Estonia's e-residency program to expand to 20 countries

  • 2020-10-22
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – The Estonian Ministry of the Interior, the Police and Border Guard Board, and BLS International Services Limited have signed an agreement to expand the issuance of Estonian e-residency digital ID cards into 20 countries around the world.

In the first phase, e-residency digital IDs will start to be issued in South Africa, Singapore, Brazil, and Thailand, and issuance will continue in Japan, the Estonian Ministry of the Interior announced on Thursday.

"The aim of the agreement is to increase access to e-residency of Estonia in different parts of the world. In 2019, the program was extended to the United States and Japan," said Ruth Annus, head of the citizenship and migration policy department at the Ministry of the Interior.

The reach further expanded this year, and e-residents will soon be able to collect their digital IDs in Johannesburg, Singapore, Sao Paulo, and Bangkok. The new contract partner will also continue to operate in Tokyo. In the future, the plan is to extend the digital ID card issuance network to a further 15 locations, Annus said.

The official said that e-residency has a positive impact on Estonia's economy, bringing significant tax benefits to the state treasury and creating jobs.

"Estonian companies created by e-residents rely on local entrepreneurship, which is especially important considering the current economic situation. During and after COVID-19 related crises, e-residency is a beacon for the rest of the world, proving that an economy can be restarted and boosted despite international travel restrictions," Annus said.

The 73,000 e-residents who have joined the program to date have among them created more than 14,600 companies in Estonia that employ over 1,400 people, who earn the average monthly salary of Estonia. Most companies have been set up by citizens of Germany, Russia, and Ukraine. The most popular areas of business are information technology, communications, professional services, as well as wholesale and retail trade.

Since its launch in 2014, e-residency has generated 36.3 million euros in direct benefits for the Estonian economy in taxes alone.

The agreement was signed by Estonia's Minister of the Interior Mart Helme, the head of the identity and status bureau of the Police and Border Guard Board, Margit Ratnik, and the co-managing director of the service provider BLS International Services Limited, Shikhar Aggarwal.

E-residency offers foreign citizens secure access to Estonian digital services. The holder of an e-Residency digital ID card can log in to all portals and information systems that recognize the Estonian ID card as well as sign documents digitally.

The e-residency digital ID card is not an identification or travel document and does not have a photograph. E-residency does not provide citizenship, tax residence, residence permit, or permission to enter Estonia or the European Union.