“Once you have residence online, borders lose their meaning” as Estonia accelerates its digital expansion
Estonia e-residence The program today announced its willingness to recruit more applicants from the most remote parts of the world by adding additional ID collection points in Singapore, Bangkok, SÃ£o Paulo and Johannesburg.
The additional locations reflect the need to serve the growing number of applicants in the region’s various major cities, and their nearest digital nomad hubs, including MedellÃn, Colombia; SÃ£o Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil; Chiang Mai in Thailand and the island of Bali in Indonesia.
Established processes, even in the event of a pandemic
The e-Residency program broke new ground in 2014, with Estonia being one of the first countries in the EU to allow non-residents and non-citizens to apply for an official government ID. As an EU member state, this has effectively enabled non-EU residents to establish trade links in the largest economic bloc with just a few mouse clicks and at low start-up costs.
Then came Covid-19, and suddenly several countries around the world are following suit by implementing digital government services. Estonia remains a power in this sector, however, with digital provision being a fundamental necessity for all government communications.
In their E-Residency 2.0 White Paper published in December 2018, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid presented his 49 recommendations to further improve infrastructure and services to facilitate the growth of e-Residency and help serve the 5-10 million Digital Nomads , even remote workers but realize they are digital nomads.
In today’s announcement, President Kaljulaid said: âWhile the global pandemic has limited our ability to travel, work and do business across borders, it has also accelerated the digital transformation of governments, businesses and the self-employed. As more and more people choose to live and work without being tied to one place, there is a growing need for a digital toolbox without a location to support them. As the world’s first digitally transformed state, Estonia is pleased to welcome even more freelancers, entrepreneurs, business owners and self-employed people from around the world to join our online residency program. ”
Lauri Haav, Managing Director of e-Residency gets straight to the point: “Once you have e-Residency, borders lose their meaning” was the key message.
He added: âWe are very excited about the announcement of our new collection points in Africa, South America and Asia. Expanding our digital and physical network and empowering businesses is always a priority for us, and this launch has been underway for some time. Entrepreneurs, business leaders and freelancers around the world have so much to offer, and we hope that facilitating the process to join e-Residency will encourage more of them to choose us to help grow their businesses. ”
According to his public dashboard Last week, the program went through its 80,000th e-Resident. Interestingly, I had thought that there would be one or two countries that would dominate the nominations, although I was pleasantly surprised to see the opposite. The top 10 countries of nationality among e-Residents, being fairly evenly distributed, are: Finland; Russia; Ukraine; Germany; China; UK; United States; India; France; and Italy.
By far, men in the 26-45 demographic seem to dominate the lists, with women making up only about 13% of all e-Residents.
The e-Landscape with other countries
While Estonia retains its first-come advantage, it is certainly not alone, as many countries, including other EU member states, are following suit by allowing digital signatures for official purposes.
The European Commission EIDAS Regulation, the fundamental workings of digital infrastructure for EU Member States, show that at the time of writing, a total of 17 EU countries have programs that have been notified or pre-notified to comply with cross-border recognition.
In practice however, based on my own experiences with at least 5 other EU countries as non-citizens, much remains to be done to ensure a smooth user experience. Although the e-Landscape certainly seems to be changing rapidly for the better.