Last year, the Ministry of the interior, the Police and Border Guard Board and BLS International Services Limited signed an agreement to increase the accessibility of the e-Residency programme in different parts of the world. As of today, digital e-Residency IDs will also be issued in Johannesburg, Singapore, São Paulo and Bangkok. In addition to issue points operated by BLS, e-residency digitaal ID cards are also issued at Estonian foreign missions. Digital IDs can currently be picked up at 50 issue points across the world and future plans include expansion to another fifteen destinations.
According to Ruth Annus, Head of the Citizenship and Migration Policy Department of the Ministry of the Interior, the e-Residency programme has a positive effect on both Estonia’s economy and image as an innovative e-state. “The corona crisis that has unexpectedly hit the world has also put e-Residency into a new position, in this regard the e-programme has powerfully contributed to restarting and boosting the Estonian economy despite international travel restrictions. The companies established by e-residents enrich the business landscape, bring significant revenue to the state treasury and create jobs for Estonian people. The e-Residency programme is a pioneering e-state solution in the entire world, which in addition to the economy also has a positive effect on Estonia’s image, presenting Estonia as a digital society. The more people know about Estonia and the higher the number of those for whom Estonia is important, the greater our chance to have a say on the international arena and shape future developments in the whole world. The international renown gained thanks to the programme also brings foreign investments and facilitates the export of the e-services of Estonian companies,” Head of the Citizenship and Migration Policy Department of the Ministry of the Interior, Ruth Annus explained.
“Over the years, the expansion of the digital and real world of e-Residency has been one of our big objectives. By opening new issue points, Estonia demonstrates its continuing support to empowering entrepreneurs, freelancers and professionals who are independent of their location. With its e-Residency programme, Estonia has demonstrated the possibilities created by involving enterprising people who are located outside the country in our economy. São Paulo, Bangkok, Singapore and Johannesburg are important hubs for modern-minded world travellers or digital nomads of whom there are about 5 to 10 million in the world. We are happy to be able to offer them superb tools for remotely managing companies by way of e-Residency,” Managing Director of e-Residency, Lauri Haav says.
E-residency digital IDs have been issued in Soul as a pilot project since 2017. New issue points were opened in 2019 in Tokyo and San Francisco. “In opening these four new issue points, we took into account previous experience and opened these issue points in regions that are attractive for undertakings, thus making e-Residency considerably more accessible than before,” Chief Expert of the Identity and Status Bureau of the Police and Border Guard Board, Evelin Tuur explained, adding that the future plan is to open another 15 issue points across the world.
E-Residency digital IDs can be applied for in PBGB’s self-service environment which has a new design and functionality since the end of March. “The new application environment allows the PBGB to better ascertain the intentions of foreigners. More information than before is now asked upon applying for e-Residency, which ensures more efficient control and risk diversification,” Tuur said.
E-Residency offers the citizens of foreign countries secure access to Estonia’s e-services. The holder of an e-Residency digital ID card can digitally sign documents and log into all the portals and information systems that recognise the Estonian ID card. An e-Residency digital ID is not a physical personal identification document or a travel document and it does not carry a photo. E-Residency does not grant citizenship, tax residency, residence permit or permission of entry to Estonia or the European Union.
Estonia currently has over 80,000 e-residents who have established more than 16,500 Estonian companies. The most companies have been set up by German, Russian and Ukrainian citizens. The most popular areas of business are information and communication, professional, research and technology related activities as well as wholesale and retail trade. Since its launch, the e-Residency programme has had the direct economic impact of 54 million euros, whereas in 2020 the companies of e-residents paid Estonia a record amount of 17.5 million euros worth of taxes.