In this blog post we’re going to talk about the new Estonian crypto licenses. This article is written by Gertrud Sein, who is a lawyer at Comistar Estonia. Comistar helps companies with licensing processes in Estonia, including recruiting all the required personnel, formation of the company, drafting & submitting the crypto license documentation.
New AML rules came into force on 10 March 2020 for cryptocurrency licensed businesses in Estonia. Now there is one unified license for a virtual currency service provider that covers exchange and wallet service providers. It takes about 60 days (with the right to prolong up to 120 days) after submitting all the documentation. The state fee for obtaining the license is 3300€.
The main requirements for obtaining the crypto license are:
- Share capital minimum of 12 000€;
- Physical presence in Estonia including office and management board members who reside in Estonia;
- Non-criminal records extract for all participants in the company from all countries of citizenship;
- CVs (resumes) and education info for all participants in the company;
- For company opened bank account/fintech bank account in an EEA country.
Companies that already hold an Estonian crypto license or financial institution license will have to comply with the new regulation latest by 1st July 2020. This means modifying and submitting all existing and new supportive documentation to the authorities. Failure to do so will result in the revocation of the licenses.
The main requirements for current cryptocurrency license holders are:
- The share capital of the company must be increased from 2500€ to a minimum of 12 000€. It needs to be done by monetary payment to an active company bank account in EEA. This includes also the update of the Articles of Association and registry information.
- Passport copies and non-criminal records from all countries of citizenship must be submitted. It is only required when you hold more than one citizenship/passport.
- Fit-and-proper requirement: CV-s (resumes) and education info for all participants in the company must be provided.
- The requirement to have a physical presence in Estonia including office and management board members who resides in Estonia.
- Information about company bank account inc. bank name and IBAN code in the European Economic Area. The account needs to be opened at a traditional bank or e-money institution or payment service provider operating officially in the EEA.
- Updated AML internal procedures to comply with new requirements.
The place of business is factually meaning that there must be the actual presence that the regulator may check. All the active management board members must be approachable located in Estonia. This requirement doesn’t comply with non-active members. The compliance officer can also be a management board member. The compliance officer has to have preferably higher education in either finance, economics or law.
Non-criminal records extract
A non-criminal records extract needs to be obtained from the local police/institution. Apostilled and sent to Estonia via post. In situations where it is not possible to obtain a countrywide statement of the absence of criminal records (like it is with the US citizens), it will be possible to submit a statement under oath made at the notary in Estonia claiming that member of the board is absent of criminal offences.
Requirements for subsidiary applying for an Estonian cryptocurrency license
The holding company’s license applies to the subsidiary as well and the subsidiary doesn’t have to increase the share capital if the holding company is compliant with all requirements. Although, the subsidiary also needs to submit non-criminal records extract for all participants in the company from all countries of citizenship, inc. CVs (resumes) and education info.
Getting started with Estonian crypto license?
The first step for most crypto companies is to register an Estonian company. The most convenient way to register the company is using the Estonian e-Residency. Click here to read how can you apply for e-Residency and register your company.
The crypto licensing process
We’re going to highlight the crypto licensing process on a high level below:
- Consultation with the client
- Signing the Client Agreement
- Recruiting suitable personnel (a member of the board & AML officer)
- Finding the office space
- Registration of the company
- Drafting the AML procedural rules & collecting other relevant documentation
- Submitting the application
- Communication with the FIU in regards to any questions raised by the FIU.
If you’re interested in the crypto license, please get in touch with us via our contact page or write directly to [email protected]