Estonia becomes first country to offer e-residency digital citizenship



By NewsGram Staff Writer

The Republic of Estonia, a small country in northeastern Europe, has become the world’s first country to offer e-residency. A new scheme has allowed people from all over the world to get a digital identity provided by the Estonian government and set up a company with zero per cent corporate tax in Estonia.

The credit card sized e-residency permit provides the holder with an array of services, like submitting taxes online, accessing bank accounts, digitally signing documents, etc.

In a short span of six months after the scheme’s launch, Estonia already has 2,000 e-residents. According to a news report, Estonia is planning to increase this number to 10,000 by the end of this year.

This scheme gives access to the digital services of Estonia; however, the card should not be mistaken for unrestricted access to Estonia or the European Union (EU). The managing director of the e-Estonia showroom, Siret Schutting told IANS, “The services of the e-residency card are restricted to the virtual world, so residency or citizen services are not included and this cannot be used as an identification card or replace the mandatory visa or passport for entry into the EU.”

Since this scheme of e-citizenship is a fairly new product, several modifications are being done to it in order to improve the services it offers. Earlier, it was essential for a new e-resident to be present in Estonia at least once to identify him/her with biometric data. However, now all these formalities can be completed in any of the Estonian embassies located globally.

India has responded to this new scheme in a positive manner. Estonian Ambassador to India, Viljar Lubi, said, “Interest in India has been very keen, even without us actively promoting it. In India, it has been proved time and again that good ideas spread the fastest by word of mouth.”

This scheme is very useful for the entrepreneurs who intend to expand their business to the European Union. An Indian businessman, Bashyam Krishnan, told the news agency, “This is a simple and accessible gateway to the European Union. One can set up a company within 10 minutes. And from there on, the EU becomes your market.”

Krishnan added, “The services offered as a part of this are varied and nearly everything can be done with the touch of a button. The system is that easy and user friendly. Additionally, multiple security measures are there from secure passwords to a log system to check illegal access. I believe that it is extremely secure.”