Estonia proves to be one of the cleanest, digitally-developed, and entrepreneurial countries in the whole of Europe. In recent years, the international community has doubled as the country welcomed international students and foreign workers.
If you want to be part of Estonia’s ex-pat community, this article outlines how to get a work visa in Estonia to help you get started on your journey.
Do I need a work visa in Estonia?
Estonia is a part of the European Union since 2004. This means you can enter Estonia freely if you are a citizen of the EU, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland. You only need to register with the Population Register within the first three months of your stay.
If you are a citizen from a non-EU/EEA country, you need to apply for necessary permits depending on your purpose:
- To live and work in Estonia for six months to one year, apply for a D-visa
- To live and work in Estonia for a longer period, apply for a temporary residence permit
What are the requirements to apply for a work visa in Estonia?
Depending on your purpose or occupation, you can apply for a D-Visa or a Temporary Residence Permit.
A D-Visa is issued for short-term employment or a maximum of six months. The advantage of this Estonia work visa is that it allows you to quickly start working in Estonia even without a residence permit yet. If you renew your contract for another six months, you can start your residence permit application before it ends.
A temporary residence visa, on the other hand, is issued for a specific position and employer. In the case of changing companies, your new employer must apply for a new residence permit. It is valid for up to two years and is extendable.
The requirements you need for any of the two permits include general requirements and supporting documents to prove your eligibility for a particular occupation. You can review the following lists:
- Travel document or passport with at least two blank pages and valid for three months after visa expiration date
- Estonian visa application form
- One photograph sized 35x45mm
- Contract of employment showing allowable salary in Estonia (or similar document stating the purpose of journey)
- Proof of available accommodation in Estonia
- Proof of sufficient funds while in Estonia
- Proof of no criminal record
- Registrar documents (e.g., birth certificate, marriage certificate)
- Travel medical insurance for the period of residence
- Documents showing professional qualifications, such as:
- Diploma or transcript of records
- Required professional licenses, certifications, or proof of work experience
In addition to the general requirements, supporting documents per occupation are as follows:
If with the consent of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund
- Proof of no available Estonian citizen for the position
- Employment authorization from Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund
On the basis of an EU blue card
- Proof of at least three years of higher education or at least five years of working experience
For scientific research
- Hosting agreement with an organization recognized by the Ministry of Education and Research
For top specialist
- Proof of appropriate professional training in a particular field
For start-up founders or workers
- Evaluation by the expert committee at the Ministry of the Interior
For self-employed workers or starting a business
- Approval from the Ministry of Interior
- Plan of business or activities
For intra-company transfers
- Contract or transfer agreement for employment or internship to the Estonian branch of an EU/multinational company
If you plan to take your family with you, different rules apply for short-term and long-term work as required by Estonia’s residence permit for a family member.
Steps on Applying for a Work Visa in Estonia
Visa applications for coming to Estonia must be applied from your home country or present country of residence. You can relocate only after you receive a Estonia work visa. A D-Visa usually takes a month, while a long-term residence permit takes up to two months.
The process starts with registration for employment, followed by an in-person appointment at the Estonian embassy. You can follow this detailed guide:
1. Prepare your documents
Begin your application by completing a checklist of documents for your particular case. Make sure you have the original and a copy of these documents in English or Estonian. Otherwise, they must be accompanied by translations.
In most cases, your employer will process the Estonia work application on your behalf. Forward your documents to your employer if this applies to you.
2. Complete the visa application form
You, your employer, or a representative must apply for registration for employment with Estonia’s State Authentication Service. You can do this online, in person at a local border guard or police office (if processed by employer), or by post.
3. Submit your application to the embassy
After your registration, you will continue your application by visiting in person a diplomatic mission, embassy, or consulate in your country of residence. You will submit your Estonia work application package, including your original passport.
The diplomatic office will also take your photograph and capture your fingerprints to be entered into your residence card. If deemed necessary, they may request additional documents or invite you for an interview.
4. Pay the visa fee
Your visa application will incur administrative costs, so you need to settle a visa fee of 100 EUR or 116 USD. After your payment, the diplomatic office will begin reviewing your application between 15 to 60 days.
5. Wait for approval
When your application is successful, you will receive a D-Visa or a residence card, whichever you applied for. This will be the official authorization for your stay in Estonia.
In some cases of the short-term/D-Visa, you can start working in Estonia after you submit your application. However, there is still a chance for your visa to be revoked if ever deemed insufficient during the Estonia work visa review process.