When looking for service providers or business partners in Estonia, it is highly recommended to conduct a general background
search on them beforehand, to be sure of their trustworthiness and reduce your business risks. If the company has no information
about revenue or any other financials, you should carefully consider whether you want to do business with them or not. Also, it
might be useful to look up your competitors to see how they are doing in the same field.
More importantly, remember that the background search goes both ways, as your business partners or clients can use the same databases. So, you should always keep your company’s matters in good standing and submit the tax declarations and annual reports on time.
We have composed an overview of the most common and helpful public and private databases in Estonia that contain various business information on legal entities. Some inquiries with general information are available to everyone free of charge, however, more detailed information is made available by creating an account or paying a one-time fee depending on the databases. The fees are typically not too high and worth considering, to avoid any future disappointments. Typically, you need to know the business name and register number and/or personal ID number of the company owners to submit inquiries.
E-Business Register is a public database that contains current and historical data on legal entities. Some data can be viewed free of charge, such as current data of registry card (containing the company’s commercial register number, business name, address, time of initial entry, legal form, registry entry status, size of share capital), VAT number information, the submission of annual reports and any business prohibitions in effect. Other services, like the annual reports and credit reports, are available to anybody for a small fee.
The Estonian Tax and Customs Board (ETCB)
The value-added tax (VAT) search tool allows you to check if a company has registered for a VAT number in Estonia. If they don’t have a VAT number, then they are not entitled to add VAT to an invoice, and the buyer can’t deduct the input VAT.
You can also use the search tool of the EU VAT number which indicates if a company is registered as a VAT payer in any of the EU countries and whether the VAT number is valid. That affects the necessary rules to be followed regarding taxation of a transaction.
Another search tool on the ETCB website is for inquiries of tax arrears. Any indicated tax arrears of the company may be a sign of solvency problems or an inability to stick to payment terms.
Since June 2020, the company’s legal representatives can also use a new e-service that shows their company’s tax behaviour ratings. That allows you to see how your company looks like in the eyes of a tax administration and if there are any shortcomings to the data. The service will also include recommendations on how to fix the deficiencies to avoid possible tax controls from ETCB in the future. Additionally to the publicly available data like the paid taxes, number of employees, turnover, and tax arrears, the tax compliance and tax behaviour adequacy ratings are available to the company’s legal representative.
Creditinfo is Estonia’s private business information database and, among other things, contains the data about the delayed payments of companies and private persons. You can get the general information for free, such as the company’s address, the foundation year, main activities, contact details, and so on. But other information is available after creating an account or paying for the specific service separately. For example, you can order the company’s credit reports, annual reports, or beneficial owners and ownership information. The Creditinfo’s data is up to date as it’s updated once an hour for the legal entities, and once per day for private individuals. The data about the payment defaults will be stored and shown up to 7 years since the debt was settled.
Another private portal that offers background information about Estonian companies is Inforegister. General data about companies is available for free, such as the foundation year, turnover, balance, reliability, contact details, and so on. But most of the information is made available after registering for a paid 1-day pass or asking for a personal offer. The database contains similar information as Creditinfo, such as credit reports, credit scores, financial assessments, information about board
members and their business networks, and more. As a registered client, it is possible to update the company’s introduction, contact details, and financial data in Inforegister, so it would represent the latest image of the business.
It is also possible to order media reports from Inforegister that cover the mentions of the company and its board members in online media publications and social media channels.
Please note that the Estonian Business Register is public, and the information about the companies as well as entrepreneurs is publicly available to anybody interested. The private databases like Credit info and Inforegister draw their data about the businesses and founders from publicly available national registries.
Criminal Records Database
The Criminal Records Database is a public database that contains information about legal entities’ and private persons’ criminal records and the subsequent penalties imposed. If a person or a legal entity has prior tax-related offenses or repeated violations of law, this can show a higher risk of doing business with them and should be taken into account.
After finding information about the company’s board members and related individuals from the databases, it is a good practice to google the names of the people involved. That way, you will see if they are associated with some other companies that have financial difficulties, or if additional valuable information comes up.
All the databases mentioned are extensive and give good up-to-date overview of Estonian legal entities to avoid business engagements with untrusty companies. Obtaining information through the databases will help to minimise possible business risks, however, it’s important to rely on your previous experience and intuition as well when deciding who you want to do business. As already mentioned above, it is vital to keep your company in good standing as well, as the business’ data can be accessed by anyone interested.