Estonia has become a hotspot for entrepreneurs and digital nomads with its e-Residency program. This program allows non-residents to establish and manage an Estonian company online, offering numerous benefits, including access to the European Union market.
One crucial aspect of running a business is having a reliable and efficient banking solution. In this article, we will dive into the various banking options available for Estonian e-resident-owned and managed companies.
Some e-resident founders inquire about opening a bank account in Estonia before deciding whether to set up a company in Estonia, specifically if Unicount can assist with opening a bank account in Estonia. The answer is that all banks have their policies for onboarding non-resident clients such as e-residents, and service providers like Unicount do not have a say in this matter. e-Residency will not help you to open a personal or a business bank account in Estonia.
However, there are numerous options available, not only from banks in Estonia but also from fintech companies across the world. You may even be able to use a bank in your own country. The KYC (Know Your Client) process is a tough regulatory burden for any EU bank so you can get your business going with a more flexible fintech that has your basic needs covered. Later on, you may be able to use the company business account statements and any other business documentation to validate your company with a better-suiting bank.
High Street Banks in Estonia
To start with the naked truth, currently, none of the banks operating in Estonia offer business accounts to e-resident companies without a personal visit to Estonia. You can find a full list of Estonian banks here.
The most prominent banks with a large market share are subsidiaries of Swedish Swedbank and SEB. Right on their heels is the local Tallinn stock exchange listed LHV Bank, and then comes Luminor which is a US investment fund-owned merger of local DNB and Nordea branches. Coop Bank is a newcomer on the Tallinn stock exchange having more focus on rural areas with some connection to the Estonian consumer unions.
Most of these banks have good online banking platforms, making it convenient to manage your company finances remotely. They offer a range of services, including multicurrency accounts, payment processing, debit and credit card options, and financing solutions.
However, the account setup and ongoing maintenance might involve substantial paperwork and strict compliance requirements. You may have to show what are your “connections to Estonia” besides the fact of having an Estonian limited company on a virtual office address. This means that any employees, board members, clients, suppliers and partners located in Estonia will be beneficial to get a positive result for your application. Banks also tend to charge a non-refundable fee for processing non-resident account opening applications even if it is an Estonian limited company run by an e-resident. Some of them may also have monthly fees for the accounts linked to non-resident beneficiaries.
The easier it is for the bank to understand your company’s source of income the higher the chance that they will accept your business account if you are an EEA resident and citizen. This means that solo companies selling apps, coding or design are easier to monitor than businesses with a wide list of activities and clients across the globe but not in Estonia.
If you can visit Estonia we would suggest applying for an account with LHV Bank online here. You can apply only after you have registered your company. If your online application is approved you can book your travel to Estonia to finalise the account opening process.
EEA-licensed Fintechs have gained significant popularity in recent years among e-residents due to their user-friendly online dashboards, and well, for accepting e-resident managed companies. Popular options include Wise (formerly TransferWise), Payoneer, Revolut, Paysera and N26. Many more fintechs have been identified by the e-Residency team as prone to accepting Estonian limited companies. Wise has recently paused accepting new EU companies for unknown reasons.
Unlike banks that are by the way called “credit institutions” in Estonian legal jargon, fintechs are not authorised to lend out client deposits. The legal term for a fintech is “payment institution” as the primary service they provide is payment service. For many e-residents, this may be fine as long as you can receive and make fast SEPA payments and get a company debit card.
Fintechs are not part of the national deposit insurance schemes for banks, but the partner bank that stores fintech client funds can have deposit insurance that may cover some deposits. Generally, fintechs keep their client funds separate so that if they become insolvent, your money is unaffected and should be refunded to you in full.
The surest way to obtain a business account online as an e-resident is by going with Revolut. Revolut is registered as a bank in Lithuania and offers Lithuanian IBAN euro accounts (International Bank Account Number) which will work for your Estonian company unless a particular service requires an Estonian IBAN. There should be no IBAN discrimination in Europe and it should be reported.
We have heard that Apple Appstore and Google Play still require an Estonian IBAN. The only company that we know of offering Estonian IBAN online is French OuiTrust which may ask hefty fees for onboarding e-resident companies. Your feedback on this matter is very much welcome. The companies that used to provide Estonian EE IBAN accounts previously were Juni, Payhawk and Wamo.
If Revolut is not suitable for you, you can try opening a business IBAN with other licensed fintech companies such as N26, Payoneer or Paysera, or apply through your local bank in your country.
Please note that some Fintech companies may reject business clients not physically located in Estonia or EEA. Additionally, restrictions may apply based on the residency of the company owner and director, as well as eligible industries. Being an e-resident does not change your residency. Be sure to review their terms of service before applying.
If you are a resident or a citizen of a FATF black or grey list jurisdiction, you will most likely not be able to access any business banking service even with a company registered in Estonia. Fintechs also have their own accepted citizenship policies which may be stricter than FATF countries lists.
It is also important to know what are the policies for the maximum allowed volumes and other restrictions that may affect your business.
Proof of address
If you are asked for proof of address for your company, you may be able to use an electronic registration certificate or a certificate showing shareholder information. You can generate these for free through the Estonian Business Register. Unicount cannot help you with proof of address documents when you are using our virtual office service.
If you are seeking online payment acquisition through a merchant account, please refer to this article about payment gateways.