Residence permit in Estonia and other necessary documents to settle

Residence permit in Estonia: what is it and how do you apply for it? What documents do you need to gather, where to submit them, and what other official paperwork do you have to complete if you are settling in Estonia? Any foreign national who is about to move to Estonia and will have to apply for a residence permit and an ID, look for a place to live and do all the other things to organise their life here will almost certainly face such questions. This post gives a brief overview of the steps you will need to take and links to reliable information sources.

You might recently have received a job offer from an Estonian IT start-up. Alternatively, you might be planning to come to Estonia to study or move here to join your family and stay. Depending on your profile and the reason for moving to Estonia, the documents and procedures required may vary, but there are still some key steps everyone needs to keep in mind.

Residence permit in Estonia

How to apply for a residence permit and how to obtain an Estonian ID (if you need it at all)? All official operations related to residence permits and identification documents are performed through the Police and Border Guard Board. This is where you can find detailed information on the conditions applying to foreign nationals’ right to stay in Estonia.

And this is where information about residence permits is provided:

The list of identity documents circulating in Estonia can be confusing at first. The ID card, residence card, digital ID, or e-resident’s digital ID – what are these and who are they meant for? If you are a citizen of a European Union member state who resides permanently in Estonia, you need to apply for an ID card, which will be used as the identification document and at the same time give you access to e-services. If you come from a country outside the European Union, you need to apply for a residence card. This is a mandatory identification document for foreign nationals who are applying for the right of residence or residence permit in Estonia or are living in Estonia on the basis of the right of residence or residence permit and are not citizens of the European Union. The residence card allows you to use online banking services and other e-services. Further information is available here:

There also are migration advisors at the Police and Border Guard Board.  Migration advisors provide consultations by phone (in English and Russian), e-mail and Skype. These specialists are the ones to answer the specific questions you might have. Take you time to read the information on the web page of the Police and Border Guard Board and consult a migration advisor if there are still matters that need explanation:

Finding a place to live and registering your place of residence

To rent or purchase a home, browse through the advertisements on real estate portals and contact the contact person listed in the advertisement for the home you like. A large share of real estate contracts in Estonia is concluded through the mediation of real estate agents, but there are also some property owners who prefer not to use agents’ services and deal with all the formalities themselves. The advertisements about homes for rent or for sale will in most cases provide the contacts of the owner or real estate agent.

When you have found your future home and signed the rent or purchase contract, you must register the place of residence with the local governments. This is necessary, for example, for you to be able to register with a local family physician. Follow the link to learn how to register your place of residence:

Healthcare: how to go to the doctor’s?

When you have obtained the residence permit, you will have the right to register with a family physician. It is the family physician or their nurse who is the first point of contact with the healthcare system in Estonia unless the problem requires emergency care.  The family physician’s role is to diagnose and treat illnesses and give the patient a referral for a specialist doctor’s appointment if necessary. Further information about registering with a family physician is available on the page of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund:

Our blog also has a lengthier post on this topic: (

How to find useful information about getting your paperwork in order?

The International House of Estonia provides free advice on how to manage your official paperwork if you are coming to work in Estonia. you can register for a free consultation here:

Our blog Settle in Estonia ( also features a number of posts on the topics which are important for foreign nationals. The basic module of the programme Settle in Estonia ( is a free course meant for all foreigners who have received a residence permit in Estonia. register for the course to have all your questions answered!