Insights & Analyses

Brexit prompts UK businesses to turn to Estonia’s e-residency program

August 14, 2017

Britain’s split from the European Union has prompted business owners to apply to Estonia’s e-residency program, allowing them to continue to conduct business across Europe as before.

Estonia has seen a surge in applicants to its e-residency program from the U.K. in the months since Brexit was approved, as revealed by Daily Sabah. While only three Britons per week applied prior to Brexit, the number has since spiked to more than 50.

To date, about 22,000 people have been approved for e-residency in Estonia, and 1,200 of those are from the U.K.

The so-called Estonia loophole would allow businesses producing goods in Estonia to access the European Union market, just like any other EU company.

If the U.K. proceeds with a so-called “hard Brexit,” the nation would leave the European single market and customs union, halting the free movement of goods and services. As a result, business owners in the U.K. see Estonia’s digital program

Estonia’s e-residency program has been available in public beta phase, helping entrepreneurs in 137 countries around the world. Through the program, people can receive a secure, government-issued digital identity, which then enables them to access their business and open a bank account.

The digital identity program in Estonia has proven so popular that it has drawn the attention of Alibaba founder Jack Ma, and even inspired Singapore and Jamaica to model their own ID programs after Estonia’s efforts.

The program has also enabled borderless banking thanks to a partnership with Finnish fintech company Holvi. Together, they allow almost anyone anywhere in the world to create a business account and obtain a Mastercard for a small monthly fee.