Living in Estonia

Residence issues

An EU/EEA national may reside in Estonia for a continuous period of up to three months without a residence permit subject to having a valid travel document or identity card. To obtain a residence permit, the person has to register his or her residence at the local authority within three months of entering Estonia. The right of temporary residence is granted for five years and people normally receive permanent residence rights once this period expires.

Third country nationals may receive a temporary residence permit for up to five years for a variety of purposes – marrying someone with permanent residence in Estonia, settling with a close relative with permanent residence in Estonia, for work, for studies at an Estonian educational institution, for business, substantial public interest, where the application is made under international agreement. This may be extended where circumstances continue and the application is justified. Long-term residence rights may be granted where the applicant has stayed in Estonia for at least five years with a temporary residence permit, holds a valid temporary residence permit, has registered residence, health insurance and permanent legal income for subsistence and commands the Estonian language to at least a basic level.

Real estate purchasing

Buying a property in Estonia is straightforward and a relatively speedy process. Non-residents and foreign companies are allowed to buy property in Estonia on the same terms as residents. There are however certain limitations with respect to specific areas, such as small islands and certain areas by the Russian border, where the purchase is only possible with the permission of the local authority or the government or where more than 10 hectares of agricultural and woodland is purchased. A sale-purchase agreement has to be concluded and notarised, upon completion of which often a purchase deposit of 10% is required. The transfer of title is normally completed at the same time, after which stamp duty has to be paid and the official registration is completed. A notarised application to the Land Register is needed to transfer the ownership to the buyer and this makes the title legally valid. The whole process normally takes about 65 days but may be less, making buying property in Estonia quick and simple. The fees applicable will be the real estate agent’s fee, notary fee and stamp duty.

Car purchasing

Buying cars straight from the dealers or second-hand from companies or individuals in Estonia is a simple process. It is however advisable to always personally check the car when buying second-hand. The car will need to be registered and insured in the owner’s name in Estonia if the person is resident in the country for over 6 months.

If a car is purchased in the company’s name and the employee is allowed to use it only for business purposes and keeps a travel log, no fringe benefit tax will be incurred.