On Friday 26th July 2019, I officially became an e-Resident of Estonia. I remember that day very well, as it was a sweltering day in Madrid and I was worried that I would pass out! And yet, I was so happy of this milestone for my life as a digital nomad. Here, I’m sharing all about the application process to become an e-Resident.
A borderless business with e-residency
One of my main motivations to becoming an e-Resident of Estonia was of course the ability to run a borderless business from wherever in the world. I live in a way that doesn’t often fit into how our society works, and this has always been a ‘spanner in my wheel’ for the vision I have in the kind of business I want to do.
I’ve had countless conversations with other digital nomads, including my mentors when I was looking into this lifestyle about a decade ago. They offered me solutions, none of which worked for me as a Mauritian citizen. I did not even have a bank account (personal or business) in my own country because I was not living there (I left in 2002 and didn’t reside there). There were some solutions online, but again, they did not work for me due to my nationality. Also, my life back then wasn’t linear – it was (still is) complex, various jobs, resident of South Africa on a work permit attached to only one company, etc. I knew that becoming an e-Resident of Estonia would be a great fit for me.
I could not start a business in South Africa (where I lived back then) due to my work permit and contract limitations. I also could not start a business from my country of origin (Mauritius) because I did not live there, and didn’t want to have to return just for the sake of opening a business. And I knew that even if I did that, it wouldn’t give me the foundation I needed to have my lifestyle online business. Needless to say, I was even more motivated to apply to become an e-Resident of Estonia.
Now, just a note here that I have done extensive research about the whole online business thing, ever since 2006, and after many courses, investing in mentors who were exactly where I wanted to be, I knew that all the other options wouldn’t be a good fit for me. I received a lot of messages on my Instagram account of some of you advising me to open a Shopify account, etc, and nope, that would simply not work for me as what I have in mind (for my business) is an infrastructure that enables me have complete control (hello freedom) and to scale massively. There are definitely benefits to being an e-Resident of Estonia.
The virtual residency program launched in 2014. It enables their e-Residents to set up a company based in the EU, and makes things that are otherwise complex simple. Some of these are company registration, banking, taxation, payment processing, etc.
I knew the starting point to my path to freedom to start and run my online business from anywhere in the world was to become an e-resident of Estonia.
E-Resident of Estonia – my main motivations for applying
- have a company that is 100% online
- be location independent and not have to start the whole business process each time I move/relocate
- operating my online business from anywhere (and be able to travel full-time)
- incorporate an EU-based company without needing to be in Europe or travel there (it’s all online!)
- no excess paperwork – I can sign, authenticate docs digitally
- declare business taxes online (in a clear and transparent tax framework)
- apply for a business bank account for online payments
- minimal bureaucracy (bypassing the red tape woohoo)
Application to becoming an e-Resident of Estonia – the timeline
I applied on the 20th June 2019 via the e-Residency application online.
To start the application to become an e-Resident of Estonia, I needed my passport and to enter my personal details (name, country, date of birth etc). Then, I had to select a pickup location. This part is key, as you will need to collect your e-Residency starter kit if and when you get approved to becoming an e-Resident of Estonia. Make sure you check this, especially if where you reside doesn’t have a pickup location or if you’re travelling non-stop.
I chose Madrid, Spain to pick up my e-Resident of Estonia starter kit as I knew I would end up in Schengen states at some point in my nomadic travels. More than enough time for the application to be submitted, processed, accepted, and my digital ID card to be ready for collection. Worst case scenario, if I’m not near the pickup location I chose anymore, I could always send them an email to change the pickup location. Or I could change my travel plans to collect my digital e-Residency kit. They give you six months for collection. If you miss that deadline, they destroy the card and you have to apply again to become an e-Resident of Estonia.
They state on their website that the whole process to apply to become an e-Resident of Estonia can take up to 30 days from the time you submit your application.
Here’s the timeline of my e-Residency application process to collection of my Digi-ID:
20th June 2019: submitted my application online here along with my photo + personal details, main motivations for applying, a non-refundable fee of 120 Euros, my social media links etc.
The e-Residency team emailed that my application “has been submitted and the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board will keep you informed about the application process by sending progress reports to the e-mail address you provided in the application. The processing of your application can take up to 30 days from the date when the application is admitted to the proceedings. If your application is approved, you will be notified, and the e-Resident’s Digi-ID will be sent to your chosen pick-up location“.
21st June 2019: The Estonian Police and Border Guard Board emailed that my application has been been “accepted for processing and you will be notified of the decision within 30 days. If the application is approved, your digital ID card and starter kit will then be sent to your chosen pick-up location“.
4th July 2019: The Estonian Police and Border Guard Board emailed that they’ve granted me e-Residency! I celebrated that day with a dance and a delicious dinner. I might have also shrieked incessantly like a 5-year old who just got the puppy she’s been begging for.
17th July 2019: Received an email from the Embassy of Estonia in Madrid, Spain (my chosen pick-up location) to book an appointment to collect my Digi-ID and my e-Residency starter kit.
21st July 2019: I packed my luggage (I was in Porto then) and flew to Madrid, Spain ???????? . I checked the weather and chose the day of the coolest temperature (by Madrid summer standards) to collect my card.
26th July 2019: Collected my e-Residency starter kit from a lovely woman named Liisi from the Embassy of Estonia in Madrid. She assisted me for my fingerprints, and gave me further instructions. This took less than 5 minutes! Ideal, as I had my Uber taxi driver waiting for me downstairs.
27th July 2019: Received an email from the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board that my “certificates for my e-Resident’s digital ID have been activated and the document is ready for digital use” and also a warm “Welcome to e-Estonia!” which made me smile.
E-Resident of Estonia – life now
Today, I am able to run and operate my EU-based company as a digital entrepreneur. That’s with no home base, fully location-independent, and working with clients from all over the world. Now, I guide and support heart-centred entrepreneurs to build their own lifestyle business where they can have fun, freedom, and create to their heart’s content with impact in their community.
I hired XOLO‘s services and their amazing team have been instrumental in helping me get my EU-company started. It’s great – I love how I’m able to manage my entire business operations online, all from my iPhone! And no paper waste (yes, local bank in my birth country, I’m looking at you!).
I’d like to tell you more about them, and will do so in another blogpost. For any questions, let me know so I can make sure I address them.