Residence permit for foreign nationals

A residence permit is needed by residents of third countries and by people with an unknown citizenship status. When a residence permit is provided or renewed, a residence permit card is issued for the foreign national. A residence permit card contains personal data about the user, residence and work permit information, a photograph and fingerprints. To apply for a residence permit a state fee needs to be paid.

How to apply for a residence permit

When applying for a residence permit, you have to visit the customer service of the Police and Border Guard Board. In case you want to extend the residence permit sending the documents via post is accepted. A residence permit may be temporary (validity up to 5 years) or long-term.

When applying the fingerprints of applicants over 6 years old will be recorded. To give fingerprints, the applicant has to personally come to the customer service or to a foreign embassy of the Republic of Estonia where he will receive information about required documents as well. Fingerprints are not recorded:

  • if the applicant is younger than 6 years old
  • if less than 2 years have passed since fingerprints were recorded for a passport, a residence permit or a residence permit card, or
  • if the person has been previously identified as permanently unable to give fingerprints.

Aliens who have a residence permit of Estonia are no longer obliged to stay in Estonia for at least 183 days during a year. Aliens have an obligation to use a residence permit in accordance with its intended purpose and fulfil the conditions for the issue of the residence permit also during the period of its validity. As a consequence of the amendments, the obligation to register stay away from Estonia at the Police and Border Guard Board was lifted. Details of the place of residence in the Population Register of Estonia still have to be correct.

Working without a residence permit

Foreign nationals living in Estonia according to a residence permit are usually allowed to work in Estonian without an additional work permit. Since 01.09.2013 separate work permits are not issued. The right to work is set in the Aliens Act.

NB! Foreign nationals who are given extensions of residence permit in existence of legal income are not allowed to work in Estonia.

Working without a residence permit

Short-term employment in Estonia is allowed for up to 270 days during a year. A foreign national can work short-term in Estonia if he arrives to or stays in Estonian under a visa or a visa waiver program and:

  • the employment is registered with a prefecture of the Police and Border Guard Board. Registration of short-term employment in Estonia can be applied for by the employer or;
  • a managing or supervising role as a member of management body of a legal entity registered in Estonia is carried.

Read more about working in Estonia at the homepage of Police and Border Guard Board.

European Union citizen’s right to work

A citizen of the European Union, a member state of the European Union Economic Area and Swiss Confederation (hereinafter an EU citizen) has a right to stay in Estonia on the basis of a valid travel document or an identity card for the period of up to three months without registration of the right of residence.

EU citizens family members can work in Estonian only in case they have the right of residence (either temporary or long-term).

Last amended: 28-02-2018 00:00 | Compiled by: Police and Border Guard Board