5 steps how to start a company online

Establish an EU company digitally, from anywhere in the world without the need to travel. Follow the easy step-by-step instructions in this article. 

If you are not yet, learn how to become an e-resident, so you could register your company entirely online.

1. Define your business

Prepare answers to following questions:

1. Are you a multi-shareholder company? You'll want to consider a few things before you proceed.

2. What is your field of activity?

3. Where will the permanent establishment of your company be?

4. Will you make your share capital contribution now or defer the payment into the future?

5. It's a good idea to verify your business name, domain and desired trademark are available before registering your company to ensure you have full ownership of your brand.

2.  Choose your business structure

The private limited company (or OÜ, "osaühing" in Estonian) is the most common form of business in Estonia, and the one established most often by e-residents. Here's an article to better understand OÜ business structure, or, check out this comparison of all business structures.

It's worth noting, your company can only be registered online in the Company Registration Portal if all founders, board members etc. have an Estonian, Latvian or Belgian ID card, Estonian or Lithuanian mobile ID, or, Estonian e-Residency digital ID card. Be sure to address this in advance of company registration, if necessary, or prepare to use a notary (scroll down for more information).

Some e-residents have told us, that they want to operate as sole traders (also known as a sole proprietorship) rather than opening a limited company. This may be the most convenient solution for them in other countries, but a sole proprietorship is not recommended for e-residents because it comes with additional obligations more suitable for residents of Estonia. The information regarding sole proprietorship is also not as readily available in English yet as information about operations of a Private Limited Company.

3. Choose a service provider

Choose a business service provider from our Marketplace in order to obtain the required legal address and local contact person services. Read more here about why this is required.

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4. Register your company online

Online registration of the company is done in the Company Registration Portal.

1. Log in with your digital ID
2. Choose "Submission of application" from the menu
3. Select "Registration of a new enterprise"
4. If you chose an OÜ business structure, select "Private limited company"

Submission of the company registration application consists of four steps: preparation, signing, payment of the state fee and submission. Note, you can choose to establish the company and defer your share capital contribution to a later date.

The signing needs to be done by all persons related to the company and it needs to be also signed by your business service provider (legal address and contact person service provider). Thanks to Estonia's e-services and secure digital ID, several people can sign the documents at the same time remotely.

The submitted application will be reviewed within one working day and a registration notification will be sent via email.

Using a Notary

Your company can only be registered online in the Company Registration Portal if all founders, board members etc. have an Estonian, Latvian or Belgian ID card, Estonian or Lithuanian mobile ID, or, Estonian e-Residency digital ID card.

If this is not possible, your company can also be registered using the services of a notary, though this method is not often used by e-residents as it requires a visit to a notary office in Estonia. This process is described in the State Portal. You can also refer to the Estonian Chamber of Notaries for more information.

5. Apply for an EU IBAN account

If you do not have a business banking account at a credit or payment institution in the European Economic Area, you will need an EU IBAN account. As an e-resident, you have three options:

1. Apply for a business bank account at an Estonian bank
2. Apply for a business payments account through a fintech company
3. Apply for a business bank account at a foreign bank

Any Estonian limited company can manage its business activities using a business banking account at a credit or payment institution in the European Economic Area. This also includes the payment of your share capital contribution.

Here's a more complete overview of your banking options. If you need any guidance, business service providers can advise you on which banking service suits the needs of your company best.

You may also need to: 

Apply for licenses

Based on your area of activity, you may need to meet special requirements or apply for an activity licence or submit a notice of economic activity. Your service provider may be able to advise, but otherwise, you can check the overview of licenses and notices of economic activity on the State Portal.

If necessary, register an activity or apply for a license with the Register of Economic Activities.

Register for VAT

This is only necessary if you anticipate an annual taxable turnover of more than €40,000 due to business activity in Estonia. You can read more about this here.

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