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eResidency 101 > A Short History

The Birthplace of eResidency

eresidency eresident estonia eresidency georgia eresident georgie digital nomad estonia A short history of eresidency

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The eResidency program is the first online identification program to be made accessible worldwide. This online identity gives holders the ability to begin and control a business that is based in another country (such as the European Union) from the comfort of their home.

For the world of business, this opens doors to more advanced international trading. Especially to individuals in countries where there is a lot of bureaucracy or criminal injustice, such as bribery.

FDN Life Magazine - Issue 5 - Travel To Tallinn Estonia

Estonia: The Birthplace of eResidency

This might come as a surprise, but online identities have been around for twenty years. Most young Estonians have never known a life without it. Yes, Estonia is where the concept was born. Today, every Estonian has an online identity. 

In 2022, the Estonian government issued online electronic identities to all their citizens. Otherwise known as an e-ID. This allowed Estonia to become a digital nation.

Opening up many doors for their already digitally advanced country. This online identity has since become the foundation for Estonian businesses in both the public and private sectors.Since then it has grown into a multipurpose identification tool. 

Today there are many ways to access one’s electronic identity. These include a Mobile-ID, a physical ID-card that the government supplies, even an app known as Smart-ID.

Estonians pay their bills with the app. They vote online, using their e-ID. They shop, sign contracts, most anything you can imagine can be done using an e-ID. But it was not known as eResidency just yet.

Estonia’s eResidency Becomes a Worldwide Program

In 2014, the eResidency program became available to everyone. Estonia’s then president, Kersti Kaljulaid, announced that they would be taking their ‘online identity’ concept worldwide. Spreading their borders to a vast and unending online population.

Today anyone, anywhere can apply to become an eResident. Since Estonia is known for reaching out to other countries, this was a large milestone for the country.

The launch of the eResidency program is a great step towards the goal of creating a borderless society, with a worldwide-citizenship.

In 2019, the 5-year mark for the program was met, with great accomplishment. Those 5 years saw a growth of 63,000 members, in 167 countries across the globe. Of the registered businesses in the world, 8% were owned by eResidents.

That is 10,100 companies owned by people with digital identity cards, and the number has only grown. This growth has also been good for the country, as the collective profits in Estonia have doubled each year, since the program began.

Other Countries With eResidency Programs

Estonia was the first, but many countries have begun their own eResidency programs, and those who have not are planning to soon.

Azerbaijan eResidency
Azerbaijan began their eResidency in 2018. It allows many of the same benefits as the Estonian eResidency, and application is a simple 6 step process.

Along with their eResidency, Azerbaijan also launched the first mResidency program. This is a mobile form of the eResidency.

Georgian eResidency
Also in 2018, Georgia’s eResidency was announced. Their eResidency offers a lower tax rate than other countries, as well as lower living expenses if you choose to live there.

A large difference between Estonian and Georgian eResidencies is that with a Georgian eResidency card, foreigners can open bank accounts.

An added bonus of the Georgian eResidency is that it makes it simpler to gain citizenship, after using a 1 year visa to the country.

Liberland eResidency
The first eResidency to be obtained in Liberland was in 2019. Their version allowed you to identify yourself at Liberland events, as well as signing documents online.

Liberland’s eResidency card also allows you to apply for Liberland citizenship, which few other eResidency cards offer.

Portugal eResidency
Portugal announced in March of 2020 that they plan to release eResidency 2.0, in the hope to gain investors and grow their technology. This was to be a part of the Nation Entrepreneurship Strategy.

As Portugal’s eResidency is mirrored after Estonia’s, the program is quite similar in offering one a chance to open a business while you are not a citizen.

Lithuanian eResidency
In January 2021, Lithuania initiated their eResidency program, with similar online ID’s and benefits. Online access was granted to services via your eResidency, but the program is not yet as extensive.

Applications for Lithuania’s eResidency program were started in June of 2021.

Ukrainian eResidency
Ukraine followed shortly after, launching in July of 2021, aiming to draw mainly IT freelancers. Benefits are slightly different to the above mentioned, as their eResidency program offers a flat tax rate of 5%.

Professional assistance is also given through a personal manager, who is promised to be English-speaking.

Other Countries Projected To Create An eResidency Program
Japan created a tourist visa that granted visitors the ability to work and travel freely in 2018. As many have benefitted from this visa, Japan is expected to follow suit with their own eResidency program.

In October of 2020, Dubai started a virtual working program. This program allows you to work from Dubai, while you are employed in your own country. Provided you have proof of employment, a payslip, health insurance, bank statements of 3 months, and a minimum $5000 salary.

Also in October 2020, Estonia announced their scheme to include Brazil in their eResidency program.

Though nothing has been announced, South Africa is expected to launch an eResidency program soon, in the hopes to draw investors and entrepreneurs, while growing its own economy.

What Happens When You Become an eResident

When becoming an eResident you are issued an eID or smart ID. This is a government issued ID that will enable you to sign documents.

You are connected to secure services that provide you with access to your business’ banking profile. It essentially helps you run your business from anywhere in the world.

For freelancers, digital nomads, and the like, this means a great deal. It makes it easier to run your business, yes, but it is also much safer than the old fashioned way of doing business. Simply because everything is online.

Though, as with anything, there have been setbacks. Over the last years the world has seen one disaster after the other, most recent being the conflict in Ukraine. These factors have impeded the progress of the eResidency program, but have not halted it. The future still holds promise and success.

Resources

  1. Khan, Z. “eResidency – Top 3 Countries That Offer eResidency”, FDNLife, January 2020. https://fdnlife.com/eresidency-top-3-countries-that-offer-eresidency/ 
  2. Tamkivi, E. S. “e-Residency: the success story of building a digital nation”, Invest in Estonia, January 2022, https://investinestonia.com/e-residency-the-success-story-of-building-a-digital-nation/
  3. Unknown. “e-Identity”, e-Estonia, n/a. https://e-estonia.com/solutions/e-identity/e-residency/
  4. Unknown. “e-Residency in Lithuania: All You Need To Know”, GoVisaFree, December 2021. https://govisafree.com/e-residency-lithuania/ 
  5. Unknown. “e-Residency in Ukraine: All You Need To Know”, GoVisaFree, December 2021. https://govisafree.com/e-residency-ukraine/ 
  6. Unknown. “e-Residency Programs Around the World: The Ultimate Guide in 2022”, GoVisaFree, February 2022. https://govisafree.com/e-residency-program-countries/ 
  7. Xolo. “Ultimate list of e-Residency countries in 2022”, Xolo, July 2022. https://blog.xolo.io/ultimate-list-of-e-residency-countries
  8. Xolo. “What is Estonian e-Residency and what are the benefits?”, Xolo, n/a. https://www.xolo.io/zz-en/e-residency  
eresidency eresident estonia eresidency georgia eresident georgie digital nomad estonia
FDN Life Magazine Issue 11 2022
ISSUE 11 (JUL-DEC '22)

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