My blog tells me it’s six years ago I was granted Estonian e-residency, which lapsed after three years in August 2018. Except for the novelty in 2015, I haven’t used the e-residency card for anything meaningful while I had it. I did at the time contemplate creating a legal entity through it, but there never was an actual reason to do so. Unlike for others whom I’ve seen relocating their UK based entities to Estonian ones after the 2016 Brexit referendum, to keep guaranteed unfettered access to the common market.

E-residency requests per quarter from 2014 (source Estonian e-residency dashboard)

From the Estonian government dashboard on e-residency it seems I was far from alone in not renewing my e-residency after it lapsed in 2018. All cards until 2018 were valid for 3 years, which was extended in 2018 to 5 years. Any card issued after November 2015 could get the extension. Meaning that all cards issued in 2014 and in Q1, Q2 and Q3 of 2015 should have been renewed in 2017 and Q1 to 3 of 2018 respectively, because their validity could not be extended. Lapsed cards cannot be renewed and you’d have to re-apply, where they would count as new e-residents. By the end of Q3 2015, 5284 e-residency cards had been granted, which should all have been renewed by Q4 2018. By the end of 2018 only 1399 cards had been renewed however, and thus at least 3885, or 73%, of that first batch I was part of had lapsed. It may well be that many of these were replaced with new e-residency requests at a later time though. Likely that first batch of e-residents from 2015 contained many people like me who appreciated the novelty of electronic residency in a country, and wanted to show support for the initiative by applying. Between 10-15% of more recent applicants still say they are applying out of interest in and support for the program itself. It isn’t unlikely the first wave of early adopters had a much higher percentage of those.

When I first used my e-residency card to log into the Estonian e-residency website, August 2015. (Some information removed) Image by Ton Zijlstra, license CC BY NC SA

I do still get the regular e-mail newsletter about the program, and it seems to have steadily evolved and become more potentially useful over the years. If I in some way get to a point where I want to incorporate a new business activity, I do still think doing it in Estonia is likely a good way, particularly if it’s with people in other (EU) countries, and internationally oriented. More than 83.000 people from over 170 countries registered as e-resident (equivalent to 6% of the Estonian population) over the years, and these people established over 17.500 businesses in Estonia, the tax proceeds of which flow into the Estonian budget. Those tax proceeds are still limited it seems, as tax is due only when profit is being distributed/taken out of a company. The e-residency website mentions 51 million Euro’s tax revenue (in total I think), but doesn’t detail it in their dashboard or mention it in other promotional material.

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