Our website uses  cookies for statistical purposes.

  • Tornimae 5, Tallinn, Estonia 
  • clients(at)lawyersestonia.com
  • +372 55658650
Our Articles

Citizenship by Investment in Estonia

Citizenship by Investment in Estonia

Foreign investors can obtain Estonia citizenship by investment if they choose to open a business or make a substantial direct investment that will first grant them a temporary residence permit, followed by a permanent one and, ultimately, the option to apply for citizenship by naturalization.

Several investment routes are available to non-EU nationals who wish to start a business, however, our lawyers in Estonia can also give you information about acquiring citizenship after having lived in the country under a permanent residence permit as an employee.

The conditions for the residence permit for business purposes are outlined below.

If you fall under one of the investment categories accepted for the Estonia golden visa, our team can give you personalized information that suits your case.

Quick facts  
Temporary residency for major investment in Estonia

Make a one million euro investment into Estonian companies OR

Invest one million euros into an investment fund directed to Estonia.

Temporary residency for start-up businesses

Requires an evaluation by an expert committee at the Ministry of the Interior

Temporary residency for sole proprietors

Invest at least 16,000 euros in Estonia's business activities

Temporary residency for company shareholders

Invest at least 65,000 euros of capital in Estonia's business activities

Validity of the temporary residence permit

5 years

Extension of the temporary residence permit (YES/NO)

YES, up to 10 years

Permanent residency

Reside in Estonia continuously for 5 years under a temporary residence permit.

Our lawyers can help you obtain permanent residency and then citizenship.

Citizenship by naturalization

Live in Estonia for at least eight years (last 5 years on a permanent basis);

Pass the Estonian language & history test;

Have permanent legal income;

Demonstrate loyalty to the Estonian state.

General documents required for applying for residency

– application form,

– ID documents,

– digital photo,

– details of close family members,

– proof of investment,

– proof of fee payments, etc.

Description of the business plan document

Required for sole proprietors and company shareholders for obtaining temporary residency.

Our attorneys can help with the business plan.

Timeframe for obtaining temporary residency permit

2-3 months

Residence card – characteristics

It serves as proof of your right of residence in Estonia, functioning as your identity card.

Other types of visas in Estonia

– work visa,

– study visa,

– digital nomad visa,

– family reunification, etc.

Dual citizenship allowed (YES/NO)

NO

Assistance

Our law firm in Estonia will help you obtain a residency permit if you decide to invest in Estonia.

This can be a pathway to citizenship for those interested.

The investor visa in Estonia in 2024

Foreign nationals who are able to open a company or start an activity as a sole proprietor in the country can obtain a residence permit for business purposes. Likewise, non-EU foreign nationals can also choose to form a start-up company or make another type of substantial investment.

This can be a first step for those interested in immigration to Estonia. One should keep in mind that this is possible when the foreign national has stayed for five successive years in the country, on the basis of renewing the temporary residence permit accordingly. Our team can help you apply for the right of permanent residence in the country, and understand the applicable requirements.

The main conditions for the equivalent of the Estonian golden visa are listed below:

  • Business: foreign nationals can invest in a business activity in the country with a capital of at least 65,000 euros;
  • Self-employed: entrepreneurs conducting business as sole traders make a minimum investment of 16,000 euros;
  • Start-up: the investor visa in Estonia also have an option for opening a startup company, however, a prior evaluation by an expert committee is needed;
  • Major investor: for those who are able to make a direct investment of at least 1,000,000 euros in an Estonian company or an Estonian investment fund.

Investors who are outside Estonia at the time of the residence permit application submit it with the Embassy or Consulate in their country.

One should also note that several other conditions apply when making a request for Estonia citizenship by investment:

  • having adequate knowledge of the Estonian language (passing a proficiency test);
  • passing an exam concerning the Constitution and the Citizenship Act and being loyal to the Estonian state;
  • having permanent legal income and a place of residence, along with being registered in the population Register.

Those who are already in the country make their submission with the Police and Border Guard Office.

Our lawyers can help you throughout the application process for the Estonia golden visa.

Foreign nationals who apply for citizenship will be fully aware of their tax obligations, given the fact that they have already secured sufficient and constant income as one of the main conditions for their citizenship application. Whenever you have questions about a routine tax payment or submission, or more complex matters concerning personal taxation, you can contact our accountant in Estonia.

The residence permit for purposes allows the holder to obtain a temporary residence permit. Estonia citizenship by investment is obtained after having lived in the country for eight years based on a permanent residence permit.

Our team of lawyers in Estonia can give you more information about the manner in which citizenship can be obtained. Foreign investors can also obtain citizenship by investments in other Baltic states too; for example Latvia has one of the lowest costs for a golden visa (EUR50,000).

Eligibility criteria for the business

Obtaining residency in Estonia is possible for investment purposes, however, as all other applicants, investors will also be required to provide information about their stay, to submit specific and general documents, as well as to pay the state fees according to their residence permit type. Coming to Estonia for business purposes can be an inspired step and our team can help you during the process.

When opening a company, the Estonia golden visa is warded based on a number of criteria, and the business plan (idea and panned activities, among with the development plans and the available assets) are to be presented, along with a financial prevision for the first two years.

Two of the most important issues to take into account regarding the eligibility for the startup visa are listed below:

  • Type of business: the company needs to be an innovative and scalable one, ideally technology based; the business model should present potential for global growth;
  • Business approval: all business proposals are evaluated by a startup committee; the evaluators are experienced and work with startups; the committee usually presents its opinion within 10 business days and, after their approval, applicants can move forward with submitting the application to the Police and Border Guard Board.

Investors should note that an evaluation form the expert committee may not be required if the committee has already issued an assessment for the startup in the last five years.

The Police and Border Guard Board reserves the right to demand a new evaluation from the expert committee, if it sees fit.

The following conditions apply in case of major investments:

  • The minimum investment of 1,000,000 euros is made in an Estonian registered company or an Estonian investment fund;
  • The investment needs to be permanent, during the validity period of the residence permit that is issued as a result thereof;
  • The investment should not decrease during the validity of the residence permit, other than for reasons related to the fluctuation of the investment’s market price;
  • The company or the investment fund in which the initial investment is made can change, under the condition that the target of the initial investment continues to invest mostly into the Estonian economy.

Our team of lawyers in Estonia assists investors who are ready to open a company in 2024 and apply for the investment visa at the same time, as well as those who are able to submit a major investment.

Company formation in Estonia is a straightforward process, and investors have the full support of our team if they wish to know more about the available legal forms and establishing a startup.

For those who are already part of the Estonian startup community, our team provides specialized assistance for companies as well as for the foreign company founders, if they are considering making an application for an Estonian residence permit.

A startup incorporated for the purpose of obtaining a golden visa can also be used to bring non-EU employees to the country.

Conditions for sole traders

As previously stated, not only start-up founders and major investors can obtain a residence permit, but also sole traders.  Their minimum investment is lower (as stated, 16,000 euros), and they also need to register their sole proprietor in the Business Register.

If opening a sole trader and running your own business is the route you choose to obtain Estonian citizenship by investment, our team reminds you of the following:

  • your temporary residence permit can be extended for up to 10 years;
  • the extension needs to be applied for 2 months before ethe expiry of the current permit;
  • the current fee for the extension of the temporary permit for residency in Estonia is EUR 64 (this can be subject to change);
  • the authorities need to make a decision on the extension of the permit no later than 10 days before the expiry date of the current temporary residence permit.

If you want to open a company in Estonia in order to relocate here and gain citizenship by investment, the choice of business form is an important one. For those entrepreneurs who are not able to submit a substantial investment or open a company, the sole trader can be a suitable option, however, it comes with the highest level of personal liability.

Our agents specializing in company formation in Estonia highlight the main features of the sole proprietor (FIE) below:

  • the registration process is considered simpler than for other business forms;
  • despite the easy incorporation advantages, the sole proprietor is liable with all of his or her personal assets; this is because there is no distinction between the assets of the company and the assets of the founder, as would be the case for a corporation;
  • the business name will include the person’s name and it must comply with the rules for trademark protection (it cannot be the same as an already registered business name);
  • the FIE can require additional licenses, according to the business activities it will engage in;
  • a registration cost applies and it is currently 20 euros (this can change);
  • because the registration process is a simpler one for the sole proprietor, founders can expect one business day for its completion;
  • we remind sole traders that they will need to register for VAT in Estonia if their annual income exceeds EUR 40,000.

If this is your preferred route to acquire citizenship in Estonia, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for more information on your temporary residence permit, followed by the permanent one and your citizenship application.

Conditions for foreign investors who apply for the Estonian golden visa

Foreign nationals who are considering applying for Estonia citizenship by investment have a number of advantages when they choose to open a company here. Among these we list the qualified workforce, the business-friendly regulations, a strong startup community and good regional development, good infrastructure and an attractive tax system.

In addition to the requirements for the startup company, as well as those for the major investment, entrepreneurs who enter the country using this visa need to comply with income requirements.

The holder of a golden visa is required to provide proof of legal income for every month of stay in the country, for each member of the family.

The minimum monthly income is twice the subsistence level for the respective year.

In 2024 the subsistence level is:

  • 200 euros for the first member of the household;
  • 160 euros for each other adult family member;
  • 240 euros for each minor child.

The following are considered sources of legal income:

  • Lawful remuneration form employment/work;
  • Lawful income from business activities or property;
  • Pensions or scholarships;
  • Maintenance support or parental benefits;
  • Unemployed insurance benefits;
  • Benefits received from a foreign state;
  • Subsistence provided by other family members who have legal income.

The same conditions for minimum income apply to those who submit a significant investment, however, a major investor is not required to have a place of residence in Estonia, nor does he/she need to register the place of residence in the Population Register.

Foreign nationals who apply for any type of residence permit in Estonia need to be covered by a health insurance contract during their entire stay in the country. This requirement is compulsory.

Important information for those applying for the Estonia golden visa

Estonia also implements an e-residency programme, effectively allowing foreign nationals to open a business in the country from their own country of origin. The e-resident obtains a digital identity that allows him to obtain an electronic identity that will allow for easy online company formation and online company management.

Opening a company via the e-residency option is not the same as obtaining a residence permit for business purposes, which is the goal of those who wish to obtain Estonia citizenship by investment. The E-residency does not offer the right to enter the country or the EU, it does not grant residency rights and is not a substitute for tax residency.

There is an immigration to Estonia quota which does not exceed 0.1% of the resident population of the country per each year. This quota does not apply to US or Japan citizens, nor to those who work in a start-up or with start-ups or those who apply for a residency permit as a majority investor.

If you need assistance in applying for a residence permit in 2024, our immigration lawyers in Estonia can help you at any point during the process and once you are in the country.

Post-arrival steps

Non-EU investors or entrepreneurs who apply for a residence permit for permanent stay are required to understand both their rights and their obligations.

The first step after arrival is to register the place of residence within one month of arrival. This is mandatory both for EU and non-EU foreign nationals.

It is advisable to start looking for a home in advance, as there are a number of online property search portals that provide suitable options.

Once you have found a home, our lawyers in Estonia can help you with information about rental agreements.

For many foreigners, learning the Estonian language will be an important and essential step.

Free and paid language courses are available, and foreigners can look for language clubs.

A special language learning module is also offered by the authorities, as part of the adaptation program.

The language module offers A1 and A2 language courses and includes 100 academic hours for the A1 level and 150 academic hours for the A2 level.

Registering for adaptation programs and training is possible once the foreign nationals receive a notification letter from the Police and Border Guard Board, which grants them the possibility to participate in such a course (only after having received their identity document).

Finding a school or a kindergarten for children (in case of golden visa holders who are accompanied by their minor children) is also an important step.

Foreign nationals can find information on the available school or kindergarten places from their local municipality. A common way to do so is to contact the city education department, for example that in Tallin.

For those who apply for the Estonia golden visa, receiving updated and correct information about business matters, including how to create the business, the mandatory taxes and reporting, as well as the business landscape can be essential.

Do you want to apply for a residence permit for business and ultimately obtain Estonia citizenship by investment? Our lawyers can help you.

Investors who wish to receive personalized information on doing business in Estonia can reach out to our team of corporate and commercial lawyers.

Reasons to invest in Estonia

Estonia is known for its favorable conditions for startups, and this is reflected in the continued growth of these types of companies. According to data from the country’s investment agency, the Estonian startup situation in the third quarter of 2023 was the following:

  • The total turnover generated by Estonian startups in the first 9 months of 2023 was 1.69 billion EUR, which represents an 11% increase compared to the same period a year prior;
  • In Q3, startups paid taxed amounting to 162,5 million euros in employment taxes;
  • These companies employed 9,600 people;
  • The FinTech sector accounts for 13% of the startups (201 companies), it accounts for 30% of the startup turnover, employs 2,903 people.

A condition for this is for the startup to be included on list of startups that can hire non-EU employees in a preferential manner.

Other types of residence permits in Estonia

The Estonia golden visa is suitable for non-EU start-up founders or entrepreneurs who are able to make a substantial investment in the country, as previously mentioned.

For other foreign nationals, including EU citizens who wish to remain in the country for long-term purposes, other temporary residence permits are suitable, according to their purpose of stay. These include:

  • Work: for those who have signed an employment contact with an Estonian employer and the said employer makes the needed formalities to register the employment contract;
  • Study: for foreign nationals who have been accepted at an Estonian university for their Batchelor’s, Master’s, or PhD degree, or by other recognized educational institutions;
  • Family reunification: the spouse who is joining a family member who is settling in Estonia can also apply for a residence permit; children under the age of 18 apply for a residence permit with their parents; their residence permit is issued for the same period as that of the family member the applicant is joining.

The time spent in the country is calculated differently: 4 years of study will be considered 2 years of residence.

For work purposes, EU and EEA citizens will enter the country without a visa and they will register with the Population Register when they work int the country for more than 3 months, followed by an application for an Estonian ID card.

Non-EU citizens will require a residence permit (temporary for the first 5 years) and then a long-term residence permit (after 5 years working in the country with a temporary residence permit).

Citizens of non-EU countries who wish to work in Estonia also have the option to apply for a temporary residence permit for permanent settling. 

Contact our immigration lawyers in Estonia for complete information about our services and for details about the immigration policy and the options available to foreign investors.