Posted on Wednesday August 7th, 2019 by Ragnar Sepp

Bank account in Estonia – experience

Despite the fact that banks in Estonia have the same legislative regulation, each bank has its own philosophy and business model. Yes, the requirements and requested documents might be similar, but the attitude to the client and willingness to cooperate will often be different. This is important to understand if you want to open an account with an Estonian bank.

The most important question is how much the bank is open to dialogue and what powers are given to the first line or to the front office. If you come to the bank fill out a questionnaire and immediately open the account and get the keys of access – it means that the bank has granted the operators such powers. If you have the opportunity to interact with the client-manager (personal banker), then the bank has created such a unit and provided it with the right to make decisions.

Based on such simple things, you can understand the business strategy of the bank and its strategy in relations with customers.

Often the bank operator takes your personal document, and without additional words goes to another room and there another person tells her what to do. This is typical situation for such banks as: Swedbank, SEB, LHV. And this means that the bank is closed for communication and will give minimum of possible information and take minimum of obligations. Of course, in the case of undesirable actions from the bank side, you can write to them requests, but most likely the bank will limit itself to formal answer.

In any case, the bank operators, this is only the primary line in communication with customers and in Estonia they almost never have the authority to automatically open an account just upon the customer’s appeal. However, operators of some banks (Tallinn Business Bank, COOP, Luminor) are more likely to communicate and provide primary information making it more easy to understand wheither it is possible to open an account or not.

We are talking now about opening an account for non-residents of Estonia. Which also includes Estonian companies connected to non-residents as board members, shareholders or beneficiaries.

And in our experience, it is better to turn your attention to banks in other jurisdictions or even better to the fin-tech companies and open your account there. If upon ane condition you do wish an account in the EE zone, then you need to understand that you first have to invest your time and efforts. And to get such an account you are going to undertake a serious preparations.

One of them is – connection with Estonia.

Connection with Estonia is a mythical category, and its meaning is not clear even for bank employees, which require such connection. According to our experience, the connection with Estonia includes (but not limited to):

        • Partners in Estonia.
        • Turnover in Estonia.
        • Creating value in Estonia.
        • Paying taxes in Estonia.
        • Residence permit in Estonia (life permit).
        • Estonian workers.
        • Renting an office in Estonia.
        • Buying real estate property in Estonia.
        • Securities of Estonian issuers.
        • Investing in Estonian companies.
        • Business plan for business development in Estonia.

All these requirements increase the chances of opening an account in an Estonian bank (especially marked bold). However, none of them is sufficient either on itself or together with the others. The last word is always after the bank and it is possible that you will be rejected even after you met all the conditions (although the chances of such a denial will be quite low).

In the end, it should be noted that Estonian banks do not enter into any kind of partnership with legal or consulting companies. And Estonian bank do not provide any preliminary confirmation on the possibility of opening an account.