How to start a business in Estonia
Company registration (most commonly in the form of "osauhing") in Estonia is straightforward and with a digital ID can be done 100% online. A digital ID can be the e-residency card, temporary residence card or a normal ID card (for citizens and also EU citizens residing in Estonia). A company can be started online also with a Finnish and Latvia ID card.
The company registration portal is here: https://ettevotjaportaal.rik.ee/index.py?chlang=eng
However, in practice there are a few important things you need to consider before creating a company and also things to think about to be able to run the company smoothly afterwards. Please bear in mind that liquidating a company is far from as easy as creating it so you might want take a few moments to be sure that an Estonian company is exactly for you.
So besides the actual business idea, concentrate on the following:
1. How many people will be involved in the ownership/management of the company? If it is more than one, you need to think about the relationship between the parties and also consider an agreement between shareholders to outline at least the basic obligations, rules of exit etc.
Adding management board members later is easy with a digital ID. Making shareholder changes normally requires a notarized transaction.
2. Check if the business name you want is available.
3. Are there any special requirements in your business area? For example special capital requirements or an activity license. If so, make sure you know how to apply for it.
4. Do you have a physical address in Estonia? If not, you need to acquire a contact person and an address service. There are many service providers for that.
5. How are you going to go about banking? Getting a regular bank account without residence in Estonia can be tricky. Although it is possible to run your business without an Estonian bank account, it is still needed for share capital payment right now. Many people also use fintech companies like TransferWise, Paysera, Payoneer etc.
6. Bookkeeping and taxes? Although relatively simple to do it yourself when business is small, it is useful to buy accounting service at least in the beginning to familiarize yourself with the practical side as well as tax rules. The price for accounting services is relatively cheap.
The website of the Estonian tax authority is also quite informative and they do reply to your emails as well: