We are happy to see that the Estonian startup visa has sparked your and many others' interest. Here you can find some of the most frequently asked question about the startup visa answered: 

What are the terms of the startup visa? What are the options after the end of the visa?

  • In principle, the startup visa gives foreign entrepreneurs the opportunity to settle in Estonia for up to a 18 months to establish their startup. A visa for startup entrepreneurship may be issued for up to 365 days and extended for up to 183 days. For prospective startup entrepreneurs, who have established their startup in Estonia and wish to stay longer, it is possible to apply for a temporary residence permit for entrepreneurship. For startups, the general investment requirement (65 000 EUR) to apply for a residence permit for entrepreneurship does not apply. A temporary residence permit for entrepreneurship may be issued for up to five years.

Are startup visas available only of tech startups or for online entrepreneurs also? I mean producing and selling goods online for all over the world.

  • The applicant's’ company has to be in accordance with the startup definition in the Aliens Act. According to Aliens Act, a start-up is a business unit owned by a company registered in Estonia that is commencing operations and whose goal is to develop and launch an innovative and repeatable business model with great global growth potential and which contributes significantly to the development of the business environment in Estonia.

If I get a visa and relocate to Estonia, what are the visa options for my spouse and could they have the permission to work?

  • A startup entrepreneur may also bring their family to Estonia. If you are issued a startup visa, a visa may also be issued to your spouse under the same conditions. It is possible for your spouse to work temporarily on the basis of the visa if the employment has been registered by the employer with the Police and Border Guard Board before the employment commences.
  • For a longer stay, if you have been issued a temporary residence permit, your spouse may apply for a residence permit for settling with a spouse. Foreigners who have been issued a residence permit to settle with a spouse may also work in Estonia.

How does the startup visa work with non-EU family members?

  • If a startup is granted a visa, the same may be granted to their family - spouse, minor children, and children that have reached the age of maturity but who due to their health status or disability are not self-reliant. The same applies to the family when the startup visa is extended.

Is relocation obligatory with the startup visa or is it enough to establish the main office of the company in Estonia and visit from time to time?

  • A startup visa or a temporary residence permit is issued for a stay in Estonia in order to establish and develop a startup in Estonia.  If you do not wish to settle in Estonia, it is also possible to establish your startup in Estonia by becoming an e-resident.

Do I have to have a company registered in Estonia prior to applying for the startup visa? 

  • Having an Estonian company is not mandatory for applying for the startup visa, but it is a prerequisite for applying for the temporary permit for startup entrepreneurship. Visas are granted for both establishing a startup and developing an existing one. If you are already incorporated in your national business register, you are asked to give the registration details in the Startup Committee application form.

What's the cost of applying for the startup visa? 

  • The state fee for the review of a long-stay visa application is 80 euros and 60 euros for a short stay visa. No additional state fees are foreseen for the review of the application submitted to the Startup Committee.

What is the amount of funds I need to have in my account when applying for the startup visa?

  • Upon submitting the application for a visa, documents indicating the sufficient means of subsistence must also be presented. When applying for a startup visa, it is required that the applicant holds a minimum of 130 euros for every month planned to spend in Estonia.

What is the timeframe given to start a new business after arriving to Estonia on a startup visa? 

  • There is no specific timeframe, however the main purpose of the stay has to be related to the establishment of a startup. In Estonia, a company may also be registered digitally, which you may do by becoming an e-resident.

Is the Estonian startup visa a Schengen visa?

  • A short-stay visa for a stay up to 90 days is a Schengen visa.  A long-stay visa for startup for a stay to up to 365 days (can be extended for another 183 days) is a national visa. You may also visit other Schengen countries with a national visa for a stay of up to 90 days.  

If I list people other than founders in the application, can they also come to Estonia with the startup visa?

  • Startup visa and temporary permit for startup entrepreneurship are for the founders of the startup only. If you had also listed employees, then in case of short term employment,  you will need to apply for their registration for the short-term employment and your employee will need to apply for a visa. If the employment is for a longer term, the employee will need to apply for a temporary residence permit at an Estonian Embassy in a city of their choosing or at a Service Point for the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board. 

Do you need a local address to register a business in Estonia? Or can I run the company entirely remotely?

  • To employ a third-country national, the company must be registered in Estonia. To register a company in Estonia, the company must be established in Estonia. According to section 22 (1) of the Commercial Code The registrar shall maintain the business register of the enterprises of sole proprietors and companies located in Estonia. Therefore only companies located in Estonia shall be entered in the business register. If you do not wish to relocate your company to Estonia, you may also register the branch of your company in Estonia (more information: https://www.eesti.ee/eng/valisriigi_ettevotte_filiaal). If you do not wish to settle in Estonia, it is also possible to establish your startup in Estonia by becoming an e-resident.

If the business employs a foreign national, do they pay taxes in Estonia or their local country? Would they need to become an e-resident to be on the payroll?

  • Regarding tax questions, we strongly recommend to refer to the Estonian Tax and Customs Board. In general terms regarding income tax, the concept of residency is important. A foreign employee who is resident in Estonia and stays in Estonia for at least 183 days over the course of a period of 12 consecutive calendar months, has unlimited tax liability, which means that both Estonian and foreign income are taxed in Estonia but double taxation is avoided. A non-resident only pays income tax in Estonia on Estonian income. An e-resident is not a tax resident of Estonia but a non-resident who is only subject to Estonian taxation on Estonian income. E-residency does not provide an automatic exemption from taxation elsewhere.
  • To work in Estonia, foreign nationals may apply for a visa for short-term employment or a temporary residence permit.

Where and in what form do I have to inform about the positive decision of the Startup Committee?

  • We recommend to provide information that you have been qualified as a startup by the Committee and add the application code in the „other important information related to the applications“ section of the application (on the end of the second page). Pursuant to § 16 (3) of the regulation 12.07.2017 no 7 of the Ministry of Interior (https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/114012017030) upon submitting the application for a residence permit for entrepreneurship, if the company is a startup, the opinion of the Startup Committe should be submitted (you may print the e-mail you received) or the relevant information provided, including the application number.

How much time do we have to move in?

  • Both the visa and the residence permit is issued for residing in Estonia and establishing your company in Estonia. On the visa application form you would need to indicate the intended duration of stay, as well as the intended date of arrival to Estonia and the date of departure to Estonia. The validity of the visa given will take into account the dates indicated. It is important to note however, that a long-stay visa may be issued for up to 365 days and extend for another 183 days. The residence permit for entrepreneurship will be issued within two months after submitting the application and may be issued with a validity of up to five years. It is required that you register your place of residence within one month from the date of arrival to Estonia. If you are issued a visa or a residence permit and you are not residing in Estonia for developing the startup – the owning of a visa or a residence permit is not purposeful and it may be cancelled.

Does my spouse have the right to work in Estonia?

What is the difference between the residence permit and visa?

  • A visa is issued within 30 days, a residence permit within 2 months (longer, if the application is submitted at an Estonian Embassy). Visa is issued for a temporary stay, a residence permit is issued for residing in Estonia.
  • Third-country nationals staying in Estonia temporarily are not counted as residents, therefore the right to several public services is restricted for them.

      What is the time frame given to start a fresh business after I arrive Estonia with an startup visa?

      • There is no specific timeframe, however the main purpose of the stay has to be related to establishment of the startup. In Estonia, a company may also be registered digitally. This you may do by becoming an e-resident (read more: https://e-estonia.com/e-residents/apply/)

      Can I apply online for the permit or I have to show up at Estonian Police and Border Guard Board office? What do I have to present them?

      • The application has to be submitted in person at the Police and Border Guard Board Service office. The following documents should be submitted:
        • application, to be filled in on screen and printed out. By signing the application, you confirm that all the provided data is correct and that you have sufficient legal income and a health insurance contract
        • data of close relative and family members, if applicable;
        • 1 colour photo with measures 40x50 mm;
        • a document certifying the payment of the state fee;
        • copy of startup expert committee decision;
        • identity document.
      Have any more questions? Let us know at visa@startupestonia.ee!