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Introducing Estonia’s e-residency



Kirjoittanut: Tuuli-Emily Liivat - tiimistä SYNTRE.

Esseen tyyppi: Yksilöessee / 2 esseepistettä.
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 3 minuuttia.

Estonia is considered a revolutionary pioneer in digitalizing its services and welcoming more people to join the country’s benefits. Due to the country’s strong forward-thinking approach to technology and governance, the reputation of being a digitalization hub has provided many successful initiatives and is a well-earned achievement for the country.

An example of the reputation can be found on the governmental level. The government has actively embraced technology to streamline administrative processes, reduce bureaucracy, and provide efficient public services through enabling access to government services online. The only thing that is currently unavailable is filing for a divorce online, otherwise, everything is available: a citizen can vote for future governments, create a testament or file taxes online and independently of the institutions. As was stated at the Virtual Forum for Global Estonians, Estonia aims to be there for their citizen 24/7 through digital services to break the mold of the institutions only being available during the working hours.

The country also has a decentralized data exchange platform that enables secure communication between various government databases and systems. It facilitates data sharing among different government agencies, reducing redundancy and improving efficiency. To keep the processes transparent, each citizen can also access the log of which institutions have used their informations for – as an example, I could log into my bank with my virtual ID-card and see the service provider pop up on the list of data processors.

Another initiative that added Estonia to the global map is the e-residency programme.

E-residency in Estonia is a digital identity program launched by the Estonian government in 2014. It allows individuals from anywhere in the world to become virtual residents, enabling them to establish and manage businesses in Estonia remotely. This initiative has positioned Estonia as a hub for international entrepreneurs and digital nomads.

The programme offers a wide range of services to people worldwide:

Digital Identity:

Applicants for e-residency undergo a secure online application process, which includes background checks. Once approved, they receive a government-issued digital ID card. The digital ID card includes a very own e-mail account with the tag @eesti.ee.

Online Access to Services:

E-residents gain access to a variety of digital services that are typically available to physical residents of Estonia. These services include but are not limited to banking, business registration, and access to government databases.

Business Registration:

E-residency allows individuals to establish and manage a business in Estonia without being physically present. They can register companies online, administer the business remotely, and conduct business transactions digitally.

Digital Signature:

E-residents can use their secure digital ID card for legally signing documents and contracts digitally. This is recognized as equivalent to a handwritten signature in Estonia and many other countries, making it convenient for remote business transactions.

E-Governance:

E-residency is part of Estonia’s broader commitment to e-governance. The country has developed a sophisticated digital infrastructure that minimizes bureaucracy and allows for efficient, secure, and transparent online interactions with government agencies.

Taxation:
E-residents are subject to Estonian taxes only on income generated within the country. This means that if an e-resident runs a business in Estonia, they would pay taxes on the income generated from Estonian sources.

Global Entrepreneurship:
E-residency is particularly attractive to global entrepreneurs and digital nomads who want to run location-independent businesses. It provides a gateway for individuals to participate in the European Union’s single market and benefit from Estonia’s business-friendly environment.

Security and Privacy:
The e-residency program emphasizes the importance of data security and privacy. The digital ID card incorporates advanced encryption technology, and strict protocols are in place to protect the confidentiality of personal information.

Renewal and Termination:
E-residency cards need to be renewed periodically. Additionally, the Estonian government can terminate e-residency in cases of misuse or violation of the program’s terms and conditions.

To keep the information transparent and citizens up-to-date, the country has also opened the e-Residency Academy, which is an initiative to provide education and support for e-residents and entrepreneurs looking to benefit from Estonia’s digital ecosystem. It offers courses and resources to help individuals navigate the digital landscape.

The combination of these factors has positioned Estonia as a leader in digitalization, with lessons and best practices that other countries look to emulate as they explore ways to leverage technology for governance, economic growth, and global connectivity.

Estonia’s e-residency program is considered a pioneering initiative in the realm of digital governance, offering a model for other countries to explore as they seek to leverage technology for the benefit of residents and businesses.

 

Sources: 
Website. E-residency. https://www.e-resident.gov.ee/
7.12.2023 Virtual Forum for Global Estonians, presentation by the digitalisation consultant Erika Piirmets

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