Venturing into international markets is a bold and rewarding move, with Estonia emerging as a premier destination for global businesses. Recognizing the potential for economic growth and innovation, Estonia simplifies this transition by providing intra-corporate visas and residence permits. This strategic approach allows foreign enterprises to seamlessly plant roots in Estonian soil.

In the forthcoming discourse, we will delve into the intricacies of inaugurating a Branch Office or a Group Company within Estonia’s dynamic landscape. More than a gateway to the Estonian market, this initiative is a passageway for expatriates aiming to penetrate the broader EU marketplace. The advantages are manifold, promising a business-friendly climate and a future-forward stance—a compelling proposition for aspiring global entrepreneurs and established entities alike. This exploration will equip you with vital insights, amplifying your prospects for transnational success.

Understanding the Intra-Corporate transfer Visa and Residence permit

The Intra-Corporate transfer Visa or Residence permit in Estonia is designed to enable foreign companies to set up a commercial presence within the country.

You work for a company established outside the European Union (EU), and you are going to be transferred to a branch or a group company in Estonia? You can find information below on the conditions, procedures, rights and mobility you can enjoy during your stay.

Attention!

Generally, when it comes to the immigration of individuals whose citizenship is anything apart from the EU, United States, United Kingdom or Japan, it is important to consider immigration quotas.
Certain types of residence permits are exempted from the immigration quotas. See full list of exemptions here.

GOOD NEWS

EU Member States are not allowed to impose immigration quotas on intra-corporate transferees. This is because intra-corporate transfers are seen as a way to promote economic growth and job creation in the EU.
Conditions

You can enter, reside and work in Estonia as an intra-corporate transferee if you are a manager, specialist or trainee employee. The definitions and conditions of admission are governed by the EU Directive on intra-corporate transfer (Articles 3 and 5 of Directive 2014/66/EU). If you fulfil the conditions, you will be issued an Intra-Corporate Transferee permit.

Please note that before being transferred from a company branch located outside of the EU to a branch in Estonia, you must have been employed by that company for a certain time period: if you are a manager or specialist 12 months; a trainee 6 months.

Procedures
Where and how to apply You must apply for an ICT permit at the Estonian embassy or consulate in your country of origin or permanent residence, or, if you are legally residing in Estonia, at the Police and Border Guard services
Documents required

You must provide:

  • a valid passport;
  • health insurance;
  • information on accommodation;
  • invitation by employer;
  • copy of the work contract;
  • dates of the intra-corporate transfer;
  • employment contract/offer of employment;
  • amount of remuneration
Further requirements You must register your place of residence in the Population Register within a month of your arrival or receiving the residence permit if you are in Estonia.
Duration of validity of permits

The period of validity of the ICT permit is the duration of the transfer, and may be extended to a maximum of 3 years for managers and specialists and 1 year for trainee employees.

After this period, the transferee will need to leave or apply for a new residence permit.

Appeals Appeals against refusals can be brought to administrative courts or a challenge may be filed against a decision within ten days from the date of notification of the decision. A decision on the challenge may be contested in an administrative court within the same term.
Extension or renewal ICT permit may be extended up to the maximum period of validity of the residence permit, which is one year for trainee employees and three years in case of managers and specialists.
Rights
Family members It is possible to bring your family members to Estonia. Family members can apply for a residence permit at the Estonian embassy or consulate in their country of origin or residence or at the Police and Border Guard Board in case they have a legal ground for staying in Estonia (e.g. visa). Application for ICT permit and for the family members may be submitted simultaneously.
Other rights A person with an ICT permit benefits from equal treatment with nationals of Estonia in what regards freedom of association; recognition of diplomas and professional qualifications; provisions regarding social security (with conditions); access to goods and services (with exceptions).
Mobilty

Upon the fulfilment of certain conditions you can, on the basis of an ICT permit issued in one EU country, work in other EU countries if the entity where you will work belongs to the same company. If the duration of your mobility is shorter than 90 days during a 180-day period, you are subject to short-term mobility rules. If the duration of the mobility is longer than 90 days, you are instead subject to long-term mobility rules.

The following procedures apply if you have an ICT permit in an EU Member State and intend to move and work in Estonia:

Short-term mobility 

If you have a valid residence permit for intra-corporate transfer according to Directive 2014/66/EU, you may work in Estonia for the purpose of intra-corporate transfer during the validity of the ICT permit issued by the first Member State.

The employer needs to notify the Police and Border Guard by filling a short-term employment registration.

As an intra-corporate transferee, you may start employment as soon as the notification is sent out (electronically in the self-service, by e-mail or in the Police and Border Guard services

Long-term mobility

If you have a valid residence permit for intra-corporate transfer according to Directive 2014/66/EU, you may work in Estonia for the purpose of intra-corporate transfer during the validity of the ICT permit issued by the first Member State.

The employer needs to notify the Police and Border Guard by filling a short-term employment registration (electronically in the self-service, by e-mail or in the Police and Border Guard services).

You may start employment as soon as the notification is sent out (by e-mail or in the Police and Border Guard services).

Your family members may accompany you.

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Branch Office or company Registration and Permanent Establishment for Tax Purposes

The digital infrastructure in Estonia, bolstered by the e-residency program, has made it incredibly user-friendly to register a company or a branch office of a foreign company online. This offers businesses an advantage to extend their operational reach into the European market seamlessly and affordably. Additionally, a company may wish to set up a permanent establishment in Estonia for tax purposes. Doing so can allow a company to benefit from Estonia’s robust digital economy, transparent taxation system, and the broader advantages of the EU market.

Taxation of Companies and Permanent Establishments in Estonia

Permanent establishments and companies in Estonia are subject to the country’s corporate income tax regime. Unlike many countries where corporate profits are taxed upon earning, Estonia employs a unique system where corporate profits are taxed only upon distribution. This means that if a company reinvests its profits back into the business, no immediate corporate tax is levied. However, when profits are distributed as dividends or repatriated to the headquarters, the corporate tax applies, which is 20%. This system encourages reinvestment and growth of businesses. It’s essential for companies to be aware of the specific deductions, exemptions, and nuances of the Estonian tax code to ensure compliance and optimize their tax position. Consulting with a local tax professional is always recommended.

Can e-residency help me to get a residence permit?

E-residency is a digital identity provided by the Estonian government that allows individuals to manage and establish a business online within Estonia.

e-residency itself does not grant a physical right to live or work in Estonia.

It serves as a precursor to making investments in the country, as it facilitates the processes by reducing bureaucracy and onerous paperwork. With e-residency, a lot more can be done online, such as visiting an online notary, and buying a property and you with the ability to issue Qualified electronic signatures.

 

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