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Brexit: The EU country where you can become an e-resident for €100

Base your business in Estonia for continued inclusion in the EU’s legal system

Harry Cockburn
Thursday 15 September 2016 21:42 BST
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Tallinn, Estonia. You don't have to move to the country to base your business there
Tallinn, Estonia. You don't have to move to the country to base your business there (iStock)

For British business owners concerned at the prospect of operating outside the European Union following the Brexit vote, salvation may be at hand.

Estonia is offering an e-residency programme that allows foreigners to base their business and finances in the country via an online application process that takes minutes to complete.

The scheme has boomed in popularity, and offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to remain within the EU’s legal framework, with the registration website claiming businesses can benefit from “minimal bureaucracy and clear tax framework”.

Unfortunately for those wondering whether signing up as an e-resident may be a route to an EU passport following the Brexit vote, successful applications do not mean foreigners will become citizens of Estonia.

Nonetheless, since the introduction of the system, Estonia has seen an additional 1,000 businesses based in the country in addition to the 60,000 that were already there.

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According to the service, the UK’s referendum result boosted applications for e-residency in Estonia from businesses in the UK tenfold.

The Estonian government is supportive of the scheme which it sees as a means of bringing more money into the country’s small economy.

Estonia has a working population of just 650,000 and that figure is expected to fall dramatically in the coming years due to emigration and an aging population.

Speaking to the Guardian, Taavi Kotka, Estonia’s chief information officer and government lead on the project said: “Attracting immigrants is just not an option for us. People would rather choose Sweden or Norway.

“Physically, we’re not able to improve our population. So why not do it online?”

All you have to do to base your international business in Estonia is fill in a short form, scan your passport, upload a photograph of yourself, and explain why you want to become an e-resident.

Applications cost €100 (£84).

The application is then reviewed by the Estonian police, and as long as you have not been involved in any money laundering cases, you are likely to be accepted.

The website proudly states that in 2009, Estonia received a Guinness World Record for “fastest time to register a new legal entity”, with a winning time of just 18 minutes.

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