With its e-residence program and tech innovations, Estonia has become one of the most advanced European countries. Estonia is keen on developing and strengthening economic performance so business owners with ties to Estonia are more than welcome to open a bank account there.
If you're a non-resident looking to open a bank account in Estonia, we’ve created this guide to help you learn about the options available.
This guide at a glance
Here is a quick summary of answers to common questions that you may have:
- Can I open a business bank account in Estonia as a non-resident?
Yes, but only if you have strong ties to Estonia such as owning an Estonian business or property.
- How do I become an e-resident?
You would have to apply online on the official website and pick up the e-residency card at the nearest embassy once your application is granted.
- Does e-residency guarantee a bank account?
No, but it is needed for administrative purposes once you've opened a bank account in Estonia.
- How much does opening a bank account cost?
It differs between banks but it may generally cost up to 500€.
Why should you open a business bank account in Estonia?
The benefits are enticing. Besides having a bank account in an economically and politically stable country, you would have access to Euro and low-cost SEPA transfers. You may also enjoy the luxury of a more advanced and remote banking system. You will find the banking process to be much easier and hassle-free compared to other European destinations. It can be done anywhere, anytime.
Do you need to be an Estonian resident or e-resident?
You wouldn't need to be a resident of Estonia but an e-residency might ease the process. An e-residency is simply an ID card that lets you use government portals, sign documents and submit forms to Estonian authorities. Essentially, it's an administrative platform. However, it does not guarantee you a bank account. You would still need to submit the necessary documents to prove your business ties to Estonia.
What are the top banks in Estonia suitable for entrepreneurs?
There are many Scandinavian as well as technologically advanced and trustworthy local banks that allow you to open a business bank account in Estonia. It's helpful to know what your needs are first, so that you may narrow down your options.
Despite having only 2 branches in Estonia i.e. Tallinn and Tartu, LHV Bank are adept at dealing with customers remotely. This is great if you're a foreigner with an e-residency as you would only ever need to step foot in the bank once. Because of the lower overhead due to being a mid-sized modern Estonian bank, you may experience cheaper and easier banking compared to other banks that may require you to deposit a larger amount. Furthermore, LHV Bank will more likely accept your application if you intend to invest in the Estonian and Baltic stock market due to its history as an investment firm with various investment options.
With more than 30 locations within the country, Swedbank is one of the largest banking chains in Estonia. It offers a variety of banking products including debit and credit cards, mortgages, private loans, investment schemes, pension schemes and many more. To ensure a smooth business bank account opening as a non-resident, you would need to book an appointment and pay a fee for due diligence measures.
This is the second-largest bank in Estonia after Swedbank with 22 branches and more than 230 ATMs. You can open a business bank account remotely with SEB Bank and choose an appropriate plan tailored to your business. The banking plans may come with low monthly fees, a set number of free electronic payments, free standard payment orders and zero-maintenance fees debit cards.
Nordea is known for being one of the strongest, prestigious and secure international banks in Europe that offers house, vehicle and personal loans. You can easily manage your account online and make quick transfers both within Estonia and internationally. If you have a personal account with Nordea or any Finnish bank, you can open a business bank account online without going to a branch.
What documents do you need to open a business bank account in Estonia?
The exact set of documents may vary from bank to bank but the following is the minimum set of required documents.
- Certificate of incorporation
- Memorandum of Association and Articles
- Directors register
- Shareholders register
- Power of attorney to open an account
- Financial statements or a business plan
- Selfie with passport
- Proof of address
If your documents are in a foreign language, you may be required to accompany them with translations certified with the notary public.
In some cases, you may also be required to submit additional documents such as a CV, a business plan, bank references, bank statement, contracts/invoices with partners, proof of business connection to Estonia, etc.
If you are opening an Estonian bank account with us, we will provide you with a full list of documents needed so you may be well-prepared in dealing with a foreign bank.
What is the step-by-step process?
Here's the big picture of the process so you may know what to expect.
- Make an application
Certain banks would allow you to apply online while others would require an appointment first, be it physically or virtually.
- Wait five days after submitting your application
You will be informed of the decision on your application via email or phone call.
- If your application is approved, you may need to visit the bank
This is for face-to-face identification and signing the client agreement to open your business bank account.
What is the cost of opening a business bank account in Estonia?
Each bank has a different fee structure. If you're opening an account in SEB Bank, for example, it would be 100€ for EU citizens and up to 400€ for non-EU citizens. For LHV Bank, the cost of opening a business bank account would be up to 500€.
Be sure that you also take note of what other fees may be required such as monthly account fees, ATM fees and international transfer fees.
Other things to note about opening a business bank account in Estonia
While opening a business bank account in Estonia has many advantages, there may also be setbacks that you may want to take into account. You may find that European saving accounts generally have low interest rates, even negative ones. Furthermore, account fees are usually higher for non-residents i.e. within the range of €2 to €10 a month.
For any types of deposits, small or large, you may need to provide evidence of the source of funds. By the law of your country of residence, you might also be required to notify tax authorities of any foreign accounts and report any activities on the accounts.
Common mistakes to avoid when opening a business bank account
One misstep may set you back to square one. So it’s better to avoid these common mistakes when opening a business bank account so that you don’t waste your money and time:
- Not choosing the right bank
Different banks would have a different set of terms and products that may or may not be a good fit for your business. Make sure that you choose a bank that would benefit your business the most.
- Missing information during the application process
Before you apply, triple check on the documents that are needed and be sure to complete the application form. Carelessness, even though unintentional, may cost you the opportunity.
- Not understanding your chosen bank
As a potential client, it's your job to make the bank trust you enough that they are comfortable to serve your needs. Be sure to learn what they like or dislike and the right strategies needed to gain their trust.
Author: Silverbird Content Team
Illustration: Kate Faldina