Draft law allows to open an Estonian bank account without going to a branch

The Estonian government has approved and is going to forward to the parliament a draft legislation that will allow Estonian residents and also e-residents to open a bank account without having to go to a bank branch.

“We would like to keep up with the times and make opening a bank account simpler and faster, still ensuring that we maintain the necessary level of security,” Hanno Pevkur, the minister of the interior, said. “As technological solutions for remote person identification have been around for quite a while, it is sensible to allow them to be used for opening bank accounts.

“The number of people aspiring to become Estonian e-residents has proven to be higher than planned, and the development of the service will allow new investments and jobs to be brought to Estonia,” Pevkur added.

According to Taavi Kotka, the deputy secretary-general for communications and state information systems at the ministry of economic affairs and the head of the e-residency council, the opportunity of opening a bank account remotely is a very important link in the virtual business environment created by means of e-residency.

“While until now an e-resident entrepreneur had to come to Estonia to open a bank account, the proposed change in the law will give e-residents an opportunity to open a bank account and start a business without coming to Estonia,” Kotka said.

The amendment to the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act implies that banks will be able to replace the requirement of the applicant being present in person with a person identification process consisting of three stages. Namely, an information technology solution will be used for interviewing the person, and the interview will be saved. To identify the person, the document issued in Estonia for digital person identification, the personal identification document issued by a foreign state and the person identification data entered in the database of personal identification documents will be used. Additionally, the bank will have to further enhance its measures for the prevention of money laundering.

By now, over 10,000 people have applied for e-residency. Applications have arrived from 127 countries, the majority being from Finland, Russia, the US, Ukraine and Italy.


Cover: a business facility in Tallinn (courtesy of EAS)

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