Nowadays Estonia is a country of great opportunities, allowing immigrants to realize their business potential, find a decent job and get a good education. Any foreigner who plans to stay in Estonia for more than 3 months is obliged to obtain a residence permit. Estonia has one of the highest per capita incomes not only in the Baltic States, but also among the Central European countries.

Residence permit in Estonia

Residence permit in Estonia for foreigners from third countries in 2023 is an excellent chance for a promising future for yourself and your loved ones, as well as the first step on the way to immigration to the European Union. Average salaries in Estonia reach 1,185-1,994 euros per month, living expenses are quite low, and more than half of the citizens know English.

The information technology sector in Estonia is considered to be the most progressive in the world, for example, more than 90% of citizens have access to the Internet. Locals are quite friendly and hospitable, and Estonian nature and cool climate are familiar to many foreigners from neighboring countries. Further, learn how to get a residence permit in Estonia in 2023, what are the conditions and grounds for this, outline the list of documents and the advantages of Estonian residence permit.

How to get a residence permit in Estonia

Foreigners from many countries, in particular from the European Union, have the right to come to Estonia without hindrance and stay in the country for up to 3 months. During this period, they can apply to the local authorities for a residence permit.

For citizens from third countries (from outside the EU), the procedure of applying for a residence permit in Estonia will be somewhat more complicated. Usually, the application for a residence permit and the list of required documentation must be submitted in advance to the Estonian diplomatic office in your home country.

As a rule, the term of consideration of an application for a residence permit in Estonia does not exceed 2 months. Within a month of arrival in the country, you must register at your place of residence. Initially, a temporary residence permit is issued for 1-2 years, with the right to extend it up to 5 years, after which it is possible to obtain permanent residence, and after another 3 years and Estonian citizenship.

With the exception of Americans, Japanese and some categories of scientists, every year Estonian authorities set special quotas for issuing residence permits to foreigners. The number of documents submitted during the year should not exceed 0.1% of the permanent population of the country. In case of positive consideration of the application, the immigrant receives a special card with biometric data – fingerprints and color photo.

Grounds and conditions for obtaining a residence permit in Estonia

The Estonian Aliens Act provides a specific list of grounds for obtaining a residence permit in Estonia.

  • Family reunification. It means moving to a close relative legally residing on Estonian territory or marriage to an Estonian citizen.

  • Official employment.

  • Doing business.

  • Study or research activities.

  • The alien provides special value to the country, e.g. outstanding scientists, athletes, artists.

  • In case of requesting a residence permit on the basis of international agreements and treaties (refugee status).

  • Sometimes residence permits are granted to wealthy aliens with a permanent and, most importantly, legal source of income outside Estonia, which allows them to fully cover their living expenses in the country and not to claim any benefits, allowances or employment. 

Important. Buying real estate in Estonia does not automatically grant a residence permit.

Let us take a closer look at the main and most popular reasons for applying for a residence permit in Estonia.

Residence permit in Estonia for the purpose of family reunification

Close relatives of an alien or an Estonian citizen temporarily or permanently residing in Estonia can move to Estonia with the right to apply for a residence permit.

  • Spouses.

  • Minor children.

  • Adult children in case of health problems that make it impossible for them to live separately from their parents. Documentary proof of this fact from a medical institution is required.

  • Persons under the guardianship of an alien residing in Estonia.

  • Foreign citizens have the right to move to Estonia with their children or grandchildren who have been permanently residing in the country (for more than 5 years) and obtain a residence permit if, due to their age, they require care that cannot be provided in their native country.

Residence permit in Estonia for the purpose of employment

Official work in Estonia allows and even requires a foreigner to obtain a residence permit. Unemployment in the country is at 5-6% and pay is just below the EU average (about 1,600 euros per month). Both qualified specialists and applicants without special qualifications can find a vacancy in Estonia.

However, sometimes local authorities set a minimum salary level for hiring foreign workers. Most often, construction workers, drivers, IT specialists, medical workers and holders of technical professions are required.

Residence permit in Estonia for business purposes

Owning a company in Estonia or investing in a ready-made business in this country contributes to the issuance of a residence permit. There are no special restrictions for foreigners to conduct business activities on Estonian territory. Estonia has a favorable business climate, an efficient tax system and a well-developed e-service sector.

It is possible to register a company within 3 days, and with a special ID-card in a few hours. As a rule, to obtain a residence permit a foreigner needs to invest at least 65 thousand euros in a company, and in case of self-employment more than 16 thousand euros. Sometimes it is allowed to reduce these amounts by paying tax payments or social contributions.

Residence permit in Estonia for the purpose of study

Studying in an Estonian university will allow you to get a prestigious diploma, and most importantly, quality education, which will give the opportunity to find a job in almost any European country and not only. For the entire period of study, the student gets a residence permit in Estonia. Local universities offer more than 130 programs in English, the cost of education starts from 1.5 thousand euros per year. Living expenses for an average Estonian student are no more than 600 euros per month.

More detailed information about the requirements and conditions for obtaining a residence permit in Estonia, depending on the grounds, can be found on the official website of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board –

Documents for residence permit in Estonia

Depending on the reason for moving to Estonia, the list of required documents for obtaining a residence permit in Estonia may vary. Detailed information and conditions will be provided by the staff of the Estonian Consulate. Let us outline the main documents that will be needed in most cases.

  1. Application for residence permit filled in on a special form.

  2. A valid passport.

  3. Color photo (4x5 cm).

  4. Documentary confirmation of the right to issue a residence permit (enrollment in a university, information about the registration of the company, marriage certificate and so on).

  5. Payment of the state fee.

What gives a residence permit in Estonia

  • Free movement within the Schengen zone and simplified visa regime with many countries of the world, for example, Canada.

  • Favorable investment climate, successful employment prospects and quality education.

  • Absence of corruption, transparent tax system, low crime rate and access to European loans.

  • The right to receive government subsidies, benefits and allowances, for example, at the birth of a child.

  • Life in a safe country with reasonable prices and decent income level of citizens.

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