One reason for becoming an e-resident of Estonia, when you don't live there, is that you can identify yourself online to Estonian authorities and banks. And when you can do that you can start a business based in Estonia without even visiting (Estonia is beautiful so you should visit anyway).
What is e-residency?
E-residency is not like citizenship. It is more like having a digital home in Estonia. Authorities and banks know who you are and therefore can let you do business with them. E-residency does not mean you can travel to Estonia without the same credentials as you would otherwise need.
With e-residency you can also rent a virtual or physical office in Estonia. This gives you a physical address that you can receive mail to. That is required for starting an Estonian business.
Why would you want to start a business in Estonia?
Well, if you travel a lot and live in many different countries, you may still want to run a company. If you are a digital nomad, for instance. Estonia is a good place to do that. They have relatively low corporate taxes (20 percent), they are part of the European Union and trade in Euro, most people speak English and all official documents and websites are written in both Estonian and English, you don't have to pay company taxes until you pay out dividends, which means startups can reinvest profits to grow faster without having to pay corporate taxes.
When you start an Estonian limited company, the minimum share capital is 2500 EUR and you don't have to have to pay it until you pay out dividends. In addition to this you can administer Estonian companies via internet from anywhere in the world and corporate services are cheaper than in many other countries as a result of this. Estonia is in the global forefront when it comes to digitalization.
Becoming an Estonian e-resident is the first step in starting an Estonian business.
Apply for e-residency in Estonia
Before you fill in the e-residency application you need two things: a digital photo of yourself and a scanned copy of your passport (or national ID card if your are an EU citizen). Once you have that you are ready to go:
When your application is approved you will receive an email saying so. Then you can schedule a time to pick up your personal e-Residency smart ID card and USB card reader at the embassy you chose in the application. You will have to identify yourself with the same passport or ID card as you sent with your application. At pickup they will scan your index fingers.
Start an Estonian company using your e-residency
When you have Estonian e-residency you can continue with starting and setting up your business. Read more about starting an Estonian company here. If you feel ready you can visit the Estonian company registration portal.