Banking is definitely the biggest headache for most of the e-residents. Due to the AML regulations, Estonian banks are reluctant to work with non-residents. Though each account opening is decided on individual basis, it’s fair to say that some businesses have more chance of getting the account opened than the other. For example, one-man companies operating in the software industry have a good chance of getting their account opened with an Estonian bank LHV. Companies owned by other legal entities with more complex structures will have more difficulties. It’s just the way some of the banks try to minimize their risks, although it’s normal to have subsidiaries and operate with a fitting company structures.
Additionally to LHV, there are several banks that you can get in touch with in Estonia. The biggest ones are SEB and Swedbank, but there are more options: Tallinn Business Bank, Luminor, Citadele, and some others. If you’ve been living under a rock, then it probably doesn’t make sense to try Danske bank.
It’s usually difficult to get a final decision from the bank if you don’t have the company registered. For example, with LHV, you can fill out the application form on their website once you have the company registered, and get a pre-approval – it means you won’t have to travel to Estonia only to find out they won’t work with you.
If you won’t succeed with a bank account opening in Estonian banks, then what are your options? You can definitely try banks in your own countries, if that is feasible in your situation. We’ve got some clients that have eventually worked with banks of their own jurisdictions. Additionally, there are Fintech solutions. Fintech solutions are usually operating under the e-money institution license, and they can provide most of the services that you’ll need.
Here are some of the solutions to try out:
Transferwise Borderless (can be difficult)
This is not a conclusive list, and there are more opportunities out there.
According to our experience, it’s very rare that the e-resident can not get the bank opened at all. Matter of fact, we’ve never seen it happen except once, but the reason was the conducted business, nothing else. That been said, sometimes you really need to have an Estonian IBAN to use some of the payment options (like Paypal).
To your success!