Right to stay in Estonia
Temporary extension of the right to stay in Estonia for Ukrainian citizens
As of 24 February 2022, citizens of Ukraine and any of their direct descending or ascending blood relatives – children or parents travelling with them – or a spouse who has no other legal basis for entry into Estonia, or whose legal basis for stay in Estonia has expired or is about to expire, are allowed to stay temporarily in Estonia without the need to prolong their visa or other legal basis of staying in Estonia. To enter and stay in Estonia temporarily these persons should have a valid travel document – a passport – at the time of entry into Estonia or permission to enter the country on humanitarian grounds. Also, Ukrainian citizens who do not have a biometric passport can now enter Estonia without a visa.
Temporary protection for Ukrainian citizens and their family members
As of 9 March 2022, citizens of Ukraine and their family members who have come to Estonia to escape from war may apply for temporary protection and receive a one-year residence permit that allows Ukrainian citizens to enjoy rights similar to those enjoyed by Estonian residents: for example, access to social services and the right to work and study. It also entails the right to move freely within the European Union.
Temporary protection can be applied for by Ukrainian citizens and their family members who have arrived in Estonia since 24 February 2022. Temporary protection applies also to people of another nationality who were granted international protection in Ukraine and their family members who have arrived in Estonia since 24 February 2022. Ukrainian citizens and their family members will be able to prolong their temporary protection if the war situation in Ukraine continues.
Temporary protection can be applied for at police departments of the Police and Border Guard Board in the following cities: Tallinn, Tartu, Jõhvi, Rakvere and Pärnu. The addresses and working hours of the departments can be found here. To apply, a person must book an appointment in advance here. Prior to visiting the police department, it is highly recommended to fill in an application form for all family members and to bring along identification or other documents (e.g. a birth certificate). The forms are available at reception points, places of accommodation and service halls. A decision on whether to grant temporary protection is made on the spot within an hour; however, issuing the residence permit may take up to 30 days. This does not, however, prevent immediate access to social services or delay the start of work. There are also plans to open mobile service centres at places of accommodation for applying for temporary protection, and in such cases prior booking will not be necessary.
Ukrainian citizens and their family members who were residing or staying in Estonia before 24 February 2022 are not eligible for temporary protection. These citizens are still covered by the decision as of 24 February 2022 allowing temporary stay in Estonia, even if other grounds for stay (e.g. visa waiver or visa) have expired.
Right to work in Estonia
Temporary protection granted
If a person has been granted temporary protection and a residence permit, he or she can start working on the same conditions as any other person in Estonia. Hence, such a person may enter into a contract of services or an employment contract without obtaining any additional permits or authorisations.
It should be borne in mind that an employment contract offers the best protection to the employee and that the obligatory requirements set for an employment relationship under an employment contract, i.e. working and rest time, working conditions, salary, overtime requirements etc. must be met.
The remuneration paid to an employee must be at least the minimum salary, which in Estonia in 2022 is EUR 3.86 per hour or EUR 654 per month.
Ukrainian citizens not eligible for temporary protection
Employers must re-register their employees who are Ukrainian citizens with the Police and Border Guard Board, if:
- Ukrainian citizens were residing and working in Estonia before 24 February 2022 and their residence permit to work or registration of short-time employment in Estonia will expire in the near future and they wish to continue working.
Employers must register their employees who are Ukrainian citizens with the Police and Border Guard Board, if:
- Ukrainian citizens are not qualified for temporary protection and thus do not have a residence permit for work under temporary protection, but wish to start working at Estonian employer.
The fastest way to register an employee is to register his/her short-time employment at the Police and Border Guard Board (in English and Russian). In such cases, the employee can work for up to 365 days during a 455-day period. Short-term employment can be registered for a longer period of time for employment as a teacher or a lecturer, for research work, for employment as a top specialist or at a startup company. Short-time employment for participation in seasonal work can be registered for up to 270 days during a year. Changes to the law are currently being prepared to remove restrictions on the duration of short-term employment registration for Ukrainian citizens while the war is ongoing.
Employers can apply for short-term employment registration in person or through an authorised representative at a service centre, in self-service e-environment or by e-mail. You can register short-term employment of a foreign employee by e-mail if you have a valid ID card, residence card, digital ID or mobile ID. Send the signed container to email@example.com. In the subject line of the e-mail, please write: ‘Registration of short-term employment’.
The list of documents required for application for registration of short-term employment of an alien in Estonia is here.
In the case of an urgent registration of short-term employment, a foreigner can begin to work in Estonia starting from the same calendar date when the employer registered the alien’s short-term employment in Estonia with the Police and Border Guard Board. On regular basis the short-term employment is registered or registration is rejected within 15 working days of the day following the date of acceptance of the application for proceeding, or of the date when deficiencies in the application are eliminated; provided that documents are in good order, short-term employment may be registered within two working days.
There might be also a need to apply for a personal identification code for the employee. This can be done by the employee at the local government office. A personal identification code is needed for registration of the employee in the employees’ register at the Tax and Customs Board for payroll taxation purposes and for receiving statutory benefits.
Please note that the employing company has to meet certain criteria when hiring top specialists under short-term employment registration.
- An employer is obliged to pay a foreigner whose short-term employment in Estonia has been registered remuneration equal to at least the annual average gross monthly salary last published by Statistics Estonia. For the period 03.03.2022–02.03.2023, the pertinent salary is EUR 1,548 (gross).
- An employer is obliged to pay a top specialist remuneration equal to at least the annual average gross monthly salary in Estonia, last published by Statistics Estonia, multiplied by a coefficient of 2. For the period 03.03.2022–02.03.2023 the pertinent salary is EUR 3,096 (gross).
If the employer wishes to employ the employee for a longer period, it is advisable to apply for a residence permit for employment shortly after registration of short-term employment. Application for residence permits for employment are usually processed within two months – this is another reason why registration of short-term employment is a sensible solution and the quickest one.
A foreigner may apply for residence permit for employment with an employer registered in Estonia for scientific or research work, if the institution has been entered in the register of science and development institutions. A residence permit for employment may be granted on the basis of a European Union (EU) blue card, for scientific research, for employment as top specialist, employed as a temporary agency worker, working at a startup, or working as an employee transferred within an undertaking etc.
Please note that depending on the position proposed to an employee, the requirements for obtaining consent from Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund and salary requirements may vary. Depending on the type of residence permit, the employer company may also have to meet certain criteria.
A foreigner who has a legal basis for staying in Estonia may submit an application at the Service Office of the Police and Border Guard Board.
To submit the application at the Service Office, a reservation needs to be made here.
The list of the required documents is on the following link and additional information on the process of application for a residence permit for employment is here.
Useful contacts for Ukrainian war refugees:
- State helpline 1247 or +372 600 1247 (staying, accommodation and living arrangements in Estonia)
- Embassy of Ukraine in Estonia +372 601 5815
- Ukrainian Community in Estonia +372 5650 2572
- Emergency phone number 112
Job offers for Ukrainian war refugees can be made by employers here.
Jobs offered to Ukrainian war refugees can be seen here.
The Estonian state agency which deals with the legal basis for foreigners to stay and work in Estonia, including the registration of foreign workers, is the Police and Border Guard Board (www.politsei.ee, available also in Russian and English).