Estonia targets foreign business with ‘e-residency’ scheme
Rahvusvahelised uudised 25 Nov 2014  EWR
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Transitions Online 25.11.2014
Foreigners now have the chance to gain “e-residency” in Estonia, gaining access to some of the country’s impressive array of digital services and being able to conduct business online, Marketplace reports.

For a fee of 50 euros ($62), prospective e-residents will be assigned a digital ID card with a microchip security certificate. Approval will take no more than two weeks. Estonia is the first country in the world to offer this service, the E-estonia portal (pdf) says.

The hitch is that applications must be made and cards picked up in person at border posts. Even so, 10,000 people from 140 countries have already applied, Australia’s ABC reports.

Although e-residency cards cannot act as travel documents, holders will be able to set up a company in Estonia, open a bank account, and access the EU market online from outside the country.

The small Baltic country has built a reputation as a tech-savvy, entrepreneur-rich place where citizens can access a wide range of services and even vote online.

If the program proves to be as secure as officials claim, it could induce other countries to try similar schemes, cyber-law and digital security expert Clare Sullivan told ABC.

“It is designed to make Estonia synonymous with e-commerce and e-documentation, much like Switzerland was synonymous with banking,” Sullivan said.

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