Entry conditions and residence permits
Different rules about residence and work in Estonia apply to citizens of the EU and to citizens of third countries. The length of your stay also influences which rules you have to follow.
EU citizens are free to enter Estonia, but if they stay for more than 3 months, they should register their place of residence and apply for an ID-card.
Citizens of third countries may need a visa for short-term visits (up to 6 months). Citizens of third countries need a residence permit for employment for long term work (more than 6 months) in Estonia.
Applications for visas, residence permits or residence permits for employment should be submitted to a diplomatic representation of the Republic of Estonia. Registration of one’s place of residence is necessary in the case of longer visits for EU citizens as well as citizens of third countries.
EU citizens are free to enter Estonia and can work here without work permits. The same applies to the nationals of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The only requirement is that if EU citizens stay in Estonia for longer than 3 months, they should register their residence (see tab below) at the local government authority within 3 months. Family members can submit a joint notice of their place of residence.
The registration of the place of residence gives the right to temporary residence for 5 years.
An EU citizen who has resided in Estonia permanently for five concecutive years on the basis of the right of temporary residency has the right to obtain permanent residency.
-you hold valid temporary residence permit;
-the data of your place of residence have been entered into the Population Register of Estonia;
-you have permanent legal income for subsistence in Estonia;
-you are covered with health insurane (by Eesti Haigekassa);
-you comply with integration requirements, i.e. you have knowledge of the Estonian language at least at level B1
The family members of an EU citizen, who come from a third country, will have the right of temporary residence if the EU citizen is employed or studying in Estonia, has sufficient legal income to ensure the subsistence of him/herself and the family and has medical insurene. The third country family members of an EU citizen are required to follow the visa requirements for entering Estonia that have been described in the section for Citizens of third countries. Short term stay (see next tab). They can apply for the right of temporary residency in a foreign representation of the Republic of Estonia or by going in person to a service point of the Police and Border Guard Board after arrival in Estonia.
Within a month after the place of residence has been registered and the right to temporary residence has been obtained, an EU citizen must apply for an ID number and an Estonian ID card at the Police and Border Guard Board. The ID number enables you to obtain health insurance through the Estonian Health Insurance Fund when employed by an Estonian organisation and receive social support. The ID card can be used as identification and for giving digital signatures, and it carries the data concerning the right of residence. ID cards can be used for a wide range of electronic services. It also gives you the right to vore in local goverment elections and the European Parliament elections.
Citizens of third countries. Short term stay (up to 6 months)
If you are not a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you should first check whether you need a visa to enter Estonia. Information on visa requirements and the contact information of all the embassies can be found at the web page of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is uselful to check the website of the Estonian embassy in your home country for specific information.
- Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Visiting Estonia
- Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Applying for a visa to the Schengen Area
You can apply for a visa at the diplomatic representation of the Republic of Estonia.
- Work in Estonia < 90 days - apply for short-term visa
- Work in in Estonia 3 - 6 months - apply for long-term visa.
On December 21 st 2007, Estonia joined the Schengen area. Now you can apply for a short term visa at the embassy of another Schengen member state if there is no Estonian embassy in your home country. See the list of embassies representing Estonia at the website of Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Long term visas still need to be applied for from the nearest Estonian foreign representation. Both short term and long term visa application are processed in 30 days. If you come to Estonia through another country do not forget to check whether a transit visa is required.
Citizens from a number of countries do not need a visa to enter Estonia for stays of no more than 3 months in a 6-month period. However, if you wish to work in Estonia for 3 - 6 months, you still need to apply for a long-term visa; for a longer stay you must apply for a residence permit for employment (see next tab).
If your period of work in Estonia is shorter than 6 months, you do not need a work permit if you register your short term employment (employer must register you) at the Citizenship and Migration Bureau (CMB). Short term employment must be registered before applying for a long-term visa, and the document confirming registration must be appended to the long term visa application. The registration process at the CMB takes up to 10 days. The best way is to register short term employment by mail before arriving in Estonia.
If your period of work in Estonia is up to 5 days during a 30 day period, then you do not have to register your employment (employer does not have to register you).
Citizens of third countries. Long term stay
Citizens of third countries who stay in Estonia for work over 6 months must apply for a residence permit for employment. Researchers planning to work in Estonia can apply for a residence permit for research. Apply for residence permit for research at a service point of the Police and Boarder Guard Board. Researchers are exempt from the immigration quota.
- The residence permit for research is issued, if:
-the alien has appropriate professional preparation or ecperience for such activity;
-the R&D institution has been registered by the Ministry of Education and Research and has received a positive evaluation;
-the institution has valid institutional accreditation;
-the hosting agreement is signed between the researcher and the hostin research institution for carrying out research and development work.
There are several ways how to apply for a residence permit for employment as a scientist: see our ROAD-MAP for coming to Estonia.
What is a hosting agreement? The hosting agreement certifies to the Police and Boarded Guard Board that you will be doing research in Estonia.
- The hosting agreement should contain:
-your name and qualification;
-name and registration code of the hosting institution;
-name of your contact person in the institution;
-duration of the research project and the financing source of the project.
If the above listed data is stated in your employment contract, then a copy of such employment contract may be submitted instead of the hosting agreement.
The list of other necessary documents and the application form for the residence permit for employment can be found at the website of the Police and Border Guard Board. The process of obtaining a residence permit for employment may take up to 2 months.
A temporary residence permit for employment is issued for the period of guaranteed employment in Estonia for a period of up to two years, and can be extended for up to five years at a time.
A citizen of a third country should register his/her place of residence at a local government registers office within a month after coming to Estonia. Family members can submit a joint notice. See next tabs.
As of July 2011 a residence permit for employment in Estonia may be granted on the basis of the European Union (EU) blue card. The EU blue card is a residence permit for employment, which is granted for residence in Estonia and for employment on a position or job which requires higher qualification. Employer needs the consent of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund for applying for the blue card. More information on EU Blue Card is available on the website of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board.
Together with the residence permit for employment or the residence permit you will receive an Estonian ID number and an Estonian residence permit card (short - ID card) (Est elamisloakaart). You can apply for an Estonian ID card already at an Estonian foreign representation, but you will receive the ID card once you have arrived in Estonia. The ID number enables you employer to forward all the necessary information to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, the Employment Register, the Tax and Customs Board and the Social Insurance Board, so that you will have granted health insurance and other rights resulting from paid taxes. The ID card can be used as regular identification and for giving digital signatures. It also carries the residence permit and conditions of employment (name of employer, location of employment, your position). You are allowed to work in Estonia only under the conditions determined in your residence permit. If you have granted a temporary residence permit for employment, you may be employed by several employers at the same time, provided that the specified conditions determined in your residence permit for employment are still followed.
ID cards can be used for a wide range of electronic services.
For doctoral students
You should apply for a residence permit for study, if you wish to study at a university in Estonia. A residence permit for study is issued for a period of up to one year but no longer than the estimated duration of the studies. The permit may be extended by one year at a time. In the event that you have been issued a residence permit for study, you are exempt from the immigration quota. You may get a job in Estonia without a work permit, provided that working does not interfere with studies and that you study full-term.
All doctoral students who receive a doctoral allowance based on the Study Allowances and Study Loans Act are provided with social guarantees, including health insurance. If you do not qualify for doctoral allowance under this act you need to obtain a private health insurance contract for the duration of your studies.
Citizens of third countries. Residence permits for families
Citizens of third countries can apply for a temporary residence permit for settling with their spouse to whom a residence permit for employment has been granted. For your children you should apply for a residence permit for settling with a close relative who resides in Estonia.
The applications for residence permits for family members can be submitted at the same time as the researcher’s application. The decision whether or not the family members will be granted a residence permit will be made after the decision concerning the researcher has been made.
If a residence permit has been issued for settling with a spouse, it is not necessary to apply for a separate work permit.
Registration of a place of residence
Registration of one’s place of residence is obligatory if you are staying in Estonia on the basis of a residence permit or a residence permit for employment. The place of residence should be registered at the local government registers services, or in the case of smaller local governments, directly in the local government’s office with a person responsible for the registers. The place of residence can also be registered by mail. Family members can present a joint notice of place of residence. A citizen of a non-EU Member State residing in Estonia on the basis of a long-term residence permit may vote at the local government council elections but cannot stand as candidate to the council.
Registering one’s place of residence offers some benefits. EU citizens who have been registered at a local government have the right to vote in local government elections and the European Parliament elections (must have the Estonian ID card).
The town government registers’ service in Tartu is at Küüni 5, Tartu 51004, and its telephone numbers are (+372) 736 1143; (+372) 736 1141.
There are registers services in all the districts of Tallinn.