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Immigration and Residency in Estonia

13 May 2011
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General Information


Immigration and Residency

European Union citizens

EU citizens have the right to stay in Estonia on the basis of a valid travel document or identity card for the period of up to 3 months. If the person wishes to stay in Estonia longer, the temporary residence permit shall be applied.

The temporary residence is granted for a period of 5 years. 

An EU citizen who has resided in Estonia permanently for 5 successive years on the basis of temporary residence shall obtain the right of permanent residence.

It should be noted that EU citizen has a right to bring their family members to Estonia to whom apples the same residence regulation than for EU citizen.

Temporary residence permit

In order to obtain the right of temporary residence an EU citizen must contact the local government authority nearest to his/her place of residence.

Upon the application for an identity card the following documents must be submitted to the Citizenship and Migration Bureau of the Prefecture:

  • a standard application form
  • an identity document of the applicant;
  • a colored photo sized 40x50 mm;
  • a document certifying the payment of the state fee 64 EUR.

Identity cards are issued within a period of one month from the date of submission of the application.

The right of temporary residence shall be extended automatically for a period of five years if the registered place of residence of the EU citizen is continually in Estonia and if the right of temporary residence of the EU citizen has not been expired or terminated. If the period of validity of an EU citizen's identity card has expired he/she has to apply for a new identity card.

Non European Union citizens

A temporary residence permit may be issued to aliens:

  • married to a person with permanent residence in Estonia;
  • for settling down with a close relative permanently residing in Estonia;
    • for working;
    • for studies at an Estonian educational institution;
    • for business;
    • whose permanent legal income ensures his/ her subsistence in Estonia;
    • in case of substantial public interest;
    • whose application for residence permit is based on an international agreement.

We describe here more detail 3 types of the residence permits: 1) for employment; 2) for business and 3) with legal income (permit is issued for 2 years maximum).

1)    Residence permit for employment


An alien is required to have a residence permit for employment or a work permit for activity in Estonia on the basis of an employment contract or other contract, and for other activities for the benefit of other persons where obtaining gain or any other proprietary benefit can be presumed, regardless of the type or form of the contract on which such activity is based, and the location of the seat or residence of the other party.


Non-EU citizen may apply for a residence permit for employment if an open competition has been carried out to staff and citizen has qualifications, education, health, work experience, special skills and knowledge required for the job. The Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund has to give its consent before non-EU citizen can be employed. The consent is valid for 2 months from the moment of its issue. A residence permit is issued only if the wages of an alien ensure his/her subsistence in Estonia. An employer must pay an alien a salary which is at least equal to the product of the recent average yearly wages in Estonia published by the Statistical Office of Estonia and the coefficient 1, 24.


2)    Residence permit for business

 Non-EU citizen who owns shares in a company or acts as a sole proprietor and who has continuous financial means, may apply for residence permit for business in Estonia. The company or the sole proprietor must be registered in the Estonian Commercial Register and the settlement of the alien in Estonia must be important for the business. The company or the sole proprietor is required to have a business plan which states the character and range of the business, number of staff, necessary qualification and know-how of the staff, and:

  • Non-EU citizen has invested in Estonia a capital sum of 64 000 EUR under his/her control in the case of a company;
  • Non-EU citizen has invested in Estonia a capital sum of 16 000 EUR under his/her control in the case of a sole proprietor.

3)    Residence permit with legal income 


A temporary residence permit may be issued for up to two years to an alien whose legal income ensures his or her subsistence if the issue of the residence permit is justified and does not damage the interests of the Estonian state and provided that no circumstance which constitutes the basis for refusal to issue such residence permit exists in respect of the alien. A work permit shall not be issued to such alien for employment in Estonia.


If non-EU citizen applies for a temporary residence permit on the condition that his or her legal income ensures his or her subsistence in Estonia or a temporary residence permit for business purposes, his or her legal income during the six months preceding the submission of the application must amount to total of eighteen months average gross wages in the Republic of Estonia. The amount of required legal income derives from the average gross wages of the last quarter as established by the Statistical Office of Estonia. In 2011 the average wage per month in Estonia is 814 EUR. The calculation for minimum legal income per month is the following:


814 EUR x 18 = 14 652 EUR for 6 months total;

14 652 : 6 = 2442 EUR per month.


Therefore in order to apply the residence permit with legal income, the monthly income should be minimum 2442 EUR.


Legal income means lawfully earned remuneration for work, income received from lawful business activities or property, pensions, scholarships, support, benefits paid by a foreign state and the maintenance ensured by family members earning legal income.

Other requirements associated with every residence permit type


An alien who applies for the first time for the issue of a residence permit shall lodge an application for the issue of a residence permit with the diplomatic mission or consular post of the Republic of Estonia abroad. Documents shall be submitted personally by an applicant.


An alien is required to register his or her residence in Estonia in the population register within one month after entry in Estonia or commencement of stay in Estonia on the basis of a residence permit.

An alien has to have an insurance contract guaranteeing that any costs related to his or her medical treatment as a result of illness or injury during the period of validity of the residence permit applied for will be met to the extent equal to persons covered with health insurance.

The following documents have to be submitted in order to apply for the temporary residence permit: (i) Official Application form; (ii) valid passport; (iii) valid travel document, which validity shall be not less than 3 months until the validity of the temporary residence permit expires and its copy; (iv) documents, proving the grounds for the temporary residence permits; (v) document, proving the legal income; (vi) applicants CV; (vii) document proving that the alien has living premises in Estonia belonging to him or on the basis of the lease agreement; (viii) colored photo 40x50 mm; (ix) health insurance document (shall be presented after the decision is issued on granting the temporary residence permit); (vii) document, proving that the state fee 65 EUR is paid.

Residence permit may be temporary (validity period up to five years) or long-term. Temporary residence permit may be extended if the basis for the permit has not changed and application is justified.

An alien residing in Estonia on the basis of temporary residence permit who is intending to stay outside Estonia for more than 183 days per year, has to register one’s staying away from Estonia with the Police and Border Guard Board.

Schengen visas

The Schengen visa allows the holder to a total stay of up to 3 months days within a period of 6 months for tourist or business purposes. Receiving the multiple entry Schengen visa, is possible to leave and return in any number of times within the 6 months period, but the combined stay within the region must not total more than 3 months (90 days). Schengen visa shall be applied by a citizen of a country whose citizens are subject to the visa requirement. A Schengen visa must be applied in person, not by mail.

Receiving once a Schengen visa, the person may enter one country and travel freely anywhere within the Schengen territory. Internal border controls have been abolished and there are no or few stops and checks. Internal air, road and train travel are handled as domestic trips. The Schengen Agreement still allows customs control as long as there is no passport check, and checks are made randomly, or at real suspicions.

It takes between 2 and 10 working days to get Schengen visa for short-term stays. Processing time may be up to several months for long term visas.

Schengen visa types 

An airport transit visa (A) allows a person to transit through the international zone of a Schengen airport without entering the Schengen territory.

A transit visa (B) allows a person to transit no more than 5 days through Schengen countries by car, coach or travelling through different airports on the persons way to another non-Schengen country.

A short stay visa (C) allows a person to visit the Schengen countries for tourism, family or business visits, up to a maximum 3 months in a given 6 months period. 

A circulation visa (C) is a short stay visa valid at least a year: It is mainly issued for business visits that have an invitation letter from a Schengen country, to aircrew member, to people having a special interest in the Schengen territory.

A long stay visa (D) allows a person to stay for more than 3 months, e.g., study, work, retire etc.


State fees for processing the Shengen visa application:


Airport transit visa (A)

60 €

Short-term visa (C)

60 €

Short-term visa (C) children 6-12 years

35 €

EU agreements on the facilitation of the issuance of visas (applies for the citizens of the Russian Federation and Ukraine)

One-time and multiple-entry visa 35 €;
urgent visa 70 €

EU agreements on the facilitation of the issuance of visas (applies for the citizens of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYROM, Montenegro, Serbia and Moldova)

One-time and multiple-entry visa 35 €

Visas are issued at diplomatic missions or consular offices of the Republic of Estonia abroad.

 In order to get a visa an alien must submit:

  1. a valid travel document;
  2. an established form of application for Shengen Visa;
  3. one photo of 35x45 mm, corresponding to the age of an alien;
  4. the receipt of the paid consular fee;

a valid document certifying his/her health insurance

For questions, please, contact Valters Gencs, attorney at law at

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The material contained here is not to be construed as legal advice or opinion.

© Gencs Valters Law Firm, 2016
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