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Immigrate to Estonia. Estonian citizenship, residency and visas
Move to Estonia for a New Digital Age.
This Baltic state is considered one of the most innovative and digitally advanced countries in the world! It is easy to understand why many digital entrepreneurs and startup founders want to immigrate to this beautiful country. Estonia citizenship and passport are highly sought after. There several ways of access citizenship, including the respected Estonian citizenship by investment program.
For those with an entrepreneurial spirit, this is a country of ideas and opportunities. Becoming an E-Resident allows anyone the chance to succeed as an entrepreneur, no matter their location or country of origin. Estonian citizenship and passport are attractive as the nation is a full member of the European Union.
For those wanting to move to the country, the government offers several visas, work permits, and residency options. There is an Estonian visa for most people looking to relocate, including digital nomads, startup founders, and Expats.
Why immigrate to Estonia?
People come here to take advantage of the business-friendly environment. The government has pushed to make the country a hub for startups and technology. The policy has been so successful that Forbes called it “the most digitally advanced society in the world”. As the economic environment has bloomed, so has migration.
Most transactions can be done by phone, and free Wi-Fi is widely available. In fact, it is the first country in the world that has used the internet for political voting.
Estonia is a well-developed country with high incomes and standard of living. This development is reflected in the Legatum Prosperity Index ranking it as the 21st most prosperous nation in the world.
It is also the least populous nation in Europe with around 1.4 million people calling it home. The government see immigration as a policy response to a falling population, and this is why there are attractive visa and residency permit options.
This low population density means that as well as a great work environment, almost 50% of the country is covered in forests. The air is among the cleanest on the planet.
Public transport is free for registered residents in the capital city Tallinn. As a result, there is a lot less traffic and cleaner air. Immigrate to Estonia, and you can have access to all this and more.
The Digitized State
The government is actively recruiting entrepreneurs and startup founders to become a part of a country with an exciting technology-driven future. They have successfully created a digitized state and built online communities for over a decade. From humble beginnings in the 90s, Estonia has developed and recreated itself to become a digital and innovative government. There is a clear focus on efficiency, security, and transparency.
The resultant user-friendly interface places the country as the most advanced digital society in the world.
All Estonian citizens have a state-issued digital identity. This identity allows all citizens to use a digital signature using their ID-card, Mobile-ID or Smart-ID.
As a part of the e-Estonia initiative, healthcare and education systems have become digitized, again using your ID-card.
As early as the 90s, the government placed a high priority on the internet being accessible in all schools. They ensured computer access and the internet for all students in an infrastructure project called Tiger Leap. They went so far as to write into law that internet access is a fundamental human right.
In a country that is half covered in national forests, you can go camping in the woods and still have internet access! How’s that for a reason to move to the Republic of Estonia?
COVID-19 Hack the Crisis
The government innovation mindset was shown in the Hack the Crisis event response to the to Covid-19 pandemic
This unique event gathered together brilliant minds across the world to find solutions to the global pandemic sweeping the planet.
The government brought together thought leaders from IT companies and innovative online healthcare organizations available in the country. This event was an opportunity to offer a series of digital solutions to the crisis.
Internet as a Human Right
An open market economy and progressiveness have made the country an exciting and attractive place for Expats, digital nomads and the business-minded. It has the third-highest number of startups per inhabitant in Europe. Taking a closer look, this is no surprise at all.
Estonians believe that usability and convenience are essential in the delivery of government services. For example, you can file your tax return online in 10 minutes and register your company in less time. In addition, Estonians speak a high level of English. Businesses often consist of small teams in which young professionals are given many opportunities to develop and lead. In fact, as of 2018, 54.2% of the population were under the age of 44.
Estonia Tourist Visa
Estonia is a part of the Schengen area and for some countries you will need to get a Schengen visa to visit. These member countries have open borders when it comes to tourism and therefore for some getting a Schengen visa is a difficult process. Please see use the iVisa tool here to see if you require a tourist visa to visit or not.
Estonia Long Term Visas and Permits
European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens can move to the country without needing a visa.
If you want to work for a period longer than three months, registration as an Estonian resident is required. Additionally, this must be done within the first three months of stay.
To live in Estonia for longer than six months as a non-EU and EEA citizen, you will need a residence permit. The residence permit allows you to work in the country as well. If you want to stay permanently, you can apply for a long-term temporary residence. This residence permit leads to eligibility for a permanent residency and access to an ID-Card.
The government encourages immigration to Estonia. It offers several visas for those looking to visit, live and work, or to relocate to Estonia. In keeping with the policy drive to modernize, this includes the innovative Estonia e-Residency program.
You can register a business and become a virtual resident. This business registration allows you to get an Estonia ID-card. With this identification, you can open bank accounts, sign documents, open a company, and more.
You can do all of this over the internet without ever visiting the country. For freelancers and digital nomads, e-residency and an ID-card may be the virtual visa you need to make your business location independent. There is also the additional benefit of being a European VAT registered entity. The welcoming bureaucracy and innovative, low tax environment are great for online businesses.
Please see our detailed article on Estonia e-Residency. We cover the program in detail and how you can benefit.
Estonia Digital Nomad Visa
The government announced its game-changing digital nomad visa in June 2020. This visa allows those running a location-independent business to work in Estonia for up to a year.
You’ll need to show that your business is capable of being run from anywhere. Importantly, you must show that your clients and income come from outside the country.
Also, you’ll need to show a pre-tax income of €3,504 per month for the last six months. The visa costs €80 for a short-stay (Type C) and €100 for a long-stay (Type D).
You can get more details and apply here.
Estonia Youth Mobility Visa
Australian, Canadian or New Zealand citizen between the ages of 18-30, you may be eligible under the Working Holiday Maker programme. This visa allows you to live and work in Estonia, subject to conditions.
To explore the best working holiday visa programs around the world, please see our article.
Estonia Startup Visa
Founders of startups are eligible for residency. The Estonia Startup Visa program has a definition for a startup. “A business with the goal to develop and launch an innovative and repeatable business model with great global growth potential.”
Additionally, it must contribute significantly to the development of the business environment in Estonia. If your startup meets these criteria, you can apply for an Estonia Startup Visa to move to Estonia to live and work.
To see more startup and entrepreneur visa opportunities in Europe and around the world, please read our in-depth article here.
Estonia Family Visa
If one or both of your spouse’s parents were citizens when he/she was born, your spouse is probably also a citizen.
Accordingly, you can apply for residency through your spouse, which will allow you to live and work in the country.
Importantly, your spouse needs to be recognized and registered as a spouse or partner as per local laws.
Long-Stay D-Visa (Estonia Work Permit)
You need two things to apply for a long-stay visa. First, you need a confirmation letter from your host.
Second, you must have documents proving that you are going to work in Estonia. This visa was especially popular amongst location independent world travellers. It has now been superseded for that group by the dedicated Digital Nomad Visa (see above.)
For more options to live and work in Europe, please see our article here.
Estonian Citizenship and passport are powerful instruments. The country is a full member of the European Union, with all its rights and privileges of living, working, and travelling in the region.
Indeed, the Estonia passport was recently ranked as the 12th most powerful passport in the world. It offers visa-free access to 179 countries. You can apply for an Estonian passport through the Embassy or Consulate-General nearest to you. You can also use the most convenient Embassy or Consulate-General to apply for your ID-card.
The country does not allow dual citizenship so, you must decide to relinquish your citizenship from your country of origin.
For more information on the value of dual citizenship, please read our article here.
Estonia Citizenship Through Your Family
If one or both of your parents were citizens of Estonia at the time of your birth, you are probably also a citizen. This citizenship is regardless of your place of birth.
You don’t have to be born in the country to inherit citizenship from one of your parents.
However, you do not receive Estonian citizenship automatically by being born in the country. You must have a parent that is a citizen.
Estonia Citizenship that was lost as a minor
If your parents revoked your citizenship before you were 18, you could apply to have the citizenship reinstated.
Estonia Citizenship by Marriage
If your spouse is a citizen or permanent resident of Estonia, you are eligible for temporary residence. After five years, you can apply for residency, and then after another three years, you can apply for citizenship.
Please note that your status of spouse needs to be legally recognized for immigration to Estonia.
Estonia Citizenship Through Naturalization
You may be eligible for citizenship if you have spent five years as a permanent resident, or eight years as a resident. This would also make you eligible for an Estonia passport.
There are steps to becoming a naturalized citizen. Once you have met the residency requirements, you must take two exams.
There is one exam on the Estonian language, and another on the Estonian constitution and the Citizenship Act. Once you pass these exams, the next step is to submit your application for citizenship by post or by email.
You must also revoke any other citizenships that you have. Estonian immigration law does not allow dual citizenships. Minors under 18 years are the exception to this step. They can keep multiple citizenships until they are 21 when they must decide on which nationality they will maintain.
The final of the 6 steps is to take an oath of loyalty to the country.
Estonia Residency by Investment
Estonia also encourages immigration through its residency by investment programs. Both programs are pathways to citizenship by naturalization.
Estonia Major Investor Scheme
You need to invest €1,000,000 directly in the Estonian economy to qualify for this visa. The investment must be into a company registered on the national commercial register or in a fund that invests primarily in Estonian companies.
Once this residence visa is issued, there is no restriction on the holder or their family living and working in Estonia. After eight years of residency, you are eligible for citizenship and an Estonia passport.
Business owner and sole proprietor visa
You could gain residency in Estonia through the investment of a capital sum of €65,000 or more in an Estonian company.
The figure is reduced to €16,000 if you are a sole proprietor. You must also have substantial control and hire or create jobs in the company.
In addition, you need to show that your Estonian residency is necessary and related to the business investment.
Estonia Citizenship by Investment
After eight years of residency, you are eligible for Estonia citizenship and an Estonia passport. You’ll need to follow the 6-step process for citizenship by naturalization. Please see the citizenship section above for all the details.
For information on the best Residency by Investment and Citizenship by Investment programs, please see this article.
Do you have experience of moving to Estonia? We’d love to hear from you about why you chose to relocate to Estonia.
What did you feel are the pros and cons of living and working in the country. For example, we’d be very interested in your experience with Estonia visas and residency permits, citizenship, Estonia nationality, and Estonia passports.
Please contact us to share your Expat story here.
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