Last updated on 5 August 2020
On August 1, applications will open for Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa, which will allow people to come to Estonia and stay as a tourist, while continuing to work for a foreign employer or as a freelancer.
The Digital Nomad Visa (DNV) will launch on August 1, and is aimed at remote workers.
Digital nomadism is a lifestyle which combines travelling all over the world and teleworking over the Internet. The main areas of activity in digital nomadism include information and communication technology, finance, and marketing.
The e-Residency team in Estonia have put together a guide explaining everything you need to know. This information was first published on the e-residency blog and can be read here. ERR News has published an edited version.
What is a Digital Nomad Visa?
The DNV provides a temporary basis to live and work remotely in Estonia for up to a year.
It is meant for people who can perform their work location-independently, using telecommunications technologies and who work either: For an employer registered abroad, for their own company registered abroad, or as a freelancer for clients mostly abroad.
Staying in Estonia on the DNV does not grant the right to obtain Estonian citizenship or permanent residency.
The DNV is not a residence permit but allows temporary stay. Standard Estonian Government visa rules and procedures apply, in addition to proof of digital nomad eligibility.
Who is eligible to apply for a digital nomad visa?
To be eligible, you must prove that you can work location-independently using telecommunications technologies; essentially that you’re a “digital nomad”.
In addition, you will need to prove that you fit under any one of the three following categories:
- You work for a company that is registered in a foreign country and you have a work contract with that company;
- You conduct business activity for a company that is registered in a foreign country and of which you are a partner/shareholder; or
- You offer freelance or consulting services, mostly to clients, whose permanent establishments are in a foreign country, and with whom you have contracts.
The other important eligibility requirement to be aware of is the income threshold, which is meant to provide evidence on how you will support yourself during your time in Estonia. An applicant must provide evidence of their income during the six months preceding the application.
Currently, the monthly income threshold is €3,504 (gross of tax).
Are there any restrictions on eligibility based on my country of origin or the sector in which I work?
There are no eligibility restrictions based on your country of origin or the sector in which you work.
What is the difference between e-Residency and the Digital Nomad Visa?
The key difference is that the DNV provides holders with the right to stay in Estonia temporarily, whereas e-Residency does not provide any travel rights.
E-Residency is a secure, government-issued, digital identity which provides access to Estonia’s trusted, transparent e-governance services and business environment.
With their unique digital identity card, e-residents can securely authenticate themselves online, establish an Estonian company, digitally sign and encrypt documents and contracts in line with the highest EU standards, and access a broad range of e-services remotely.
The DNV is not connected to e-Residency, and being an e-resident is not a prerequisite to applying for the DNV.
Many e-residents will be eligible to apply, but will be subject to the same application rules and procedures as non-e-residents.
Is there a limit to how many DNVs will be issued?
There is no ceiling for the number of applications or visas issued.
Due to COVID-19, I can’t currently travel to Estonia because of travel restrictions. Does the DNV enable me to bypass these rules and travel to Estonia?
The DNV will not be issued to applicants who do not, at the time of their application, have the ability to travel to Estonia.
It is important to read the latest information on travel to Estonia on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website before making an application for the DNV.
We are aware that in some countries, citizens are not free to travel abroad except in very limited circumstances. Please also carefully check the travel rules of your own country before applying for the DNV.
How do I apply for the DNV?
Applications open on July 15 at Estonian representations which handle visa applications. If you are already legally in Estonia, you can apply at a Police and Border Guard (PPA) office.
If you meet the eligibility requirements, the next step will be to complete the visa application form. The form will be available online from July 15 2020.
The DNV is subject to standard rules and procedures for issuing visas to stay in Estonia, including as they relate to making the relevant visa application, having a valid travel document, paying the state fee for a visa application, having adequate health insurance and financial resources, and passing a background check.
The main difference with the DNV in contrast to other visas to Estonia is that, in addition to the standard visa application procedures, you will need to provide information and documents proving your eligibility as a digital nomad.
When applying for a DNV, you can apply for either an Estonian long-stay visa (D-visa) or a short-stay visa (C-visa), depending on your planned period of stay. Applications can be made in English, Estonian, or Russian. The state fee for a D visa is €100 and for a C visa is €80.
Once you have completed the application form, print a copy and sign it and gather copies of all required supporting documents.
Submit your application in-person at your nearest Estonian Embassy or PPA office (check first whether you need to make an appointment) — and don’t forget your supporting documents!
What additional supporting documents can I provide with my application to prove I am a digital nomad?
In addition to the standard visa application procedures, you will need to provide information and documents proving your eligibility as a digital nomad. That is, you will need to provide:
- Documents certifying that you can perform your work duties independent of location and that you use telecommunications technology in the performance of these duties;
- Documents certifying that you continue to work either: For a foreign-registered employer, for a foreign-registered company in which you have a shareholding, or as a freelancer or consultant mainly providing services to clients with a foreign establishment according to a contractual relationship;
- Focuments certifying your income during the six months preceding the application and which indicate the amount, regularity, and sources of the income; and
- A description of your study and professional life course.
Examples of documents proving the facts referred to the first two points above are:
- A written explanation of the applicant regarding the intention to use the visa for teleworking;
- A written confirmation from the employer that the applicant is able to perform work duties remotely;
- An employment contract or other contract showing your obligations to your employer or company;
- A certificate from the competent authority of the state of location of the applicant concerning the payment of mandatory state or local taxes or social security contributions in the state of location;
- A certificate from the competent authority of the state where the company is located, which shows the name, location, field of activity, your participation in the company and information concerning the legal representatives of the company; or
- Any other documents which prove these facts.
How long will it take for my application to be processed?
This process will take at least 15 days.
The relevant administrative authority will review your application in full and conduct thorough background checks like they would for any visa application to Estonia.
NO person is automatically eligible for a DNV, and applications and backgrounds will be checked as carefully as for any other visa applicants.
Will I be notified if my application is successful?
Successful applicants will be notified when they need to visit a PPA office to verify their identity and pick up their DNV.
Where can I get more information and support regarding my application?
If you apply at an Estonian Embassy, please read the following information on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: for D visas and for C visas. For specific questions about your application, please contact your nearest Estonian embassy for support.
If you apply at a PPA office in Estonia, please read the information published on the PPA website.
You can also contact the PPA migration advisers by phone: +372 612 3500 (Monday to Friday 9.00–15.00 Estonian time) or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org for specific questions regarding the DNV and your application.
Can a DNV-holder also work for an Estonian company / employer?
A foreigner staying in Estonia on a DNV can also work for an Estonian company / employer, but the main purpose of their trip must be the remote work specified in their application, i.e. that they can work independent of location with the help of telecommunications technologies and fit within one of the three eligibility categories set out above.
For example, an IT specialist who works for a foreign employer and stays in Estonia on a DNV may do additional work for an Estonian company as an IT specialist.
Do local companies which employ people who are staying in Estonian on a DNV have registration obligations in Estonia?
As this is additional employment, registration of short-term employment and payment of the average salary in Estonia is not required. However, the main purpose and activity of the stay in Estonia must continue to be related to teleworking for the benefit of a company, customers or employer abroad.
What are the tax obligations of a DNV-holder?
If a DNV-holder stays in Estonia for more than 183 days in a consecutive 12 month period, they will be considered an Estonian tax resident and should declare and pay taxes here.
Otherwise, please direct your questions to the Estonian Tax and Customs Board by email to email@example.com.
Can a DNV-holder stay in Estonia during the entire visa period?
Yes. A person staying in Estonia on the DNV may stay here for the entire validity period of the visa.
How long can a DNV-holder stay in other countries in the Schengen Zone during their visa period?
This depends on whether you have a short-stay or a long-stay visa.
For example, during the validity of an Estonian long-stay visa, the holder can stay in other countries in the Schengen area for 90 days within 180 consecutive days.
See the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more information.
Does a DNV-holder also receive health insurance or collect a pension in Estonia?
A DNV is a temporary basis for stay. A DNV-holder temporarily staying in Estonia must have a health insurance contract that guarantees the payment of medical expenses in case of illness or injury during their stay in Estonia.
The pension is collected by the digital nomad in the country where their social tax is paid, e.g. the country in which they are normally resident or employed.
Can DNV-holders bring family members with them?
If a person is issued with a DNV, that person’s spouse, minor child, and/or adult child who is unable to cope independently due to a medical condition or disability may be issued a visa under the same conditions as the DNV-holder.
Learn more about the DNV here: