How to apply for an Estonian Temporary Residence Permit

So it appears that the temporary residence permit is a fairly unusual thing – at least among my colleagues. While the Marketing team is fairly international, nearly everyone is from the EU. And the one other person who isn’t from the EU is from Chile and needed a D-visa instead.

This meant that when the well-intentioned HR team put together a guide for new employees arriving in Estonia, the residence permit section wasn’t very complete.

The English versions of Estonian government websites don’t tend to be that helpful either – as you’ll see on the Police and Border Guard website, they are still listing the residence permit quota for 2017.

So, here’s the process in a nutshell:

  1. Get an ID code (this is required to book your appointment).
  2. Book an appointment with the Police and Border Guard office (work booked mine, and it was about two weeks in advance).
  3. Bring the following documents to your appointment:
    1. Your passport
    2. A completed application form
    3. A completed form listing your family members (mine listed my parents and Drew, since we don’t have any dependants)
    4. Depending on your justification for applying, you will need the relevant additional forms:
      1. To work: Your employer will also need to submit documentation on your behalf
      2. Settling with a spouse:
        1. Completed invitation by a spouse
        2. Proof of adequate legal income – €260 per month in 2017
        3. Health insurance contract
        4. Proof that you and the person inviting you are actually married (i.e. marriage certificate)
      3. Minor child settling with a parent: Completed invitation by a parent
      4. Adult child settling with a parent: Completed invitation by a parent
      5. Settling of a ward with a guardian:
        1. Completed invitation by a guardian
        2. Proof of adequate legal income 
        3. Health insurance contract 
      6. Settling of a parent/grandparent with a child/grandchild:
        1. Completed invitation by a child/grandchild
        2. Proof of adequate legal income 
        3. Health insurance contract 
      7. For studying
        1. Proof of adequate legal income
        2. Health insurance contract
      8. For business: 
        1. Proof of adequate legal income
        2. Health insurance contract
      9. To participate in criminal proceedings: A different application form
    5. The reservation confirmation for your appointment
  4. The following you will organise on the day:
    1. A photo measuring 40mm x 50mm (there are photo booths at the office)
    2. Payment of the state fee (you can pay by card at the office)

Assuming you have all of that ready to go, there shouldn’t be any problems on the day. In my case, there were a couple of hiccups.

Hiccup 1: No reservation number

Because work booked the appointment for me, I had no reservation number. I didn’t realise I needed one until I arrived and was asked to enter one into the ticket machine to get into the queue.

Unfortunately it was a fairly busy time, so the staff needed to wait for the queue to be processed before they could help me. At that point, they pulled out a print out from behind one of the desks and looked for my name. (So digital! Go Estonia!)

After they found me, they sent me to a photo booth to get a photo, after which I was able to get a ticket to join the queue. Cue 40 minutes of waiting!

Hiccup 2: Missing form

I didn’t complete the form listing data concerning my family members. My thinking was that I had no children, and that Drew would be going through this process himself, so it wasn’t necessary.

The lovely woman at the desk informed me that I still needed to complete it and, thankfully, was able to print out a form there and I completed it while she processed the rest of my application.

Hiccup 3: Incorrect date on the letter from my employer

My employer had sent through a letter verifying my right to a permit (as in, I was actually employed by them) that was waiting on the system when I arrived. Unfortunately they had specified the start date for my residence permit as December 14, which was after my 90-day visa-free period would expire (for non-Australians, Aussies can travel in the EU for up to 90 days without a visa. This is how I was able to start working before organising all of this stuff).

I called HR and tried to contact them on Slack, but no one was available. Luckily, the consultant processing my application gave me her email address and said HR could send the updated letter directly to her once they had it.

The next day the updated letter was sent through, and I’m assuming everything was processed successfully since I haven’t heard otherwise. With any luck, I’ll have a residence permit in two months!


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