Estonian Business Register data is now free
Starting from 1 October 2022, Estonian e-Business Register data is available to everyone free of charge. Previously fees had to be paid to view data that was not part of the company registry card. This included for example data on company shareholders, articles of association, beneficial owners, and annual reports. The fees were 1 or 2 euros per item, so having a complete picture of any Estonian company could have cost you tens of euros.
There is also now an option for downloading bulk data files and making free automatic queries via XML API. Visit the Estonian Business Register Open Data page for more information. This potentially enables businesses to build new automatic client management processes when working with Estonian companies.
Information society requires access to information
According to the Estonian Minister of Justice, making data available free of charge will help make the business environment more transparent and innovative. “For the development of the information society, free access to high-quality data is necessary, above all to data that is in the possession of the state. The availability of information helps ensure the transparency of the economy and creates the prerequisites for the development of smart data-based services,” said Estonian Minister of Justice Lea Danilson-Järg and added: “A transparent business environment means that the consumer knows whose services and products one is consuming, and entrepreneurs can check the background of the business partner when establishing business relations. The transparency of the economy is in the interest of the whole society.”
EU directive 2019/1024
The step toward transparency is a direct result of the EU Directive 2019/1024, also called Open Data Directive. It stipulates minimum requirements for EU member states for making public sector information available. Originally Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive 2003/98/EC, it was amended in 2019 with open data requirements and entered into force on 16 July 2019. Estonian Parliament adopted the directive on 17 November 2021 with amendments to the Estonian Public Information Act.
New services of the Business Register
The plans go beyond making registry data available. “At the moment, we allow the services of the e-Business Register to be used free of charge in the form they already exist,” said Rivo Reitmann, director of the Center for Registers and Information Systems, and added: “This is the first step on the open data roadmap. In the next stage, we will review the needs of entrepreneurs and what they would like to add when creating new services. We also want to make finding information in the e-Business Register more convenient.”
Non-profit organizations exception
Documents in the public files of Estonian non-profit organizations may still be subject to a fee, as they may contain special types of personal information that are subject to restrictions on reuse. This is for example could be a list of members who voted on a general assembly of an NGO.
According to Pille Lehis, Director General of the Estonian Data Protection Inspectorate, there is no need to worry that the data will now become excessively public. “When reusing open data, the entrepreneur must also follow the principles of data protection,” said Lehis and added: “For example, when developing new data-based services, for each additional data processing, it is necessary to make sure that the service provider has the right to use the data for this purpose. We recommend that people check that there would not be any personal contact details entered in the register as company contacts – telephone number, e-mail address or residential address – which you do not want to have public,” advised Lehis.
How to protect your personal data
Just like the Estonian Data Protection Inspectorate recommends, Unicount also suggests not to publish your personal email or phone number to the Business Register. Estonian Business Register previously sold the data of companies to different “credit scoring” sites whose business model was making money by selling your data. Now, these sites do not even need to pay for the data on all Estonia-registered companies, and not only your company email but also your phone number will be available to anyone for free.
There’s a solution that is commonly used by tech-savvy Estonians looking to reduce unsolicited commercial emails — using the government-provided spam-free eesti.ee email address. Here, the Estonian State Information Authority explains how to set it up in detail.
The only thing worth noting is that you cannot activate company spam proof eesti.ee email before your company is actually registered. So we would recommend using a temporary email or your personal eesti.ee email available to residents and e-residents of Estonia when registering a company. Just be sure that you can actually access your email to see if the court has approved your formation application.
If you also published your phone when registering a company you should know that you can also delete it from the register as having an email is enough.
To protect your residential address information Unicount suggests using a virtual office address instead of your apartment or house address on the public register.
How Unicount protects your data
Starting from 20 May 2020 Unicount does not reveal your email to the Business Register if you ordered contact person service when registering a company via Unicount. You can be sure that no spam reaches your email provided to Unicount during the registration process. You can set up your company’s spam-proof eesti.ee email whenever you wish to do so. Until then your company’s public email is the spam-proof eesti.ee email of Unicount (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Unicount forwards all the necessary government emails to your Client Dashboard.
Your eesti.ee official company email would be an 8-digit company registry code-based forwarding address that looks like email@example.com. Non-government IP addresses cannot send emails to this address and even the Estonian government agencies that refuse to sign the required service agreement with the Estonian State Information Systems Authority are blocked due to unauthorized sender IP-address. To activate your eesti.ee email you need to log in to eesti.ee and activate forwarding to your actual professional email address.
Source: Estonian Business Register, Wikipedia