Estonia plans to create 10 million “e-Estonians” by 2025

The Estonian government has approved the concept of issuing digital IDs to non-residents, meaning from the end of 2014, foreigners will be able to receive a secure Estonian e-identity, forging a unique opportunity to create a new set of remotely usable global services.

According to Taavi Kotka, the Deputy Secretary General on ICT at the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs, the aim of the project “is to make Estonia great: make sure that at least 10 million people around the world choose to associate with Estonia via e-identities”.

“Estonian citizens are able to perform nearly every public and private sector transaction in digital form, including signing any document. Until now, this ability has not extended to foreigners who are permanent residents of countries other than Estonia,” Kotka said.

To include foreigners, on 24 April the Estonian government approved the concept of issuing digital IDs to non-residents. “This forms a basis for the growth of the international competitiveness of the Estonian state in the fields of economy, science, education, health care, etc,” according to Kotka.

“For example, the adoption of non-resident ID cards is an additional argument in favour of investing in Estonia. Today, it is difficult for a foreign investor to actively participate in the executive management of a company. The non-resident ID card and digital signature would provide the necessary flexibility.”

Kotka pointed out that in addition, reinvested profit is tax-free in Estonia, and the highly developed e-banking environment gives users immediate control of their assets from a distance. “This means that Estonia has the potential to be attractive to entrepreneurs who need an investment account and this would result in additional customers and capital for Estonian businesses.”

The primary target groups of the e-residence would be foreign investors and the foreign employees of their companies; foreign specialists and employees of Estonian companies, their foreign customers and partners; foreign scientists, educators and students; representatives of other countries and international institutions (e.g. the European IT Agency) in the Republic of Estonia; Estonian nationals and their heirs who have emigrated from Estonia, as well as the family members of the persons listed above.

By letting at least 10 million people around the world choose to associate with Estonia via e-identities, it also provides an additional security guarantee for the country – there would be more voices creating a global uproar in case of an aggression against Estonia.


Read also: Could Estonia survive in the cloud?

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About the author: Estonian World

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  • Linda Powers

    I’m ready to apply.

  • Jim

    I saw this when it was initially proposed a few days ago. What 10 million people have problems this is trying to solve? Foreign investors (a few thousand at most) indeed currently need an ID card but only to sign the annual report, but they can also provide power of attorney. Bank access can be done with a PIN calculator. I suppose Estonian emigrants (who no longer have Estonian citizenship) may want it, but how many of them would find this useful?

    This really seems like a solution without much of a problem Am I missing something?

  • Ignacio

    Hi Jim, you’re indeed missing something. Estonia is a Eurozone and EU member. In a free, borderless, single-currency market, any EU company can act (in 99,9% of cases) as a national company of any of the member states. Now think how difficult is to open a company in many EU countries (including big economies such as Italy and Spain) as opposed to doing it in Estonia with a couple of clicks, once you have e-citizenship. There are 2 big target groups here: EU citizens (especially within the €-zone) who want to register a company but find big bureaucratic hurdles in their own countries; and non-EU citizens for whom the e-citizenship would open the possibility of opening a EU company, quite difficult in most cases if you’re a non-resident.