Settling in Estonia

People, who move to Estonia from a country outside of the European Union (EU) due to a change of residence, marriage or temporarily for studying in Estonia, can import their personal belongings without paying import duties if certain conditions are met.
  • A settler (also a migrant) is a person ceases to be a permanent resident of a third country (non-EU Member State) and moves to the EU. In Estonia, customs clearance is carried out only for items that remain at the disposal of the settler in Estonia.
  • If a person moves to Estonia in connection with marriage to a citizen of the EU, it is possible to apply for relief of duty on gifts and dowry related to marriage in addition to personal belongings.
  • A person coming to study in Estonia can apply for duty relief on educational materials and certain personal belongings intended for personal use during studies.

 Legal base

Council Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009

setting up a Community system of reliefs from customs duty, Articles 3 to 11

Personal belongings are items previously owned and used by the person and intended for use by the same person in a new place of residence. Personal belongings should not indicate by their nature or quantity that they are being imported for commercial purposes. Personal belongings are primarily household items (personal items, home textiles, furnishings etc.), home items, pets and saddle animals, as well as, vehicles such as bicycles and motorcycles, private motor vehicles and their trailers, caravans, pleasure crafts and private aircrafts.

The relief does not apply to alcohol, tobacco and tobacco products, commercial vehicles and items used to carry out professional or work activities, except portable instruments used for practicing applied arts and humanities.

Duty relief conditions in the case of relocation, marriage or studying in Estonia


Relocation

A settler (also a migrant) is a person who ceases to be a resident of a third country (non-EU Member State) and the moves to the EU. In Estonia, customs clearance is carried out only for items that remain at the disposal of the migrant in Estonia.

  • Relief shall be granted only to persons whose normal place of residence has been outside the Community for a continuous period of at least 12 months. However, the customs authorities may grant exceptions to the rule in paragraph 1, provided that the intention of the person concerned was clearly to reside outside the Community for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

    For example, the person had intended to reside in a non-Community country for at least 12 months in connection with the commencement of work, but the employer terminated the employment contract before the prescribed time.

  • Living in a third country, as well as settling in Estonia must be proven to the customs by submitting relevant documentation.

  • Residing in a non-Community country, and also transferring their place of residence to  Estonia has to be certified by submitting relevant documents (for example, a residence permit, work permit, lease contract, registration card of a non-Community country, notice of applying for a passport submitted to Citizenship and Migration Department of the Police and Border Guard Board). Customs authorities have the right to require explanations about the documents submitted.
  • Personal belongings to which the duty relief applies must be in use by the settler at his/her former place of residence for at least six months before the date on which his/her permanent residence in the third country ceases. The customs checks at customs clearance the documentation which prove the ownership and use of personal belongings.
  • The personal property, in respect of which the relief shall be granted, must have been, in general, in the possession of the person at his former normal place of residence for a minimum of six months before the date on which he ceases to have his normal place of residence in the third country of departure. The customs authorities may require, where appropriate, the documents certifying the possession or use of the property (purchase invoices, guarantee talons, delivery notes and the like).
  • Personal belongings are intended to be used for the same purposes at the new permanent residence of the migrant, i.e. purpose of use of personal belongings must not change at importation.
  • The personal property is intended to be used for the same purpose at the new normal place of residence of the person; it means that the purpose of use must not be changed on importation.
  • The migrant can import personal belongings duty-free within 12 months beginning from the date he/she settled in Estonia. During the specified period, personal belongings may arrive in several separate consignments.
  • In general, the person, who transfers his normal place of residence from non-Community country to Estonia, may import his personal property free of duties within 12 months from the date of establishment of his normal place of residence in the Estonia. Within the period mentioned the personal property may be arrived in several separate consignments.
  • In exceptional cases, the migrant may send (bring) his/her personal belongings to Estonia up to six months before the actual settling. In this case, it is necessary to submit a written undertaking on settling to Estonia and a security. The size of the security is usually the amount of import customs duty and value added tax, which will have to be paid in case the duty reliefs cannot be applied (the person does not settle in Estonia within 6 months). The security will be refunded when the person has settled a permanent residence in Estonia within 6 months and has filed necessary documentation to the customs and the items conform to the requirements of being granted the duty relief.
  • The person, who transfers his normal place of residence to Estonia may send his personal property to the Community up to six months before the actual transferring his normal place of residence. In this case the person has to submit a written undertaking that he actually establishes his normal place of residence there within a period of six months and a security covering the customs debt liable to be incurred. The amount of the security shall be, in general, the sum of the import duties and the value added tax that ought to have been paid, if no relief was granted. The security shall be returned, if the person concerned has established his normal place of residence in the Community within a period of six months, submitted necessary documents to the customs authorities and the goods shall fulfil the conditions giving entitlement to relief.
  • Within 12 months beginning from the date when the items (imported duty-free) were allowed to be released into free circulation, these items must not be provided for use free or for a fee, used as security or transferred without prior notification to the customs.
  • Until 12 months have elapsed from the date on which its entry for free circulation was accepted, personal property which has been admitted duty-free may not be lent, given as security, hired out or transferred, whether for a consideration or free of charge, without prior notification to the customs authorities. Any loan, giving as security, hiring out or transfer in respect of the personal property entered for free circulation before the expiry of the abovementioned period shall entail payment of the relevant import duties on the goods concerned, at the rate applying on the date of such loan, giving as security, hiring out or transfer, on the basis of the customs value ascertained or accepted on that date.

    NB! The migrant can carry out these operations with items imported duty-free before the 12-month period, if he/she has informed the customs authorities and has paid the corresponding import duties.
  • The person may perform the operations mentioned in paragraph 5 with the property imported duty-free before the expiry of the 12 months, if he has notified the customs authorities and paid the relevant import duties.

    Before the above-mentioned deadline, when items previously released for free circulation duty-free are provided for use free of charge or for a fee, when they are used as security or when they are transferred, the corresponding import duties must be paid on these items at the rate that is valid on the day of provision of items for use free or for a fee, on the day of their use as a security or on the day of their transfer, according to the customs value assigned or accepted on that day.
    Customs can be informed by e-mail emta@emta.ee or at the address: Estonian Tax and Customs Board, Lõõtsa 8a, 15176 Tallinn, Estonia.
  • If a migrant, due to professional duties, leaves the third country where his/her permanent residence was, without moving to Estonia permanently at that time, but intends to do this later, then the customs can apply exemption from duty on personal belongings. 
    In this case, a 12-month period associated with prohibition against disposal is calculated from the day when the migrant actually moves to Estonia permanently. A condition for the application of exemption of duty is a written undertaking of the migrant to settle permanently in Estonia within the time specified in the written undertaking and accepted by the customs.
    Together with the written undertaking, the customs may require the submission of a security. The amount of the security is usually the amount of import duties and value added tax that would have to be paid if the relief of duty could not be applied (the person would not settle in Estonia within the specified time). The security is refunded if the person settles to Estonia permanently within the time specified in the written undertaking, has submitted the necessary documents to the customs and the items comply with the conditions of duty relief.

The settler or his/her legal representative has to present the following documents for being granted the duty relief:

  • a customs declaration and a supplementary document attesting that the person concerned is aware of the duty relief conditions set out in Council Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009;
  • an identity card and in the case of a representative - a power of attorney;
  • certificates attesting residence, work or study in a third country, for example, residence permit, work permit, proof of residence, letter of the Estonian Embassy, employment contract, company registration documents, if the person owns a company; confirmation of the employer about work in a third country or a certificate from an educational institution about studying in a third country; certificate/tax declaration of the tax administrator of a foreign country, etc.;
  • documents confirming the date of resettlement, for example, plane or ferry tickets, travel documents with stamps of crossing the border, etc.;
  • documents confirming settling to Estonia, for example: a residence permit issued by the Estonian authorities (if a citizen of a third country moves to Estonia), employment contract, rental agreement, etc.;
  • complete list of items in Estonian or English, which includes the value in euros and description of the items, confirmed with date and signature;
  • proof of purchase and use of items, such as purchase invoices, warranty coupons, delivery notes, etc.;
  • transport documents of items (the sender and recipient of the items must be the same person in the transport documents);
  • a security if the person is importing goods prior to resettlement or if the customs authorities have reasonable doubts whether the person intends to stay in the EU permanently.

This list is not complete, and the customs authorities may require other documents to make a decision. The customs authorities have the right to demand explanations regarding the submitted documents.

The person applying for a decision on the application of customs legislation must submit all the information required by the competent customs authorities to make such decision (Article 22 of the Union Customs Code).

The person applying for the duty relief is responsible for the correctness and accuracy of the information provided, as well as for the authenticity of the supporting documents.

Getting married

If a person comes to live in Estonia in connection with marriage to a citizen of the European Union, he/she can receive duty relief not only on personal belongings, but also on gifts and dowry related to marriage.

A natural person who, as a result of marriage, intends to permanently settle from a third country (non-EU Member State) to the customs territory of the European Union, is considered a person married or getting married.

The relief is not applied to alcohol, tobacco and tobacco products.

In addition to personal property, the relief also applies to gifts that are usually made on the occasion of marriage by persons permanently residing in a third country. The value of a gift imported duty-free cannot exceed 1,000 euros. The number of gifts is not limited.

Legal basis

  • The duty relief applies only to people whose permanent residence has uninterruptedly been outside of the customs territory of the EU for at least 12 consecutive months. Customs may, however, make an exception to this rule, provided that the person has had a firm intention to live outside of the EU for at least 12 consecutive months.

    For example, the migrant intended to stay in the third country for at least 12 consecutive months in connection with employment, but the employer terminated the employment contract prematurely. Residence in a country outside the Union and moving to Estonia must be proven to customs by submitting the relevant documents (e.g. residence permit, work permit, lease agreement; registration card of the third country; notice of application for passport submitted to the Police and Border Guard Board). The person also submits document on conclusion of marriage.

  • A person has the right to import items with duty relief not earlier than two months before the appointed date of marriage. In this case, in order to apply the duty relief, it is necessary to submit a security, the amount of which is, as a rule, the amount of import duties that would have to be paid if the duty relief did not apply. The security is returned if the person has married within two months and moved permanently to Estonia, has submitted the necessary documents and the items meet the conditions for applying the duty relief.

  • A person has the right to import items with duty relief not later than four months after the date of marriage. The condition for the application of the duty relief are documents confirming marriage and permanent move to Estonia.

  • Within 12 months from the release into free circulation of dowry, old or new household items and gifts imported duty-free, these items cannot be given to use free of charge or for a fee, nor can they be used as security and transferred without prior notice to the customs. However, if you wish to do so, you must inform the customs immediately. In this case, the customs value of these items has to be assigned as of and corresponding import duties have to be paid at the rate that is in effect on the day of giving these items for use free of charge or for a fee, using items as a security or transferring them.

The person married or getting married or his/her legal representative has to present the following documents for being granted the duty relief:

  • customs declaration (considered also to be the application for relief of duty);
  • identity card;
  • in the case of a representative, a power of attorney;
  • marriage certificate (document on marriage);
  • residence permit issued by an Estonian authority;
  • document confirming settling/moving to Estonia (i.e. plane tickets, travel document with stamps of crossing the border);
  • residence certificate issued by an authority in a third country;
  • documentation of employment/studying in a third country. This can be a confirmation from an employer or a certificate from an educational institution;
  • complete list of items in Estonian or English, which includes the value in euros and description of the items, confirmed with date and signature;
  • proof of purchase and use of items;
  • written undertaking and security, if the person is importing the items before resettling;
  • written confirmation that the person is aware of the conditions for the application of the duty relief laid down in the Council Regulation (EC) No. 1186/2009).

The person applying for the duty relief is responsible for the correctness and accuracy of the information provided, as well as for the authenticity of the supporting documents.

We recommend the person applying for the duty relief, or his/her representative, to contact the customs office before the arrival of the personal belongings.

Coming to study

A person coming to study in Estonia can apply for duty relief on educational materials and personal belongings intended for personal use while studying.

A person is considered a pupil or student if he/she is on the list of students of an educational institution for the purpose of participating in basic studies.

Persons entering the country to study is not subject to the same conditions as migrants, and are allowed to import free of duty only a limited number of items, including textiles, school supplies and household items that are common in a student's home.

Legal basis

The duty relief applies only to students who are on the list of an educational institution for attending a basic education course and to items used exclusively by the student during the period of study.

Such items may be textiles, educational materials and household items that are part of a student's usual home furnishings, belong to the student, and are intended for personal use during his/her studies.

If imported for purposes other than personal use, the items are subject to the corresponding import duties. The customs evaluates the imported items depending on their quantity and type.

Goods purchased from an online store of a third country during the study period are subject to usual taxation, i.e. they are subject to the usual customs procedures for consignments of private persons, even if the student is in Estonia temporarily.

The student or his/her legal representative has to present the following documents to the customs for being granted the duty relief:

  • customs declaration (considered also to be the application for relief of duty);
  • identity card;
  • in the case of a representative, a power of attorney;
  • certificate from an educational institution (document confirming studying);
  • residence permit for the period of study issued by an Estonian authority;
  • document confirming arrival to Estonia (i.e. plane tickets, travel document with stamps of crossing the border);
  • complete list of items in Estonian or English, which includes the value in euros and description of the items, confirmed with date and signature;
  • proof of purchase and use of items.

Last updated: 25.10.2021

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