The Republic of Estonia has already established itself as one of if not the go-to country for digital nomads, not least because it is arguably the most digitally advanced society in the world. Situated in the north-east of Europe, this Baltic state offers an exciting range of opportunities to any adventurous and business-minded expat. What’s more, Estonia’s new Digital Nomad Visa might just be the best way you can take advantage of the bright entrepreneurial prospects that this country has to offer.
Who would have guessed that Estonia would turn out to be a renowned pioneer of technology-oriented business and would become one of the most stable and attractive destinations for digital nomads? And yet this start-up capital of Europe is indeed leading the way in encouraging expats to come and work online in this alluring country.
From the captivating castles at Rakvere and Narva to the summer capital of Parnu and from the untouched natural scenery of Lahemaa national park to the intellectual hub of Tartu, Estonia offers a broad spectrum of attractive sites of interest. Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, provides not only stunning mediæval architecture and a wide range of cultural events but also has a relatively affordable cost of living. Although more expensive than Vilnius and Riga, Tallinn nevertheless remains cheap compared to many other Eastern European capitals. You can get a decent Airbnb apartment for €700-1000. It’s more expensive in the Old Town so it’s probably worth looking for a place to live outside the city’s mediæval walls. What’s more Tallinn is safe and also quiet because the Old Town is closed to traffic. Walking is often the best way to get around because Tallinn is a fairly small city. Having said that, public transport (buses and trams in particular) is cheap and reliable: you can obtain unlimited access to all intercity trams and buses for one month for just €23. Tallinn is also the ideal place for Digital Nomads to work: the city is full of co-working spaces and cafés that you can use as a base and Wi-Fi connection is excellent throughout the city.
The Digital Nomad Visa
Since August 1 2020, Estonia has joined Barbados and the Republic of Georgia in offering an e-Visa to foreign visitors. The goal of this Digital Nomad Visa is not only to improve Estonia’s digital image and increase its influence on the world stage but also to help Estonia recover economically by drawing in competent and innovative digital nomads to contribute to Estonia’s digital economy, finance, and marketing.
The Digital Nomad Visa is good news for the expat community for many reasons: Estonia offers enviable conditions in which to launch a start-up, gives you access to the EU market, and values English language skills. What’s more, Estonia offers an excellent e-residency program and almost everything necessary for establishing a business or stay in Estonia can be done online.
Crucially, Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa gives remote workers the right to stay in Estonia for up to one whole year and is specifically designed for digital nomads who can work online for either:
- Employers registered abroad,
- A company registered abroad,
- Or as a freelancer for clients mostly based abroad
The good news about this is that the Estonian Digital Nomad Visa covers employees as well as freelancers. Although you’ll currently need to visit an Estonian embassy as part of the application process, it is likely that before too long Estonia will let employees apply via their companies. The Estonian government expects roughly 1,800 applicants every year and hopes that this will increase as Covid-19-related travel restrictions are lifted. Luckily, Estonia has fared relatively well with regard to coronavirus compared to other countries.
Do I Even Need A Visa To Go To Estonia?
You don’t need a visa to go to Estonia if you are a national of the European Union, European Economic Area, or if you have third-country nationality but have a residence permit for a Schengen State. If you fit these criteria, you can stay in Estonia for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. This also applies to US, Canadian and Australian nationals, as well as a long list of other countries, found here. After these 90 days, you’ll need to register with the local authorities (e.g. at a Police and Border Guard Board office) in Estonia if you want to continue living in Estonia. You can find more information about this here.
If you’re looking to spend longer than 90 days in Estonia, then you will need either a C visa or a D visa. A Digital Nomad Visa application lets you apply for either of these visa options. Here are the differences between these two types of visas:
- The short-stay C visa:
- For transit through the Schengen Zone
- For staying in the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days within the period of 180 days
- Costs €80
- The long-stay D visa:
- Lets you stay in Estonia for up to 365 days within twelve consecutive months
- Lets you stay in other Schengen States for up to 90 days within a 180-day period
- Allows you multiple entries into Estonia
- Costs €100
Eligibility and Applying for your Digital Nomad Visa
You will only be eligible for the Estonian Digital Nomad Visa if you fulfill the following requirements:
- You can work independent of location and can work using telecommunications technology (i.e. you’ll be working online)
- You either
- Have an active employment contract with a company registered outside of Estonia,
- Or conduct business through your own company registered abroad,
- Or work as a freelancer for clients mostly outside of Estonia
- You must be able to provide evidence of a monthly income threshold of €3504 (gross of tax) during the six months preceding the application
If you’re eligible for Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa then you’ll need to fill in the online application form and then print it, fill it out, and sign it.
Next, you’ll need to make an appointment at your nearest Estonian embassy or consulate and submit your application with copies of any required supporting documents. You can expect the Estonian embassy/consulate to take up to 30 days to process your application.
- The Digital Nomad Visa is only necessary if you want to spend more than 90 days per 180-day period in Estonia
- The Digital Nomad Visa is specifically designed for digital nomads who wish to work in Estonia
- The Digital Nomad Visa lets you stay in Estonia for 365 days
- The application process requires you to go to an Estonian embassy or consulate, costs either €80 or €100, and can take up to 30 days
- The Digital Nomad Visa gives you access to the Schengen Zone and to the EU market
- The Digital Nomad Visa is not a path to residency or citizenship.
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I hope you got great value from reading Republic of Estonia Digital Nomad Visa.
About The Author
Mikkel Thorup is the Director at EscapeArtist.com the oldest and largest offshore website in the world and hosts The Expat Money Show podcast. He is also the author of #1 Best-Selling book Expat Secrets on Amazon. Mikkel has spent over 20 years in continual travel around the world, visiting more than 100 countries including Colombia, North Korea, Zimbabwe, and Iran. His goal is to help people just like you to generate additional streams of income, legally eliminate your tax bill, and take advantage of offshore structures so you can travel the world freely and never have to worry about money again. Follow Mikkel Thorup on Twitter @ThorupMikkel
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