“Estonian Police and Border Guard Board has granted e-Residency to JOHN SCOTT CHRISTIANSON,” was the message I received a couple of months ago after applying to the Estonian E-Residency program. This program allows foreigners to gain access to certain governmental and business services in Estonian without having to travel to the small country. Estonian E-Residency is an excellent program for startup founders looking to incorporate their business in the EU.
As Quartz recently reported, Estonia’s E-Residents are growing at a rate faster than births in the country. That growth may accelerate in the next year as the Brexit debacle continues, and small businesses in the UK are looking for a cheaper way to do business with the EU.
You can apply for an E-Residency here and learn more about it on the Estonian Youtube channel. However, you have to visit an Estonian Embassy (either in the US or abroad) to pick up your e-Residency starter kit, which contains a digital ID smart card and USB card reader. You can use this kit to sign documents and encrypt files digitally. And when combined with your e-residency number, allows you to open a bank account and file incorporation documents without having to travel to Estonia.
In Estonia, residents regularly use their government-issued smart cards to access a variety of services, including government and personal records, electronic voting, etc.
J. Scott Christianson is a technologist and an Associate Teaching Professor of management at the Trulaske College of Business, where his interests are focused on the impact of technology on society. You can connect with him on his website, LinkedIn, Twitter, or by following his newsletter, The Free-Range Technologist.