There Are Now 10,000 E-Residents of Estonia

Estonia is the first country in the world to let people have digital residencies.

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May 19 2016, 5:00pm

Tallinn, Estonia. Image: TausP/Flickr

Though he's never actually set foot in the country, US citizen and tech entrepreneur Manu Sporny today became the 10,000th Estonian e-resident.

The small Baltic country of just over one million people has been accepting virtual residents since December 2014, and aims to have as many as 10 million of them by 2025.

Katre Kasmel, a spokeswoman for the e-Estonian residency programme, told me that the government was excited by the surge of numbers within the first one and a half years.

"During recent years there has been a huge growth in the number of people all over the world who want to sell their skills and knowledge internationally and independent of location," said Kasmel.

"Estonia is the first country offering the opportunity to open and run a location independent business fully online." This is when you can establish a company without ever having set foot in the country you register it in.

Applicants to the residency programme have come from 129 countries, with almost 20 percent of e-residents hailing from Finland. The US and Ukraine follow not far behind. Since December 2014, these e-residents have established 560 new companies and own 1,155 companies registered in Estonia.

"The more clients Estonian companies have, the bigger their and the Estonian economy's growth potential"

The scheme offers a bunch of benefits to aspiring entrepreneurs and streamlines usual red tape associated with setting up then managing a business. For example, e-residents can set up an

Estonian company online within a day and administer it from any location in the world without the need of a local representative. They can also conduct e-banking, declare taxes online, and digitally sign documents and contracts within the company as well as with external partners.

From this autumn, the Estonian government also intends to implement a scheme that will allow e-residents to open bank accounts from outside of Estonia. The draft legislation has already been put before the Estonian parliament by the government.

"When an e-resident establishes a company, it means that the company will likely start using the services offered by Estonian companies, like bank accounts, payment service providers, accounting support, legal advice, auditors, asset management, investment opportunities," said Kasmel.

"The more clients Estonian companies have, the bigger their and the Estonian economy's growth potential."