By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) – Palau has joined a growing list of countries which have allowed foreigners to attain digital residency.
President Surangel Whipps Jr. signed into law a revised bill allowing non-citizens to become digital residents of Palau, according to daily Island Times.
Under the new law, a foreigner, without having to be a physical resident, can apply for a digital residency which “will allow the bearer to open digital accounts, apply for a certificate of legal name change, establish a physical mailing address, establish a digital phone number.”
“The digital residency ID is not equivalent to allowing digital residents to establish a business in Palau,” the law states.
Whipps said: “The new law offers a potential diversification of our economy which is urgently needed in light of the pandemic’s effects on tourism industry.”
“Being a first-mover provides us the advantage that people will know that it’s available, and we can tap into those markets that are out there that may need this service,” Whipps said after signing the bill into law.
However, Palau’s digital residency does not entitle the bearer to reside in Palau or obtain a driver’s license.
Whipps’ government aims to replicate the 2014 e-residency system of Estonia to “diversify its economy.” The system allows non-resident entrepreneurs from all over the world to start an EU-based company in Estonia and manage their business from anywhere, entirely online.
Georgia and Azerbaijan also offer similar kind of services to allow foreigner entrepreneurs, freelancers and digital nomads to establish and run location-independent business.
Palau last month moved to introduce digital residency for foreigners as “a way for businesses to use the country's physical location to transact business digitally.
The 13-member Senate of Palau held a second vote on the bill on Tuesday and passed it with 10 in favor and three opposing it.
Earlier, the bill was defeated over digital currency exchange clause after six senators voted against it while five others voted in favor of the bill. One senator abstained but it was counted as a “yes” vote under Senate rules.