Red Robot Media Forms EU Company to Guard Against Brexit

Red Robot Media Forms EU Company to Guard Against Brexit

UK copywriting company launches EU company to maintain EU links

On the day the UK government triggers Article 50 to exit the EU, Red Robot Media has today formally applied for registration of a new Estonian sister company.

The new Estonian company will allow Red Robot to retain a presence in the EU after Brexit. For EU clients, the move will also guard against Brexit uncertainty and give the company more flexibility post-Brexit.

Red Robot’s director and technical writer Claire Broadley is a member of the Estonian e-residency program. The program allows individuals from anywhere in the world to set up an Estonian company and maintain close links with the EU after Brexit. There are currently approximately 1,000 UK citizens registered as Estonian e-residents.

Claire’s new company, Red Robot OÜ, will operate out of Tallinn, Estonia. It will offer the same services that the UK company Red Robot Media offers now, including technical blogging, business blogging, system documentation, and video production.

We produce content for clients worldwide. Estonian e-residency offers a simple way to maintain strong EU links after Brexit. 

ID card

UK Estonian e-residents are creating companies to guard against Brexit uncertainty and ensure they can access valuable benefits of EU membership. Red Robot OÜ will also be able to access all of the benefits of the Digital Single Market, a program which the UK intends to exit over the course of the next two years.

Red Robot OÜ hopes to accept payments in euro from June, direct to its Estonian bank account, which will help it to protect against any further devaluation of the pound. Customers of the UK company can still pay in pounds sterling.

All of Red Robot Media’s clients will have the open of transferring their business to Red Robot OÜ in Estonia if they wish. This will allow them to enjoy the same service that they currently enjoy, provisioned within the EU legal and data protection framework.

For micro businesses like Red Robot Media, Brexit presents challenges in terms of costs and legal compliance. In particular, it is difficult for a very small business to attract significant EU business in an unclear post-Brexit environment. The Estonian e-residency program allows micro businesses to put contingency plans in place.

Red Robot OÜ is being registered with the Estonian Business Registry by LeapIn.eu. LeapIn provides management services for Estonian companies that are administered by Estonian e-residents overseas.

For more information about Estonian e-residency after Brexit, please see our e-residency blog post.

About Red Robot Media

Red Robot Media is a UK company specialising in technical writing and business copywriting. It is located in Horsforth, close to Leeds Bradford Airport. The company was founded in 2010.

Claire Broadley started the company formation with the Estonian Business Registry in March 2017, on the day Article 50 was triggered by the UK government.

All media enquiries can be sent to [email protected]

After Brexit, What Are the Benefits of Estonian E-Residency?

After Brexit, What Are the Benefits of Estonian E-Residency?

One week ago, I applied to for e-residency of Estonia, in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Even if you feel positive or optimistic, you’d have to agree that UK businesses are heading into a prolonged period of uncertainty. Depending on the way you run your business, e-residency may be an option worth exploring.

E-residency ID cardEstonia launched its e-residency programme in 2014. It may help you to retain some of the important benefits we may lose when the UK finally exits the EU. You may want to register now; equally, it may be sensible to wait. We’ve already registered, just in case.

Before You Apply for E-Residency

If you’re unsure about the impact of a political decision on your business, ask your accountant for their advice. Ours was quick to point out that we are in a state of uncertainty, so we cannot plan for anything while we don’t have the facts.

I would caution against registering as an e-citizen of Estonia if:

  • You don’t have the cash for the application.
  • You’re not reliant on strong connections to the EU to do business.
  • You want to ensure your residency in the EU (this programme doesn’t offer that).

But even if we just take e-residency as an experiment in virtual business, it is definitely interesting.

What is Estonian E-Residency?

Estonia’s e-residency scheme is designed to increase the number of businesses operating out of the country. The e-residency card gives you the right to set up a business in Estonia, which is important for UK residents for two reasons.

  1. You can have a virtual business address in Estonia, which then opens up the possibility of signing up for services with EU providers under EU law. This could be a benefit if you want to store data in the cloud, for example, since we don’t yet know whether existing EU information security or data protection law will apply to the UK. (Yes, this could be a horrendous mess for companies operating in the cloud.) It could also let you lock in EU discounts when we exit.
  2. You could potentially open a euro bank account. The pound has recovered against the euro since its initial crash, but we’re in the early stages of a very long withdrawal process. If you work for clients that pay you in euros, having a bank account may not be a bad idea. (You will need to go to Estonia to open the account, but you can manage it online.)

Estonia’s e-residency programme does not give you citizenship in Estonia, and it does not give you the right to travel in the Schengen area. If you’re concerned about citizenship, it might be better to look into your options for obtaining a passport within an EU country first.

Applying for E-Residency

The application process is all done online, and there’s just one form to fill in. You will need a photo of yourself that complies with the requirements, so it’s best to get that ready before you start. Additionally, you’ll need a photo of your UK passport.

When the form’s done, you pay a registration fee of €101.99.

The application process takes anything from two to eight weeks; mine was accepted within a month.

You’ll pick up your Estonian card from one of the designated pick-up points, which are Estonian embassies or similar. There’s only one pick-up location in the UK — the embassy in Knightsbridge — so factor in the cost of getting there. You don’t need to attend an interview, but you will have to give your fingerprints before your card is handed over. If you don’t attend within 6 months, your card will be returned to Estonia.

Naturally, there is a chance your application will be declined. In that event, we’d have to assume that you won’t get a refund.

Other Reasons to Apply for E-Residency

Estonia is very keen to project itself as a forward-thinking, digitally engaged country, and e-residency is one way that it’s promoting a digitally transformed approach to business and life. Estonians enjoy access to voting, healthcare records, law, policing and education through one portal. This, to me, seems like an initiative modern digitally-minded people should support.

E-residency will give you a means to sign contracts legally in Estonia, which could be handy for freelancers employed by EU clients. You get your own digital encryption key that can be used for e-signing online.

Here’s an important downside. The system does not change your tax residency. You need professional advice to avoid being taxed twice. In any case, any change to your business circumstances or structure should be run by an accountant, before you go ahead.

Summary

The fallout from Brexit has been alarming for us as a micro-business, soon to be ripped out of our core market. We are certainly not the only people who are worried, as the massive viral response to my Brexit blog has proven.

Estonian e-residency is not going to fix anything for you immediately. We don’t know if it’s necessary or not, because we don’t know what we’re losing or gaining yet. But people who do business with the EU may want to look into it as an option, just in case.

Update, 29 April 2017: We’ve now started the process of setting up a business in Estonia using my e-residency card. For more information, see our press release here.

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