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How do I register a ‘beneficial owner’ of my Estonian company?

Estonia has one of the world’s most transparent business environments. This helps ensure Estonian companies can be trusted worldwide, even though they can be run entirely online from anywhere by Estonians and e-residents.

A key part of this transparency is ensuring it’s clear who controls each and every company. As an Estonian company director, you are legally obliged to declare the persons benefiting from your company’s activities, the so-called ‘beneficial owners’. This must be done by everyone after starting a company through Unicount, as well as updated within 30 days whenever there is a change to your company’s beneficial owners.

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Free template: Add a new shareholder to an Estonian company online

There’s a very simple way to add a new shareholder for an Estonian company online – even if that’s a person who doesn’t yet have an Estonian digital ID or if it’s a foreign legal entity. To help you do this, we created a free template you can download and submit to the Estonian Business Register.

We recently explained in our previous article about how to add a new shareholder for an Estonian company online. Instead of transferring part of existing shares to a new co-owner, which is quite complex, you can simply issue new shares to them online instead.

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You can add a new shareholder for an Estonian company online.

How to add a shareholder for an Estonian company online

Almost every aspect of establishing and managing an Estonian company can be done entirely online from anywhere. We say almost because things get a bit tricky when you want to add a new shareholder for your Estonian company. Adding a new director is already very easy if that person is an e-resident who can make a digital signature.

Until now, you’d have to transfer shares offline at a notary in Estonia. There are also two novel ways to transfer shares in an Estonian company, but these methods both have limitations too. Fortunately, there’s also a little known trick that enables you to add a new shareholder online for your Estonian company without having to transfer any existing shares at all. The new shareholders don’t even need to have an Estonian digital ID.

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How to stop spam emails through the Estonian Business Register

You’ve just registered a new Estonian company but before you can even announce the launch of your business to the world, your company has already started receiving spam emails. This is a common complaint among e-residents and international residents of Estonia.

This happens because your company email is now listed publicly on the Estonian state Business Register, which then also sells these details to other companies. However, there’s a nifty little solution here that is commonly used by Estonians.

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Here’s why e-residents are signing up for Smart-ID

Estonia’s digital ID cards are famous around the world, but most Estonians actually now use their mobile phones for regular digital signing instead. This is now also available to e-residents as an app called Smart-ID.

E-residents are signing up for Smart-ID because it’s faster, more convenient, and works even if your digital ID card is lost or expires.

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Unicount virtual office

Unicount offers a virtual office in Estonia to existing companies

Need a company address and contact person in Estonia for your registered company? Unicount now lets e-residents subscribe online to our virtual office serve in Estonia.

We like to keep things simple here at Unicount, including by working remotely as much as possible. That’s also more important than ever in the age of social distancing.

Yet all Estonian companies still need a registered office address in Estonia. And if you are living outside Estonia, like most e-residents, you’ll also need a licensed contact person for your company at that address. Together, this is usually called a virtual office.

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Adam Rang

Adam Rang: Why I’m joining Unicount 

Adam Rang is a British-Estonian entrepreneur who helped develop Estonia’s e-Residency programme. He’s now joining Unicount – the simplest way to start an Estonian company through e-Residency – to help more people become e-residents and benefit from the programme.

The first time I used my Estonian digital ID card was more than four years ago in London. I wanted to start a company, but had no previous experience running a business and I’m not really a tech person. To be honest, I still struggle to work my TV remote control.

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Smart-ID

Now you can use Smart-ID for company formation

Estonian companies can now be established just using Smart-ID app. The first ever company established online using Smart-ID was today accepted by Registration Department of Tartu County Court. Previously, this was only possible using an Estonian digital ID card or mobile-ID.

It just became even easier to establish a company online in Estonia. Online company formation is now possible for Smart-ID users through a new self-service portal provided by Unicount.

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Who is a beneficial owner?

Since 1 September 2018 all legal persons registered in Estonia are obliged to retain and publish data on the beneficial owners of the legal entity. This is based on chapter 9 of the Estonian Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act.

Pursuant to the Act, a legal person is required to retain and gather relevant, accurate and up-to-date data on its beneficial owners, including information on their right of ownership or other manners of exercising control.

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