In 2017, several changes were made for opening bank accounts and closing existing accounts for non-residents (including e-residents and residents of the European Union) and non-resident beneficial owners of Estonian companies. Similarly, banks have already started closing existing non-resident current accounts.
For example, in several banks it is no longer possible to open an account with a power of attorney or an additional special agreement with the bank must be entered into. Moreover, the majority of banks do not offer the possibility of video identification as planned. Additionally, for non-residents there is a stricter need for some connection with Estonia. As a general rule, it is not sufficient for banks to open a bank account and/or a securities account for an association that is planning to start commercial operations in Estonia (but has not yet entered into any such agreements) or if the bank account in Estonia is intended to be used solely for the purpose of tax optimization or for holding shares in an Estonian company (acceptable on rare occasions). In this case, it is important for the bank to understand the structure of the client group (incl to clarify actual beneficiaries – that is persons whose shareholding amounts to 25% or more whereas it is likely that the threshold will be reduced to 10% as the rules become stricter).
In addition, banks have actively begun to close existing accounts of non-residents (or non-resident beneficial owners). The difference between the information given on opening an account (eg planned business activities, partners), which the bank itself actively controls, may serve as a basis for closing the account. If a bank account is only used for making foreign settlements and is not actually connected to Estonia, then a bank may close the account. The closure of a bank account connected to a securities account is not hindered if the share of another company is held on the securities account. This could cause unexpected obstacles for a client who wishes to sell shares from the securities account.