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Thousands of UK entrepreneurs register businesses in Estonia since Brexit referendum

UK entrepreneurs are registering businesses in Estonia to make sure they can continue to trade freely in the EU

Thousands of Brits have registered as e-residents in Estonia to enable them to set up European Union (EU) businesses, since the UK referendum on its membership of the trading block.

A total of 3,297 British companies have joined Estonia’s e-Residency programme since its launch in 2014, with the vast majority joining after the EU referendum.

The e-Residency government programme aims to attract entrepreneurs from other countries to register EU businesses in the Baltic state by providing non-Estonian citizens with easy access to online government services.

E-residents can start a company within a day and run the company remotely, apply for a business banking account and credit card, conduct e-banking, use international payment service providers, declare taxes, and sign documents digitally.

Since 2014, the programme has attracted more than 65,000 digital entrepreneurs from across the world. The programme does not provide citizenship, tax residency, physical residency or the right to travel to Estonia or the European Union.

Following the UK’s exit from the EU at the end of January, Britain’s business community needs certainty while the UK government negotiates trade agreements with the EU this year, said Ott Vatter, managing director of the e-Residency programme.

“Companies are still so unsure about the future of their organisations,” said Vatter. “We found that over a third of UK business owners are considering moving themselves or their companies out of the UK because of Brexit.

“We are proud to provide the support that UK businesses and entrepreneurs need to grow and expand their business operations post-Brexit. Digital ID and digital residency will be the next frontier in the way the public sector interacts with its citizens and the wider world, and Estonia is at the forefront of this digital revolution.”

Estonia has a population of just 1.3 million and is a pioneer in tech innovation. It has an advanced government in terms of providing digital services and is the home to successful tech startups such as fintechs Bolt and Transferwise

In January, Estonia’s chief information officer Siim Sikkut told British IT professionals that the country will offer some of them the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of living and working in the EU, after the UK left the trading block.

“Estonia is one of the most digitally advanced nations on Earth,” said Sikkut. “So we are always on the lookout for talented individuals who want to accelerate their career and be part of our digital society.”

Because of a lack of natural resources, Estonia has set out to become a top location for IT companies and is also a pioneer of digital government services. It has introduced several programmes to attract investment and foreign workers.

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