Although Estonia is a small country, it punches well above its weight, and attracts tourists and expats from all over the globe. Maybe you’re headed to work...
If you’re a digital nomad, or an aspiring one, you may have considered where is the best place to work or start a business overseas.
You might not have considered Estonia. While this beautiful country is renowned among nature lovers thanks to its lush forests, it’s often been sadly overlooked by digital nomads.
This is a shame because it’s actually the perfect place to get started. It has fast, reliable and widespread internet that can be connected to even in those big forests, and swathes of policies designed to make it easy for entrepreneurs.
But before you rush to the nearest airport to catch a flight, you’ll need to get your paperwork sorted.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to get a digital nomad visa for Estonia. This will give you legal permission to live, travel and carry out remote work.
We’ll also show you a great way to get paid in nearly a dozen currencies and spend in the local currency all over the world - using the Wise multi-currency account.
If you’ve never heard of a digital nomad, allow us to explain.
A digital nomad is someone who works remotely from their laptop and isn’t restricted to one place by their job. They can work from anywhere in the world. All they need is a laptop and an internet connection.
This lifestyle is the dream of millions, especially those who spend their days in office jobs, daydreaming about jetting off overseas.
There are two main types of digital nomad. The first is someone who finds a great place that suits them and sticks to it, building a new life in their dream locale. The second is the adventurer type, keen to see as much of the world as possible.
Working as a digital nomad is an amazing way to fund your travels as you get out there and see what the world has to offer.
And the great thing is that as the digital nomad lifestyle has become more widely recognised, it has also become so much easier to adopt.
There are hundreds of careers you can start today to become a digital nomad and escape the chains of a conventional 9 to 5, and governments across the world are making this lifestyle more feasible as well.
Not many people might think of Estonia when they consider travelling and working remotely. However, this often overlooked European country was one of the very first in the world to introduce a visa specially designed for the digital nomad.
However, there are a good few differences between being a digital nomad and having a more conventional job in Estonia.
Estonia falls under the so-called 183-day tax rule. This simply means that if someone spends 183 or more days in one place over the course of 12 calendar months, they become a tax resident of that country.¹ After this period, you’ll be liable for income tax.
If you’re a digital nomad working from your laptop, there’s a strong chance that a lot of your income is coming from overseas.
Fortunately, the UK and Estonia have entered into a Double Tax Treaty. This actively benefits nomads as it prevents them getting taxed twice on their earnings.²
This is the big difference between a digital nomad visa and a work permit. A digital nomad visa is most suited for people living in one place and working for another.
In comparison, a work permit is designed for people living and working in the same country. This is especially true if the job potentially takes a position away from a citizen of the country.
Estonia was the first European country to offer a Digital Nomad Visa (DNV). It currently comes in two different types. These are:
- C Visa for a short-term stay (90 days or less)
- D Visa for a long-term stay (more than 90 days)
The difference between the two options are miniscule, so let’s run through them quickly.
Also known as the Schengen Visa, the Estonia Digital Nomad Visa Type Callows the holder to stay for up to 90 days. While the Type D is for longer stays. That’s it.³
It’s an incredibly simple difference and the only thing you’ll need to know about when applying is the fee for each choice.
For the short stay visa you’ll need to fork out €80, and for a longer stay it’ll be €100.³
If your interest is piqued, you’ll need to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements. So let’s run through them:⁴
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You cannot be 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 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.
If you’re a budding freelancer just starting out, these requirements may be too high of a bar for you. However, if you have your freelance career up and running, they shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
If you meet the requirements, the next step is to collect the necessary documentation. Here’s what you’ll need to have ready:⁴
- A valid passport (valid three months after the planned return date) with two adequately sized photos that meet the Schengen visa photo requirements.
- A valid work contract from an employer registered outside Estonia.
- A letter from your employer stating that they allow you to work remotely.
- Evidence of sufficient monthly income.
- Evidence of health insurance (you must prove that you have valid health insurance during your stay)
- Evidence of a rental agreement (you must prove you have a place to live during your stay)
- Correctly filled out application form.
So, you’ve met the requirements and you have all the documentation prepared and to hand. What’s next? It’s time to put in your application. Here’s how to do it step by step:⁴
The application is a simple one and shouldn’t give you any problems, however, when asked the purpose of your visit, select ‘Other’ and state that you want to work remotely.
Make the information provided as accurate as possible and there shouldn’t be any issues. Then just submit and move to the next step.
Next, you’ll need to visit the Estonian embassy. You can book an appointment directly, or via phone or email.
Due to how many applications are submitted, it may take a few weeks to get your appointment date.
When your allotted appointment date comes up, be sure to attend. This is an in-person interview with the staff of the embassy where they may ask you about the purpose of your trip and how long you plan to stay.
This is also where you’ll pay the fee we covered earlier for the visa you’re applying for.
Applications take around 15-30 days to be processed and you’ll be notified either by email or telephone.
If your application is sadly not approved, you can appeal the decision for an €80 fee
So, you have your visa sorted, now for the fun part. Time to head to Estonia and begin your new life.
There’s just one last thing to consider, which is how you’ll manage your money in your new home. As a digital nomad, getting paid and managing your money well is the make-or-break scenario for this lifestyle.
You’re going to want a full picture of your options here. As an alternative to opening an Estonian bank account, check out Wise.
It’s quick and easy to open a Wise multi-currency account online. It lets you manage your money in 40 currencies at once, including EUR and GBP. You can get paid quickly and securely in your client’s home currency, and convert your earnings to your chosen currency using the mid-market exchange rate.
If you need to send money abroad, you can do it in just a few clicks - and all for low, transparent fees.
There’s even a Wise debit card for spending in 150+ countries. This automatically converts your money to the local currency at a great rate whenever you spend.
Whether you’re the settling down nomad or an eager adventurer, with a Wise account you’ll be able to get paid and spend like a local - wherever you are in the world.
- Republic of Estonia - Determining Residency.
- Lawyers Estonia - Double Tax Treaty.
- Schengen Visa Info - Digital Nomad Visa
- Digital Emigre - Estonia Digital Nomad Visa
Sources last checked on date: 05-May-2023
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