How to get a startup visa in Estonia and move to the EU

02 November, 2022


The Estonian startup ecosystem is one of the most developed in the region of Central and Eastern Europe. Here startups have the opportunity to develop their product (by participating in competitions, incubation and acceleration programmes), to attract funding from angel and venture capital investors, and to pay taxes easily online. 

In the Doing Business ranking for 2020, Estonia ranks 18th out of 190 countries.

Startup Estonia programme 

Startup Estonia is the Estonian Government's key programme for start-ups, the activities of which are divided into 4 areas:

1. Strengthening the Estonian start-up ecosystem – connecting and building the community through different events and activities, creating and implementing common marketing and sales strategies, promoting regional development and making science-based decisions.

2. Co-organisation of effective startup events, promotion of diversity in the start-up ecosystem by gender, age, culture, origin.

3. Working to educate local investors and attract foreign investors to Estonia.

4. Working on removing the regulatory issues and barriers that complicate startup management, investment, and fundraising in Estonia; implementing startup-friendly regulations, such as Startup Visa (more about Startup Visa programme described above).

The Startup Estonia programme is supported by the KredEx Foundation and funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Startup Visa as a sub-programme of the Startup Estonia programme

Startup Visa is a programme that allows startup founders from countries outside the European Union to develop their project in Estonia. The programme also allows Estonian startups to simplify the process of hiring employees from non-EU countries.  The Startup Visa programme is a sub-field of the Startup Estonia programme.

The Startup Visa programme allows both short-term (three months) or long-term (12 months) visas to Estonia as well as temporary residence permits in this country – the latter is possible if founders have registered a company in Estonia.  

In order to obtain a start-up visa, approval must be obtained from the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs. 

In addition to that, please provide CVs of the startup founders, detailed information about team and project with business plan for the next 5 years, metrics, definition of stage of completion, expected revenue and expenses, sales growth rate. 

Financial support

Entrepreneurship Assistance Fund (Ettevõtluse Arendamise Sihtasutus, EAS) is an organisation that helps obtain subsidies for the development of new (not older than two years) IT companies. The organisation supports the development of innovative companies. The Foundation has a plan for 2019-2023 (in 2020 it was adjusted to the COVID19 pandemic) and one of the strategic objectives of the plan that the Foundation aims to achieve is the creation of internationally known brands in Estonia (KPI +20 brands annually).

Startup subsidies are also available from the Estonian Government Support Centre (RTK). The subsidies are intended for startups, provided that no more than 24 months have passed since their registration. The conditions for receiving the subsidy are that the enterprise must have a high development potential, as well as create jobs (at least 2 jobs) and demonstrate growth in sales income. The amount of startup grant is limited to 15,000 euros.

Photo: Startup Estonia

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