I’m from a non-EU country, and I plan to live and work in Estonia longer

Estonia is one of the easiest countries to come to for work. You can start your career with a simple registration and visa. Once you’re already working here, you can apply for a residence permit and enjoy your best digital life in Estonia.


Feels like a lot to handle? The International House of Estonia is there to support you and answer all your questions about paperwork, settling in, networking, and jobs. Book an appointment.


  1. Secure a job in Estonia. Agree on work conditions with your employer and sign a contract. Read all about employment contracts here.Note that some employers prefer to sign the work contract on your first day of work. This is fine as far as your immigration process is concerned, because you don’t need a work contract to take the next steps needed to work. 
  2. Your employer will register your short-term employment in Estonia and receive your Estonian ID-code (takes up to 15 business days). Your Estonian employer will take care of this step, but because it’s a crucial one, we’ll give you a short overview so you know what’s happening.This is a simple online registration that’s usually done before you travel to Estonia. It will allow you to start working without a residence permit when you have legal grounds (i.e. a visa or visa freedom) to stay in Estonia. For your employer to do this, you need to give them a copy of your passport, a photo, and some personal details. The process will take up to 15 business days. It is possible to register short-term employment for up to 365 days within 455 day period.The ID-code is a unique 11-digit number used to identify you in health care and several other areas of your life in Estonia. Scroll down to the Identification code section here.

    During their stay in Estonia, your family members will also need Estonian ID-codes. If they are not in a hurry (e.g. for kindergarten or school), they can wait until their residence permit process, which will also provide them with an ID-code. If they need it sooner than that, they can follow the process below.

    To get the ID-code/identification code:
    1.Go to a local government office (Tallinn/Tartu) or the International House (appointment required);
    2.Prepare an application form;
    3.Bring your passport(s).

    After a 10-15-minute appointment, in practice it might take up to 7 days to get your ID-code. It might also get done much faster—sometimes even during your appointment. Either way, you’ll have to collect the code in person.

  3. Apply for a D-visa. You can work in Estonia when your short-term employment is registered and you have legal grounds to work in Estonia. If you and your family members come from a country that has a visa-freedom agreement with Estonia, you can stay in the Schengen area for 90 days without a visa. This means you can enter and start working in Estonia and move on to the residence permit step once you arrive but make sure to have at least 2 months before your visa runs out before you submit the documents. More info about the process when applying in Estonia here.If you come from a country that requires a visa to enter Estonia, you and your family members need to visit an Estonian representation to submit your documents for a visa.Documents needed to apply:
    – A passport, issued within the previous 10 years, that has at least two blank pages for visas and is valid until at least 3 months after the expiration date of the visa.
    – Fully completed, printed out and signed D-visa application form
    – Photo (size 35×45 mm)
    – Insurance policy valid for Estonia or for the Schengen area with a coverage of at least 30,000 EUR for the first 15 days of your employment. After that, the Estonian national health insurance will cover you
    – Document indicating the purpose of your trip: for you, that’s your short-term employment registration
    – Proof of visa state fee payment €100.00.

    The embassy may ask you for additional documents, so we recommend having these ready:
    – Confirmation of accommodation in Estonia;
    – Return flights or sufficient funds or employer’s confirmation to cover it.

    Additional documents for family:
    – Marriage certificate for spouse, birth certificate for children.
    – Confirmation that the main applicant will cover the costs of staying in Estonia.

    Your visa will be granted for the same duration as your short-term employment registration but will be automatically terminated if you receive an Estonian residence permit in the meantime.

    Please note that embassies can have different processing times. Make sure you find out in advance how long the visa process is and how to collect your passport. It may be that you’ll have to travel to another country to apply and stay there until your visa is processed. You can always mention this to the embassy so that they could speed up the process if possible.

  4. Applying for a temporary residence permit (takes around 2 months)To live and work in Estonia long-term, you and your family members need to apply for a residence permit in person at the Police and Border Guard office.Before you apply for a residence permit, make sure if you fall under the immigration quota or if you are exempted. To boost the IT sector, developers, startup employees and top specialists (earning more than €2,322 gross a month) don’t fall under the annual immigration quota. Family members are also exempted.

    1.Book an appointment at your nearest Police and Border Guard office.
    2.Check out the documents you need to prepare and submit.
    3.Check out the documents your family needs.

    Make sure you follow the requirements for the foreign documents.

    A residence permit is given out for up to 5 years (or for as long as your work contract is, if it’s under 5 years) and can be extended for up to 10 years.

    If your employment contract with your current employer (sponsor) is terminated, you can either apply for a new permit with a new employer to sponsor you or leave the country.

  5. Register your address in Estonia.
    Once you have your residence permit card, by law you and your family have to register your address within 30 days. You can register your Estonian address via email, at or in person.1.Fill out the application form, adding all family members living with you in section 3.
    2.Add a copy of a document that shows your right to use the property (your rental agreement). If the property has multiple owners, you’ll need consent from all of them.
    3.Send it via email to your local government unit (Tallinn [email protected] / Tartu [email protected])The officer will let you know once your address registration is complete. After your address is registered, you can personalize your public transportation card and enjoy free public transport! Read more here.
  6. Change your tax residency status. When your stay in Estonia exceeds 183 days or when you register your address in Estonia, you become a tax resident here. The change does not happen automatically, meaning you (and any adult family member(s) living with you) have to inform the tax authorities by submitting Form R. Since you have an Estonian ID-card, you can sign the form digitally and send it to [email protected].Let your employer know that you are a tax resident after the registration is done.What changes:
    Your tax residency will change retroactively from the day you arrive and the change will be reflected in your annual tax declaration. You’ll be able to use the same deductions as other residents and from 2021 you can choose whether you’d like to join the pension system (2% of your gross salary each month). Read more about the pension scheme here.

    If your resident spouse doesn’t work, they are allowed to transfer their unused tax incentives to you. Read more here.

    We hope you don’t, but if you decide to leave Estonia, don’t forget to notify the Tax Board of your change of residency by submitting another Form R.

    Tax residency info here, Tax system info here.

  7. Find and register with a general doctor. To have access to quality primary health care, submit a registration application to the specific clinic in your residence area where you want to register. Once you’ve applied, you’ll get a confirmation if you are accepted. Read more about Estonian health care system here.Do the same for your family members who are covered by the national or local private (E.g. Ergo) health care.The change becomes effective on the first day of the month following the month of submitting the application.
  8. Participate in the Settle in programme that covers all the needed areas of your settle in process.Additional information that might interest you:
    – You will have health care coverage from your 15th day of employment. Once you’re registered at the Employment Registry and have an Estonian ID-code, the Estonian health care system will cover you from your 15th day of employment.
    – Health care for your family. The Estonian health care system will cover your family members if they are eligible (e.g. children). An additional form might be necessary. More about Estonian national health insurance here. There are many private insurance providers like Ergo, Minudoc.
    – Find a home. We recommend you start looking for an apartment as soon as you arrive in Estonia. You could even start a week before (no point in starting too early—the rental market is pretty busy and most apartments will be gone within a week). The best websites for property search are ee and Read more about renting in the Housing section in the Relocation Guide.
    – Find out how digital signing works here.
    – Open a bank account. If you have a residence permit, you can open an Estonian bank account in person at the bank office even if you don’t have an Estonian ID-card. Read more about your options here.
    – Apply for social benefits. You or your family members are entitled to social benefits (such as child support) from the Social Insurance Board. Family benefits overview here. Unemployment benefits here.
    – International Spouse Career Counselling is available for free if your partner/spouse is also interested in working in Estonia. Ask more info from International House.
    – Enroll your kids at school. Read more about the education system: Pre-school and basic education, Availability of international general education. Read more about preschools in Estonia here. The registration system EHIS (in Estonian) is here. The search is available in Estonian only, but here are some tips for using it:
    Õppekeel – language of study;
    Õppeasutuse liik – type of institution;
    Koolieelne lasteasutus – preschool;
    Asukoht – location. Use this to choose your county and local government unit.After clicking Otsi (search), you will see a list of kindergartens. Click on the small book symbol in front of the kindergarten name to see additional information and the kindergarten’s website.

    Tallinn has a separate search engine (also only in Estonian) that shows you whether there are any vacancies in a specific kindergarten.

    – Get a public transportation card. More info here.
    – Local cell phone contract (if needed, prepaid is quite convenient in Estonia as well). Service providers: Telia , Elisa, Tele2
    – Register your car
    . You have to register your car within 5 working days of your arrival, or as soon as you get your right of residence in Estonia. Read more here.
    – Get a local driver’s license (if needed). Check which rules apply to your driving licence on the Road Administration website.
    – Declare customs. You don’t have to declare your possessions when coming from another EU country. If you’re coming from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein or another non-EU country, you will need to declare any personal items and motor vehicles you want to bring to Estonia. The authority dealing with customs is the Estonian Tax and Customs Board. You can apply for a tax exemption as an immigrant – that will allow you to bring household goods and personal vehicles relieved from customs duty (and VAT that may otherwise be due). Customs clearance of personal property info here.


Feels like a lot to handle? The International House of Estonia is there to support you and answer all your questions about paperwork, settling in, networking, and jobs. Book an appointment.

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