It is important to remember that there will never be any single banking provider that is best-suited for every company, or available to every company. We highly encourage you to read the other articles in this section about payment institutions (fintech) and other banks in the EEA to understand the full range of options available to you as an e-resident.
If you do want to open an account in an Estonian bank for your company in Estonia, there are two types of companies most likely to meet the criteria:
Type 1: Connection to Estonia
The first is a company that has a “connection to Estonia”. This should be clearly explained in your company plans for the future or demonstrated based on your existing activity. It could include employees, as well as relationships with partners and suppliers, as well as actually serving the Estonian market. This is good for many people conducting business through e-Residency and may help many more to consider making an even larger contribution to the Estonian market — but e-Residency is not just for people who can meet this criteria.
Type 2: Single Shareholder
The second is a company run by a single shareholder with easily trackable income. This covers many freelancers, contractors, digital nomads and others around the world who fit under a broad group of digital entrepreneurs as it is relatively simple for banks to monitor risks associated with these companies — especially when they are so visible online — as well as understand why they have chosen an Estonian bank account in order to benefit from Estonia’s location-independent business environment.
Other types of companies
Estonian banks are less likely to open business accounts for non-residents of Estonia (including e-residents) if their companies are large, involved in manufacturing or wholesaling, acting as an intermediary to sell the services of others, only doing business in their home country or outside of the EU — in addition to not being visible online or not being able to explain clear business goals. One reason for this is simple: These types of companies are less likely to benefit from e-Residency so it would not be clear to the bank why they desire an Estonian bank account.
How to apply
Criteria is assessed by the banks on a case-by-case basis, but if you would like to open an Estonian bank account then we strongly recommend that you first speak to a business services provider who can advise you on this process.
Also, in order to apply for a business bank account with an Estonian bank, a personal visit to their office in Estonia is required. We strongly recommend consulting a business service provider prior to scheduling your trip to Estonia to ensure you have all the necessary documentation with you for the visit - a list of business service providers is available on our Marketplace. Many business service providers can also get you a pre-decision, so there is no need to travel to Estonia in vain.
We can not speak on behalf of the banks or provide the kind of business advice on this issue that you can obtain for your company from a business services provider. However, we can point out that LHV is the most commonly used Estonian bank by e-residents ( primarily because they have been open to serving single shareholder companies with easily trackable income, particularly those working with a reputable service provider). Swedbank is also used by many e-residents, although they have focused more on ensuring their non-resident clients can demonstrate a strong connection to Estonia.
In some cases, you may choose to submit a business plan along with your application. If you decide to go this route, check out our article on how to write a business plan.
Personal bank account
E-Residency does not grant any rights to open a personal bank account in Estonia. Banks, in general, wish to see a strong connection to Estonia and are reluctant to open an account for non-residents. You will need to demonstrate your connection to Estonia. As e-Residency programme is focused on enabling business banking opportunities, we do advise contacting the bank directly before making any travel plans to Estonia.