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Become Estonia’s e-resident (e-estonia.com)
447 points by jkaljundi on Oct 6, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 122 comments



I was in Estonia two days ago. I just passed through on a whim as part of a European bicycle tour. I am embarrassed to admit, I knew very little about the country before being there.

I was only there a week, so my impressions are addmittedly naive, but very positive. There was a lot of technology forward thinking - online voting, constitutional right to internet access, co-working spaces catering to young entrepreneurs.

So quite hight tech on the one hand, and on the other hand, there is a deep respect for and serious comprehension of nature. The country is 50% forest! And my experience with Estonian camp sites was that they were free, ancient, and beautiful. I felt like I was camping in a sacred grove (I probably was).

Man, wish I had stayed longer. Anyone doing any cool projects there?


I see a lot of that across Europe. I've been dying to do a road trip out that way (from the UK) but it's difficult with three children.

Everyone I've met and spoken to out there has been through some serious shit right up until the late 1990s from wars to genocides. They really are forward thinking because looking back hurts badly.

It might sound cheesy but I have a lot of hope for Europe and most of it comes from the East.

At the same time I'm disgusted at how the media and general population treats our fellow Europeans.


> It might sound cheesy but I have a lot of hope for Europe and most of it comes from the East.

I very much agree with you. The East of Europe has very recent memory of how not to run countries, the West is already forgetting those lessons and repeating past mistakes. For now the West is still ahead economically, but I suspect that this will not last indefinitely. You can pretty much draw a line through 'Helmstedt' (the site of the old autobahn border crossing between 'East' and 'West' Germany) and use that as the pivot point. On the left of that pivot the swing is steadily downwards whereas on the east of that up to the Russian border there is slow but fairly steady progress.

Of course the map is not the territory and you'd have to account for the situations further North and South with different pivot points but on the whole this seems to be how it is today.


I agree with this in general, especially about forgetting lessons and repeating past mistakes. Privacy-awareness in East-European countries is impressive, it's on the top of their minds because they know what can happen if you let it run loose.

On the other hand, I read a few years ago (and I don't have much reason to suspect much has changed though I'd love to hear I'm wrong) about a village in East-Germany that was entirely in control by neo-nazis. That was scary to find out such things are actually going on today (this was before I heard about Greece's Golden Dawn and how they run refugee camps). When travelling, I was warned about the are that people that looked too "foreign" might have a bad time (I suppose when coloured or Arab, me and my travel companion were both very white, Dutch and half-German).

Maybe it's just an anecdote or some small isolated issues blown out of proportion, but this is what also plays in the back of my mind whenever I consider they're learning from past mistakes.

Either way, no throwing babies out with the bathwater, we can both support and learn from their historical awareness, as well as be vigilant about rising intolerances.


I'm curious if you deliberately included Austria east of your pivot point or if this is by accident. I hear all sorts of conflicting stuff about the place - high standard\quality of living but not-so exciting career\growth prospects, high prices but generous social\welfare programs - so I've no idea what to think of Austria long-term. I've been to Vienna a few times as I live a couple of hours away, and it's lovely but a few daytrips is obviously not going to reveal a great deal.


Austria is very much a mixed bag. Quality of life in the cities and economy are fine, the country has a terrible image when it comes to dealing with other social issues (immigrants, right wing political parties and so on).


Thanks for the reply. Interesting theory and one I agree with entirely based on who I know.

I'd love to move out of the UK and will do this if we ever drop out of the EU. Perhaps East of that line.


“We learn from history that we do not learn from history” ― Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel


I am happy to hear you say this.

I live in Ireland and I'm very pro-EU. Not in the sense that I like or dislike policies or structures, but in the sense of the EU's real and original goals: Solidarity. Open Borders. Peace.

It makes me sick to see that countries have sent the EU Parliament their nationalists, populists and outright fascists.

Solidarity. Open Borders. Peace. It's worth making it a generational goal. A thousand years of solidarity, open borders & peace.

I have hope for, with and from our brother east of here (which for me is pretty much all Europe :) .


> At the same time I'm disgusted at how the media and general population treats our fellow Europeans.

I'm having trouble interpreting this sentence since I have no context. Does "the media and general population" refer to Western Europeans or does it refer to Estonians?


In Western Europe, Eastern Europeans (Estonia included) are usually low-paid immigrants and portrayed as a cheap workforce, criminals, social burden etc. generally, a lower human beings.


> Everyone I've met and spoken to out there has been through some serious shit right up until the late 1990s from wars to genocides.

"Out there"?

I'm going to presume that the wars and genocide you're talking about was the former Yugoslavia, as not many places fit the bill unless you go looking much further away, in which case Estonia is almost as far from there as it is from the UK (driving distance can go either way depending on route).

And still 1700km from Estonia to Donetsk, Ukraine if you want to include that conflict...


Estonia suffered mass deportations under the Soviet regime, this has never been appropriately dealt with in terms of compensation or criminal trials and the Estonian people are still extremely conscious of this even though the actual crimes committed against Estonians are now long ago.

So I highly doubt Yugoslavia was the intended subject there.



Excuse the OT, I'm considering a visit. As a foreigner with no connections, how do you recommend I could get a feel for the startup scene there (as you seem to have done)?

> Anyone doing any cool projects there?

One Estonian startup whose product I use a lot is TransferWise, here's an invite link (for one free currency transfer):

https://transferwise.com/u/5d78


Ping me when you're around - Estonia is so small that everybody in the tech scene knows almost everybody. There are lots of people who'd like to show you around and talk about startups and technology in general!


Re projects, here's a list of some of the Estonian startups: http://hub.garage48.org/estonian-startups


I've never been there, but from what I understand, they love folk music, and kids learn to program in primary school. Sounds like a wonderful country. Also the home of Skype. Not to be underestimated.


There are a few startups that have been started by Skype alumni in Estonia. Transferwise as mentioned above is one. Another is https://lingvist.io. Another which is dual homed in Estonia and Palo Alto is http://teleport.org.

I went to Tallinn for the first time in 2002 before it was part of the EU. I took the ferry from Helsinki and spent the day walking around the old town. Quite enjoyable. Two things that really stood out were - internet cafes were readily available and extremely cheap (under $2/hour from what I recall) and the beer was cheap :)

I have since been there a handful of times while I was at Skype - unfortunately I never did make it outside of Tallinn.

Edit - I forgot, I caught a rather fun Folk-metal band on Eurovision when I was visiting once. Metsatoll - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dC3Q9q4cRZA


I'm quite sure skype is originaly a swedish company

EDIT: seems like it was made in Estonia, but that the founders were swedish and danish.


The 2 majority founders were swedish and danish, but the 4 Estonian founding engineers had a significant stake from day one. The same team of swede, dane and estonians had developed Kazaa and Joltid together before.


A shameless plug but since you asked for it.. :) We're doing something cool - at least it's really cool to me - a super simple CI server for mobile apps for freelancers and small teams (greenhouseci.com).

By the way, Estonia has a cool tech scene also outside of Tallinn! We're in Tartu and there are a lot of cool startups here too!


+1 for Tartu! :)


Most of Skype early development was made in Estonia.


Check this out - www.zazler.com Webserver designed to work with relational databases and bring more value on client-side. Zazler's unique architecture speeds up building mobile apps, JavaScript heavy interfaces and integrations by reducing amount of code and todo list. Basically, it creates a RESTful API of a relational database. Written in Haskell, in Estonia :-)


I believe this has huge implications for someone who would want to operate a company from a business friendly country, as opposed to say a country where the individual is located physically but is otherwise corrupt or war ridden.

My understanding is that this status allows you to form companies, open bank accounts and sign binding documents just like someone living in Estonia. And that is pretty impressive.

Add cryptocurrencies into play, and whole new world of companies is now suddenly possible.


I agree this is interesting, but the problem is that there is nothing to stop the government of the country in which you physically reside from having different ideas about what laws govern your dealings.

If the country you are physically in wants to (e.g.) tax you, they can. (There are, of course, many more nefarious possibilities than taxation.) This is, I think, true in an "in accordance with international law" sense (though there is the possibility that a bilateral double taxation treaty might apply) and it is certainly true in a "who's to stop them" sense. (And if we're hypothesizing that the person is physically located in a corrupt/war torn country, the latter would probably be all that matters anyway.)


Can they though? If all of the money is kept in Estonia for example, and none actually goes through your identity or a business elsewhere - then that company wouldn't have any right to it from my understanding. Until you pay someone in another country - then the other one can't dip their hand in it. Isn't this why so many companies are based out of random countries to begin with?


It's hard to spend money that is hidden from local tax offices. Local authorities can even blame you if your lifestyle is higher than your declared income.


It is to use Estonia's digital services and does not give you residency.

Nothing stops you opening a company in Estonia now, but that does not mean you would only pay corporation taxes there (they are at 10% when distributed as dividends), your physical location plays a role too.


Dividends are taxed this year at 21%. And if I'm not mistaken tax rate is lowered to 20% next year, reinvested profit is not taxed.


You are right, don't know where I got that 10% from.


Bulgaria has a corporate tax at 10%. The e-government isn't nearly as developed though. There was some talk about using the Estonian experience to help in building ours but that is still just an idea.


Yeah I am really hoping that Bulgaria and/or Estonia will be added to a list of countries being incorporated by http://startupr.com/ to make the process easier.


Can you work for your own Estonian company, given that you're non-resident? (You can start your own US company, even remotely, but you can't work for it, unless you have Working Visa)


Maybe you mean you can start a US company but not work for it when you are in US on a non-working visa?

Can't see why a US or Estonian company (whether or not you are a director is irrelevant) can't hire you to do some work. Unless you don't have work visa in the country of your stay.


"Money laundering has never been so easy! Thanks E-stonia!"


From the website: To apply for one, you need to make visit a Police and Border Guard office in Estonia – there you need to submit an application and provide biometrical data (your facial image and fingerprints) for background check.

I don't think it works for money laundering in any way.


So money laundering is the only reason for using cryptocurrencies? And who says cryptocurrencies can’t be regulated?


Shell companies are one of the greatest instruments for graft ever devised. I'm not a fan of them, and they get easier to make with every passing year. I don't have an opinion on cryptocurrencies. I'm sorry if it seemed that way.


Yes, there is a hazard in this. But probably also lots of utility for benign causes. So I hope they will outweigh the malicious ones.


I'm curious how you launder money in bitcoin. If you know that some btc was used for a "criminal" exchange, then you can track all the Satoshis through all their recipients. You can just blacklist the money in your country and any retailer using your blacklists would not accept it.


One example how it can be done: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8130592


I mean in a bitcoin economy. The only reason that example works is because the input fiat does not have the transparency of a blockchain behind it. If you were end to end using bitcoin, ie, drug dealer gets paid in bitcoin, then if you know its drug money you can blacklist it forever because its always traceable.


There are ways around that: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Mixing_service


For some time, I have daydreamed of various cool scenarios that would only be possible with a government-issued digital ID.

But in my daydreams, I've never considered a third-party government issuer. I don't see value in this beyond the value that I see in a corporate-issued digital ID, and that's hardly more valuable than a self-issued ID.

Obviously, Estonia has considered some angle which I have not.

You can become an e-Estonian!

They should probably change that to e-Stonian or something so that it's pronounced "eastonian". :) The "eee-eh" is awkward to pronounce.


Which scenarios have you thought of?

A start would be to do anything an Estonian can do today online in almost real time. Founding a company online: 5 minutes and you're in business. Very simple tax and other legislation, so very simple reporting online - and getting tax refunds if needed in a few days.

But this should not be limited to existing legacy services we use. Think of what you could do anything online with an absolute cryptographically strong vetted proof, that it's you, valid across the world? That's very different from a corporate ID which has no power internationally.


* Will and testament

* Voting

* Facebook (or whatever)

* Spam

* Banking

* Contracts

* Jury duty (Don't think boring.. think sci-fi!)

* Taxes

* Whistleblowing

* Bar tabs

* Power of Attorney (This one has new meaning in this context. It's a technical thing, a provable act of delegation.)

* Police reports

Basically the same use cases as PKI, but if it were government issued, the common person would know what it means.

A conversation about a fender bender might include "Then, he drove off without e-signing the standard insurance form!".

I dunno. Like I said, daydreaming.


Seems pretty practical and doable for me. Probably more than half of these will be available to you via the Estonian e-residency.

The government and ministry under which this is is pretty open to ideas that need a change of legislation to make the e-services available and happen. So keep those ideas coming.

The thing about Estonian e-services has always been that while many other countries say it's not doable, Estonia just does it. Possible in a lean country of smart people.


Whistleblowing? Under your real name?


If leaked documents are non-reputable, then the nature of the game is a bit different, isn't it?


Estonian language is perceived as having uncharacteristically long dragging of vowels during pronunciation, so e-Estonian works just as well. I wonder if there is some kind of inside joke around that.


The name of the country, and of the language, in Estonian is Eesti.


Do they call this thing e-Eesti then?


pronounced ee'eesti


For some time, I have daydreamed of various cool scenarios that would only be possible with a government-issued digital ID.

But in my daydreams, I've never considered a third-party government issuer. I don't see value in this beyond the value that I see in a corporate-issued digital ID, and that's hardly more valuable than a self-issued ID.

Obviously, Estonia has considered some angle which I have not.

I think the angle is that it allows a business presence in the EU and Eurozone for essentially anyone.


"To apply for one, you need to make visit a Police and Border Guard office in Estonia – there you need to submit an application and provide biometrical data (your facial image and fingerprints) for background check."


"We are working to add capacity to our embassies to process e-residency applications and issue cards abroad by the end of 2015 – so that you would not necessarily need to travel to Estonia to join us as an e-resident."

From the leaflet [PDF] http://e-estonia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Become-Eston...


How this is supposed to work in the future - hopefully soon - is for you to be able to authenticate yourself in any friendly embassy or consulate. The first issuance must be with a strong proof of identity.


are the facial image and fingerprints only used for background check, are they stored (and for how long) and are they shared with different entities, such as police or foreign governments?


they store it in citizen database. as of now they do not share the fingerprints with our regular police. the face they probably get.

I think that our local spy people have access to them (there was a theory about them managing our offshore database backups and therefore never asking for anything); if and how they share it is not disclosed.

foreign governments might get access through travel information agreements (biometric passports were a requirement for free travel to US) but I am not certain about those details.


Background check?

Wouldn't this kind of ID be granted to anyone, so long as they are who they say they are, so long as their identity is vetted.

I think selectively doling out benefits or rights is the job of a separate system. (And if everyone has one of these IDs, the design of the second system could be simpler than it might be otherwise. I think.)


You should assume they will be stored and shared with friendly nations, even if the official line says they aren't.


Is there a tax advantage here? Estonia's tax system is supposed to be very simple, and allows for a 0% corporate income tax on all profits that are re-invested into the corporation (source: http://www.incorporate.ee/why-estonia/low-tax-jurisdiction).

Does this mean I can form a corporate entity in Estonia and gain all the tax benefits without any physical presence?


You will have to be very very careful about making Estonia the real physical center of the commercial activities deployed by your company.

If you don't - let's say you're Dutch, living in Holland and consulting mostly for Dutch clients, then forget it.

But let's say you're Dutch, you have a girlfriend in Estonia, you work from there a week every month, and you have clients in several EU countries, with NL only one of them... Maybe you even have a local employee in Estonia. That will work no problem.


Or you and your girlfriend are both directors and you meet at least 4 times (from what I've read) there to discuss company business. Hey, the company can pay for the trip from Netherlands too.


It's definitely not as simple as that. To get an idea of some complexities, just read the double taxation avoidance treaties between the two EU countries involved to start, and have a look at the EU posted workers directive http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=471 .

Those should convince you that you need good fiscal advice and a somewhat conservative attitude when it comes to fiscal grey areas.

If you want to avoid paying a lot of taxes, build a multinational and set up tax avoidance schemes like the Double Irish with a Dutch sandwich. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Irish_arrangement . But hurry, because some of this might actually become a bit more difficult starting from next year...


> If you want to avoid paying a lot of taxes, build a multinational and set up tax avoidance schemes like the Double Irish with a Dutch sandwich.

It's probably cheaper to simply pay Irish corp. tax (12.5%) for all but the biggest companies. You have to setup 2 Irish companies, a Dutch company and a Caribbean-based company, a battalion of tax lawyers and advisers to exploit the loophole legally....etc


Can you elaborate on why exactly that would be a problem?


I'm not sure if this applies to Holland, but generally countries with high taxes implement Controlled Foreign Corporation (CFC) laws which force you to pay local taxes even if company is registered offshore.

Whether a company is considered to be CFC depends on many factors such as double taxation treaties between the two countries, the amount of shares you own and the level of taxation in the offshore country.


Yes, you can keep the corporate profits in the corporate entity until their distribution. There is a 21% tax though on distributed profits like dividends. Until you keep the money in the company or re-invest to subsidiaries, it's ot taxed. http://www.investinestonia.com/en/investment-guide/tax-syste...

The rest depends on various double-taxation treaties which affect more individuals.


TL;DR No.

You're likely to run into domestic Controlled Foreign Corporation rules. Basically if you or your family own a large portion of a foreign registered company and that company is taxed less than domestic tax rates, it'll be classed as actually residing in your home country for corporate tax purposes.


If you want to pay taxes only in Estonia, consult a Double Tax Treaty between Estonia and your country of physical residence. Usually you would be able to employ a person in Estonia to close deals/contracts to qualify. But read the document.

As soon as you distribute the profits, 10% tax applies from the Estonian end.


Usually, if your country has a DTA with estonia you'll have to pay whatever your country takes for dividend distributions anyway. The DTA means you can pay 10% to Estonia and the rest to your country but in total you're still paying whatever your country wants, in total. There might be other advantages, however, but repatriating dividends is not going to be one of them.


Exactly, so you keep the money in the company, reinvesting the profits (and repatriate when you are a resident of say Bahamas or BVI if you build up quite a nest egg).


This is awesome.

Estonia could have a shot at becoming the "Delaware" for non-US entrepreneurs, esp EU, i.e. have all the high-growth companies incorporate because of clear, friendly startup support infrastructure and laws.


It is very entrepreneurial of the Estonian government. Quotes from their announcement:

"e-residency is also launched as a platform to offer digital services to a global audience with no prior Estonian affiliation – for anybody who wants to run their business and life in the most convenient aka digital way! We plan to keep adding new useful services from early 2015 onwards."

http://e-estonia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Become-Eston...


Deosn't suprise me when the Estonian president has been quite actively involved with for example Slush http://www.slush.org/


Is there any reason why I - being perfectly happy with my American citizenship and residency and having zero intent to change either - should avoid getting one for the novelty of it? I mean, is there any possible downside to getting this thing out of a sci-fi novel?


I think the biggest actual barrier to actually getting one would be having to apply in person, and pick up your card in person.

Certainly for Americans, not a huge number of people will have two weeks spare and sufficient funds to wait for their application to be processed (or the money to fly to Estonia and back twice in two weeks).

Edit: apparently they're "working to add capacity to our embassies to process e-residency applications and issue cards abroad by the end of 2015". This makes the whole thing absolutely amazing. Let's see how the rest of the world reacts, I guess.


How can anyone be happy with American citizenship when it places you under some of most bizzare laws seen in first world countries including huge tax code?

I really don't understand why Americans aren't moving out and dumping their citizenships in droves. I know that earning money in USA is supposedly easier than anywhere else but still...


There are only some minor downsides to acquiring a second citizenship of a decent country. (Watch out for American residency though, the taxes can be bad.)

I don't think there are any downsides to the e-residency, apart from having to give some of your data (and a modest fee) to Estonia.


And then be sure to read this: https://estoniaevoting.org/

E-future cannot be built if we don't fix serious issues with software engineering. There is no guarantee of security. There is no assurance. We basically don't know how to build secure systems yet. As daily events show (from #fappening, #shellshock to Snowden's revelations), this is one of those "hard", unresolved problems...and not just from algorithmic (non-repudiation) perspective, but also from a practical engineering perspective (we are still dealing with buffer overflows).

“The software security industry today is at about the same stage as the auto industry was in 1930" ... "it looks fast, goes nice but in an accident you die.” ... "The major shortfall is absence of assurance (or safety) mechanisms in software. If my car crashed as often as my computer does, I would be dead by now.” -- Brian Snow, Former Technical Director of the NSA, We Need Assurance http://www.research.att.com/talks_and_events/2008_distinguis....


That analysis was done by a group of individuals with strong ties to the biggest opposition party in Estonia, whose voters are primarily those who are less likely to participate in e-voting; they've been anti-promoting the e-voting system ever since they went to opposition; prior to that, they'd been openly positive about it it.

The analysts themselves were invited to the country and to do the analysis by that opposition party (Centre Party/Keskerakond); they had participated in several Centre Party events prior to publishing the research. They were reimbursed for their expenses and most likely paid a fee for the analysis. The group had demands that the system be taken down; they however refused to publish details about the study which is uncommon and is not a sign of goodwill.


sigh, not this again.

only found this not-very-good response in english to those "experts": http://www.vvk.ee/valimiste-korraldamine/vvk-uudised/vabarii...

but saying "terribly insecure" is more than wrong. yeah, thare are many procedural things which could be better, but technologically estonian e-voting is secure. only serious threat is propaganda.


Are you saying it's resistant to penetration by Russian security services? Sorry if I don't take your word for it. They have just successfully hacked into several of the top financial institutions in the world: http://www.networkworld.com/article/2691902/security0/russia...

They got away with customer data and who-knows-what-else. I'm pretty sure JP Morgan has a bigger cyber-security budged than the whole state of Estonia, many times over. And then check the laundry list of these: http://cybercampaigns.net/

The basic truth is: we still don't quite know how to design digital information systems that can resist attacks from very persistent or nation state level actors. Even if these are air-gaped (as demonstrated by Stuxnet).


JP Morgan has ~$2.5 Trillion under management, annual revenues near $100B/year, and profits around $20B/year. Estonia's GDP is $25B and their annual tax receipts are about $4B/year. It's quite easy to assume that JP Morgan spends far more on security than the entire country of Estonia.


well, lets hope then that Edgar doesn't get along with FSB too well and profit from hacking estonian e-voting stays lower than price of exploit :)

and no matter how big is your budget, kidnapping/blackmailing sysadmins is cheaper :P


Two things leap out

- who makes the smart card? What is the model?

- wow - that's just like Neal Stephenson and joining Tribes based not on location but membership.

But I can't see myself going to Estonia just to pick one up ... I'll wait till the embassy in London does it :-)


EstEID specification - covers all ID-card application versions issued in Estonia: http://www.id.ee/public/TB-SPEC-EstEID-Chip-App-v3_5-2014032...

The Estonian ID-card and Digital Signature Concept: http://www.id.ee/public/The_Estonian_ID_Card_and_Digital_Sig...


It's made by Trüb in Switzerland, the leading player in Europe in issuing national id cards: http://www.trueb.ch/en/identity-card/secure-citizens

Here are the Estonian specs: http://www.id.ee/index.php?id=35772


Ah yes the Phyles of Diamond age. But this e-residency is still within the confines of a nation-state, whereas Stephenson's Phyles/Tribes replace the nation-state.

I can see Bitcoin - or its decedents - easily being used for Phyle "ID-card" infrastructure; no nation-state required.


They could have SSL encryption on this site and perhaps launch it under some government TLD instead of .com.


What exactly can one do with this digital identity?


It's an ID/credential system that government and financial services will be using. So you'll be able to use the ID/credentials to log in and interact with Estonian entities that use it, like banks, tax authority, corporate registry, etc. Vaguely like an OpenID identity, but run by the Estonian government, and with two-factor authentication.

It doesn't in itself give you any specific rights, as far as I can tell ("e-residency" is a bit of a marketing term). It just makes it easier to do things that foreigners are theoretically allowed to do, but which aren't currently very easy to do remotely. For example it's already legal for a foreigner to register a company in Estonia, but it's a bit of a hassle if you aren't an Estonian resident; this is supposed to make it easier, because you'll be electronically "in the system" with a proper ID number and login, making it easier for agencies and financial institutions to know how to deal with you. Especially since it's combined with a move towards self-service online portals for government services, so you should be able to log in with this ID and do a lot of things over the internet, instead of visiting civil-service offices.

Here (Denmark) all that is also theoretically true—anyone with legitimate business in Denmark can get an ID, and once you have one you can do things like register a company entirely online, self-service, as well as interact with banks and anyone else who implements the "NemID". But in practice the authorities are very suspicious of anyone not living in Denmark trying to get into the system, so almost the only non-residents who do so are Swedes and Germans who either commute cross-border or have frequent business in Denmark.


Actually many private entities use it as well. It's an authentication layer anyone can easily implement. Same for digital signatures.


Some background information here: http://e-estonia.com/taavi-kotka-promises-10-million-e-eston...

Although the first stages will be more towards foreigners who conduct any business in Estonia, the next stages should allow appearance of new business models and internationally operated activities headquartered and registered in Estonia.


The Delaware of the world.


This actually points out a huge challenge for Estonia. As well as the tax advantages, another (and perhaps the primary) reason businesses incorporate in Delaware is their extremely well developed (and business friendly) body of corporate law (the stuff that governs the relationship between shareholders and the corporation, duties of a board of directors, that sort of thing) and a judiciary that is highly efficient in resolving internal corporate disputes. If you study corporations in any law school in the U.S., they will teach you Delaware law, regardless of what state you are actually in.

I would love to see Estonia take on this challenge as well, but it will take a long time and concerted effort.



"get secure access to world-leading digital services" - Which basically means... absolutely nothing?


This is something that has been used in many countries already.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_identity_card

Maybe the main difference is that they will issue it also to non-residents.

By the way, I don't know in other countries but in Spain it was a complete failure due to a really bad implementation: only worked with Internet Explorer, reader with proprietary drivers, etc...


"The one-time state fee for the card is 50 euros, other fees will depend on service providers – public digital services will be offered mostly free-of-charge, just like to ‘real’ residents."


Most of the team of my startup SaleMove is in Tartu! This is yet another example of how great Estonia is for tech. If you want to develop for a great startup there reach out on our website!


Estonia is such a nice country for people who own electric cars. They have many level 3 chargers.

Source : http://www.plugshare.com


What are the differences between residency and e-residency? E.g. they won't allow me to vote, will they? What else?


Even (physical) residence will not allow you to vote, only citizenship will. From the site: "This [e-residency] will not entail full legal residency or citizenship or right of entry to Estonia."


Yeah, only EU citizenship along with residency allows one to vote.


Ah, I mixed the two. The fact that English is non-native language for me, didn't help, either. What is (e-)residency good for, then?

For anyone Russian reading this: should residency be прописка? It actually was canceled in favor of registration. So, I guess, residency is registration?


Why is Estonia the smartest country? Because in Estonia, EVERYONE needs to learn how to code, from primary school to graduating high school. http://venturebeat.com/2012/09/04/estonia-code-academy/



e-stonian - is obviously how it should have been called ;)


Interesting Concept, other countries think about it.


Isn't this just a thinly-veiled form of off-shoring? With all related consequences.


What is the point of this?


why isn't this an HTTPS site?


Why should each marketing site be HTTPS?


because (although incorrect) some people consider email addresses to be semi-confidential, and one could profit from the automated scraping of addresses from a router that sees a lot of public traffic.


because it's only a lead gen page.


There's nothing particularly Estonian to this - you can buy European digital identity in all EU countries (except Great Britain and Ireland, last I checked). All documents signed by your key are legally as valid as those signed by your hand. Sadly, it's not used much outside of government services.


Isn't that for citizens and residents of those EU states? This "e-residency" is for anyone in the world: there's 241 nations in the "Your Country" menu.

(which by the way is a few years outdated: e.g. there's no South Sudan, and Libya is still the "Libyan Arab Jamahiriya", which was Qaddafi's name for it).


No, it's the exact same thing (although it appears to be the cheapest in Estonia), it's the exact same EU-wide law. The only difference is they market it for foreigners.




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