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Estonian Residence Permits


Residence permits in Estonia are classified as being either temporary or permanent. Temporary residence permits for third country nationals are handed out based on what reason the person will be immigrating to Estonia. Permanent residence permits are given to those who have lived in Estonia under a temporary residence permit for five years.

Temporary Residence Permits

Estonian temporary residence permits come in many forms. Temporary residence permits can be granted for purposes of employment or business, settling with a spouse or close relative already resident in Estonia, for study, or for living in Estonia after proving that you can support yourself.

Settling with a Spouse

A temporary residence permit may be issued to a third country national to settle with his or her spouse. If the spouse currently living in Estonia is an Estonian citizen, there are generally no other special conditions that must be met. If the sponsoring spouse currently living in Estonia is a permanent resident, he or she must have been a permanent resident for two years. Otherwise they will have to satisfy certain other criteria outlined below.

Requirements to gain permanent residence (five years of residence, etc) will not be applied to spouses of Estonian citizens if they are settling together in Estonia at the same time.

Spouses can join third country nationals living in Estonia on the basis of a resident permit issued for the following reasons:

  • employment as a teacher or lecturer in an Estonian educational institution recognized by Estonian law
  • employment as a scientific researcher or for artistic activities
  • director or head of a legal entity, such as a sole proprietor of a company
  • managing or supervision of a legal entity which is registered in Estonia
  • making direct foreign investments in Estonia, founding a branch of a foreign company in Estonia, or working in Estonia as head or manager for an international company
  • as a sportsman, coach, referee or sports official engaged in professional activities
  • employment as an expert, adviser, consultant or installer of equipment or skilled worker
  • working as part of an international program of cooperation involving agencies with state or local government participation
  • general posted employment

For third country nationals granted a residence permit based on doctoral studies or enterprise, the marriage only needs to be shown that it is stable, not fictitious, and that the couple share close economic ties.

The duration of the temporary residence permit depends on the length of the marriage. If the marriage has lasted less than three years, the temporary residence permit will be issued for one year, and renewed thereafter in one-year intervals. If the marriage has lasted longer than three years, the temporary residence permit will be issued for a period of three years, and renewed thereafter in three-year intervals.