Visas and Work Permits 7 min

Work permits and visas in Estonia: an employer’s guide

Written by Sally Flaxman
Sally Flaxman


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Working with remote international workers in Estonia is an exciting opportunity for any business. However, hiring across borders also comes with complications.

When hiring or relocating employees to Estonia, employers must comply with local labor and residency regulations, including obtaining the proper work permit and visa. Additionally, employers must handle local taxes, benefits, payroll, and labor requirements.

To ensure a compliant, legal global employment process, many companies choose to work with a global employment solution that operates in countries around the world.

Employers are often responsible for obtaining and sponsoring work visas for employees or potential candidates. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about the work visa requirements and processes for hiring or relocating a team member to Estonia.

You’ll also learn how international hiring can become simple if you use a reliable employer of record like Remote.

The importance of immigration compliance in Estonia.

Many countries are cracking down on individuals who work without the right documentation or work on a tourist visa beyond the permitted period.

The employer may be held responsible if employees work without a valid visa in Estonia. This may make businesses liable for fines, legal issues, and revocation of business passes. Additionally, there might be consequences for the employee such as deportation, banishment from the country for a set period, and immigration detention. 

That’s why employers need to make sure employees meet the requirements to live and work in foreign countries like Estonia.

Who is eligible to work in Estonia?

In Estonia, most non-citizens require an eligibility check before commencing employment with your company. An eligibility check is a check for the legal documents that permit someone to work in a given country. 

Employers should always conduct eligibility checks for the following individuals in Estonia:

  • Permanent Residents

  • Temporary Residents

  • Non-EU/EAA citizen

Since all of these individuals are non-citizens, employers must ensure their visas are up-to-date and valid. Otherwise, employers and employees can face the consequences of hiring undocumented workers such as fines, penalties, or legal issues.

Do non-citizens need a work visa or work permit in Estonia?

Most non-citizens will need a residence visa to live and work in Estonia. Let’s review how this applies to Schengen visa holders and European Union citizens.

How is the Schengen visa applicable? 

Once an individual has obtained a Schengen visa, they can travel freely across the Schengen zone (including Estonia) without passport checks. A Schengen Visa lasts up to 90 days and allows for traveling, living, and studying. 

However, a Schengen Visa does not permit people to work here. Non-EU citizens wanting to work in Estonia must apply for a D-visa before arrival. 

How is the European Union Blue Card applicable?

The European Union Blue Card is a type of permit that allows non-EU citizens to live and work in an EU country. This card provides a path to EU permanent residence and citizenship. This is an excellent option for those looking to become citizens of Estonia or another EU nation. 

Qualifications for this card in Estonia include having a university diploma or five years of work experience, passing a higher-professional assessment, and earning 1.5 times the national monthly wage. 

Those with a European Union Blue Card must simply register as a resident of Estonia within three months of arrival. Then, they can apply for an Estonian ID card within the first month of registration.

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What are the long-stay visa types in Estonia?

In Estonia, there are various long-stay visas available for those wishing to stay and work for longer than 90 days. These visa types include:

  • D-visa. A D-visa is a visa that allows non-EU citizens to live and work in Estonia for up to one year. With this visa, the employer also registers the employee with the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board.

  • Temporary residence permit. Those who wish to work in Estonia for longer than one year will apply for a residence permit. At first, they will apply for a temporary residence permit, which will remain valid for up to five years.

  • Long-term residence permit. After five years of holding a temporary residence permit, individuals can apply for a long-term residence permit. Applicants must submit their applications at least two months before their temporary residence permit expires.

What are the eligibility requirements for a work visa in Estonia?

To be eligible for a work visa, which is either a D-visa or residence permit in Estonia, these Estonia work visa requirements must be met:

  • The employer has registered your employment with the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board 

  • The employer can legally operate and hire in Estonia

  • The employee has a valid work contract

  • The employee meets the required qualifications for the position 

  • The employee is in good health

  • The employee has no criminal offenses

The same requirements must be met to obtain a temporary residence permit. To be eligible for a long-term residence permit, a temporary residence of five years must be held first.

How do you get an Estonia work permit?

To get a work visa in Estonia, candidates must submit applications to their local Estonian consulates. Often, employers will carry out the visa process and costs on behalf of their employees. The average processing time for a visa application is 30 days.

The documents required for getting a work visa here are:

  • Application form

  • Valid passport

  • Two passport-sized photos

  • Health insurance for the Schengen area with at least EUR 30,000 coverage

  • Employment contract copy

  • Fingerprints (taken at an in-person consulate)

  • Application fee

What is the process for employee work visa sponsorship in Estonia?

Typically, employers will sponsor work visas for workers in Estonia. This means carrying out the process on behalf of their workers and paying the application fees. 

To apply for a work visa for your workers, your company must first be able to operate and hire in Estonia legally. This means your business must either be based in Estonia, have a subsidiary or local entity, or hire through an employer of record (EOR). Partnering with an EOR like Remote allows companies to hire internationally in countries like Estonia without owning foreign subsidiaries.

Once your company can legally employ Estonian workers, you can begin the visa application process. The employer follows the same steps as any applicant, providing the documents listed above. Employers can send representatives to submit applications at a local consulate. If the visa is approved, your employees can now live and work in Estonia for the permitted length of the visa.

What are the visa requirements for digital nomads in Estonia?

With the rising trend of digital nomads traveling and working abroad, many nations like Estonia have implemented short-term visas so that remote workers can work legally.

The short-term Estonia Digital nomad work visa is perfect for digital nomads, allowing them to live and work in the country for up to one year. To be eligible for the digital nomad visa, workers must meet these requirements:

  • Over the age of 18

  • Ability to work remotely

  • An employer, partner, or shareholder of a company registered outside of Estonia OR a freelancer for clients abroad under a contract

  • Have a monthly salary of at least €3,500.

It’s essential to remember that while employees may work remotely, they can not travel and work freely in countries like Estonia without EU citizenship or proper visas. Your company should always make sure your workers can legally work in the regions they want to work in.

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How Remote makes compliance in Estonia so much easier

Hiring and relocating international workers can be stressful for employees and employers, with visas, immigration, and other legal hurdles to complete. Businesses must be aware of the following risks associated with relocating employees to foreign countries:

  • Fulfilling requirements for immigration and visas 

  • Understanding international taxation.

  • Risk of permanent establishment 

  • Complying with local employment regulations.

Remote makes compliant employment in Estonia and beyond safe and easy. Remote can help you with onboarding, benefits, payroll, legal compliance, taxes, and all other aspects of the global employment process. 

Download our expert Relocation Guide to learn more about the process of employee relocation. You can also contact our Mobility team if you have questions about how you can hire globally with Remote.

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