Estonia Digital Nomad Visa: Eligibility, Documents Required, Application Process
After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, working remotely was adopted by many and though the pandemic seems to be over, people are still used to working at home or wherever they find themselves. As one of the steps toward economic recovery from the pandemic, several countries have introduced what is called Digital Nomad Visa to woo remote workers to stay and work legally in their countries.
Estonia is one of the countries that have introduced the Digital Nomad Visa. The Estonia Digital Nomad Visa allows holders to live and work in Estonia for a period of up to one year. The visa is not renewable and a second visa application should be lodged if the holder wants to stay longer prior to the expiry of the visa. A foreigner in the EU, which Estonia is a member of, cannot stay for more than 548 days within 730 consecutive days and as such, the second visa application can only be valid for 6 months.
The major need of a digital nomad is good internet access and this makes Estonia one of the best destinations for persons looking for good and stable internet connectivity. Estonia has declared access to the internet a human right. A good internet network is available everywhere in the country and is mostly available for free.
The cost of living in Estonia is lower compared to other European countries.
If you are staying for 183 days or less, you won’t be required to pay taxes in Estonia.
Your Estonian long-stay visa (D-Visa) also allows you to stay or visit the Schengen area for 90 days within 180 consecutive days.
The downside of choosing Estonia is that the country has only a few embassies across the world. For instance, there is no Estonian Embassy in Ghana and Ghanaian residents who want to apply for a long-stay Estonian visa have to travel to another country to make the application. If you are applying from Ghana, the Estonian Embassy in Abu Dhabi is the best option since travel to the UAE is easier for Ghanaian passport holders.
So this post has been written with the assumption that you are a Ghanaian lodging your application at the Embassy Of Estonia in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Before you think of applying for a Digital Nomad Visa, ask yourself if your work is location-independent and if you can work from anywhere you find yourself using telecommunication technologies like the internet. If you answered YES, then you are eligible to live and work in Estonia if one of the following applies to you:
- You are an employee of a company registered in a foreign country and you have a contract to that effect; or
- You own a registered business in a foreign country, or are a partner or shareholder of a business registered in a foreign country; or
- You are a freelancer or Consultant based in foreign country offering services to clients with whom you have contracts with.
Where do you fall?
The first one applies to you if you are hired by a company registered outside Estonia, like your home country, and you can perform your duties remotely. A contract between you and your employer is a must-have document. These contracts come in the form of employment contracts, otherwise known as appointment letters.
If you have a business registered in a country other than Estonia and can conduct your activities anywhere in the world using the internet, then the second one applies to you. You will need your business registration documents to show that you have a business, you are a partner, or a shareholder of a business.
Most people will fall under the third eligibility criteria as freelancers usually don’t have registered businesses. If you are based outside Estonia and provide services to clients, you qualify to move to Estonia. Digital Workers like YouTubers, Bloggers, Writers, Web Developers, and others fall under this section. Freelancers don’t usually enter into formal contracts with clients anytime they provide services and as such other means of proving that there is a ‘contract’ can be added to the application. These can be email correspondence about the services provided.
Eg: The emails a web developer exchanges with clients on a web-developing project can be printed as a contract. An email confirming that an Ad Network has accepted a blogger’s blog to display its ads can also be printed as a contract. Any other emails proving that a service has been provided to a client is all accepted as a contract.
The Estonian government estimates that a digital nomad would spend €116.80 daily and as such Digital Nomad Visa applicants have to demonstrate that they earn an average of €116.80 daily for the past six months. Applicants must include in their application bank statements of the past six months showing minimum monthly earnings of €3504 (€116.80 x 30).
The embassy does not expect to see a closing balance of €42,632 (€3504 x 12) to prove that you can take care of yourself for the entire year stay in Estonia. You are only required to show that you can take care of yourself for the first month.
So your bank statement has two things to meet:
- a minimum balance of €3504, and
- monthly minimum earnings of €3504.
Only legally-acquired income is accepted. Applicants have to prove that the funds shown in their bank statements were acquired legally.
Include all sources of revenue which include your salary, dividends, director fees, rental income, interest from investments, shares, assets, etc.
Indicate through writing that you can work from anywhere irrespective of the location using telecommunications technology. This written document explains what you do and what you intend to do in Estonia if granted the visa.
A document to prove what you do. If you are employed by a company, you can prove this by adding a contract or employment letter (appointment letter). Your employer must state in an introductory letter that you can perform your duties remotely. Self-employed applicants, shareholders, or partners of a registered company, prove their employment status with business registration documents and tax clearance certificates.
Freelancers usually do not have documents to prove that they are freelancers. Any document that can prove that you have a working or contractual relationship with clients or firms in countries other than Estonia, can be used as proof of employment. These can be email correspondents showing that you are getting paid for providing services to the client/firm.
Proof of income for the last six months preceding the application. This is basically your bank statements and other documents showing why the monies were sent to your account. Depending on what you do, you can add to your bank statements some current invoices, receipts, and transfer advice.
Documents about your educational qualification and professional life. Include certificates of all courses and training you have taken. Estonia understands digitisation and as such online courses and training can be included. It is advised that you enclosed a CV and include a document to support some of the items mentioned on the CV, especially those that relate to your current field of work.
You need to know where you intend to stay at least for the first month. Though the Digital Nomad visa is issued for a period of one year, you are not required to reserve accommodation for the whole year. Reserve a hostel or hotel accommodation for at least one month. Take note of the hotel’s refund policy as you are not required to confirm your travel plans until your visa is issued.
Get insurance cover for one year to cover your medical expenses for the entire period of your stay. Only insurance companies that provide minimum coverage of EUR 30,000.00 are accepted. The insurance package must cover the entire Schengen Area as you might want to visit other Schengen member states while in Estonia.
Your passport should meet three conditions;
- issued within the past 10 years,
- should remain valid for at least 3 months after the expiry of your visa, and
- should have at least 2 blank pages for visas.
Include public documents; Birth Certificate and Marriage Certificate if you are married, even if your spouse is not travelling with you to Estonia. All public documents must be legalised.
A standard passport-size photo (35mm x 45mm) taken within the last 6 months against a white or plain light-colored background. Don’t staple the photo to the forms.
Below are the simple steps in making your Estonia Digital Nomad Visa application.
The first step is to assess yourself to make sure you qualify as a digital nomad and that you meet all the requirements including the minimum monthly income requirement of EUR3504.
Make a checklist of the required documents to be sure you can provide all the necessary documents depending on what you do. These documents basically confirm that you are either self-employed or employed and that you can carry out your activities using the internet or other telecommunication technologies to work outside your home country or anywhere you find yourself.
Complete Visa Form
Before you complete the visa application form, have an idea of when you intend to travel to Estonia while bearing in mind the next visa appointment date and application processing times. You are likely to get an appointment to submit your application no earlier than two months time. So if you are completing the visa form on 1st January, your travel date should be anytime from 1st April.
Appointment waiting times change from time to time depending on the workload at the embassy. Allowing more time between the time appointment is booked and documents submitted at the embassy would give you enough time to gather all the necessary documents.
Before you complete the visa form, make accommodation and air ticket reservations as you will need the address of the place you intend to stay and also the date of travel.
Once you know your travel date, made accommodation arrangements, and air ticket reservation, go ahead to fill out the visa form online. You will be issued a number after the successful completion of the form. Take note of this number as you will need it to schedule an appointment to submit the application.
Visit the online booking calendar to book an appointment. The appointment calendar shows available dates for the next two months. If there are no available dates, it means there are no dates available in the next two months. Keep monitoring the booking website every day to make sure you grab a spot as soon as new dates become available.
The Estonian missions abroad respond to emails promptly and they can tell you when new dates would be made available.
Gather Documents, including legalisation of documents
The next step after booking an appointment is to start putting your documents together. Birth and Marriage Certificates have to be legalised.
After obtaining all the required documents for your application, appear at the Embassy Of Estonia on the day of your appointment with all the documents and debit/credit card to make payment of the visa fee.
Note that you may have to travel back to Ghana after the application and as such you need to get your passport back after submitting the application. Once you request your passport, the embassy will hand it back to you.
If you can stay in Abu Dhabi for up to 30 days to wait for your decision, then you can leave it with them but is it strongly advised that you keep your passport even if you intend to stay in Abu Dhabi. Anything could come up and you might want to travel to Ghana with it. Also, take note that visa processes are always subject to delays and one cannot be sure of processing times.
Estonia D-Visa fee is EUR100 and payable by card at the Embassy or Bank Transfer. Cash payment is not accepted.
To speed up the application process, crosscheck to make sure you have included all the necessary documents. The embassy takes 15 to 30 days to make a decision on your application. Once the application is successful, you will be notified by email to revisit the Estonian Embassy for your visa.