Estonia is a technologically advanced country with high living standards. At the same time, it is also one of the smallest states in the European Union. A little over 1,300,000 people live here. A foreigner will have to do a lot to join their ranks. We will tell you here how to get citizenship of a country bordering on the Baltic Sea.
Estonian Citizenship by Descent
Estonian legislation stipulates that there are only two ways to obtain citizenship: by descent or naturalisation.
The first option is quite easy. Estonian citizenship is granted automatically to anyone if one of their parents has an Estonian passport. It does not matter where the child was born. Children born to foreigners in Estonia are not eligible for Estonian citizenship.
However, if a child is born in Estonia and there is no information about his/her parents, the child isconsidered Estonian. Children adopted by a naturalised Estonian are also eligible for Estonian citizenship.
Tallinn, Estonia. Photo by Kevin McMahon (Unsplash)
Naturalisation Requirements in Estonia
You can become a naturalised Estonian if
- you have a long-term residency permit or the right of permanent residence;
- you have lived legally in Estonia for eight years, including five years permanently, before applying for citizenship;
- you are registered at your place of residence;
- you have a stable source of income;
- you passed the Estonian language proficiency exam (there is an exemption for individuals who attended primary or secondary school or higher education at an Estonian educational institution);
- you passed the exam on knowledge of Estonia’s Constitution and the law on Estonian citizenship;
- you are ready to take an oath of allegiance to the Estonian state.
These are the requirements for applicants seeking Estonian citizenship who are aged 15 or older. Parents or legal guardians apply for passports for children.
Old Town of Tallinn, Tallinn, Estonia. Photo by 66 north (Unsplash)
You can submit your application and documents to a service office. You can find the closest one to your current location by browsing the website of the Estonian Police. It is advisable to go online and book an appointment in advance.
Applicants for Estonian citizenship must submit the following documents:
- the completed application form;
- a good quality digital photo which is no more than six months old (dimensions must be 1300×1600 pixels and a size between 1 and 5 MB);
- a passport or ID;
- documents confirming your legal right to stay in the country;
- documents confirming sources of income;
- a certificate confirming that the language exam and the exam on Estonian citizenship law have been passed;
- a receipt confirming payment of the state fee;
- a document confirming that you have renounced other citizenships or have the status of a stateless person.
In addition, the Estonian citizenship law mentions diplomas on education, documents confirming your professional activity and the submission of a detailed written biography.
If you need to apply on behalf of a child under the age of 15, be ready to submit
- the passports of both parents,
- certified permission from the second parent (if they do not have an Estonian passport), and
- a document confirming that you are a single parent (if that is the case).
It costs EUR 13 to submit an application for Estonian citizenship. You will have to pay up to EUR 45 for the passport application and up to EUR 30 for an ID card.
You can either pay the state fee by bank transfer or in cash at a service office.
Your application must be sent to the Estonian government for review within six months of the date of the submission and registration of the application. If your application is approved, you will receive a certificate on the granting of citizenship by post or in person during an official ceremony.
Reasons Why an Application May be Rejected
You will not be granted Estonian citizenship in the following instances:
- you indicated incorrect data in your application or withheld some facts which prevent you from obtaining citizenship,
- you do not observe the country’s constitution and laws,
- you took actions against the Estonian state and the national security of the country,
- you have been convicted of a criminal offence and spent over a year in prison,
- you have served or serve in a foreign intelligence or security service, and
- you were an officer of a foreign army.
Tartu, Estonia. Photo by Julius Jansson (Unsplash)
You can only take the exam on the knowledge of the Constitution and the Estonian citizenship law at special examination centres which operate in four cities: Tallinn, Jõhvi, Narva and Tartu.
You need to answer 18 out of 24 questions correctly in 45 minutes to pass the exam. You can attend a consultation before the exam.
You can find the date, time and venue of the exam on the website of the Estonian Education and Youth Board. You can also find this information on the portal for state services if you are registered there. You can also register for the exam there.
The Estonian Education and Youth Board publishes the timetable of language exams and auxiliary materials on its website. You must have at least a B1 level of Estonian to apply for Estonian citizenship. The exam lasts for over 2 hours and tests your listening, speaking and writing skills.
Tallinn, Estonia. Photo by Viktor Jakovlev (Unsplash)
Dual Citizenship in Estonia
Officially, dual citizenship is prohibited in Estonia. However, children under the age of 18 can have dual citizenship if one of their parents is a foreign national. After turning 18, they have three years to decide on the citizenship to keep.
An Estonian national who has obtained the citizenship of another country automatically forfeits their Estonian passport. At the same time, however, the Estonian Constitution states that an individual who obtained citizenship by descent cannot forfeit such citizenship. In other words, to all intents and purposes, the ban on dual citizenship only applies to naturalised citizens.
In a Nutshell
It is not easy to obtain Estonian citizenship. You have to live in Estonia for at least eight years before you can apply for naturalisation. You must also be fairly proficient in Estonian, which is a rare and difficult language. Furthermore, to become an Estonian citizen, you must renounce any other citizenship that you may have. However, if you want to live in Northern Europe and meet all the requirements of the Estonian citizenship law, this country might well prove to be a wonderful new home for you.
Cover photo: Old Town, Tallinn, Estonia. Karson (Unsplash)