5 benefits for launching your startup in Estonia

Own an EU company without ever setting foot in the EU. Plus these other advantages
Liina Vahtras

Navigating paperwork, cumbersome tax filings, middle men and logistical hurdles are aspects of setting up and running a business many entrepreneurs would happily avoid. While the UK offers a robust environment with its own set of advantages, entrepreneurs are increasingly looking towards more streamlined solutions to these old-age challenges.

With a foundation in digital innovation and a thriving startup ecosystem, Estonia introduced its e-Residency programme 10 years ago. This initiative allows global entrepreneurs to digitally establish and manage a business based in Estonia, facilitating worldwide operations, regardless of their physical location. Attracting over 1,000 sign-ups from UK entrepreneurs, the programme removes traditional, time-consuming barriers involved in running a business, emphasising ease, trust, opportunity and community in entrepreneurship. 

Estonia may not be the first place you think of for starting a business, yet its e-Residency programme simplifies business operations at every turn. Here are five reasons why Estonia and the e-Residency programme emerge as an attractive choice for founders looking to scale their business and minimise administrative hurdles. 

Set up a company in less than 30 minutes 

Entrepreneurs worldwide can now launch a company in under 30 minutes via a single interoperable platform. The e-Residency programme is shifting business practices, using digital tools for company registration, administration, banking and tax filing. This approach boosts efficiency and reduces startup times and costs.

The fastest setup time recorded was 15 minutes during London Tech Week in May 2022. To support this speed and ease of access, e-Residency aims to remove all language barriers, ensuring entrepreneurs globally can confidently understand the programme and its offerings.

Run your business from anywhere

Upon receiving an e-Residency digital ID, successful applications gain remote access to Estonian e-services. This allows business owners to manage company information from anywhere in the world, at any time. 

Through the digital ID, taxes and annual reports can be filed, VAT returns declared and important documents e-signed and encrypted before being shared. The ID eliminates the need for paperwork, meaning there is no requirement for business personnel or third-party representatives to be physically present in Estonia for administration. 

Do business securely 

Given the rising cyber threats facing businesses and individuals alike, the security infrastructure of your business environment is increasingly important. Estonia addresses this concern directly with its advanced digital infrastructure, which stands out for not relying on a centralised database. The country employs X-Road, a distributed data exchange system that secures data exchanges across decentralised databases, ensuring robust protection for users.

This approach ensures that nearly all public services are digitally accessible, allowing citizens and residents, including e-residents, to securely manage their personal data and access services with their ID cards. While e-residents may not need to have access to every public service, they retain the ability to monitor how their personal data is used.

Access to the European Union 

The e-Residency programme provides e-residents with a broad range of resources and support to open up growth opportunities for their businesses. A key advantage is the ability to tap into EU and Estonian funding opportunities. 

Since the UK’s decision to leave the EU in 2016, many businesses have faced challenges in maintaining smooth trade relations with  EU countries and accessing EU business grants. Establishing a company in Estonia through the e-Residency programme means that founders have an official EU status, ensuring direct access to the single market, with no strings attached or bureaucratic hoops to jump through. 

Greater opportunities for business growth 

In addition to accessing the EU and single market, e-residents gain access to private investors, accelerator and incubator programmes, and the opportunity to participate in local start-up conferences. These opportunities expand their network to potential new clients and investors. 

Businesses can also benefit from favourable government policies. Home to many globally recognised unicorns, including Wise, Bolt and Skype, Estonia’s success in nurturing startups stems from its entrepreneurial culture and innovation-friendly government. The combination of supportive government policies and a competitive tax system, ranked the most favourable in the OECD for 10 years running, incentivises businesses to scale and reinvest. 

Written by
Liina Vahtras
Written by
February 27, 2024