e-Residency Programs Around the World: The Ultimate Guide in 2021
Last updated on February 27th, 2021
What is an e-Residency program?
Also known as a virtual residency, the e-Residency programs offer a digital identity to start and manage an online company. Estonia was the first country to introduce one on December 1, 2014.
In Estonia’s e-Residency program, the e-residents receive a smart card that allows them to access services otherwise deemed impossible for a non-resident.
e-Residency is an excellent option for location-independent services provided by freelancers, consultants, digital nomads, and solopreneurs.
What are the benefits of the e-residency programs?
While the internet opened up a host of opportunities to start a business, the e-residency program took it a step further. With it, anyone can create an online business without becoming a resident or citizen of the host country.
When you decide to become an e-resident, you benefit in ways that were unimaginable ten years ago.
Start an EU-based online company: If this is your dream, the e-residency program offers you an opportunity.
Full remote access: Control the day-to-day operations of your business sitting in your home, regardless of your country of residence.
Pay taxes: Your e-residency smart card can help you write off your expenses and pay your taxes without physically visiting the country.
Banking/Online Payment: With a smart card, you can comfortably apply for online payment services and digital business banking.
Digital verification: The embassy issues a smart card only after a thorough investigation. You can use the card issued for signing and verifying the documents digitally.
Join a community: You can grow your network and your business by connecting with other e-residents around.
This program aims to benefit all the digital nomads, freelancers, startups, and entrepreneurs operating from anywhere globally.
What do you need to become an e-Resident?
The process to become an e-resident is relatively simple. So, anyone with genuine interest can apply for one of the available programs. Requirements vary between different programs.
In Estonia, the Local Police and the Border Guard make a background check to verify the authenticity of the applicant. A clean criminal record is required.
Countries with e-Residency programs
After Estonia, several countries have either launched or are planning to launch an e-residency program soon.
Estonia e-Residency Program
Estonia offers a digital identity to entrepreneurs, digital nomads, and freelancers from all around the world. With this transparent and legitimate e-status, anyone can easily use public e-services and enter the EU business environment.
An Estonian e-residency provides several advantages, including:
- Minimal maintenance and low startup cost
- No tax on reinvested profits
- Transparent taxation
- Low corruption
- Unique 2 PIN numbers for secure transactions
- Membership of the EU, OECD, NATO, and eurozone.
- Avoid fluctuations in currency. Use euros for transactions.
As you receive the Estonian e-residency, you become a member of one of the world’s most digitally advanced societies.
For more information on this program, you can check out our article on the Estonia e-Residency.
Lithuania e-Residency Program
Following Estonia’s footsteps, Lithuania had plans to launch its own e-residency program in January 2021. The new amendment was passed in July 2019. However, it is unclear whether the plan has started rolling or not.
Nevertheless, most program elements are similar to the other baltic country, the Estonian e-residency program. The benefits are almost similar such as a digital ID to access public, administrative, and commercial services.
- Set up an EU-based online company
- Pay taxes
- Access the European business market
- Access bank accounts
The application process as and when implemented would be simple and easy for non-Portugal-speaking residents.
Countries Expected to Start e-Residency Programs
In addition to Estonia and Lithuania, several countries are planning or anticipated to launch their own e-residency programs soon. These include:
Portugal e-Residency Program
Another EU country planning to start an e-residency program is Portugal. On March 9, 2020, the Portugal government pre-announced the e-residency 2.0 program. The information and legal documentation are bilingual-English and Portugal.
The program will be similar to the Estonian structure and it is expected to offer similar advantages.
- Establish an online company without becoming a taxpayer
- Access business and personal banking services
- Avail National Health services
- Pay taxes
- Sign documents
- Less Bureaucratic hurdles
This program primarily aims to attract more investors, entrepreneurs, and projects and open the business market for Portugal and Portuguese-speaking countries markets (PALOP) like Mozambique, Angola, and Brazil.
Dubai e-Residency Program
Dubai offered a one-year virtual working program in October 2020. This allows beach lovers to leverage the opportunity to enjoy living in one of the safest places on the planet. Dubai was awarded the ‘Safe Travels’ stamp by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) recently, strengthening their ‘safe’ status further.
So, while you stay employed in your country, you can work in Dubai. All you need is proof of employment, a minimum salary of $5000 per month, a payslip, a 3-month bank statement, and health insurance.
South Africa e-Residency Program
The most developed nation of the African continent, South Africa, is also the second-largest economy on the continent. With their highly popular e-residency program, The Estonian Government is eyeing entrepreneurs and small business owners from South Africa.
South Africa already provides an investor residency for immigrants, but It is time they realize their potential as an investor-friendly country and start an e-residency program of their own.
Brazil e-Residency Program
The digital program initially introduced by Estonia aims to have such investment options in different parts of the world and they are now eyeing Brazil. This expansion scheme was made public by the Estonian government in October 2020.
Brazil, the sixth-largest economy and the fifth-largest country globally is an investment heaven for many businesses.
This is another Portuguese-speaking country’s market (PALOP) anticipated to offer an e-residency card shortly.
Singapore e-Residency Program
Singapore, an east Asian nation is one of the richest countries in the world. Its financial and business facilities, infrastructure, and public services attract several investors every year.
Allowing foreign nationals, an e-residency will only help in boosting foreign investment. This will benefit several people looking to start a business in Singapore but cannot take up a residency for one reason or the other.
Singapore is also expected to start its own e-residency program soon.
Thailand e-Residency Program
Thailand is one of the favorite destinations for digital nomads and freelancers. However, with the authorities showing concern on these individuals working without a work permit, there is a growing need for a program on Estonia’s e-Residency program lines.
Until then, obtaining a work permit will help the nomads work in peace.
Japan e-Residency Program
In 2018, when the Japanese PM visited the Baltic country, he agreed upon starting a tourist visa to grant people the right to work freely. Along with Estonia’s e-residency programs, many Japanese individuals have benefitted from this program.
Consequently, Estonia’s e-residency program success has prompted Japan and many countries to think of launching an e-Residency program.
Ukraine e-Residency Program
E-residents from Ukraine own more than 950 companies in the e-residency ecosystem.
With such success stories coming to the fore, in 2019, the Ministry of Digital Transformation proposed an e-Residency program for foreign nationals to come and set up business in Ukraine. Had the pandemic not hit the world, the program would have been launched.
Nevertheless, with pandemic receding in most parts of the world, the program should see the light of the day soon. A few noteworthy benefits of the program include low tax rates and no paperwork.
United States e-Residency Program
Many digital nomads find the US as one of the most friendly destinations with plenty of things to do while working at their leisure. However, this can be slightly expensive.
America, as the strongest economy should consider starting an e-Residency program similar to Estonia and reap the advantages that only Estonia has been able to so far.
Find all answers to some frequently asked questions on e-Residency.
What is the procedure to start a company with an e-residency program?
- Apply for the e-Residency program
- Collect your e-identity from the nearby Estonian Embassy or the Consulate
- Get in touch with a virtual office provider and get an Estonian address.
- Use e-Business Register and set up your company.
- Start a digital banking account.
- Use digital signs to make and receive payments.
Note. Since you have obtained an e-residency, it doesn’t mean the banks will allow you a digital account. It is subject to their terms and conditions.
What is the right method to apply for e-Residency programs?
- Visit e-resident.gov.ee and fill the application form.
- Wait for some time till your email gets approved, and the background check is over.
After that, you can collect your card after it gets approved by the Estonian Police and the Border Guard.
Can I live In Estonia with my e-Resident card?
Unfortunately, you cannot live in Estonia with Digital ID. An e-Residency card allows digital services only.
What is the registration fee for Estonian e-Residency?
Pay 100 EUR when you submit the application for e-Residency. An additional 30 EUR are charged at the time of collecting the ID
How do e-Residents pay their taxes?
To know about their tax obligations, an e-Resident should consult a tax professional. He apprises the individual on everything about taxes and helps in simplifying the process further.