Unlocking opportunity: digital nomad visa, e-residency, and startup visa in Estonia

In the realm of digital innovation and progressive policies, Estonia stands out as a beacon of opportunity for global professionals and entrepreneurs. Estonia has introduced a trio of enticing prospects that cater to the evolving needs of the modern work landscape. In this comprehensive guide, we will embark on a journey through Estonia’s pioneering programs – the digital nomad visa, e-residency, and the startup visa.

Each of these initiatives offers a unique gateway to explore and thrive in Estonia’s dynamic environment. So, whether you’re a digital nomad, an aspiring entrepreneur, or a seasoned innovator, Estonia has something exceptional in store for you.

Estonia’s digital nomad visa

Deciphering the digital nomad visa

Estonia made headlines in August 2020 when it introduced the digital nomad visa. This visa isn’t your typical travel document; it’s a permit that allows remote workers to live in Estonia while legally working for a foreign employer or conducting business activities. With the visa, you can enjoy the picturesque Estonian landscapes while maintaining your professional life.

Who’s eligible for the digital nomad visa?

To qualify for the digital nomad visa, you must meet specific criteria:

  • You should be capable of working independently, regardless of your location.
  • Your work tasks must be achievable through remote telecommunications technology.
  • You must either hold an active employment contract with a company registered outside of Estonia, operate your own foreign-registered business, or freelance for clients predominantly based outside of Estonia.
  • You need to provide evidence of meeting the minimum gross income threshold for the six months preceding your digital nomad visa application, which currently stands at €3504 per month.

The digital nomad visa is a testament to Estonia’s commitment to accommodating the evolving needs of the global workforce.

Estonia’s startup visa

Fueling entrepreneurial ambitions

Estonia’s startup visa program is a game-changer for non-EU founders looking to kickstart or expand their startups in Estonia, one of the world’s most startup-friendly environments. This initiative also simplifies the process for Estonian startups to hire non-EU talent, further fostering innovation and growth.

Founder eligibility for the startup visa

To be eligible for the startup visa as a founder, you need to meet specific criteria:

  • Your business should be technology-based, innovative, and possess scalability with global growth potential.
  • You must obtain approval from the Startup Committee, which assesses your startup’s viability and eligibility.
  • Financial preparedness is crucial, with a minimum requirement of €800 per month for your stay in Estonia.

Entrepreneurs looking to operate their startups in Estonia have two choices: applying for a long-term or short-term startup visa if you haven’t established an Estonian company yet, or opting for a startup visa or a temporary residence permit for startup businesses if you’ve already set up shop in Estonia.

Estonia’s startup visa program exemplifies the country’s dedication to nurturing innovation and providing support for forward-thinking entrepreneurs.

Exploring the game-changer: e-residency

Understanding e-residency

Estonia proudly introduced e-residency, a groundbreaking initiative that offers a government-issued digital identity and status. This digital identity grants access to Estonia’s digital services and transparent business ecosystem.

With e-residency, digital entrepreneurs worldwide can establish and manage EU-based companies entirely online. The numbers speak for themselves, with over 103,000 applicants from 170+ countries establishing over 25,000 Estonian companies.

Key considerations for e-residency

  • While an e-residency digital ID card provides access to e-services, it cannot be used as a valid physical identification or travel document.
  • e-residency does not confer citizenship, tax residency, or physical residency in Estonia or the European Union.
  • Possessing e-residency status alone does not guarantee access to banking services.

Estonia’s e-residency program reflects the government’s holistic approach to empowering entrepreneurs and continually improving the nation’s digital infrastructure and business environment.

Who can apply for e-residency?

As of August 29, 2023, you can apply for e-residency if you meet the following criteria:

  • You must have a clear understanding of why you are applying for e-residency and how you intend to use it lawfully.
  • You should adhere to the law and have good intentions.
  • You must not be an Estonian citizen or a foreigner residing in Estonia with a residence permit or right of residence.

E-residency is particularly well-suited for freelancers, consultants, digital nomads, and other digital entrepreneurs interested in establishing and managing remote digital service companies.

Considerations for applicants

All e-residency applicants undergo thorough background checks conducted by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board. These checks verify compliance with the law, assess criminal records, and scrutinize any circumstances that may impact visa or residence permit approval.

It’s essential to note that the e-residency digital ID card is not a travel document. After approval, applicants must personally visit an official pick-up location to provide fingerprints and collect their e-residency kit.

Estonia’s e-residency program offers entrepreneurs a secure and efficient path to access global markets and conduct business online.

Comparing and contrasting Estonia’s visa and e-residency options

Now that we’ve explored each of Estonia’s unique offerings let’s summarize the key similarities and differences among them:


  1. Embracing remote work:
    • Digital nomad visa : The digital nomad visa is tailored for remote workers, allowing them to live in Estonia while working for a foreign employer or running a business.
    • E-residency: e-residency enables digital entrepreneurs to establish and manage EU-based companies remotely, catering to freelancers and consultants.
    • Startup visa: The startup visa encourages non-EU founders to establish startups in Estonia, offering the flexibility to work and grow their businesses in the country.
  2. Global reach:
    • Digital nomad visa: The digital nomad visa targets individuals seeking a work-travel lifestyle, attracting a diverse pool of international talent.
    • E-residency: e-residency is open to digital entrepreneurs worldwide, promoting global access to Estonia’s business environment.
    • Startup visa: This visa welcomes non-EU entrepreneurs with innovative and scalable business ideas, emphasizing global potential.
  3. Financial considerations:
    • Digital nomad visa: Applicants must demonstrate a minimum gross income meeting the monthly threshold.
    • E-residency: While there are fees associated with e-residency, it doesn’t require a specific income threshold.
    • Startup visa: Entrepreneurs need to provide financial proof to support their stay in Estonia, but the focus is on the viability of their startups.


  1. Purpose and focus:
    • Digital nomad visa: Primarily designed for remote work and travel, the digital nomad visa facilitates a work-life balance for digital nomads.
    • E-residency: e-residency focuses on enabling entrepreneurs to establish and manage businesses online, with an emphasis on access to Estonia’s digital services.
    • Startup visa: Designed explicitly for entrepreneurs looking to establish and grow startups in Estonia, emphasizing innovation and scalability.
  2. Eligibility criteria:
    • Digital nomad visa: Eligibility hinges on the ability to work independently and meet the income threshold, catering to remote workers.
    • E-residency: Open to entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, as long as they respect the law and have good intentions.
    • Startup visa: Geared towards founders with innovative business models and the potential for global growth, with financial readiness as a key criterion.
  3. Business operations:
    • Digital nomad visa : While it allows you to work for a foreign employer or conduct business, its primary focus is on remote work.
    • E-residency: e-residency provides access to Estonia’s business ecosystem, including tax services and digital signatures, making it ideal for managing digital service companies.
    • Startup visa: Designed explicitly for entrepreneurs looking to establish and grow startups in Estonia, emphasizing innovation and scalability.
  4. Duration:
    • Digital nomad visa: Valid for up to one year, with potential extensions.
    • E-residency: e-residency grants access to Estonia’s business services without a fixed duration.
    • Startup visa: Offers both short-term and long-term options, with the possibility of obtaining a temporary residence permit for startup businesses for up to five years.

Incorporate: your gateway to Estonia’s business opportunities

Estonia, a hub of digital innovation and progressive policies, offers a wealth of opportunities for global professionals and entrepreneurs. At Incorporate, we understand the immense potential of Estonia’s pioneering programs—the digital nomad visa, e-residency, and the startup visa – and we’re here to help you unlock these opportunities.

Explore how our services can benefit you here.


Can I apply for both the digital nomad visa and e-residency simultaneously?

No, these are separate programs, and you must choose one based on your primary objectives. The digital nomad visa is for remote work and travel, while e-residency is for managing businesses online.

What are the benefits of e-residency beyond company registration?

E-residency offers access to a wide range of digital services, including digital signatures, tax services, and secure access to Estonia’s business environment.

Is there an age limit for the startup visa program?

No, there is no specific age limit for the startup visa program. Eligibility is primarily based on the innovative nature and scalability of your startup.

Can I apply for e-residency if I’m already an Estonian citizen?

No, e-residency is not available to Estonian citizens.

What happens if I don’t meet the income threshold for the digital nomad visa?

If you don’t meet the income threshold, you may not be eligible for the digital nomad visa. Ensure you meet the financial requirements before applying.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information, which may or may not be correct, complete or current at the time of reading. No recipients of content from this site should act on the basis of content of the article without seeking appropriate legal advice or other professional counselling.

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