Improving E-residency options

Estonian residents and E-residents no longer need to be physically present when opening a bank account.

On 16 June 2016 the Estonian Parliament passed amendments to further simplify the process of becoming an E-resident, making E-services even more user-friendly. Both E-residents and Estonian citizens may now open a bank account without being physically present at the bank. Draft changes to the Identity Documents Act, the Credit Institutions Act and the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act mean that from now on it will be possible to open a bank account via a video conference option with a bank representative. Applicants must still produce an ID card or ID document from their home country but the process itself will become more comfortable. Some limitations apply to identification via communication devices, such as monthly transaction limits up to 10 000 euros for natural persons and up to 25 000 euros for legal persons.

The E-residency project leader emphasizes that this improvement represents overcoming the last hurdle that has remained in the way of E-residency being a true virtual service. The requirement of being physically present in Estonia when becoming an E-resident was lifted earlier but now the last obstacle, i.e. having to be physically present in order to open a bank account in Estonia, has been removed. The new amendment further promotes the overall goal of E-residency by removing dependence on physical location for the business environment. The new identification solution is also significantly more secure than the previous one. Up to now, accounts were opened and confirmed in the bank; now it is possible to conclude the process via an audiovisual solution and the resulting conversation will be recorded. To use the service the client has to log in as an e-resident.

The banks have developed additional security to accommodate due diligence measures. The state will have conducted a background check and recorded the fingerprints of the applicant in the course of the E-residency procedure. The bank will retain the right to ask for additional documents or insist on physical presence when opening a bank account should any doubts arise regarding the motives of a person or enterprise. The amendments are in force from 15 July 2016. The banks hope to implement the new rules in September 2016.


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