Essential Employment Paperwork in Estonia



After gaining sovereignty from the Soviet Union in 1991, Estonia became unstoppable in becoming one of the fastest growing countries in Northern Europe. Expatriates who are about to set sail in this nation will find opportunities in timber, hi-tech and shipping industries. But before anything else, one must be aware on the legal documents that are required before getting employed in Estonia. 

In general, foreign nationals coming from EU or EEA member nations do not need to obtain work or residence permit to stay and find employment in Estonia. However, if they are staying in the country for more than 30 days, they are required to register with the Estonian government. Expats coming from non-EU/EEA member countries who wish to work in Estonia must acquire a either of the two permits below before they are allowed to work in the country. 


Expats who wish to work in Estonia for a short period or up to six months per year need to apply for the D-visa. To obtain one, an expat must first secure a prospective Estonian employer who will register his ‘short-term employment’ with the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board. The application process for this visa takes about 30 days. Keep in mind that the D-visa or short-term permit can only be obtained from the Estonian Consulate/Embassy in the applicant’s home country along with the documents listed below: 

  • Passport with at least two blank pages and has a minimum validity of six months
  • Completed application form
  • A proof of insurance policy
  • A document stating the purpose of going to Estonia such as the short-term employment confirmation (coming from the employer)
  • Visa fee of around €80 

Holders of the D-visa or short-term work permit can also apply for a residence permit once they arrive in Estonia. The process takes about two months plus another 30 days before their Estonian ID card is released. 

Temporary Residence Permit 

The temporary residence permit is for foreign assignees who want to work in Estonia for more than six months. This permit is issued with an initial validity of two years and can be obtained from the Estonian Embassy/Consulate in the applicant’s home country. Once the residence for employment has been granted, the expat will receive a temporary residence card within 30 days. After living in Estonia under this permit for five years, the holder can proceed to applying for a permanent residence at the office of the Police and Border Guard Board. Expats who will request for a temporary residence permit should bring the documents below: 

  • Passport
  • Two passport-sized photos
  • A document stating the purpose of residency such as an employment contract or a written confirmation from prospective employer specifically stating the employment of the foreign national