Social Care

What social services are available in Estonia and how to gain access to them?

In Estonia, social services are provided by a governmental agency – the Social Insurance Board (sotsiaalkindlustusamet) – and two public legal bodies – the Health Insurance Fund (haigekassa) and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (töötukassa).

Some social services (like transportation allowance, kindergarten and school allowance) are also provided by local government units.

Have questions? Book a free consultation at International House of Estonia

International House of Estonia provides free personal consultations for foreigners, their families and local employers about settling in, documentation, healthcare, language programs etc. Located in Valukoja 8, Tallinn.

Book your appointment online.

Prerequisites for social services

Estonian social services and support are meant for Estonian residents. 

This means you have to register your place of residence in Estonia. 

+ As a citizen of the EU or EEA member states you can do this at your local government service office (read more in the Registering Your Place of Residence section) within three months after having arrived in Estonia.

+ As a non-EU citizen you can register your place of residence only after receiving a residence permit (read more in the Temporary Residence Permit section): most of the social care services are applicable only after that.

Health insurance

You will need valid health insurance. 

Health insurance is provided by the employer via the Health Insurance Fund both for the residents of Estonia for whom the social tax is paid or who pay the social tax for themselves. 

Self-employed residents have to register themselves with the Tax and Customs Board in order to receive health insurance.

Health insurance includes, but is not limited to:

– consultations,

– laboratory tests,

– preventive check-ups,

– hospital care,

– pre-natal and postnatal care,

– benefits for pharmaceuticals,

– temporary incapacity for work.

Outpatient fees also apply (they’re never more than 5 euros). 

You will also need a GP (family doctor) when living in Estonia.

Disability-related social services

Disability-related social services are provided by the Estonian Social Insurance Board

To apply, you must provide information about your condition. You can fill in some of the forms via or do it at the Social Insurance Board in person. 

On the state level, the Social Insurance Board provides assistance with:

– rehabilitation services to ensure independent living and employment,

– the provision of prosthetic, orthopaedic or other assistive devices,

– ensuring welfare services for adults that require assistance due to mental problems,

– substitute care or guardianship for children, 

– home child care.

Most of the additional social services are provided by local governments. These services include:

– counselling on social rights,

– meeting points for the elderly,

– home care,

– nursing assistance,

– social housing for people who are unable to obtain it themselves.

And many others.

Family services

On the state level, family and child allowances are provided by the Estonian Social Insurance Board and by local governments (mostly support for education, extracurricular activities and school transport). 

The statewide services include both the child allowance and the childbirth allowance. It also includes Estonia’s unique parental benefit system which allows 435 paid days off work to care for a newborn child. New mothers can stay at home for three years, receiving total pay equal to about a year and a half of the average salary. This makes Estonia one of the most generous countries in the OECD in this respect. See the chart of OECD countries’ parental leaves on the website of The Economist.

Unemployment benefits

The social care system in Estonia is largely contribution-based. 

It offers several benefits if you have worked and paid contributions in Estonia. The benefits include the unemployment benefit and various related allowances that you can receive after having registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Subsistence level benefits

The subsistence level benefits are paid by the local municipality or city government. They are paid to people with insufficient income and who are living below the subsistence level.

Pension system

Estonia has a three-pillared pension system consisting of the state pension, the mandatory funded pension and supplementary funded pensions. 

To receive the old age or disability pension, apply for it via the Social Insurance Board. You will be eligible for the Estonian retirement pension when you have proof of at least one year of pensionable service in the EU member states, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. 

Estonia also has separate international contracts with Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Ukraine, Canada, and Russia.

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