Estonia punching above its weight in the digital arena

Everything is digital in Estonia

Estonians live in a digital world

Did you know that Estonia is a fantastic destination to consider for an e-business, or any type of business really? If you Google Estonia, one of the first things that pops up is its fame for being one of the most ‘e’ literate countries in the world. How did this happen and what does it mean for business in Estonia and foreign investors worldwide?

The story started after Estonia’s independence from Russia in early 1990. The government decided that one of their key initiatives would be to embrace electronic literacy and make it a priority so that they would have the edge as a government body and for foreign investment in Europe. The government immediately set about training Estonians to become computer literate and today it is estimated that 99% of the population complete their baking online. A tax return can be completed online in less than 5 minutes and a business can be incorporated in less than a day. It is even claimed that an Estonian company was incorporated in less than 18 minutes. Estonians can also vote online which is pretty unique among its neighbors.

The Estonian Prime Minister, Taavi Roivas is currently visiting Dubai to attend the Gitex Technology Week conference where he will be sharing with Dubai the success of its ‘E-Estonia’ project.

While Estonia is only 50% the size of Dubai, it is ranked 8th on the Index of Economic Freedom, whereas UAE is ranked only 25th. Dubai is hoping to benefit from Estonia’s success and the governments will be signing documents to initiate the transfer of skills, training and experience from Estonia to Dubai. The Dubai government wants to pursue the concept of a ‘smart city’ and will be working closely with Estonia to achieve this goal.

So how will ‘E Estonia’ help you as a business owner or foreign investor in Estonia?

  • Company Incorporation formalities can be completed on line in just a couple of hours;
  • Corporate Income tax can be completed on line in minutes;
  • Digital Signatures are commonly used for all business transactions which will save you a lot of time. Riovas himself has been heard saying that 95% of the documents he signs have been done so digitally;
  • Online Banking is the norm and all transactions can be completed online in a timely manner;
  • E-commerce businesses obviously benefit from Estonia’s digitally skilled population from both an employer’s perspective, being able to quickly hire skilled talent, and from a market perspective where consumers are accustomed to online buying.

If you are considering incorporating or registering a business in Estonia, please contact us at to discuss the best structure for your company.

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Image credit: By NuclearVacuum [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

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