Estonia's e-Residency programme celebrates its sixth birthday on December 1 and so far more than 75,000 have signed up to the initiative. A panel discussion will take place on Facebook at 7 p.m. with the programme's founders to mark the occasion.
Over the past year, the reputation of the e-Residency programme has grown due to the impact of the coronavirus and more than 11,500 people signing up, a press release said.
Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology Raul Siem (EKRE) said: "The global pandemic has been a challenge for the whole world. In the light of COVID-19, Estonia's decision to move public sector services to the digital world now seems particularly forward-looking and citizen-friendly - offering e-services and location-free business opportunities differentiates Estonia worldwide and enables successful business operations even in situations where people can no longer meet in person."
The e-Residency program was created with the aim of offering foreign citizens secure access to Estonian e-services. The largest number of e-Residents come from Finland, Ukraine, Russia, Germany and China. In total, e-residents have created almost 15,000 Estonian companies in six years.
Deputy Head of e-Residency Dagmar Vlassov said, going forward, the team are trying to find ways to offer cardless and contactless e-Residency which has been sped up by the pandemic.
"This plan gained further momentum due to the movement restrictions established during the COVID-19 crisis and the difficulties in picking up the e-Resident ID card, which currently requires proof of identity at an Estonian embassy or pick up point. We are open to innovative ideas and want to continue to share the opportunities of the Estonian digital state outside our small home country," she said.
The holder of an e-Resident digital ID card can digitally sign documents and log in to portals and information systems that recognize the Estonian ID card. E-Residency does not provide citizenship, tax residence, residence permit and permission to enter Estonia or the European Union.
e-Residents have created nearly 15,000 Estonian companies which employ nearly 1,800 people. The program has brought direct income of over €50 million euros to the Estonian economy during its six years of operation. The total turnover of e-Resident companies is currently over €1.95 billion.
It was set up during the peak of the European migration crisis, when the world began to close and while Estonia continued to guard its borders but to open up digitally.
"E-Residency is a great alternative to migration. It gives many people around the world the opportunity to improve their lives without having to leave their home country. In this way, e-Residency contributes to ensuring stability in the world and at the same time helps to make Estonia bigger and more visible," explains Ruth Annus, one of the founders of the e-Residency program and Head of the Citizenship and Migration Policy Department of the Ministry of the Interior.
President wishes e-Residency a happy birthday
President Kersti Kaljulaid congratulated the e-Residency programme and all of Estonia's e-Residents in a video announcement.
"Thank you for trusting Estonia as the virtual home for your businesses," she said. Speaking about the effects of the coronavirus, she said: "We really hope that the possibility of doing business digitally has helped you continue with your work in these circumstances and has given you a stronger sense of security."
Editor: Helen Wright