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Residence Permit in Estonia

Residence Permit in Estonia

EU citizens wanting to establish in Estonia can stay for a period of maximum three months without the necessity of obtaining a residence permit. However, non-EU citizens require a residence permit in most cases according to the Estonian Alien Act.

Residence permits in Estonia can be temporary or permanent and the Estonian permanent residence permit is the one that most foreign nationals will apply for, given their intention to reside in the country indefinitely.

 Quick Facts  
Who can apply  Foreign nationals who have lived in Estonia based on a temporary residence permit. 

Minimum residence before application 

Permanently, for 5 years. 

 Maximum period out of the country

 Temporary absence if not exceeding 6 consecutive months and a total of 10 months in 5 years.

 Proof of financial means Permanent legal income in Estonia. 
 Criminal record requirement

 Can be requested.

 Mandatory medical documents

Health insurance 

Other documents for application 

 Proof of sufficient Estonian language knowledge, 1 digital, colour photograph, application form, ID.

 Authority that receives the permanent residence applications

 A Service Office of the Citizenship and Migration Bureau.

 Residence permit card

If permanent residence is approved, this is issued within approx. 30 days. 

 Permanent residence fee  EUR 25 for the permanent right of residence for an EU citizen; other fees also apply.
 Time needed to obtain permanent residence

 The decision period can be approximately 2 months.

 Option to reunite with family 


Possibility to apply for citizenship 

Estonian citizenship can be applied for by filling the procedure for naturalization. 

 Dual citizenship


Reasons to relocate to Estonia  The quality of life, a clean environment, and a progressive business environment are among the top reasons to relocate to Estonia. 

Our lawyers in Estonia can help you if you are interested in obtaining the permanent residence in Estonia status. Working with our team is helpful when applying for the temporary or the long-term permit as you can rest assured that you will present all of the needed documents to the authorities and you will also follow all of the needed post-arrival steps.

The decision to move to Estonia is one that should be planned in advance as the Government imposes yearly immigration quotas. For 2024, the immigration quota is 1,303. The quota is changed each year as it may not be higher than 0.1 percent of the country’s permanent population.  An exemption applies to the immigration quota in case of USA and Japanese citizens as well as to those foreign nationals who wish to enter the country for the purpose of research. If you are in one of these categories and are interested in Estonia permanent residence, our team of lawyers can answer your questions.

If you plan to relocate to the country, our immigration lawyers in Estonia offers complete services to companies and individuals.

Read below to find out more about permanent residency in Estonia.

Right of residence in Estonia for EU/EEA citizens

As previously mentioned, citizens of the European Union as well as those of the EEA and Switzerland have the right to remain in the country without having to register their residence. The maximum stay is for a period of three months, which, in some cases, may suffice for business needs.

The family member of a EU citizen is also allowed to remain in the country for the same period of three months, however, he cannot be employed or work as a self-employed individual during this time.

EU citizens are also required to register their place of residence with the population register in order to obtain their right of permanent residence and are asked to follow the standard steps for gaining this status (namely, staying in the country for 5 successive years with a temporary residence permit). After the registration takes place, the ID card is issued in 30 days.

You can read below more about the right of temporary and permanent residence in Estonia.

EU nationals who wish to remain in the country for more than 3 months can discuss their options with our team of experts. We can also present the options for EU nationals interested in permanent residency in Estonia.

If you are interested in immigration to Estonia, we can assist you.

The temporary residence permit in Estonia in 2024

EU citizens have the possibility to apply for a temporary residence permit with the closest local authority. In order to receive a temporary residence permit in Estonia, an EU citizen must submit the following documents:

  • an application form released by the Police and Boarder Guard Board,
  • valid passport or other identification document,
  • a passport-sized photograph,
  • a receipt after the payment of the state fee.

Within a month from the submission the applicant will receive an identity card that can be renewed upon expiration.

Non-EU citizens can obtain a temporary residence permit in Estonia in one of the following cases:

  • if the applicant is married to an Estonian citizen,
  • if the applicant has a close relative established in Estonia,
  • if the applicant works in Estonia,
  • if the applicant studies in Estonia,
  • for business purposes.

The temporary residence permit can also be used for other short-term purposes such as participating in criminal proceedings. Those who wish to reunite with family apply for the temporary permit as a first step, followed by the step towards permanent residence in Estonia after five years under the long-term permit.

When submitting the application for the temporary permit, the induvial will also agree to the collection of biometrical data (the fingerprints are collected for each applicant over the age of 6) and these are entered onto the residence card. This residence card is issued at the same time as the temporary residence permit.

Foreigners are required to register their residence in Estonia with the population register. The registration cannot be delayed more than one month after entering Estonia or receiving the residence permit.

Estonian temporary residence permits are issued for 5 years and can be extended for a maximum period of 10 years.

Please continue to read below to find out how you can apply for Estonia permanent residence in 2024 once you have held the temporary permit.

If you need assistance for obtaining a residence permit in Slovakia, we can put you in contact with our partners – LawyersSlovakia.com.

Obtaining permanent residency in Estonia through the long-term residence permit

The long-term residence permit is available to non-EU citizens who have resided in the country long enough based on a temporary permit that is still within its validity period when the application for the permanent one is submitted.

Obtaining Estonia permanent residence is the goal for many foreign nationals who relocate to the country. This is why applying for a long-term residence permit is important.

Estonian long term residence permits can be issued if certain requirements are met by the applicant. Among these there are:

  • minimum residence: the applicant has a valid short term residence permit and has lived for five uninterrupted years in Estonia,
  • Permanent residency in Estonia: the applicant has a registered residence, meaning that the data linked to his or her place of residence is entered into the country’s population register;
  • Financial aspects: the applicant has permanent legal income and can prove that he can sustain himself; health insurance coverage is also a mandatory requirement;
  • Integration: the applicant is familiar with the Estonian language (has at least a B1 level of language understanding).

Foreign nationals who have held a temporary residence permit for study cannot, in some cases, apply for the long-term permit that allows permanent residence in Estonia if they held a temporary residence permit on other grounds after the one for study purposes. You can reach out to our lawyers in Estonia to clarify this aspect.

A number of documents are required when applying for permanent residency in Estonia in 2024 based on the long-term residence permit.

It is also important to keep in mind that the country has a yearly quota for immigration. As per the data released by the Estonian Policed and Border Guard Board, the available immigration quota for 2024 is 1,303, divided in the following manner:

  • 200 temporary residence permits for work in the transport and storage business;
  • 35 temporary residence permits for work as an accredited journalist;
  • 35 temporary residence permits for athletes, coaches, sports referees, and 15 such permits for employees in an arts institution;
  • 5 temporary residence permits issued to foreign nationals from a country with which Estonia has signed a treaty;
  • The remaining permits are for free distribution.

Our immigration lawyers in Estonia can give you more details.

The temporary residence permit for business in Estonia

Non-EU citizens owning shares in an Estonian company and that can support themselves are allowed to apply for an Estonian residence permit for business. The company must be registered with the Estonian Trade Register.

There are three investment routes available to foreign nationals who wish to start a business. We list these minimum investment amounts and other conditions below:

  • Minimum company investment: when opening a company in Estonia, the minimum amount invested in that respective business activity needs to be 65,000 euros;
  • Minimum sole trader investment: sole traders are required to invest less in this chosen business form, only 16,000 euros;
  • Major investor: it is also possible to obtain temporary residence for business purposes when making a direct investment of at least 1,000,000 euros in a company registered with the Estonian trade register, in a company that mostly contributes to the Estonian economy or in an investment fund;
  • Business plan: when opening a company, the applicant who wishes to obtain a temporary residence permit will also submit information about the business idea, the client base, how he plans to develop the company, the fixed assets, circulating capital, and labor force;

In addition to the requirements above, the applicant will also submit information about the qualifications of the individuals who will have executive functions within the company.

The proposal for the temporary residence permit for business purposes is evaluated within 2 months and, of approved, the applicant will receive a residence card within 30 days.

If you want to set up a company and need details about the business environment you can reach out to our lawyers in Estonia. . We can also help you if you have decided to obtain permanent residence in Estonia as an entrepreneur.

Documents required for residency in Estonia

When applying for Estonian residency, the paperwork solicited by the authorities depend on the following:

When applying for a temporary residence permit, the following documents will be requested:

  • a valid passport;
  • recent photos (usually 2 pieces are required);
  • a bank statement containing data for the last 6 months;
  • proof of payment of the processing fee;
  • proof of accommodation.

Depending on the reason for relocation, additional information will be required. Among them, work contract, proof of enrolment with an Estonian study facility, family ties, etc.

When filing for permanent residency in Estonia, the requirements are different. One must prepare the following documents:

  • the temporary residence document;
  • proof of having lived in the country for a minimum period of 5 years;
  • valid health insurance;
  • document attesting to a B1 level of Estonian language knowledge;
  • proof of income earned in Estonia;
  • proof of registered address in this country.

What you should know is that a registered address in Estonia implies having it recorded with the Population Register.

You can consult with our lawyers in Estonia if you need assistance in gathering the necessary documents when applying for residency. We can also assist if there are any procedures left unsolved that need attention for a correct application.

Documents required when applying for Estonian residency for children

Many foreign citizens choose to move to Estonia with their families, including underage children. These too have the right to residency in Estonia, case in which the following documents must be prepared in their case:

  • birth certificates for children;
  • identity documents of the parents.

Please note that before filing for residency for children, their birth certificates must be translated and legalized, but most importantly entered into the Population Register.

All documents for children under the age of 15 must be submitted by parents or legal guardians.

Our Estonian lawyers can also assist in such matters.

Processing times for various residency permits in Estonia

You many definitely want to know how long you must wait to obtain your residence permit. Here is what to expect from this point of view:

  • the processing time frame for a temporary residence visa is 2 to 3 months;
  • obtaining a permanent residency permit in Estonia is about 2 months.

When collected in person, the card for permanent residence must be picked up in maximum 30 days from the issuance date.

Difference between the residence permit and Estonian e-residency

Foreign company ownership is encouraged in Estonia through an innovative e-residency programme. However, this should not be confused with the regular temporary residence permit for business owners. E-residency simply allows a company owner to incorporate a local Estonian company online and enjoy simplified taxation and management options for the business, it does not however grant any residency rights (such as visa-free entry into the country or the EU).

The e-Residency card is useful for business owners who do not intend to relocate their business to Estonia completely, entrepreneurs from outside the EU who wish to open a company in a European country and have access to the market (but do not wish to become Estonian permanent residents), for freelancers, consultants as well as any other professionals who work as digital nomads.

Another possibility for foreign nationals who have held a temporary or permanent residence permit in Estonia, and have decided to move from the country, is to transition from a resident to an e-resident. This does not mean that they will keep their rights after they are no longer Estonian residents in the traditional sense of the word, however, e-residency can make it easier for them to remain connected to the country as they may need, because they will keep their digital identity.

Keeping one’s e-residency after moving from Estonia, even though Estonia permanent residence no longer applies, means that the respective foreign national will have access to a number if digital solutions that will make it easier to handle matters. This is particularly important if, during the course of the stay in Estonia, the foreign national opened a company or purchased property for which taxes still need to pe paid on a regular basis. With the digital ID card, or the e-Residency ID card, the holder will be able to sign documents digitally and still do business from abroad, if they choose to keep their Estonian company running. The difference between the digital ID card and the e-residency digital ID is that the first one is issued for Estonian residents and the second one for non-residents. When a former resident becomes a non-resident, he or she will keep the e-Residency digital card.

EU nationals who have gained residency in Estonia and registered their place of residence in this country will need to deregister from the Population Registry if they choose to leave Estonia. The temporary residency rights expire once the individual no longer has a registered residence address in the country.

Using the e-Registry digital ID can be useful in many cases, however, for those who intend to relocate to Estonia, the temporary and the permanent residence cards, namely the Estonia permanent residence card (as issued by the state authorities, not in digital form) will be the ones that will allow them to remain and re-enter the country.

Obtaining citizenship after minimum residence in Estonia

Foreign nationals who have lawfully and continuously lived in Estonia for at least eight years before submitting their application can become Estonian citizens. Some of the other conditions, apart from the minimum residence time, include:

  • having the right for Estonia permanent residence or a permanent residence permit;
  • have an Estonian proficiency language examination (however, this is not needed for those who have had basic, secondary or higher education in Estonian);
  • pass the examination proving that one has sufficient knowledge of the Estonian Constitution and the Citizenship Act;
  • have sufficient financial means, i.e. permanent legal income;
  • the place of residence is registered with the population register;
  • the individual is loyal to the Estonian state.

The decision phase can last as long as six months. If the application is successful, the individual receives a certificate of citizenship, and he attends a festive ceremony. He can then apply for an Estonian passport and an Estonian identity card.

Our team is ready to answer any other questions you may have about Estonia permanent residence if you wish to apply in 2024 and can guide you throughout the application process.

Contact us for more information about our services if you are interested in immigration to Estonia.