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Work and Resident Permit in Estonia

Updated on Thursday 17th September 2020

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Estonia has become an interesting choice when it comes to changing the country of residence, as well as the work environment. However, one must follow specific procedures in order to receive a work and residence permit in Estonia.

Those who want to relocate to Estonia can do that by opening companies or finding employment here. An important change in the Estonian legislation now allows foreign citizens to take up e-residency in this country, Estonia being the first state in the world to enable such a program.

Below, our company formation specialists in Estonia explain how a foreign citizen can acquire a work and residence permit here. We can assist foreigners from both EU and non-EU states interested in relocating to Estonia. We can also help those interested in starting businesses in Estonia.

Types of work and residence permits in Estonia

Foreign citizens who want to move to Estonia can apply for one of the following work and residence permits:

  • - permits for completing specific activities which are issued for sportsmen, doctors and government officials;
  • - temporary residence permits for those interested in living in Estonia for short periods of time (below 5 years);
  • - permanent residence visas which will be granted to those living in Estonia for more than 5 years;
  • - investor residence permits – there are several types of such permits which can be issued to entrepreneurs;
  • - e-residency which is issued for those interested in starting a business Estonia remotely.

Our company registration advisors in Estonia can help you select the right type of work and residence permit based on your needs and purposes.

Resident permit in Estonia for EU, EEA and Swiss Confederation members

Estonia functions under the Citizen of European Union Act. This act regulated the residence permits specifically issued to residents of the European Union countries, as well as EEA and Swiss Confederation. If a member of the above mentioned countries has a valid travel document or identity card, he can become an Estonian resident without the need of a resident permit, but only for a period of three months. 

If in these three months the citizen decides that he wants to extend his stay in Estonia, he is required to obtain a temporary residence. In order to obtain the permit, the EU citizen has to contact the local government authority and register his or her residence within three months from the date of entering in Estonia. The permit is issues for a five year period of time.

After the five year permit was obtained and the citizen has resided in Estonia permanently, he or she can obtain the right of permanent residence on the basis of the temporary permit already obtained.

Resident permit for third country nationals

The permits given to the third country nationals, as well as to persons with undetermined citizenship are governed by the Aliens Act. They can receive either a temporary residence permit, or a long-term permit.

The temporary residence permit can be issued if certain conditions are fulfilled, such as:

  • - the person is married to a person with permanent residence in Estonia;
  • - in order to be near a relative that has permanent residency in Estonia;
  • - for working purposes;
  • - for studies performed in an Estonian institution;
  • - for business purposes.

Once the Estonian permit has been obtained, it can be extended if the permit has not changed and if the request is justified. For the extension of the permit, the applicant has to contact the service point of the Citizenship and Migration Bureau and submit the application using the post service. 

The long-term residence permit is issues under the following conditions:

  • - if the person has stayed in Estonia for at least 5 years;
  • - if the person has a valid temporary residence permit;
  • - if the residence is registered and the person has income and health insurance in Estonia;
  • - if the person can speak Estonian language at least at a basic level.

Our company formation experts can guide you into the Estonian law that governs the work and residence permits. In addition, we can also provide details on how to open a company in Estonia.

The Estonian residence permit for foreign investors

Foreign investors who want to relocate and open a company in Estonia have several choices when it comes to the residence permits they can qualify for. Among these are:

  • the ordinary residence permit or the D-type visa which allows them to open companies in Estonia by investing at least 65,000 euros;
  • the residence permit for investors setting up startups in Estonia is another option for foreign entrepreneurs;
  • the residence permit for major investors who inject at least one million euros into an Estonian company;
  • the residence permit for self-employment which can be used by those setting up sole proprietorships in Estonia.

The residence permit for major investors is available for non-EU and non-EEA citizens only and has many advantages among which the possibility of moving to Estonia with family members. It also allows a foreign citizen to own land in Estonia and free access to the Schengen Area.

When it comes to the documents to be submitted for an Estonian work and residence permit, these will depend on the reason for relocating to Estonia.

Our Estonian company formation consultants can explain the main requirements for moving here as an investor.

Work permits in Estonia

Citizens of the EU do not need a separate permit to work in Estonia, unlike third world country members that can work in Estonia only if they have a residence permit.

In Estonia, foreigners who stay or arrive in Estonia on the basis of a visa or on a visa-free basis can apply for a short-term employment that cannot last more than six months a year. This application is done by the employer. People who are located in Estonia on the basis of a residence permit are not allowed to be registered for short-term employment in Estonia, but they can apply for a work permit or a residence permit employment.

Documents required for work permit in Estonia

Obtaining a work permit in Estonia implies securing employment within a local company. In the case of EU citizens, there is no need for a work permit, however, non-EU and non-EEA citizens will be required to submit the following documents prior to their arrival in Estonia:

  1. the valid ID and passport of the applicant which must be submitted with the Estonian Embassy or Consulate in his/her home country;
  2. copy of the employment contract and an invitation from the employer also needs to be filed;
  3. proof of residential address in Estonia (a rental or lease contract will be required in this sense);
  4. the permission issued by the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund (the employer must register the employee here first)
  5. other documents such as recent photographs and application forms, depending on the country of origin of the applicant.

It is also important to note that the Estonian employer must register the employee with the Unemployment Insurance Fund prior to starting the procedure of obtaining a work permit.

Our company registration agents in Estonia can offer more information on the employment regulations in this country.

Obtaining e-residency in Estonia

As mentioned above, Estonia was the first country in the world to create an e-residence program. The novelty of this program consists in the fact that a person from another corner of the world can obtain an electronic identification and signature which can be used to open an Estonian company. It is important to note, however, the e-residency does not replace the regular work and residence permits in Estonia.

Estonia is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, almost all the residents here having electronic IDs.

If you want to relocate to Estonia and need assistance in applying for a residence or work permit, our local consultants are at your disposal with professional advice and complete services. We can also assist with the company registration procedure in Estonia for qualified investors.Please contact our company formation specialists in Estonia for more details. 


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