TALLINN – The number of Estonian e-residents of British origin has more than tripled since the United Kingdom announced its withdrawal from the European Union.
Businesses in the UK are looking for ways to continue doing business in the EU common market after Brexit. One solution is considered to be Estonia's e-residency program, which allows people to continue their business without physically leaving the UK, Enterprise Estonia (EAS) said.
Approximately a third of small enterprises in the United Kingdom will miss the free trade between member states, it appears from a Censuswide survey that dealt with the attitudes of the country's small enterprises regarding withdrawal from the EU.
Ott Vatter, manager of the e-residency program, said that it appears from a survey commissioned by them that a third of the small enterprises in the UK are scared they will lose access to the European common market after Brexit's entry into force.
"More than a third of the British entrepreneurs surveyed said they were considering leaving the country or relocating their business," Vatter said. "The e-residency program will help British businesses and maintain their access to the European single market without them having to physically leave their home country," he added.
To promote e-residency, the program team launched a two-week campaign in London. According to Vatter, interest in the campaign has been high and garnered international attention.
"In addition to raising awareness of the e-residency program, the campaign brings a lot of positive attention to the state of Estonia as a whole," Vatter said. He added that there are approximately 40 companies operating in Estonia whose main income is linked to providing services to e-residents.
The interest of British citizens in becoming an Estonian e-resident is growing rapidly. To date, there are approximately 3,100 Brits who have established some 500 businesses among Estonian e-residents. Since March 29, 2017, when the British government announced to the European Council its intention to leave the European Union, the number of British e-residents has more than tripled.
The e-residency program was launched at the end of 2014 with the aim of offering foreign nationals secure access to the e-services of the Estonian state. Holders of the e-resident's digital ID-card can digitally sign documents and log onto portals and information systems which recognize the Estonian ID-card. E-residency does not give its holder citizenship, tax residency, a residence permit or a permit to enter Estonia or the EU.
Since the program's launch, over 65,000 e-residents have created more than 10,100 companies in Estonia. In addition to the indirect economic benefits stemming, among other things, from the growth and investment of Estonian companies serving e-residents, the program has generated over 35 million euros of direct revenue to the Estonian economy over five years of operation.