- 45,227 km²
- 1 328 360 (Statistics Estonia, January 1, 2020)
- Official language
- Estonian, however English and Russian are also widely spoken
- Type of Governement
- Parliamentary democracy
- Head of State
- President Kersti Kaljulaid
The Republic of Estonia is a member of the European Union, Schengen area, NATO, WTO, OECD, DIGITAL 5.
The Republic of Estonia is divided into 15 counties, 15 towns and 64 rural municipalities. Each municipality is a unit of self-government with its representative and executive bodies. The municipalities in Estonia cover the entire territory of the country.
Estonia is a true digital society. In just 20 years, Estonia has become one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Some of the fastest broadband speeds in the world are widely available across the country. But more importantly, so is the wireless Internet which covers everything. Since digital public services are fully embedded into the daily lives of individuals and organisations, the country is now commonly called “e-Estonia”.
Checklist before and after you arrive in Estonia
In order to prepare properly before arriving in Estonia, be properly informed about the country.
* Check your entry and residence conditions. EU and EFTA Member State citizens may take up employment in Estonia under the same conditions as Estonian citizens without the need to obtain a work permit. Information from relevant websites, such as Police and Border Guard’s website related to the right of residence. Contacts of migration advisers supporting foreigners, who would like to settle in Estonia are available here.
* Take out comprehensive insurance coverage, including accident and health insurance. If you have health insurance from your home country, apply for a European Health Insurance Card or its replacement certificate from the relevant institution in your country. This will give you the right to receive medical care in Estonia.
* Search for job vacancies in the www.tootukassa.ee, www.cv.ee, www.cvkeskus.ee and EURES portal and file your CV so that the employers you will visit can see it. Have your qualification awards translated to make it easier for prospective employers?
*Arrange your accommodation. The best place to start searching are the real estate websites KV.ee, city24.ee, kuldnebors.ee and 1home.eu. They are all available in English and feature both rental and purchasable properties. There’s also a very useful Facebook group for connecting private landlords with tenants without getting any agency involved (a cheaper and hassle-free option). Of course, you can also use real estate agency services, like Pindi, RE Kinnisvara, Uusmaa, and Domus. More information also on eesti.ee Renting section.
*You can get in touch with an EURES adviser in Estonia to find out more about living and working conditions in the country.
* Within three months of your arrival, register your place of residence in the population register of Estonia. For registration of the place of residence please address the local government authority nearest to your place of residence. More information about the registration of your place of residence can be obtained on the home page of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Apply for an ID card that proves your right of residence. For applying please address within the period of one month from the registration of your place of residence in person a service points of the Police and Border Guard Board.
If you are unemployed, you can transfer your unemployment benefit from the country of origin and receive it while looking for the job in Estonia. In order to do that, you will need to visit the local public employment office (töötukassa) in the area in which you reside and present form U2 (authorization to continue receiving unemployment benefit) from your country of origin. More information is available at the töötukassa homepage https://www.tootukassa.ee/eng/content/services/how-apply-u2-form.
When you start work, conclude an employment contract that is as detailed as possible. More information on eesti.ee Employment contracts section. Sample contracts in English are available at the workinestonia.com.
Register your car at the Estonian Motor Vehicle Registration Centre, if necessary.
Find out the guidelines that will help you move to Estonia here www.workinestonia.com/coming-to-estonia/
Registration and residence permits
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 citizen’s right of residence in Estonia can either be temporary or permanent.
Right for a permanent right of residence usually forms after having lived in Estonia for five years under a temporary right of residence. To acquire temporary right of residence, an EU citizen must register his place of residence in the local government authority nearest to your place of residence not later than three months after the date of entry into Estonia. Necessary documents for submitting a residence notice available here: Rights of residence
The family members of an EU citizen, who come from a third country, will have the right of temporary residence if the EU citizen is employed in Estonia or has sufficient legal income to ensure the subsistence of him/herself and the family. The third country family members of an EU citizen are required to follow the visa requirements for entering Estonia that has been described here.
Within a month after the place of residence has been registered and the right to temporary residence has been obtained, an EU citizen must apply for an ID number and an Estonian ID card at the Police and Border Guard Board. The ID-card allows you to access the state and private sector e-services and to digitally sign documents. The service points of the Police and Border Guard Board deal with applications for ID-cards and passports. The ID number enables you to obtain health insurance through the Estonian Health Insurance Fund when employed by an Estonian organization.
EU citizens can work in Estonia without work permits. The same applies to the nationals of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland.
Further information on the right of residence in Estonia is available from the Police and Border Guard Board.
Information about entering into employment for the third countries (non-EU) nationalities is available here www.politsei.ee. If you are a citizen of a non-EU country and would like to work in Estonia for a short time (up to 365 days during 455 day period), you should apply for a D-visa. Before applying for a D-visa, your employer should register your short-term employment with the Police and Border Guard Board. If you are a citizen of a non-EU country and want to work in Estonia for a longer time, you need to apply for a residence permit. At first, you have to apply for a temporary residence permit. After having lived in Estonia for 5 years on a temporary residence permit, you can then apply for a long-term residence permit.
Education system and acknowledgment of diplomas and qualifications
In Estonia, the education levels are pre-school education, basic education, secondary education and higher education. The Estonian education system supports inclusion of children with special needs and their participation in mainstream schools. Acquisition of basic and secondary education in state or local government schools is free.
In Estonia, a child must attend school if he or she has attained 7 years of age by 1 October of the year in question. At the request of the parents, a child who has attained 6 years of age by 30 April of the year in question can attend school as well. The length of an academic year is at least 175 schooldays (35 weeks); there are four school holidays.
Children of foreign citizens and stateless persons who reside in Estonia, excluding children of representatives of foreign states, must attend school. Obligatory school attendance can also be postponed due to medical reasons and fulfilled by way of home schooling. Basic education can also be attained on a basis of simplified curricula, depending on special needs and abilities.
A student must attend school until such time as he or she has acquired a basic education (9 grades) or attained 17 years of age. Estonia’s educational system allows you to choose a school by the preferred language of instruction. In general education schools, teaching is usually delivered in Estonian or in Russian, but there are also schools where some subjects are taught in English, German or Swedish. Parents of a child who must attend school are free to choose any school, provided there are places available. All general education schools in Estonia have a service catchment area. The local government is required to provide a place at a school for all children living in the given area. The language of tuition in the majority of Estonian primary schools and upper secondary schools is Estonian, but there are also primary and upper secondary schools that work in Russian. The language of tuition in universities, institutions of professional higher education and vocational educational institutions is, as a rule, Estonian. There are a few universities that teach in English.
In Estonia, primary education is provided by primary schools, which are usually linked to upper secondary schools. A primary school is a school which provides students with opportunities to acquire primary education. Primary schools include grades 1−9.
Upper secondary education
Estonian upper secondary education is divided into general secondary education and vocational secondary education.
General secondary education is provided by upper secondary schools – keskkool or gümnaasium in Estonian. Upper secondary schools start with year 10 and end with year 12. The acquisition of general secondary education provides the prerequisites to continue studies to acquire higher or vocational qualifications. Vocational secondary education is acquired on the basis of primary education or general secondary education, which then provides the prerequisites and grants the right to start working in the chosen vocation or profession or to continue studies to acquire higher qualifications.
Estonian higher education is divided into two: vocational higher education and academic education. Vocational higher education is provided in Estonia by vocational higher education institutions and academic education by universities. Higher education is offered by universities, vocational higher education institutions and some vocational educational institutions. The institutions offering higher education are divided into state-owned or publicly or privately owned institutions. As a rule, studying in state institutions of vocational higher education and universities is free. Private universities and institutions charge tuition fees.
There are three levels of higher education: Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral.
Further information on the educational system of Estonia is available from the Ministry of Education and Research website.
The welcoming programme provides for newcomers Estonian language training to cover the specific primary communication needs in an Estonian communication environment. The training’s content corresponds to the A1 skill level of Estonian. More information is available here settleinestonia.ee
Recognition of foreign professional qualifications in Estonia
ENIC/NARIC Centre deals with the assessment of foreign states’ educational documents with the purpose of recognition; this covers both academic recognition and professional recognition. Detailed information is available at: http://archimedes.ee/enic/en/. More information about applying for evaluation available here.
Find more how are professional qualifications recognised in Estonia https://www.eesti.ee/eng/topics/citizen/too_ja_ettevotlus/tootamise_alused/valisriigi_kutsekvalifikatsiooni_tunnustamine_eestis.
Recognition of academic diplomas - Your Europe
Labour market information
The unemployment rate in Estonia is relatively low, compared to other European Union countries. The decrease in unemployment continued during the last years. Structural unemployment continues to be an issue and there’s a continuous need for talent in sectors relying on skilled labor. The unemployment rate has been around 4-5% of the total population in the last few years. Sectors expected to have the strongest employment needs are the following: ICT services, professional services, water and waste treatment, energy supply services, arts & recreation. More detailed information is available here oska.kutsekoda.ee. Occupations expected to have the largest numbers of job openings in Estonia over the next 10 years:
Information and communication technology: software analysts, architects; software developers (support for professional higher education or Bachelor's studies only); ICT systems analysts and architects; ICT systems developers and managers, electronic engineers, telecommunications engineers.
- Healthcare: care workers, nurses, pharmacists.
- Construction: building automation technicians, engineers, flat roofers, builders of constructions (builders of wooden structures, construction carpenters), work managers, water system and indoor climate technicians.
- Transport, logistics, sales and repair of motor vehicles: shipping electrical engineers, transportation and logistics manager, specialists
- Apparel, textile and leather industry: engineers, technicians, constructors, technologists
- Education and research: special educators
- Forestry and timber industry: harvester operators, forwarder operators, timber lorry and chipper drivers, production managers, timber structure designers, product developers, furniture technologists, technical drawers, production equipment technicians, builders and manufacturers of wooden houses (including hand-crafted log houses), timber construction builders, CNC bench operators, line operators.
- The agriculture and food industry: service technicians and mechatronics, industrial engineers.
- Metal and engineering industry: engineers, service technicians, and mechatronics, CNC Machine Tool setters and operators.
- Chemical, rubber, plastic and building material industry: industrial engineers, industrial machinery and machinery mechanics, industrial equipment and machinery installers.
- Energy and mining: mining engineers, electrical and energy engineers, industrial engineers, energy and electrical engineering technicians, manufacturing operators and managers, electricians, mechanics, and locksmiths.
- Accounting: financial controllers, accounting analysts, development managers.
- Social work: care workers, client worker for people with mental health problems.
More information is available from the occupational barometer
Looking for job in Estonia
The most common ways to find a job in Estonia are through employment portals, social media, company career pages, with the help of friends, newspaper advertisements, recruitment companies, and the public employment service: the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund and its labour offices. Other useful Estonian job search portals include: CV-Online cv.ee and CV Market cvkeskus.ee. Job and career fairs are a good way to meet lots of employers in one place. The information about upcoming job fairs is available here toomess.ee.
Connections are generally quite important for finding a job. If you have a connection that will help you find more about a company, use this opportunity. Use social media! Follow the companies you`re interested on Facebook as well on LinkedIn and Instagram. This way, you may find information that isn`t available anywhere else.
All vacancies advertised by the public employment services are available on the European Job Mobility Portal eures.europa.eu. An EU flag marker denotes vacancies from employers who will consider applications from elsewhere in Europe.
EURES offers a great service for all interested jobseekers from all over Europe, which includes EURES Skype counselling (username: eures.eesti) and an international EURES portal chat held every Friday from 10:00 to 13:00 (CET), except on bank holidays.
You can contact the EURES advisers by email, by phone or using the EURES Estonia Facebook account. If you are already in Estonia and have ID card or mobile ID authentication, book the suitable time for the individual counselling through the e-töötukassa environment.
Keep in mind that employers or job mediators (for example services on a website) are not allowed to ask you for money for their help in job mediation. Job mediation means the search and selection procedure: finding a potential employer for you, administering tests and interviews. They can, however, charge for other services such as career advice, CV coaching or training for interviews or tests, but you are not required to purchase those additional services.
How to apply for a job
In order to apply for a job, you generally have to provide the employer with your CV and a cover letter. It is not obligatory to add a photograph (but around half of the applications in Estonia include a photo on the CV). Often a letter of motivation is to be attached as well.
Tips for job applications
In Estonia, it is most common to apply for a job through an online job database. It is advisable to use an electronic application, and this should be short and specific. Any written application should be legible, grammatically correct, short and to the point. The national CV format is preferable to use compare with EUROPASS CV format. CV should be printed on A4-format paper, in a common font such as Times New Roman, Arial, etc in font size 10–12. It is recommended that the CV fit on a maximum of two A4 pages. Preferable to indicate the contact details of two or three referees on your CV is not compulsory but may increase the candidate’s chances. These can include previous employers or contacts from school or university. They should be able to confirm the relevant contents of the CV and give professional background information about the candidate.
Bigger companies might have their own CV form, found on the website of the relevant company.
Letter of motivation gives you the opportunity to emphasize the aspects specified in your CV that you consider so important that you want to stress them separately. A letter of motivation should not be very long, and certainly not longer than one A4 page.
Is there a typical interview structure?
At the beginning of the meeting expect a short warm-up (general questions), followed by specific questions about your personality and motivation. You then give a brief introduction about yourself. You may then be asked about your strengths and weaknesses, why you are interested specifically in this vacancy, with questions about education, training, and previous employment experience, hobbies, job conditions, and salary. You are expected to be frank and friendly, but not too familiar. Expect questions about duties, job conditions, future colleagues, bonuses, salary and general information about your previous job, your duties there and your reason for leaving. Candidates can usually ask for additional information about the vacancy and the company at the end of the interview.
Questions about private life (e.g. information about sexual orientation, religion, pregnancy, sickness, and financial circumstances) are considered to be strictly private matters.
An employer will be impressed if you have done some research on the background of the company beforehand: read what has been written about them in newspapers. The more you know about the company and the job, the better chances you have of getting the job. Prepare some answers to questions you might be asked and prepare some questions you would like to ask the employer. Before going to an interview, prepare the documents you might need (CV, documents certifying education (copies are accepted). Present the diploma of your highest qualification only. You do not need to present a diploma older than 10 years if it is not related to the vacancy and the skills required.
Sometimes you may be tested on general knowledge test or professional compatibility at the interview to determine your suitability for the job.
Negotiating your pay and benefits
Contract negotiations can involve the date you start work, salary, and bonuses. The salary may be negotiable, but that depends on the position and company. Pay is generally expressed in monthly terms. Holiday pay is included in the remuneration and regulated according to Estonian law. Yearly bonuses cannot be negotiated separately.
The following perks may be offered but are not common: company car, reimbursement of travel expenses, gym or pool membership. In the private sector, these extras can be negotiated. Extra benefits are negotiated with your direct superior.
Regulations regarding employment and labor issues are regulated by the Employment Contracts Act. Work relations are also regulated with the Law of Obligations Act, the Individual Labour Dispute Resolution Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. As a rule, work is performed on the basis of an employment contract, though the foundation may be different, such as an authorization contract, a contract for the provision of services and other similar contracts. A person employed under the employment contract has greater rights and better protection than persons employed under alternative contracts. Benefits of an employee to sign an employment contract are described here Choose an employment contract
Contract of Employment and Its’ Characteristics
Based on the employment contract, the employee performs work to the employer, obeying the employer’s leadership and control, and the employer is obliged to pay the employee for the work done. The following characteristics provide an overview of the employment contract, distinguishing it from other contracts:
- The employee is subordinate to the employer’s management and control; i.e. the employer determines the place, time and manner of working;
- The employer pays a periodic remuneration to the employee for working;
- Employer and employee are bound with an employment contract and an expectation arises for long-term existence of work;
- Work is, in general, performed in person;
- For working, the employee uses the employer’s tools, materials, and devices;
The employee participates in the employer’s company activities (working at the employer’s premises, adherence to administrative rules, joint events with colleagues, etc.) The employer obliges to guarantee legally prescribed benefits to the employee (e.g. vacation, resting time, at least minimum remuneration)
An employment contract is entered into in duplicate original copies, one of which is retained by the employee and one by the employer. An oral employment contract may be entered into only for employment lasting less than two weeks. An employment contract is considered to have been entered into when an employee starts work; work is considered to be performed only when it may be assumed that it is paid work, and this may depend on the precise circumstances. An employment contract may be amended only by the agreement of the parties.
Full-time work is 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day during a 7-day period. The employer and employee can also agree on a partial or shorter working time.
The employee is entitled to get 28 calendar days of annual vacation per the calendar year, calculated and given for working. Employer and employee can also agree on a longer annual vacation than legally stipulated, but may not agree on a shorter one. The length of the annual vacation is the same for partial and full-time employees.
A probationary period for four (4) months applies to every employment relationship. The employer and the employee may agree on the shortening or omission of the probationary period. Such an agreement must be in writing. If there is no such written agreement, the 4-month probationary period applies. The employment contract may be canceled during a probationary period by giving 15 calendar days’ advance notice thereof, including on the last day of the probationary period.
Amendments to the terms of an employment contract are formalized in writing in the employment contract. If a dispute should arise between the employer and the employee, both parties have the right to turn to a labor dispute committee or court.
Further information on the conditions of employment contracts can be obtained here tooelu.ee.
Salaries and wages In recent years, the average gross salary has increased at the pace of 6,5 % per year and equaled EUR 1,397 in III Q 2019. Also the legally established the minimum wage has increased almost every year and is EUR 540 for 2019.
Online salaries survey is available here palgad.ee.
Useful information at the Ministry of Social Affairs website:
- Entering into an employment contract
- Resolution of Labour Disputes by the Labour Dispute Committee
- Working and rest time
- Terminating an employment contract
- Parents of Infants between 0 and 3 Years of Age and Pregnant Women
- Young people at work
- Posting workers
Still questions about the working life? Find more information at the Labour Inspectorate website ti.ee, lawyers hotline at (+372) 640 6000, Mo-Fri 9:00 – 16:30, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Starting a business
Establishing a company
All enterprises are required to be entered in the Company Registration Portal (Commercial register). It is an environment which allows companies to submit documents to the Business Register electronically, without the need to use a notary’s services. The portal allows submitting applications for registering a new company, amending registry data, liquidating a company and deleting a company from the registry. You can also prepare and submit annual reports via the portal. There are following corporate forms that should be registered within the Commercial register: a public limited company, a private limited company, a general partnership, a limited partnership, a commercial association or a branch. The private limited company and public limited company are the most commonly used forms of entities for doing business in Estonia.
Activity as a self-employed person
In Estonia, any person can be self-employed who provides goods or services for charge under his own name and the sale of goods or provision of services is his permanent activity. In order to begin your activity as a self-employed person, you must register in the Tax and Customs Board’s Regional Tax Centre as a self-employed person. Afer that you are liable to register in the Commercial register. Additional information is available here: Doing business as a sole proprietor (FIE)
In 2014, Estonia launched its e-residency program, which allows non-Estonians to access Estonia’s e-services and run an Estonian company remotely. More information is vailable here: https://e-resident.gov.ee/
Salaries and wages
In the 3nd quarter of 2019, average monthly gross wages and salaries in Estonia were 1,397 euros, according to Statistics Estonia (2018). The wages and salaries were the highest in financial and insurance activities and information and communication (IT). By county, the average monthly gross wages and salaries were the highest in Harju (incl Tallinn) and Tartu counties and the lowest in Hiiu and Saare counties.
The cost of housing varies greatly according to location and size of the place. Houses and apartments – both for rent and for sale – are typically advertised through real estate companies and through informal networks. The best way to find out what is on offer is to visit real estate websites such as www.kv.ee or www.city24.ee, which group offers from different brokers. Prices vary according to the region, with the most expensive city in Estonia being Tallinn, the country’s capital. When considering the cost of housing, keep in mind that winters in Estonia are long and can get quite cold which has an impact on electricity and heating costs. Before you buy or rent, asks the owner to see some utility bills of the past months (including some winter months). These will give you a better idea of what to plan for.
Monthly utilities (gas, electricity, water) for a two-room flat are on average EUR 160, although the figure is higher in Tallinn.
The Estonian tax system is made up of state and local taxes. People who have lived in Estonia for more than 183 days within the period of 12 months are considered tax residents of Estonia. Residents pay income tax on their worldwide income. Income tax is paid by resident natural persons on all of their income, irrespective of the place (country) where it is earned. The period of taxation is a calendar year, and the rate is 20%.
Beginning from 1 January 2018 the overall tax-free amount (basic exemption) of 6000 euros per year or 500 euros per month will be applied on all types of income and the increased basic exemption on pension and compensation for an accident at work will not be applied in the future. Read more about the amount of tax-free income on the homepage of the Estonian Tax and Customs Board. We recommend you to use free online calculator Amount of tax-free income 2019 (Estonia).
Read more about income tax on the homepage of the Estonian Tax and Customs Board.
Your employes have to pay social tax accounting to 33% (20% for pension insurance and 13% for health insurance) of your gross salary. Bear in mind, this is the tax for the employer that is based on your actual salary – it's not subtracted from your salary. Read more about the social tax on the homepage of the Estonian Tax and Customs Board.
Unemployment Insurance Premium In addition, people working in Estonia pay an unemployment insurance Premium that is paid by both employer and the employee – 1,6% of the employee`s gross salary is withheld and 0,8% is paid by the employer.
Estonia has concluded double-taxation agreements with all EU/EEA Member States, Switzerland, and many other countries.
Guide on taxation of income of non-residents is available here: Taxation of income of non-residents | Estonian Tax and Customs Board
Social insurance and Healthcare
If an EU citizen works in Estonia and pays local social insurance, he or she is guaranteed all the same social benefits as any citizen of Estonia. The information below sets out when you are eligible for benefits, what you are entitled to and how to go about claiming it.
- Health insurance for people insured by their employer
- Healthcare in Estonia
- Practical info for Foreigners on Estonian healthcare
- Occupational accidents and personal injuries causing incapacity for work
- Benefits for disabled persons
- Work Ability Allowance
Old-age and survivors
Find out about your rights within the Estonian social protection system from the Social Insurance Board website.
As a rule, it is necessary to have health insurance in order to receive medical care in Estonia. According to the Health Insurance Act, an insured person is a permanent resident of the Republic of Estonia or a person living in Estonia by virtue of a temporary residence permit or by right of permanent residence, who pays social tax for themselves or for whom the payer of social tax is required to pay social tax, or a person considered equal to such persons on the basis of this act or on the basis of an according contract. Anyone under 19 years of age is guaranteed health insurance irrespective of whether their parents are employed or unemployed. Persons who are not officially employed are not entitled to the health insurance cover that workers receive.
The Estonian healthcare system is based on family doctors, which means that your family doctor is your first point of contact if and when you fall ill. A family doctor provides general medical care and advice on preventive measures against illnesses, injuries, and poisoning. If necessary, the family doctor will refer you to a specialist doctor for consultation, or to a hospital. It is advisable that you select a family doctor close to your home. Family doctors have no fixed catchment area. You must apply in writing to a family doctor in order to be included in their practice list. You can check the name of your family doctor under the e-services section via the online banking systems of Estonian banks, via the e-services portal, or by phoning the Health Insurance Fund’s customer service number on 16363 (please dial +372 669 6630 when phoning from abroad).
For information on family doctors please refer to social and healthcare institutions in your county, regional offices of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, or the Fund’s website on the internet.
In order to call for an ambulance in Estonia, you should dial the single emergency alarm centre number, 112. The ambulance service provides primary medical care to anyone who is currently within Estonia, regardless of their nationality or citizenship. There is a national family doctor helpline, on speed dial 1220 (please dial +372 630 4107 when phoning from abroad), which can provide advice on various health problems. Phone advice is free for the first five minutes of a national call from a landline and is charged at the local rate per minute after that, or is charged at the operator’s standard rate per minute from the start of the call when calling from a mobile phone.