Working as an alien
The entry of aliens (excluding citizens of the member states of the European Union, citizens of the member states of the European Economic Area, or citizens of the Swiss Confederation and their family members, who have a legal right of stay or residence in Estonia for the purposes of the Citizen of the European Union Act) into Estonia and their rights and obligations while living, staying, or working in Estonia are regulated by the Aliens Act.
If the purpose of an alien’s stay in Estonia (except for citizens of a Member State of the European Union, a member state of the European Economic Area, and the Swiss Confederation) is to work here, their employment must be previously registered with the Police and Border Guard Board and the person must have a legal basis for a stay in the country (for example, a visa, visa-free travel, residence permit).
An alien who is legally staying in Estonia temporarily and whose employment was registered with the Police and Border Guard Board before starting work may work in Estonia for a short period of time. Additional and more detailed information on registering for short-term employment can be found on the website of the Estonian Police and Border Guard.
It is possible to apply for a temporary residence permit to live and work in Estonia for more than one year. Before an alien can apply for a residence permit to work from the Police and Border Guard Board, the employer must generally receive permission from the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund to employ an alien.
Additional information can be found on the official website of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund.
Migration consultant of the Police and Border Guard
Presented below is information on working on a general basis, which has been prepared by the Police and Border Guard Board. To learn about more detailed conditions based on the specific position and employment, or if you have additional questions, please contact the Police and Border Guard Board. You can submit your questions to the e-mail address email@example.com or via telephone at 612 3500, Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. (Estonian time). Information about the service can be found online here and in English here.
An alien without a residence permit may work in Estonia if their employment is registered with the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board and there is a temporary basis for their stay.
An alien is permitted to engage in short-term employment in Estonia for up to 365 days within 455 consecutive days (a seasonal worker is permitted for up to 270 days within 365 consecutive days). Short-term employment can be registered by an employer that is registered in Estonia. The employer submits the following documents to apply for registration:
- Application For Registration of Short Term Employment of an Alien in Estonia (PDF), which can be completed on screen and printed out. Instructions for completing the application form. By signing the application, the employer confirms that all information in the application and the documents attached thereto are correct and that the conditions for registration of the alien’s short-term employment have been met;
- 1 40 × 50 mm colour photo of the alien;
- a copy of the personal data page of the alien’s travel document;
- A document proving payment of the state fee.
The employer can apply for the registration of short-term employment in person, via an authorised representative at the service offices of the Police and Border Guard, by post, or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). The application will be reviewed within 10 working days of being accepted for processing or the rectification of the latter’s deficiencies.
The employer is obliged to pay the employee the salary prescribed by the salary criterion, i.e. the average annual salary in Estonia (as of 3 March 2020, the average gross monthly salary is €1,407).
Registration of short-term employment is not a basis for staying in the country, and a person must apply for a long-term visa, if necessary.
Usually, a long-term visa is applied for, which allows one to stay in Estonia for up to 365 days in 12 months. Prior to travelling to Estonia, a long-term visa can only be applied for at an Estonian foreign mission, where visa applications are processed (the list of missions can be checked on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
If the person is staying in Estonia and has a basis for stay of at least 10 working days, it is possible to submit a D-visa application at a service office of the Police and Border Guard Board in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Narva, or Jõhvi.
The following documents must be submitted when applying for a long-term visa:
- Signed and completed long-stay visa application
- one 40 × 50 mm colour photo
- the applicant’s valid travel document
- a valid health insurance policy guaranteeing that any costs related to their medical treatment as a result of illness or injury during the term of validity of the visa being applied for will be met, unless otherwise provided by law or an international agreement
- purpose of the stay and documents proving the reason
- document proving payment of the state fee (excluding citizens of Ukraine and Belarus).
It is significantly easier to register alien employees who are working in Estonia for a short period of time using the self-service environment of the Police and Border Guard. All you have to do is log in to the Police and Border Guard’s self-service environment and enter the necessary information about the employee and the employer.
All you need to register the employee is two things:
- a recent digital portrait photo of the employee (at least 1,300 × 1,600 pixels)
- a scanned copy of the personal information page from the employee’s passport
The application can be submitted by a member of the company’s management board or a person authorised by them (in that case, the corresponding authorisation must be added in the self-service environment).
The Police and Border Guard has also prepared a guide on how to use this environment, which can be found here (PDF).
The Labour Inspectorate points out that the registration of short-term employment in the web environment of the Police and Border Guard Board does not exempt an external service provider from fulfilling its obligations before the Labour Inspectorate. If employees arrive in Estonia from a third country, having been posted to work in Estonia through another EU Member State, the foreign employer is also obliged to register the employees with the Labour Inspectorate (see also section 51, ‘Provision of data and documents’, of the Working Conditions of Employees Posted to Estonia Act).
Pursuant to the Aliens Act, an alien may be issued a residence permit for working. This residence permit is intended for someone to come to Estonia to work for a specific employer. A residence permit for working can be applied for prior to travelling to Estonia at an Estonian foreign mission where visa applications are processed. While in Estonia, it is possible to submit an application for a residence permit to the Police and Border Guard Board. An appointment must first be booked in the reservation system, and you must come at the reserved time to submit your application. The application must be submitted in person and cannot be submitted via a representative. A residence permit is initially issued for up to 5 years.
The following documents must be submitted when applying:
- Temporary residence permit application (PDF), if you are applying for a temporary residence permit. By signing the application, you confirm that:
- the copy attached to the application corresponds to the original document, does not contain false information, and is not a forgery,
- you have sufficient legal income to live in Estonia, and
- medical expenses insurance contract;
- Information on close relatives and family members (PDF),
- an identity document;
- one 40 × 50 mm colour photo;
- A document proving payment of the state fee;
The employer submits to the Police and Border Guard via e-mail (email@example.com) or by post (Pärnu mnt. 139, 15060 Tallinn):
- Consent of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund for employing an alien;
- the employer’s invitation (PDF). (PDF)
After submitting the application to an Estonian foreign mission, the document will be sent to the Estonian Police and Border Guard, where it will be processed. The decision on whether to issue a residence permit will be made within 2 months as of being accepted for processing or the rectification of the latter’s deficiencies. After making a positive decision, a residence permit card is printed for the alien and sent to the Estonian foreign mission. The alien will receive a notice regarding the arrival of the document at the embassy, after which it will be possible to collect the document from the embassy.
If the alien has marked the place of issue as a service office of the Estonian Police and Border Guard and receives a notice via e-mail titled ‘issuing a residence permit card’, then it is time to collect the document.
IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER!
The general terms and conditions of the residence permit must be fulfilled during the entire period of validity of the residence permit:
- Justification for the reason for settling in Estonia. The purpose of a temporary residence permit for work is to come to Estonia to work in a specific company, and this purpose must be fulfilled during the entire period of validity of the residence permit. The alien is required to work for the given company.
- Actual place of residence in Estonia. After receiving the residence permit, the alien is required to register their place of residence in the Estonian Population Register (if the residence permit has been received while abroad, within 1 month as of the first arrival in the country on the basis of the residence permit);
- Sufficient legal income, which allows for the subsistence of the alien and their family members in Estonia. The alien must have an income for the duration of the residence permit, which ensures their subsistence in Estonia.
- Insurance cover (a medical expenses insurance contract or state health insurance)
Failure to comply with even one of these general conditions is grounds for revocation of the residence permit.