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Estonia

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area - 45,227 km2

Population – 1,328,360

Official Language – Estonian

REGISTRATION AND RESIDENCE PERMITS

 A citizen of an EU Member State has the right to work in Estonia for a period of up to 3 months from the date of entering the country. This is also the case where the person has registered their right of residence (where no work permit is required). A family member of an EU citizen is permitted to work in Estonia only if they have been granted the right of residence (no work permit is required). EU citizens and their family members have the legal right to live in Estonia if they have been granted right of residence, which can be temporary or permanent. Family members of EU citizens have the right to remain in Estonia for a period of up to 3 months, as long as they hold a valid travel document. Within this period, an application to be granted temporary right of residence must be submitted. 

In order to be granted a temporary right of residence, the EU citizen must register his or her place of residence with the local government authority nearest to the place of residence, and no later than within 3 months of arriving in Estonia. The right of temporary residence is granted for a period of up to 5 years. The temporary right of residence is automatically extended for 5 years if your place of residence continues to be registered in Estonia. Within a period of 1 month from the granting of the right of temporary residence, the EU citizen in question must visit the service office of the Citizenship and Migration Office of a prefecture of the Police and Border Guard Board in person in order to apply for a residence document (an ID card). When an ID card is no longer valid, the holder must apply for a new one. 

An EU citizen has the right to permanent residence if this citizen has lived in Estonia permanently for 5 consecutive years on the basis of a temporary right of residence. A foreign citizen's permanent residence in Estonia refers to a foreign citizen residing in Estonia on the basis of the Estonian residence permit or right of residence. A new-born child of an EU citizen residing in Estonia on the basis of a right to permanent residence has the right to permanent residence. For registration of the right of permanent residence, the EU citizen in question must visit a service office of the Citizenship and Migration Office of a prefecture of the Police and Border Guard Board or send the requested documents which are required for registration of a right of residence by post. The Citizenship and Migration Office will look through the application and in cases where the right of residence is granted, an ID card shall be issued to the applicant. 

The granting or refusal of an ID card, as well as the registration of or refusal to register a right of permanent residence, shall be decided by the Police and Border Guard within 1 month of the acceptance of the application for remedying any deficiencies. 

More information related to a right of residence can be found at the Police and Border Guard office and on their website.

LOOKING FOR A JOB

In order to find employment, a good starting place is to take a thorough look at job offers. Employment offers are mediated by the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund via its portal and its employment offices, along with several information and job placement portals and employment agencies.

The best-known Estonian job search portals include CV Keskus, CV-Online, Hyppelaud, EkspressJob, the Estonian Public Service competition website, etc. You will find the addresses of the portals under references.

There are EURES advisers working in the Tallinn and Harju County, Tartu County, and Ida-Viru County departments of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, who will provide information on vacancies and on living and working conditions in Estonia to foreign citizens. EURES also provides employers with information on finding suitable workers from other countries in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). The contact information for EURES advisers can be found on the EURES Estonian portal and on the website of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund. 

All of the major Estonian universities have career services which can help university students to find jobs and internship positions. 

Many Estonian employers take part in job fairs in order to find employees. There are job and career fairs organised by the Unemployment Insurance Fund. These take place in virtually all counties of Estonia and are becoming increasingly popular. The fairs present domestic and international job offers, and provide an opportunity for participants to learn about services offered by the Unemployment Insurance Fund, find out about living and working conditions in other countries, receive free career advice, take part in workshops and discussion panels, and much more. In 2019, a total of 21 fairs will be held across Estonia. We also organise a pan-European online job fair at least once a year.

INCOME AND TAXATION

The average gross salary in Estonia in the third quarter of 2018 was EUR 1 291.00, while the average gross hourly salary was EUR 7.51. The highest salaries are paid in the information and communications sector, and the lowest in other service sectors. 

The average monthly gross salary was:

  • in the information and communications sector: EUR 2 181.00
  • in the financial and insurance activities sector: EUR 2 066.00
  • in the electricity and gas supply sector: EUR 1 719.00
  • in the mining sector: EUR 1 594.00
  • in the public administration and national defence sector: EUR 1 579.00
  • in professional, scientific and technical activities: EUR 1 554.00 
  • in the healthcare and social welfare sector: EUR 1 366.00
  • in the construction sector: EUR 1 273
  • in the water supply, sewerage, waste and pollution management sector: EUR 1 350.00
  • in transportation and storage: EUR 1 348.00
  • in the manufacturing sector: EUR 1 234.00
  • in the wholesale and retail trade sector: EUR 1 209.00
  • in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector: EUR 1 167.00
  • in the real estate sector: EUR 1 004.00
  • in the education sector: EUR 1132.00
  • in the arts, entertainment and leisure sector: EUR 1040.00
  • in the hotels and catering sector: EUR 858.00
  • in other service sectors: EUR 936.00.

The tax system in Estonia consists of state taxes which are provided for by relevant taxation acts, and local taxes which are imposed by a rural municipality or urban council within its administrative area pursuant to law. 

The following state taxes are levied in Estonia: income tax, social tax, land tax, gambling tax, value added tax, customs duty, excise duties, heavy goods vehicle tax, unemployment insurance contributions, and contributions to a compulsory-funded pension. The following local taxes are also levied: sales tax, boat tax, advertisement tax, road and street closure tax, motor vehicle tax, animal tax, entertainment tax, and parking charges. 

The following taxes are of the greatest importance to an employee: income tax, social tax, unemployment insurance contributions, and contributions to a compulsory-funded pension.

Income tax

The first thing to find out before coming to Estonia to work is whether Estonia has a valid bilateral taxation agreement with your home country. If this is the case and you stay in Estonia for less than 183 days during any 12-month period and are paid from outside of Estonia by an employer who is not permanently established in Estonia, then your income is taxed in your home country and Estonia has no grounds for taxation. If just one of the above conditions is not met, Estonia has the right to tax your income. If there is no bilateral taxation agreement and you stay in Estonia for less than 183 days in any 12-month period and are paid by the state of Estonia, a local government body or a resident or non-resident company which is operating in Estonia and which has a registered permanent establishment in Estonia, then Estonia has the right to tax the income you have earned in Estonia. If you remain in Estonia for more than 183 days in any 12-month period, then you become a resident in Estonia for tax purposes under Estonian law and are required to declare in Estonia all the income you have earned during a given tax year (income earned in both Estonia and in other countries).

The natural person income tax rate in Estonia in 2018 is 20%. From 1 January 2018, the unified tax-free income rate is applied to all income up to EUR 6 000 per year, or up to EUR 500 per month. The exact amount of tax-free income depends on the size of the taxed income of the individual. If all income (wages, bonuses, rental income, dividends, etc.) is less than EUR 1 200 per month, then the tax-free income is EUR 500 of the total. If the income exceeds EUR 2 100 per month, no tax-free income can be deducted, and if the income is between EUR 1 201 and EUR 2 099, the tax-free income which will be deducted from income will gradually decrease from EUR 500 to EUR 0.

A resident natural person is required to submit an income tax return to the regional tax office of the Tax and Customs Board showing income earned during a tax period, ensuring that the return reaches the board no later than 31 March in the year following the end of the tax period in question. An e-service which is provided by the Tax and Customs Board allows you to submit your tax return by as early as 15 February of the year following the end of the tax year in question. A non-resident is required to submit an income tax return to the Tax and Customs Board showing all taxable earnings during a calendar year, ensuring that it reaches the board no later than 31 March of the following year. If a non-resident transfers (sells) an immovable asset, or a building or a flat as a movable asset, that person must submit an income tax return within a month of the transaction taking place. Income tax returns are submitted to a regional tax centre of the Tax and Customs Board.

Social tax

Social tax is a financial obligation which is imposed on taxpayers in order to be able to gather the revenue required for pension insurance and state health insurance payments. Social tax is paid by employers and self-employed persons against their business income and, in special circumstances, by the Estonian state for various persons specified in the Social Tax Act. The rate for social tax in Estonia is 33% of taxable income. The proportion of social tax which is transferred into the state pension insurance funds amounts to 20% of the total, and the proportion of social tax which is transferred into the state health insurance funds amounts to 13%.

Unemployment insurance premium

Unemployment insurance is compulsory when working in Estonia. It serves to insure employees against unemployment, the collective termination of employment contracts or employer insolvency. Benefits are funded from unemployment insurance contribution payments. In 2018, the employee’s unemployment insurance contribution is 1.6% of salary and other remunerations. The employer’s contribution is 0.8% of the salary fund. The rate for the unemployment insurance contribution is established by the Supervisory Board of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. The unemployment insurance premium is not compulsory for workers who have reached pensionable age; workers who are receiving the early retirement pension; self-employed persons; business entities with a legal personality; and also members of the Riigikogu, the president of the republic, members of the government, members of local government councils, the Auditor General, the Legal Chancellor, and judges.

Compulsory-funded pension payment

People paying into a funded pension can be divided into two groups: those who have the obligation to join and those who join voluntarily. The contribution rate for the compulsory-funded pension is 2% of taxable income. The obligation to make contributions begins on 1 January of the year following the year in which a relevant contributor attains 18 years of age. Persons born before 1 January 1983 have the right and the obligation to make contributions to a compulsory-funded pension if they have submitted an application to join the pension payment of their own will. The contribution is withheld by all employers operating in Estonia.

The Tax and Customs Board can provide further information on the Estonian tax system.

COST OF LIVING

Prices vary according to region, with the most expensive city in Estonia being Tallinn, the country’s capital. According to a survey by the Estonian Institute of Economic Research, in December 2018 the cost of a shopping basket containing essential groceries was EUR 76 per person. Monthly utilities (gas, electricity, water) for a two-room flat are on average EUR 100, although the figure is higher in Tallinn. 

Average retail prices for dairy products in ordinary shops in Estonia, December 2018:

milk 1l EUR 0.69

kefir 1l EUR 0.83

sour cream 20% milk fat 1kg EUR 2.29

butter 1kg EUR 10.13 

cheese 1kg EUR 8.39

Average retail price of vegetables in ordinary shops in Estonia, December 2018:

potatoes 1kg EUR 0.76 

carrots 1kg EUR 1.1 

cucumbers 1kg EUR 4.85

tomatoes 1kg EUR 4.99

Average retail price of fruit in ordinary shops in Estonia, December 2018:

bananas 1kg EUR 1.30

apples 1kg EUR 2.11

Average retail price of meat products in ordinary shops in Estonia, December 2018: 

pork 1kg EUR 6

beef 1kg EUR 11.93

minced meat (beef-pork mixture) 1kg EUR 4.97

chicken 1kg EUR 2.68

eggs 10 pcs EUR 1.75

Average retail price of fresh fish in ordinary shops in Estonia, December 2018:

trout 1kg EUR 7.18

salmon 1kg EUR 8.87 

Average retail price of cereal products in ordinary shops in Estonia, December 2017:

bread 1kg EUR 1.85

white bread 1kg EUR 1.71

Leisure: 

A standard cinema ticket costs between EUR 3.00 and EUR 9.00.

A three-course lunch in an ordinary restaurant costs about EUR 25–30 per person.

Prices for fuel fluctuate, and also differ between petrol stations. The average price for one litre of 95 petrol was around EUR 1.30 in January 2019.

More information on incomes and price levels in Estonia can be found via the websites of Statistics Estonia, the Estonian Institute of Economic Research, and the market research company TNS Emor.

Text last edited on: 05/2019

 EDUCATION SYSTEM

The educational system in Estonia consists of four levels: pre-school, primary, secondary and higher education. Estonian educational institutions provide the following forms of study: daytime studies, evening studies, part-time and full-time studies, distance learning, external studies, home studies and individual studies.

A child must attend school if they have attained 7 years of age by 1 October of the year in question. Studying is compulsory until acquiring basic education or turning 17 years of age. In Estonia home schooling is deemed to meet the obligation to provide compulsory schooling.

Children of foreign citizens and stateless persons who reside in Estonia, excluding the children of representatives of foreign states, must attend school.

Estonian is the language of instruction in the majority of Estonian primary schools and upper secondary schools, but there are also primary and upper secondary schools in which the language of instruction is Russian. Estonian is generally the language of tuition in universities, institutions of professional higher education, and vocational educational institutions. There are a few universities that teach in English.

Primary education 

In Estonia, primary education is provided by primary schools, which are usually linked to upper secondary schools. Primary schools include Grades 1–9.

Upper secondary education 

Estonian upper secondary education is divided into general secondary education and vocational secondary education.

General secondary education is provided by upper secondary schools, a ‘keskkool’ or ‘gümnaasium’ in Estonian. Upper secondary schools start with Year 10 and end with Year 12. The acquisition of a general secondary education provides the prerequisites for continuing one’s studies in terms of acquiring higher or vocational qualifications. A vocational secondary education is acquired on the basis of a person’s primary education or general secondary education, which then provides the prerequisites and grants the rights to start working in one’s chosen vocation or profession or to continue one’s studies in order to acquire higher qualifications.

Higher education 

Estonian higher education is divided into two: vocational higher education and academic education. A vocational higher education is provided in Estonia by vocational higher education institutions while an academic education is provided by universities. A higher education is also offered by some vocational educational institutions. Those institutions which offer a higher education are divided into state-owned and publicly or privately owned institutions. As a rule, studying in state institutions of vocational higher education and universities is free. Private universities and institutions charge tuition fees.

There are three levels of higher education: Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral. 

Further information on the educational system in Estonia is available via the Ministry of Education and Research.

RECOGNITION OF DIPLOMAS AND QUALIFICATIONS

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:
- An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
- The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  1. Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

  1. a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  2. a language passport,
  3. certificate supplements,
  4. diploma supplements, and
  5. a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

USEFUL LINKS

www.haigekassa.ee - Health Insurance Fund

www.hm.ee - Minsitry of Education and Science

www.ehis.hm.ee - Minsitry of Interior

www.vm.ee - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

www.ensib.ee - Social Ministry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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