The Estonian Ministry of the Interior, the Police and Border Guard Board, and BLS International Services Limited signed an agreement to expand the issuance of e-Residency digital ID cards into 20 countries around the world. In the first phase, e-Residency digital IDs will be newly issued in South Africa, Singapore, Brazil, and Thailand, and issuance will continue in Japan.
"The aim of the agreement is to increase access to e-Residency of Estonia in different parts of the world. In 2019, the programme was extended to the United States and Japan. The reach further expanded this year, and e-residents will soon be able to collect their digital IDs in Johannesburg, Singapore, São Paulo, or Bangkok, "said Ruth Annus, Head of the Citizenship and Migration Policy Department at the Ministry of the Interior." The new contract partner will also continue to operate in Tokyo. In the future, the plan is to extend the digital ID card issuance network to a further 15 locations, she added.
According to Annus, e-Residency has a positive impact on Estonia’s economy, bringing significant tax benefits to the state treasury and creating jobs. “Estonian companies created by e-residents rely on local entrepreneurship, which is especially important considering the current economic situation. During and after Covid-19 related crises, e-Residency is a beacon for the rest of the world, proving that an economy can be restarted and boosted despite international travel restrictions,” said Annus.
Annus also pointed out that e-Residency is Estonia’s calling card of its digital society of its digital society. 73,000 e-residents have among them created more than 14,600 Estonian companies that employ over 1,400 people, who earn a monthly salary above the Estonian average. Most companies have been set up by citizens of Germany, Russia, and Ukraine. The most popular areas of business are information technology, communications, professional services, as well as wholesale and retail trade. Since its launch in 2014, e-Residency has generated 36.3 million euros of direct benefits for Estonia’s economy in taxes alone.
According to Dagmar Vlassov, Acting Managing Director of e-Residency, access to e-Residency digital IDs around the world has been the main bottleneck of the programme since it was launched. In order to receive their personal digital ID card, an applicant must pick up the document from an Estonian embassy or official service point and prove their identity through biometric authentication. "We are excited to offer all the opportunities of e-Residency to new entrepreneurs based in the world's innovation centers, such as Singapore, Tokyo, and São Paolo, as well as to the high numbers of digital and mobile entrepreneurs located in Johannesburg and Bangkok. E-Residency is expanding fast – despite difficult conditions in 2020 due to the global pandemic, we have still seen a significant activation of e-resident entrepreneurs and growing tax revenue. The new cooperation with BLS International Services Limited not only opens up possibilities for entrepreneurs in global business and technology hubs, but also gives us the opportunity to expand our business goals and invite new ambitious entrepreneurs into the Estonian economic ecosystem, ”said Vlassov.
"The most convenient and fastest way to apply for e-Residency is through the online self-service portal of the Police and Border Guard Board, where 99.9 percent of all applications are submitted today. In addition to personal data, the applicant must also provide comprehensive information on their purpose for applying for an e-Residency digital ID, "said Margit Ratnik, Head of the Identity and Status Bureau of the Police and Border Guard Board. "We are constantly improving the secure and convenient use of e-channels in order to request different types of documents. We are also constantly expanding the number of locations and ways of issuing documents."
The agreement was signed by the Minister of the Interior Mart Helme, the Head of the Identity and Status Bureau of the Police and Border Guard Board Margit Ratnik, and the Co-Managing Director of the service provider BLS International Services Limited Shikhar Aggarwal.
E-Residency offers foreign citizens secure access to Estonian digital services. The holder of an e-Residency digital ID card can log in to all portals and information systems that recognize the Estonian ID card as well as sign documents digitally. The e-Residency digital ID card is not an identification or travel document and does not have a photograph. E-Residency does not provide citizenship, tax residence, residence permit, or permission to enter Estonia or the European Union.