and a wider spread of Estonian culture and values.

How E-Residency Might Be Better and Certainly Will Be

#1 E-government services unification. Right now, e-Residents can manage certain processes via a bunch of different governmental websites. However, there is a lack of unity, meaning that all of them are managed separately and have different outmoded interfaces.

From the side of the government, it would be a great initiative to join several public services under one roof for the sake of entrepreneurs. User-friendly interface, unified structure — what a dream!

#2 All process should be done in English. We are definitely not trying to attack the Estonian language here. When in Rome, do as the Romans do but if you are a foreigner owning an Estonian company, the constant clash with Estonian content might be a real pain for you. Unfortunately, some government websites are only in Estonian and you have to translate it by yourself to find needed information.

Also, there are some docs that must be provided in Estonian only (like Articles of Association). This is confusing for most of our clients. We certainly believe that the Estonian government will handle this minor issue.

#3 Friendlier process of obtaining a card. Despite the digitalization of the service, it might take up to several months from the application to the moment when you physically obtain your card. And the pandemic only makes things worse. In some situations, applicants cannot reach their pick-up location and that might create additional pain.

#4 More clear positioning of e-Residency. Due to the confusing word 'residency', a lot of people consider the e-Residency program to be a magic wand that will make everything for them. The most active ones are packing suitcases and buying a one-way ticket to Estonia right after obtaining a card. Others name e-Residence program 'e-Visa' or 'e-Citizentship' which is another mistake. Unfortunately, e-Residency doesn't provide you with a right to travel to Estonia, no benefits for working with local banks, or applying for a usual visa. So, it might be wise to clear up these things as it might help to reduce a ton of current misunderstandings.
#5 Fully virtual e-Residency card or at least simplification of obtainment process. When we've asked the e-Residency community about desired changes, the first answer was to 'allow for e-residency cards to be picked up at any EU embassy'. Indeed, the issue of picking up an e-Residency kit is a sore point of the whole system — especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic it might become a challenge to visit the nearest location. It would be great to get rid the future Estonian e-Residents of the card obtaining issue by making the process fully remote (as Estonian authorities love so much). If not, e-Residents ask to allow obtaining a kit via delivery or at least to widen the number and prevalence of pickup locations.

#6 Globalization of the program. Our product manager Liliana thinks that the progress of e-Residency is in its spreading throughout the EU (and the world in the long-term vision). Imagine the prospect of doing business in the EU with the one and only e-Residency card and freely using e-government services in any European country. Seems like an impossible desire. But we don't think so. The European Union members have a unique opportunity to create a strong and unified entrepreneurial system by covering all end-to-end business processes with one card. Thus, Estonia became a pioneer in creating the first successful program for digital businesses and now has a unique opportunity to spread the idea of such a program as the e-Residency throughout the globe.

The Future Prospects

Despite noted weak spots of the e-Residency, this initiative is still a mind-blowing government program that allows thousands of entrepreneurs to manage a business with comfort. Don't forget about a bunch of other pioneering enterprises of Estonia like Digital Nomad Visa, governmental startup fundraising, Invest in Estonia, etc. The sky's the limit, so we want Estonian government services to become better and better. Our team imagines future e-Residency as a worldwide system that allows millions of entrepreneurs to manage their companies easily using united e-government services for the sake of all countries' development.

Take any of the Estonian services or initiatives, and Enty will likely help you with the most of them. If you want to incorporate a company, automate your accounting, get a crypto license or a VAT number (the list may be continued), contact us anywhere and get the most advanced approach.
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