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Estonia Permanent Residence - Information on the Available Permits

Residence Permit in Estonia

Updated on Thursday 06th January 2022

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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.
 
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 2021, this quota is full as it was set at 1,315 individuals. 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 law firm 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.

The temporary residence permit in Estonia

 
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 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 based on the long-term residence permit.
 

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.
 

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 and can guide you throughout the application process. Contact us for more information about our services.