As a result, from the 90s, they have taken a series of measures to digitalize their entire administration, and have granted access to all their public services completely online to their citizens. Here, terms such as “all their public services”, and “online”, differ considerably from the vision that exists in other European countries. Estonia really complies with the “don’t ask me twice policy” and allows you from paying your taxes to check your children’s homework completely online, securely, and conveniently with their digital identity.
The last big step in this direction was the e-Residency program, which allows anyone, regardless of their nationality, to open a business in Estonia and operate their business completely online.
But most importantly, the innovative and forward-looking policies of the Estonian government have promoted friendly legislation for cryptocurrency businesses. So let’s say you are a cryptocurrency trader, and you deal with Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin … Did you know that in Estonia you can obtain a license and fully legalize your activity within the framework of an Estonian company?
Your cryptocurrency license in Estonia
Does that mean that I can establish a company and build a crypto trading website to exchange fiat and cryptocurrencies? Exactly. All you need is to find a company in Estonia, and apply for the required licenses.
There are two different licenses you can get, depending on what you want to achieve:
- A license for exchanging and trading between fiat currencies and virtual assets (cryptocurrencies).
- A license to provide wallet services to your users (i.e: keeping cryptocurrency or any other kind of tokens on behalf of your users, just as a bank does with the fiat currency of its customers).
Both licenses can be requested simultaneously or individually. While the second license is more oriented to companies that manage their own tokens or coins, and perform ICOs, the first is the one is especially interesting for crypto traders.
Basically, it allows you to regularize your activity, and declare your income and expenses to the Tax Office, like any other business.
How Is The Process?
The first thing you need is to have a company in Estonia. In order to do that, you will need to become an e-Resident. When your company’s up and running, and you have opened a bank account for it, you must apply for the license(s) to the Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), a department of the Police And Border Guard of Estonia.
The application process involves a series of documents from you (like your CV, criminal records, and personal data), alongside a series of documents from your company (such as the company’s AML and KYC policies). This documentation needs to be notarized (with an apostille), translated to Estonian and reviewed, but worry not. In Companio we can’t help you get the licenses. You need to consult an Estonian law firm offering those services, but we are able to do the accounting, taxes, and compliance of your business as long as your licenses are in order.
The company is considered a financial institution but does not have many exceptional requirements when reporting taxes to the authorities. You need to do your bookkeeping like any other company. Accountancy is, however, a lot more complex, due to the need of having an expert in cryptocurrency accounting. Also, the FIU may, at any time, request a report on the activities of the company. Apart from that, it will work just like any other company.
We recommend that you contact a law firm beforehand to know if your activity requires a license. It is your responsibility as owners of the business. As per our AML protocols, we are required to notify the authorities if our customers are doing activities that require any license without obtaining it first.
What about the bank account?
Unfortunately, Estonian banks are not keen on opening bank accounts for crypto companies. However, there are other banks -mostly fintech solutions outside of Estonia- that are quite friendly to crypto-businesses. You need to be aware that the KYC -know your customer- process is going to be a lot more strict, and you will be asked for a lot more information about you and your business.
Therefore, transparency and willingness to collaborate with the Estonian authorities and banking institutions are key points. If your activity is legitimate, your intentions are honest, and you just want to regularize your activity, your application will most probably succeed and you will enjoy a legal framework to build and grow your crypto-business.
The reputation of Estonia as the most digitally advanced country in the world is well deserved. Not only because of the digitalization of its entire administration, and the e-Residency program -which allows anyone, regardless of their nationality, to open a company in Estonia- but also because it is one of the most favorable countries for startups working with technologies such as the blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
That said, it is your responsibility to make sure you get the proper licenses before your company offers services that require it, like exchanging fiat for crypto currencies, launching an IPO/ICO, etc.
Proof of that is that the country allows you to obtain licenses for cryptocurrency trading. So you can, for instance, become a crypto trader legally in Estonia. And best of all, you can launch and run that crypto-company completely online, and manage it from anywhere in the world.