January 2023

Estonian Startup Visa

Estonia’s Startup Visa program is your gateway to harnessing the immense opportunities in one of the world’s top destinations for startups. Designed to support non-EU founders, this initiative not only helps you expand your startup within Estonia but also simplifies the process of hiring non-EU talent for local startups. If your product is innovative and exhibits the potential to scale, the Estonian Startup Visa or Scale-up Visa is your golden ticket.

Eligibility Criteria for Founders:

  1. Tech-Driven Innovation: Your startup should be technology-based, innovative, and scalable. Think of businesses like Airbnb and Uber, not traditional restaurants or one-person consultancies. The Startup Visa targets startups that are geared to tackle significant challenges, disrupt industries, and cater to a broad global audience.
  2. Startup Committee Approval: To qualify for the Startup Visa, you must receive approval from the Startup Committee. These are experts who work closely with startups daily and have a keen eye for innovation. Traditional businesses may not meet their criteria.
  3. Sufficient Funds: You need a minimum of €800 for every month you plan to spend in Estonia, as required by law. However, considering that a decent rental flat costs around €600 per month, you should budget for more to ensure a comfortable lifestyle in Estonia.

Running Your Startup in Estonia:

You have two options to operate your startup in Estonia:

  • Without an Estonian Company: You can apply for a long-term startup visa (up to 12 months) or a short-term visa (up to 3 months).
  • With an Estonian Company: If you have already established an Estonian company, you can apply for a startup visa (both short-term and long-term) or a temporary residence permit for a startup business (up to five years).

How to Apply for a Startup Visa:

Step 1 – Fill out the Qualification Form: Introduce your company to the Startup Committee, providing as much relevant information as possible. Think of it as applying for an accelerator program or pitching to potential investors.

Step 2 – Qualification: The Startup Committee, comprised of Estonian startup community members, will review your application and provide a decision within 10 working days. You’ll receive a verification letter with a unique application code, which you should keep for the next steps.

Step 3 – Apply for the Visa: If your company qualifies, fill out the startup visa application or the temporary residence permit application using your unique code. Apply in person at an Estonian embassy in your preferred city or at a service point for the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board. If you require assistance, don’t hesitate to contact the Migration advisory service.

Step 4 – Embark on Your Journey: Once your application is approved, you’re ready to make your move to Estonia. There are excellent resources available to help you prepare, such as Work in Estonia, Welcoming Programme, and Topia.

Required Documents:

For your visa application, ensure you submit the following documents:

  • Valid travel document
  • Confirmation letter from the Startup Committee regarding your startup’s qualification or confirmation of participation in a qualified accelerator program
  • A color photo sized 35 x 45 mm
  • A document confirming payment of the state fee
  • An insurance policy valid for Estonia or the Schengen area with coverage of at least €30,000 for your entire stay
  • Proof of sufficient means of subsistence
  • Evidence of your planned accommodation in Estonia
  • Any information supporting your intention to leave the Schengen area before your visa expires, such as return flight tickets

For your temporary residence permit application, you’ll need the same documents as listed above.

The Estonian Startup Visa opens doors to innovation and global growth potential. If you’re considering Estonia as your startup’s next home, reach out to us for more information. Estonia welcomes those ready to embrace the thriving opportunities in this innovative ecosystem.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Readers are encouraged to seek professional counsel regarding their specific circumstances.