Tallinn old town, Estonia

Estonian e-Residency applications exceed country’s birthrate

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Official figures released by Estonia demonstrate that the number of applications received for e-Residency of the country has grown so quickly that they now exceed the domestic birthrate.

While 10,269 babies were born in Estonia so far in 2017, there have been 11,096 applications for e-Residency.

Since regaining independence in the 1990s, Estonia has become an extremely digitally advanced country. It was the first country to allow its citizens to vote in elections online.

Estonia launched a beta e-Residency program in December 2014 in order to encourage remote entrepreneurship. The program allows anybody in the world to apply for a government-approved digital identity: having e-Residency enables access to some public and other services, such as quickly setting up bank accounts or businesses remotely, fulfilling medical prescriptions and declaring taxes. It does not, however, allow a person with e-Residency to live in the country and does not provide tax residency.

“Estonia is the first country creating a borderless digital society for global citizens by offering e-Residency,” said Kaspar Korjus, who leads the country’s e-Residency program.

“Anyone, regardless of nationality or location, can apply for the transnational, government-issued digital identity and benefit from a platform built on inclusion, legitimacy, and transparency.”

Since the program was founded, applications have been received from more than 150 countries. Forty-one per cent of applications are submitted in order to begin a location-independent international business, and 27 per cent are submitted in order for the person to bring their business to Estonia.

Businesses founded through the program cover industries including tech consultancy, computer programming and management consultancy.

“With over 27,000 e-Residency applications to date, we’ve seen the initiative’s popularity grow steadily since launch,” said Korjus. “e-Residency offers the freedom for every world citizen to easily start and run a global EU company from anywhere in the word and, as of October 2017, our e-Residents own over 4,000 enterprises.”

“By launching e-Residency, the Estonian government aimed to make Estonia bigger – to grow our digital economy and market with new customers, to spark innovation and attract new investments. We’re delighted with e-Residencys progress to date; but are even more excited to see how the project will grow in the future.”

The program allow small businesses in countries such as Ukraine to operate without concern for financial limitations due to troubled domestic government, and could even allow British citizens to become e-Residents of an EU country after the UK’s withdrawal from it.

Recently, the Estonian government has been forced to cancel 750,000 of its digital national ID cards – which are used for official activity, travel and to provide a “digital signature” – after a serious cryptography flaw was discovered which makes the system vulnerable to hackers.

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