Estonia has been an establishment and a destination for most expats thanks to its numerous cultures and history. Now with its progressive e-residency program, foreigners can now take part in many advanced virtual services that makes the country proud.
Estonia is a very important country in the EU, EEA and the European continent. The country has gotten international attention with its startups and businesses that have revolutionized the online existence of things, with Skype, Bolt or the star fintech company, Wise, and many more.
Estonia is also at the forefront of remote working, supported by its popular e-residency program, which has transformed this tiny Baltic state into a hotbed for international freelancers seeking access to the European market and the transparent electronic bureaucracy of the Estonia.
The Estonian government is constantly exploring new ways to make its services faster and more convenient, including digital signatures, practical tax solutions, citizen identification and bureaucratic affairs.
If you are currently on your way to Estonia or you are just a non-resident, foreigner, expat who just landed in the country and want to open a bank account in the country, this article is for you as we will take you through what it takes, what you need to open a bank account in Estonia.
Estonia Banking System
Pangakonto is how they call Estonian bank account in the country — which comes with an International Bank Account Number (IBAN). You can use this IBAN to transfer cash freely to other Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) countries. That includes every country in Europe, even those outside of the European Union (EU).
Unfortunately, it can be quite expensive for non-residents to open a bank account in Estonia. Traditional banks can charge between €100 to €400 to process applicant documents. Banks may charge some fees for account monthly account maintenance fees and equally for off-network ATMs withdrawals. Fortunately, most transactions in Estonia are cashless — meaning, it's a good idea to find a bank that issues a widely accepted debit card like Mastercard or Visa that can be linked to Apple Pay or Google Pay.
Who is Eligible to Open a Bank Account in Estonia?
Estonia is among the most expat-friendly European countries when it comes to opening a bank account. If you're 18 or older of age, have a valid passport, and can prove you have a connection to the country, then its a sure fast that you can open a bank account in Estonia. Proving your connection with Estonia is the biggest hurdle and it is up to each bank to determine what counts as a connection.
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What do I need to Open a Bank Account in Estonia?
With each Estonian bank having its own regulations, here are some of the documents you need to hold a bank account in Estonia:
- Passport or EU national ID card
- Proof of address or Estonian e-residency (if you're applying from abroad) — Keep in mind that e-residency is not the same as being an Estonian resident and may not necessarily make you eligible for a bank account.
- Proof of connection to Estonia for non-citizens or residents — Acceptable proof includes a signed residential lease agreement, a signed employment contract, or a school enrollment certificate.
Opening a Bank Account in Estonia as a Non-Resident and E-Resident
Estonia being an important country of the EU and EEA, it has a system that enables you to open a bank account as a non resident and as an e-resident, and makes it easy to start the application process online.
However, it is very well possible for non-residents to open an Estonian bank account with only your passport — note that your approval will depend on both your country of origin and the bank you chose. Most banks will carry out deep analysis of your application and get back to you via email or phone within 5 business days.
E-Residency does not grant any rights to open a personal bank account in Estonia. Banks, in general, wish to see a strong connection to Estonia and are reluctant to open an account for non-residents. You will need to demonstrate your connection to Estonia. As e-Residency programme is focused on enabling business banking opportunities, we do advise contacting the bank directly before making any travel plans to Estonia.
E-residency doesn't permit individuals to open a personal bank account in Estonia. Generally, Banks will want to see a strong connection with Estonia and are reluctant to open an account for non-residents who do not have such strong connections to the country. You will need to prove your connection to Estonia. For instance, having a business in the country is one of the best ways non-residents can prove to banks that they have a connection with the country. E-residency programme aims at activating corporate banking opportunities, we recommend non-residents to contact banks in the country before planning a trip to Estonia.
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Best Banks in Estonia
Estonia is one of the countries with many international banks and these banks are known to financially handle international businesses in Estonia. Here are some of the most popular banks in Estonia:
Convenient for mobile and internet banking, Swedbank is the largest and most known bank in the country with the largest number of ATMs and branches. With its rewards system and free debit card, Swedbank can be a convenient option for you and your business.
SEB bank allows all clients over the age of 18 to open a current account and use a contactless debit card to do all standard transactions, such as payments and purchases. You obtain a regular private account after you become an e-resident. They have an English-speaking phone number if you have any questions. Here's where you can learn more about SEB.
3. TBB Pank
TBB Pank is an Estonian bank that offers personal and business accounts, as well as electronic banking and customer support in both Russian and English. Payments, cash transactions, bank cards, deposits, Internet and mobile banking are the default operations with their accounts.
Clients can keep money in their accounts in a variety of currencies. TBB accepts cash and wire transfers, as well as checks and a variety of accounts for young customers, non-residents, and elderly.
4. LHV Pank
LHV Pank is an Estonian bank that which functioned only electronically until 2015, when it opened its first physical cash machine. It uses a simple application process and a large selection of payment, debit, and credit cards, including alternatives for soccer fans who wish to support Estonian soccer as well as shoppers looking for bargains.
Young Estonian banks like Inbank and Luminor, as well as an older player like Coop Pank, are other banking alternatives. In most circumstances, you have the choice of visiting a local office or applying online. Each consumer is prompted to present an identification document online or offered a video-call verification as an alternative when opening an account on the internet. You will receive further paperwork and your first card in the mail once the account is successfully opened.
In most cases, opening an account is free, and there are no fees for using the account. It's a good idea to examine each bank's out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees. Every bank has a modern, user-friendly online banking interface.
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Online Banking in Estonia
You can open an account online or using the app of your selected bank if you have an Estonian passport, ID card, or residency permit. You'll be asked to use Smart-ID, Mobile-ID, or an ID card reader to authenticate your identification. If you don't have citizenship or residency in the country, you'll need to provide proof of your ties to the country.
A few banks allow you to complete the application online, while others need you to visit a branch with your papers. You may be charged up to €400 in processing fees if you are not a resident. You can complete the entire process in person if you already live in Estonia. Your application may take up to two weeks to be approved by an Estonian bank. You may be required to visit a branch site for a face-to-face identification and to sign the client agreement once you've been accepted.
It goes without saying that opening an account with a local bank in Estonia can be a real time-consuming and expensive process. Opening an account with a mobile bank is a simpler, faster, and less expensive solution — Simply download the app, upload and validate your information, and complete the in-app verification process to complete the process — all in less time than it takes to catch a ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki. However, to ensure that your account is safe, be sure that your mobile bank has a full banking license.
Best Online Bank Account in Estonia
If you are someone that perform banking transactions such as sending money out of Europe with a regular European bank account, then its obvious you're losing a lot of money.
For instance, A transfer of €10,000 to an Indian bank account would cost around €1000 — the amount that would arrive on the recipient's account would be closer to €9000. The reason for this is that banks use outmoded technology known as the "old banking system" that necessitate people's attention and work, as well as frequent maintenance, resulting in expensive operating costs.
A virtual bank account will be the solution to save extra money when perform international transactions.
Here are some of the best online banks in Estonia:
N26 is Europe's first regulated bank developed for the digital generation, with more than five million customers in 25 nations and growing. As a fully recognized bank, it provides 100 percent mobile personal and business banking products, ensuring that your money is safe.
N26 offers online banking solutions for residents, non-residents, e-residents of Estonia
How to open a Estonian bank account online with N26
- Online registration is available. Choose between a standard account or a premium account with features like Spaces, travel insurance, and hand-picked rewards.
- Connect your smartphone to your new account and verify your identity with a quick video call.
- With your virtual Mastercard, you may start spending right immediately.
Utilizing virtual bank accounts, B2B Pay brings international wire transfers into the 21st century. You can now open a non-resident bank account in Europe for your company. You can take payments from 36 EU nations using a virtual bank account. In most markets, we can get your money to your account in your home country the same day, saving you up to 80% on costs.
Final Thoughts on How to Open a Bank Account in Estonia Online and Locally
Estonian is a great country with banks offering convenient banking solutions for non-residents and even expats seeking to hold a bank account in Estonia. To hold a bank account in Estonia, you will need to have some strong connection to the country — such as an established business in the country showing the banks that you are an authorized resident of the country.
E-residents can open a bank account in Estonia thanks to virtual bank account providers such as N26 and B2B Pay. They offer a more convenient way of banking online within and outside the European continent. If you are an expat, e-resident or non-resident wanting to open a bank account in Estonia, then B2B Pay or N26 should be your alternatives to traditional banks in the country.
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