E-residency schemes from all over the world are being promoted to entrepreneurs and digital nomads who want to be location independent.'
Estonia e-Residency Program
Estonia was the first country to offer e-Residency, a government-issued digital identity. The Estonian e-Residency program was launched in December 2014. Status as an e-resident provides access to Estonia’s transparent business environment. I outlined my guide to Estonian e-residency, and my experience signing up to it here.
In the years since its inception, thousands of E-resident entrepreneurs from all over the world have started EU-based companies managing their businesses remotely, and online.
Leading up to Brexit, many Britons fearing loss of access to the European Union, and who conducted business across Europe signed up to Estonian e-residency. By the end of 2020, about 3000 British entrepreneurs holding e-residency set up around 500 businesses via Estonia’s e-residency program.
In April 2021, the Estonian government imposed additional background checks for applicants to ensure that the right applicants are being approved for Estonia’s e-residency.
Estonia is onto a winner. It has established new pick-up points for approved e-residents to pick up their cards in São Paulo, Bangkok, Singapore, and Johannesburg. This is handy if you are based in these four locations.
Lithuania e-Residency Program
Estonia’s Baltic cousin Lithuania also launched its own e-Residency program in 2021. From June 2021, foreigners can apply for e-resident status and receive an e-resident card. Lithuanian e-residents can use Lithuania’s electronic administrative, public or commercial services. Because it is in its early stages, some intended program aspects are yet to be implemented. These are e-signatures and company establishment.
One factor to keep in mind is that applicants need to make an in-country visit to Lithuania (within four months of applying) to collect their e-resident card. However the Lithuanian Government intends to change this, and expand their card collection service to foreigners living abroad in 2022.
E-applications can be submitted through MIGRIS at www.migracija.lt. (The specific page to apply (which is in Lithuanian) is at https://www.migracija.lt/noriu-tapti-elektroniniu-rezidentu). The cost for Lithuanian e-residency is 90 EUR. At present, Lithuanian E-resident status lasts for 3 years (shorter than the current Estonian e-residency which lasts for 5 years).
There is an instructional video in English for you to follow on YouTube here.
Portugal e-Residency Program
E-Residency 2.0 is a new program being designed by public-private think-tank Startup Portugal. Their E-Residency program will be designed for those coming from outside the European Union / Schengen countries. It will be targeted at digital nomads, entrepreneurs, and investors without a fixed base.
Their program will allow beneficiaries to create a company without having a tax residency in Portugal. E-Residency 2.0 will ensure that they will have access to banking services from Portugal, as well as access to public services, and the possibility to virtually create a company in Portuguese territory. You can sign up to Startup Portugal’s website for further announcement’s on E-Residency 2.0.
Ukraine e-Residency Program
Next off the block is Ukraine’s e-residency program. Ukraine’s e-residency program allows foreign freelancers from the IT sector to operate a location-independent business in the country. Ukraine e-Residency will offer:
Applying for Ukraine’s e-Residency program includes signing up on the website, application review and a visit to the consulate of Ukraine.
As a bonus, E-residents of Ukraine will be assigned an English-speaking personal manager to ease their transition into the Ukrainian IT world. This may be useful if you are not fluent in Ukrainian and need a representative to interact with Ukrainian public authorities.
Ukraine is taking pre-registrations for its e-residency program ahead of a planned launch of the program at the end of 2021.
Azerbaijan e-Residency Program
Azerbaijan also offers its own Electronic Residency (e-Residency) program, and another similar program called Mobile Residency (m-Residency).
Both e-Residency and m-Residency allow entrepreneurs to operate a location-independent business in Azerbaijan. E-residents and m-residents can use all of the cross-border e-services of the Digital Trade Hub of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan's Digital Trade Hub is the first e-trade and e-commerce portal guaranteed by the government.
Becoming an e-Resident or an m-Resident gives you a government-verified electronic identity, which you can securely use in an online environment. e-Residents receive a token for authentication and electronic signatures, whereas m-Residents are instead issued with special Asan İmza (Mobile ID) SIM card that performs the same function for authentication and electronic signatures.
COVID-19 has limited the work of some diplomatic missions and consulates of Azerbaijan, temporarily restricting the acceptance of applications. Further information on the Azerbaijan programs (and the status of applications) can be found here.