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Permits and visas in Estonia

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In the digital and tech-savvy society of Estonia, there is no time for bureaucracy and roadblocks when it comes to leveraging the skills of talented people from all over the world. Hence, you can work in Estonia without needing such a thing as a “work permit”, as long as your employer has registered you and you’ve gotten a D-visa (for non-EU citizens) or a residence permit.

For citizens of EU-EEA

If you’re coming to Estonia from an EU country (or you are a citizen of Liechtenstein, Iceland or Switzerland), you do not need a visa or permit to work, study or launch your business in Estonia. You can stay in the country for up to three months without registering. If you plan to stay longer, then at some point during this quarter you should register in the Population Register of Estonia as an Estonian resident. To do that, you simply need to have the following:

  • A residence notice -- the document will be in Estonian, but you can find a translated version at the end of this article. You can fill it in before you register, or just do it on the spot.
  • Your ID or, if you send the documents by mail, a photocopy of it.
  • Some proof of your residence and that you have the right to use these premises -- like a tenancy agreement. (Make sure to get everyone’s consent if the property you register belongs to many owners.)

 Good to know: If you are the holder of an Estonian ID card, you can register online.

For non-EU-EEA citizens

If you come from a non-EU country, then you need a D-type visa to work in Estonia for a short time, aka six months maximum in any calendar year. Before applying, your employer should register you with the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board for short-term employment.

If you are planning to work in Estonia for longer than six months, you need to apply for a residence permit; a temporary one for up to a two-year stay, and a permanent after having lived in Estonia for five years. There’s also the option to apply for a long-term temporary residence permit, which eases the process of settling in the country and helps you meet the required criteria for a permanent residence.

Good to know:
This process doesn’t change drastically if you’re self-employed instead of a job-seeker; you’ll just have to register your own company.

If you want to study in Estonia

As is the case with “work permit”, Estonia doesn’t issue a special “study visa” -- you just need to obtain a temporary right of residence. If you’re coming from an EU country, this means you will have to register your place of residence in the Local Government authority, within three months from your entry to the country. You also have to apply for an Estonian ID-card within one month after you get your temporary right of residence.

If you’re coming from a non-EU country, you’ll have to apply for a temporary residence permit for study, at your nearest Estonian Embassy or Consul in your home country. You can find more information about the documents needed, here.

The whole process will usually begin once you’ve been accepted to your chosen programme because the university will have to send you the acceptance documents you need for your residence permit registration.

 Useful links

Estonian Ministry of Interior
Residence notice document, (with English)

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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