Looking for your next digital nomad adventure in Europe?
Then the Baltic nation of Estonia might be a great fit for you. This small but advanced country has a unique culture, a clean environment, and affordable living costs.
What’s more, Estonia is among the world’s most advanced countries in digitalization and technology. Thanks to its excellent internet coverage, residents can handle most of their daily life tasks entirely online.
Back in the summer of 2020, the government launched its innovative Estonia digital nomad visa. In fact, Estonia was the first country in the world to implement this sort of visa program.
It was designed to counteract the country’s brain drain by attracting young people from across the world, especially from the UK in the wake of Brexit.
Let’s take a closer look at the process of obtaining a digital nomad visa for Estonia.
Estonia Digital Nomad Visa – Overview
The Estonia digital nomad visa gives you the right to legally reside and work remotely in Estonia for up to one year.
To be successful in your application, you first need to prove that you use ‘telecommunication technology’ (i.e. a laptop and wifi) to work remotely.
In June 2020, Estonia introduced a precedent by allowing digital nomads to work in the country using:
- Type C (short-stay of up to 90 days) visa
- Type D (long-stay, longer than 90 days) visa
Key Benefits of the Estonia Digital Nomad Visa
Even though you don’t get all the benefits of actual Estonian (and EU!) citizenship, this visa is an excellent first step in that direction.
Here are some of the key benefits you’ll enjoy:
- You have the legal right to work remotely for companies outside Estonia
- You can visit other countries within the Schengen Area
- You’ll have legal rights to work from Estonia for up to one year
- You’ll be able to renew the visa
- You’ll have access to developed digital infrastructure and high-speed internet
- You’ll meet thousands of other digital nomads just like you
- You’ll get to see the beautiful country of Estonia
Eligibility and Documents Required
To apply for an Estonian digital nomad visa, you must fulfill the eligibility requirements and submit all the necessary paperwork. Let’s take a look at both criteria in more detail.
To qualify for the Estonia digital nomad visa, you have to meet the following requirements:
- You must be at least 18 years old and not a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland (Also, Russian nationals are currently suspended from the program)
- You must have a contract of employment with a company outside of Estonia
- You have to present proof that you’re a digital nomad
- You must prove that you can work independently and remotely using a computer and internet access
- You must have earned at least €3,504 per month for the past six months
Some of these requirements may be challenging for beginner freelancers, but those with experience working digital jobs should have no problem fulfilling them.
As far as paperwork is concerned, you’ll need the following documents to apply for the visa:
- A valid passport with two adequately sized photos – You must submit a passport that’s valid three months after your planned return date, along with two photos that meet the Schengen visa photo requirements.
- A valid work contract – You must submit a contract from an employer registered outside Estonia.
- A letter of recommendation – You must submit a letter from your employer stating they allow you to work remotely.
- Evidence of sufficient monthly income – You must submit bank statements detailing your income in the past six months. The minimum income should be 3,504€.
- Evidence of health insurance – You must prove that you’ve got valid health insurance during your stay in Estonia, with coverage of 30,000€.
- Evidence of a rental agreement – You must prove that you’ve got a place to live during your stay in Estonia.
- Appropriately filled application form – Lastly, you must submit a correctly filled application form, confirming it with your signature.
The Application Process
After ensuring you can meet the eligibility requirements and have all the necessary documentation ready, the next step is applying for the visa itself.
Applying for an Estonian digital nomad visa involves several steps.
- Fill out the application form and submit it
The first thing to do is to fill out the digital nomad visa application online.
You must provide accurate information about yourself and the purpose of your stay. Submitting the information is easy, and you shouldn’t have any major problems.
When you’re stating the purpose of your trip, select the “Other” option, and mention you want to work remotely.
Also, enter accurate information about your salary and financial situation when asked who will pay for the trip and residency.
The last step is to schedule an appointment and apply. You must print a copy of the online form, sign it, and apply directly to an Estonian embassy close to your location, together with the rest of the required documentation.
- Schedule an appointment
Before applying to an Estonian embassy, you must schedule an appointment with their staff.
You can do this directly, via the phone, or by email.
Many applicants apply for Estonian visas daily, so it may take several weeks before the embassy schedules your appointment.
- Go to the appointment
Going to the scheduled appointment also means submitting the required documents for the visa.
The appointment is an in-person interview with the staff of the Estonian embassy, where they will ask you questions about your application.
They might ask you about the purpose of your trip, how long you plan to stay in Estonia, whether you will consider applying for permanent residency in the future, and so on.
The staff will also evaluate your character, physical and mental capabilities, and financial status.
Lastly, you may be asked to provide biometric data (a digital photo and fingerprints) to confirm your identity. But this won’t usually be necessary if you’ve traveled to a country inside the Schengen area in the last five years.
You must also pay a fee for the application, depending on the visa type, which we’ll cover later.
- Wait for the application to be processed
The most tedious and stressful step is waiting and thinking about whether or not your application will be approved.
Visa applications may take 15 to 30 days to get processed, depending on the number of applicants.
You’ll get a notification from the embassy via telephone or email, letting you know if you’ve been approved.
In case it isn’t, you may be able to appeal the denial decision. You can file the appeal personally or through a representative for a fee of 80€.
We’ve already mentioned that you must pay a certain fee for your digital nomad visa application.
A type C visa will cost you 80€. A type D visa will cost you 100€. And the fee to appeal a declined visa will cost you an additional 80€.
You can make the payments using cash or a debit/credit card. Note that there’s no refund for a rejected application.
Can You Bring Your Family?
If you’ve obtained an Estonia digital nomad visa, your dependent family members can join you for the duration of your stay. Dependent family members may be your spouse, dependent parents, or dependent children.
Same-sex partners and spouses are also recognized by Estonian law, but if your partner wishes to accompany you, they’ll also need to apply for a visa.
Taxes for Digital Nomads in Estonia
If you’ve gained an Estonia digital nomad visa, you won’t have to pay Estonian taxes for the first 183 days within 12 consecutive months of your stay.
This means you can spend six months getting accustomed to the country, its way of life, laws, people, and mentality. Estonia provides all these benefits completely tax-free for the first six months.
Then, if you apply for a second digital nomad visa, you’ll start paying regular taxes like other Estonian citizens.
The second time you apply for a visa, you can only stay six more months in the country if the visa is approved, and then you will be required to leave.
Can the Estonia Digital Nomad Visa Lead to Permanent Residence or Citizenship?
The Estonia digital nomad visa alone won’t be enough for you to qualify and apply for permanent residency after it expires.
The laws of Estonia state that if you wish to become a permanent resident, then you must:
- Have resided in Estonia permanently for five years
- Have a valid temporary residence permit
- Have your place of residence information listed in the population register
- Have legal and permanent income to sustain yourself
- Have legal health insurance coverage
- Know the Estonian language (at least a B1 level)
The first condition means you’ll have to obtain another kind of temporary visa in Estonia (e.g. by setting up a business), even if you meet all the other requirements. But the digital nomad visa provides a useful stepping stone to get you into the country and explore more long-term options.
Differences Between the Digital Nomad Visa and E-Residency
The Estonia digital nomad visa is often confused with the Estonian e-Residency program.
This is a common mistake, so we felt it necessary to make a clear distinction between the two.
An e-Residency is a digital signature or identity that lets you manage a remote company using Estonian government services. It’s a quick way to bypass government-imposed laws that make it harder for you to manage your own company remotely.
An Estonian e-Residency doesn’t allow you to travel to or live physically in Estonia. It also doesn’t provide any of the other benefits of a digital nomad visa.
The digital nomad visa provides a temporary residence permit for foreign remote workers in Estonia, while the e-Residency provides an EU digital presence for your business, plus an online identity that you can use to verify business transactions.
How can I apply if there’s no Estonian Embassy in my country?
If there’s no Estonian embassy in your country, you must travel to the nearest country with one and apply there.
You can also travel with a tourist visa to Estonia (which you can obtain through a travel agency, for example) and apply directly to the Estonian foreign affairs government.
Will I also receive health insurance along with my digital nomad visa?
No, you need to provide your own health insurance coverage with a minimum of €30,000 before you can apply for a digital nomad visa in Estonia.
Are there any country-based restrictions for eligibility?
In general, the Estonian digital nomad visa doesn’t have any country-based eligibility restrictions. However, due to the war in Ukraine, Russian nationals are currently suspended from the program.
Does Estonia have a limit to how many digital nomad visas they can issue?
No, Estonia doesn’t currently have a limit to how many digital nomad visas it can issue.
Can I get automatically approved for the visa upon applying?
No, you can’t get automatically approved for an Estonia digital nomad visa. Every application is carefully checked for correct information, required documents, and fulfilment of eligibility requirements. The approval or denial process can take 15-30 days, depending on how many applications are being processed at the time.
Before you go…
The digital nomad lifestyle is taking off around the world. It has quickly become one of the most popular routes for digitally-savvy people to change their lives and seek adventure.
How are you feeling about the Estonia digital nomad visa after reading our guide? Does it seem like the right fit for you?
If so, you’ve now got all the information you need to apply. If you’re still not sure, then why not check out one of Europe’s alternative digital nomad visas?
More are being launched all the time, with Italy and Spain getting ready to launch their own programs later on in 2023. Keep an eye on our constantly updated guides for all the latest info.
- Portugal Digital Nomad Visa
- Italy Digital Nomad Visa
- Spain Digital Nomad Visa
- Croatia Digital Nomad Visa
- Greece Digital Nomad Visa