It’s only been 23 years since the Baltic state, The Republic of Estonia has gained its independence from the Soviets after the end of the Cold War. But the nation’s economy has been growing steadily and it’s now the first country ever to introduce the idea of e-residency to foreigners, in light of its flourishing digital society.
For the price of 50 Euros, or about $70, you could have your own digital identity, and be a part of their flourishing e-economy. Services such as banking and registering a business will be open to these e-residents.
However, there is a stark distinction between being a resident and an e-resident of the country, where the former obviously has more rights. An e-resident is allowed to have an electronic identity which grants the person access to the country’s digital services. “Such digital identification and signing is legally fully equal to face-to-face identification and handwritten signatures in the European Union,” their website explains.
“E-residency is basically a government-guaranteed digital identity,” said Siret Schutting, Estonia’s e-ambassador. “We are allowing foreigners to acquire what every Estonian already has: a digital signature. This means they can securely sign documents online. It’s legally the same as a handwritten signature.”
The decision came about after the majority of the Estonian Parliament voted in favor of it. 80 out of 101 Parliament members believed in passing this law, which will essentially allow people to make use of its digital infrastructure, which has a functioning e-police, e-school, and even a e-voting system.
It’s no surprise that Estonia is believed to be the “hub” of digital business in Eastern Europe, or that foreigners looking to connect with the European market would do so through this portal. So the new e-residency is simply the Estonian method of making sure that’s possible.