Register a company online in five minutes
Unicount enables Estonian e-residents to establish a company in the EU from anywhere in the world without the need to travel. Follow the instructions in this article to register a company online in five minutes or less.
If you are not yet an Estonian e-resident, learn how to become an e-resident so you can register your company online via the Unicount web app. The app can be used to register a sole owner (private person) and sole director companies in Estonia.
1. Find a name for your company
Just like a baby, your company also needs a good name to make parents proud. You need to come up with a good name using the Latin alphabet (sorry, no special characters or other alphabets are allowed). Be aware that your company name must be unique and clearly distinguishable; there can be no overlap with existing companies and registered trademarks.
It is easy to check if your desired company name is available by going to the Unicount web app which checks your name against Estonian business names and registered trademarks.
As you search for the perfect name, you might see that the app found similar or matching business names or trademarks. A matching result means that the same name is registered and there is no way for you to register your company with that name. Conflicting name and trademark results will be displayed below the search box. Somewhat similar names and trademarks will be displayed below the direct matches if any.
You can proceed with company formation even when there are similar names or trademarks found, but we do not advise you to do so. A refusal would be communicated to you via a PDF document written in Estonian. If your company name was rejected by the court you can change the company formation application online via Unicount and re-submit it with a new name proposal.
2. Choose the main area of activity (EMTAK)
Choosing your main area of activity might be the second hardest part of company registration with Unicount web app. The Estonian Classification of Economic Activities (EMTAK) is the Estonian version of the international harmonised NACE statistical classification of economic activities in the European Union. EMTAK is the basis for determining the type of activities of your company, and is an important source of statistics for the Estonian government and EU.
You will see in the Unicount app that it is easy to select the area of activity from a dropdown list of the most popular choices of Estonian e-residents. If you need to search for additional codes, please see the full list with a text search function here. You can then type your preferred code into the field in the Unicount web app.
Pick the activity which corresponds most closely with your planned source of revenue. There are no restrictions on activity in other areas besides the one you selected. Fun fact: you can’t actually change your EMTAK code in Business Register, but you can declare your actual sources of revenue in your annual report. The main area of activity will be automatically determined based on which activity generated the most income.
Please keep in mind that some areas are subject to special requirements and require specific activity licenses. You can read more about these here.
3. Register a company online in the web app
After you have found a good name for your company and a suitable area of economic activity (EMTAK code), it is time to log in to the Unicount app!
Log in to the Unicount web app with your e-resident digital ID card. You will need a computer and a smart card reader. After you log in, you start on the personal details page. Because you used a digital ID, Unicount already knows your name and Estonian personal identification number. These should the same as printed on your e-resident card.
If you have paid attention to the first two sections of this article, you might be able to register a company in five minutes or less! If you managed to do it even faster, please tell us and will gladly share your story with other founders considering registering a company via the Unicount web app.
Five easy steps in the app to register a company online:
1. Personal details: Your email address and phone number, residential address and citizenship.
2. Company details: Select your area of activity (EMTAK), company email address and phone number.
3. Review: Check if all the information submitted is correct.
4. Sign: Use your e-resident digital ID to digitally sign the company formation application.
5. Pay: Enter your card details to pay the fees via Stripe.
4. Subscribe to the address and contact person service
Every Estonian company must have a registered Estonian address. If you are an e-resident you will probably notice that you can’t insert an address for your company and need to use the address Unicount provides. The reason is related to Estonian Commercial Code.
Unicount provides e-resident founders with a virtual office address and contact person service as a package that must be ordered together. In order to subscribe to the recurring annual service you just need to consent to the terms of service before payment.
The Commerial Code explanation is that if you are an e-resident (meaning non-resident) founder and the only director (management board member) of your company, you need to appoint an authorised contact person. This is a legal requirement arising from the Estonian Commercial Code. The appointed contact person needs to confirm one’s appointment with a digital signature. Therefore, Unicount can’t file a company formation application via the Business Register API without signing your application to agree with its appointment to act as a contact person for your company. This is actually a licenced activity, and Unicount holds a proper registration to do this. Finally, the law says that if a company has a contact person, the address of the company will be automatically considered to be the address of the contact person. This in effect means that Unicount must bundle the online formation service with virtual address and contact person service.
The only role of a contact person is to act as a messenger, and there are no legal rights to sign or decide anything on behalf of your company. You as a founder are the sole owner and management board member of your company. If you ask us if the law is reasonable, we might say that it regulates a market a bit and makes it easier for authorities to keep an eye on non-resident companies and licenced service providers.
5. Pay via Stripe
When you have successfully completed the previous steps and digitally signed the application in the Unicount web app, you will reach the check-out page. Be sure to use a promo code if you have one! This gives you a discount on company formation fee.
You can pay the fees for company registration and annual virtual office subscription by making a secure Stripe payment with your VISA or MasterCard bank card. Unicount will issue an official invoice when your company is registered and you can reclaim the paid amount as a company expense paid from your pocket. The state fee for establishing a limited company online is 190 euros and Unicount will pay this for you.
You will probably notice that Unicount enables you to register a company online without making a minimum share capital contribution. This is because Estonian Commercial Code allows to postpone share capital payment until you would like to distribute dividends or bankruptcy proceedings require shareholders to pay for company debts. Limited liability means that the amount is then capped with the minimum share capital of 2500 euros the shareholder(s) committed to pay.
What happens after you submit the application?
The application gets signed by Unicount to accept its assignment as the contact person for your company. After this, your application moves via Business Register API to the Tartu County court clerk. They will review the application and make a decision to register the company or demand changes to the application. This usually takes around one business day, after which a notification is sent to you via email. This is why you should always use a real email address, even if it is a temporary one. Please be aware that company email goes public after registration and you might get some spam from service providers. There is a possible bypass for limiting unsolicited commercial emails.
If your initial application gets rejected it is most probably because your company name is too similar to another registered company name or trademark. Don’t worry though, you can try again with a different name without any extra cost.
How to open a bank account?
After your company has been registered, you probably want to open an EU IBAN account for making payments and receiving fees for your work. As an e-resident you can apply for a business bank account at an Estonian bank, open a business account with a fintech company such as TransferWise, or open a business bank account at your local bank. The last option will probably result in a request to present notarized paper documents about your company. We’ve heard this is how the rest of the world still works outside Estonia:)
Have more questions?
Please see our frequently asked questions section here or get in touch with our customer support team online.