EstoniaOfficial Name: Republic of Estonia
Must be valid for at least three months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area.
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
Telephone: +(372) 668-8128, 8129, 8111, or 8197
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(372) 509-2129 or +(372) 668-8169
Fax: +(372) 668-8267
Estonia is a stable democracy with an economy that is rebounding after facing sharp decline in 2008 and 2009. Tourist facilities in the capital, Tallinn, are comparable to those found in western European cities, but some amenities may be lacking in rural areas. In Tallinn, as well as in other locations frequented by tourists, many people can communicate in English. You can obtain additional information by reading the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Estonia.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
Estonia is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Estonia for up to 90 days within a six-month period for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. You need to prove that you have sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. If your passport does not meet the Schengen requirements, you may be refused boarding by the airline at your point of origin or while transferring planes. You could also be denied entry when you arrive in the Schengen area. For this reason, we recommend that your passport have at least six months’ validity remaining whenever you travel abroad. For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.
If you would like to stay in Estonia (alone or in conjunction with your stay in the other countries in the Schengen Zone) longer than 90 days within a six-month period, you can apply for a longer-term visa from the Consulate General of Estonia in New York (telephone 212-883-0636) before you begin your trip. You can find more information about visiting Estonia, including a list of all Estonian embassies and consulates worldwide, on the website of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Residency permits, visa extensions, and other rules applicable to foreigners visiting Estonia (such as students, temporary workers, etc.) are processed by the Estonian Citizenship and Migration Bureau, part of the Estonian Police & Border Guard Board. You can find information on residency permits by visiting the Police & Border Guard’s website and clicking on “Services.” You can also obtain additional information about Estonia from the Embassy of Estonia in Washington, DC (telephone 202-588-0101).
There are no restrictions in Estonia to visitors or residents with HIV/AIDS.
Safety and Security
Estonian authorities are vigilant in combating terrorism and other security threats. There have been no incidents of terrorism directed toward U.S. citizens in Estonia. However, like other countries in the Schengen area, Estonia’s open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of members of terrorist organizations entering/exiting the country with anonymity. You should remain vigilant about your personal security and exercise caution while traveling abroad.
Civil unrest is rare in Estonia. Nevertheless, large public gatherings and demonstrations may occur on occasion in response to political issues; these generally proceed without incident. If you hear of or encounter a demonstration, you should avoid the area and check local media for updates on the situation. You can also contact the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn for current information.
Estonia is quite dark during the winter months (roughly October through April), and Estonian law requires pedestrians to wear small reflectors, which people generally pin to their coats or handbags. Although this law is rarely enforced in cities, reflectors are very important in rural areas where it may be difficult for motorists to see pedestrians. Violators of this law may be subject to a fine of around 50 USD or a higher fine up to around 500 USD if the pedestrian is under the influence of alcohol. Reflectors are inexpensive and you should be able to find them at many supermarkets, kiosks, and other shops.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Estonia on Twitter and visiting the Embassy’s website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and check for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Estonia is a relatively safe country, although sporadic crime in Tallinn’s Old Town is an ongoing concern, particularly during the summer tourist season. You should exercise the same precautions with regard to your personal safety and belongings that you would take in major U.S. cities. The most common crime encountered by foreign tourists in Estonia is pick-pocketing. Tourists are often targeted by individuals and small groups of thieves working together. In public places such as Tallinn’s Old Town, in particular the Town Hall Square (“Raekoja Plats”), the airport, train stations, bus stations, and the Central Market, you should exercise special care in safeguarding valuables against pick-pockets. Guard your valuables, especially purses and bags, while visiting busy cafés and restaurants. Do not leave valuables unattended in vehicles, and make sure car doors are locked at all times.
Foreigners have been the victims of credit card fraud as well as internet-based financial and dating fraud. Other scams include women enticing tourists in a reputable bar to visit a nearby bar where they are grossly overcharged. Estonian police have shut down several suspect bars over the past year, though some remain. You should take precautions to safeguard your credit cards and report any suspected unauthorized transaction to the credit card company immediately. If an incident occurs, you should report it promptly to the local police.
On occasion, U.S. citizens have reported that they were harassed for racial reasons or because they appeared or sounded “foreign.” These incidents have generally occurred outside of major tourist areas.
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
If you decide not to report a crime while in Estonia, but believe that some action should be taken, you can file a police report after returning to the United States by sending a letter or e-mail to the Estonian police. Please contact the Embassy so we can facilitate your communication with the police.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line for ambulance or fire in Estonia is 112. The emergency line for the police is 110. The non-emergency local number for the Estonian police is (372) 612-3000. Although many operators speak English, at times those answering this line may have minimal English speaking skills.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While traveling in Estonia, you are subject to its laws and regulations. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. If you break local laws in Estonia, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what is legal and what is not legal where you are going.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. For example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy counterfeit and pirated goods abroad. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Estonia you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. Embassy of your arrest and to have communications from you forwarded to the embassy.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: As of 2011, Estonia replaced its currency, the kroon, with the euro. Currently only euros are accepted, although persons holding cash kroons can continue exchanging them for euros at the official rate for an indefinite period at the Bank of Estonia (Eesti Pank) in Tallinn. You can also get local currency from ATMs using your U.S. debit card. Please note that some ATMs will function only if your ATM card has a computer chip. You can use a regular U.S. credit card for payment in most shops and restaurants in Estonia. If you plan to exchange U.S. cash for euros while visiting Estonia, you should be aware that many banks and currency exchanges do not accept old U.S. bills. Accordingly, please try to bring newer bills, preferably those issued after 2000.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: Estonian law prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristics, and the government generally respects these prohibitions. While the law is not specific regarding the forms of sexual orientation and gender identity covered, in practice all were understood to be included. Despite this, many Estonian LGBT activists report the authorities are unwilling to aggressively prosecute possible misdemeanors under penal code provisions involving incitement to hatred.
There are several LGBT night clubs in Tallinn that operate openly and in general without problems. In addition, there is an LGBT community center in Tallinn. LGBT public events, including the regional Baltic Pride event in 2011, have been held without incident. LGBT travelers should nonetheless consider exercising caution when visiting Estonia, especially with regard to expressing affection in public. According to local advocacy organizations, many LGBT persons, especially males, are reluctant to display affection in public (including holding hands) because incidents of verbal or physical assault have resulted. Many LGBT Estonians also do not reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity and avoid reporting incidents to police. As a result, individual police officers may have limited experience or knowledge with regard to specific concerns of LGBT individuals or the LGBT community more broadly. The English-language website of the Estonian visitors bureau has specific information regarding the LGBT community in Estonia. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Estonia, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Estonia, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Estonian law requires that most new public buildings and others with community space (e.g., shopping centers) be accessible for persons with disabilities. However, many older buildings are not required to meet these requirements.
Getting around in Estonian cities and towns may be difficult at times since many sidewalks are narrow and uneven, and cobblestone streets—particularly in Tallinn’s popular Old Town—make access difficult. In general, mobility is easier in cities such as Tallinn, Tartu, and Pärnu compared to smaller towns and rural areas. Roads and sidewalks in the winter can get quite icy, which makes getting around more difficult. In general, public transport is not accommodating to people with mobility disabilities, although selected Tallinn public buses, trams, and trolleys are specially equipped to assist persons in wheelchairs.
The English-language website of the Estonian visitors bureau contains general information for disabled visitors, specific information for visually-impaired travelers and those using wheelchairs, and general accessibility information for hotels and other accommodations in Estonia. An Estonian advocacy group for the disabled, Freedom of Movement (Liikumisvabadus), has a site that provides specific accessibility ratings for hundreds of businesses and public buildings in Estonia, as well as other useful information. You may also e-mail the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn for further information on this topic.
Although medical care in Estonia falls short of Western standards, Estonia’s medical care is generally good, especially in Tallinn and in some other cities such as Tartu and Pärnu. Estonia has many highly-trained medical professionals, but some hospitals and clinics still suffer from a lack of equipment and resources. While private physicians often speak fair to excellent English, you are likely to find very limited English in hospitals and emergency rooms. Due to workload, doctors in hospitals spend considerably less time interacting with a patient than is typical in a hospital in the United States. Nurses and other hospital staff are likely to speak little to no English.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website, or by calling their hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747). You can also consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
If you plan to visit forested areas of Estonia in the summertime, you should take steps to avoid ticks. Tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease are widespread throughout the country and prevention of tick bites through use of topical repellants containing either 20% DEET, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus oil or IR3535 is recommended. Treating clothing and tents with permethrin if camping or expecting prolonged outdoor exposure is important. Those intending to visit parks or forested areas (even within parks in Tallinn) are urged to speak with their health care practitioners. Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) vaccinations are given as a series of three doses, but are not available in the United States. Long term visitors should receive TBE immunization after arrival in Estonia. There are no vaccines against Lyme disease. For those with extensive outdoor or animal contact, the pre-exposure rabies vaccine should be considered.
Tuberculosis is significantly more common in Estonia than in the U.S. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB. You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Estonia, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Although road conditions in Estonia are generally good, some roads—especially in rural areas—are poorly lighted and are not up to Western standards. You may find that, compared to U.S. drivers, some drivers in Estonia can be aggressive, recklessly overtake vehicles, and travel at high speed, even in crowded urban areas.
Accidents involving intoxicated drivers are frequent despite strict enforcement by Estonian police of laws against driving under the influence. The basic rule is zero tolerance. You can be subject to severe penalties if stopped by the police and even a trace of alcohol is detected. It is not uncommon for the police to set up checkpoints on major streets and highways.
In rural areas, wild animals, such as deer and moose, and icy road conditions can create unexpected hazards. Winter roads are usually treated and cleared of snow, but you should remain vigilant for icy patches and large potholes.
Estonian law requires you keep your headlights illuminated while driving, even during the day. The use of seatbelts is mandatory in both the front and rear seats, and children too small to be secured by a seatbelt must use a car seat designed for their size and weight. Talking on cell phones while driving is prohibited, except when using a hands-free system. It is illegal to turn right on a red light. According to Estonian law, if you are involved in an accident, you should not attempt to move the vehicle to the side of the road until the police reach the scene. The Eesti Autoklubi (Estonian Auto Club), which is affiliated with AAA, provides emergency roadside assistance. You do not need to be a member to receive assistance, although fees are lower for members. To request roadside assistance or towing service, dial 1888. For ambulance or fire assistance the number is 112. For emergency police assistance, call 110. Please note that for both numbers, the level of English spoken by the operator answering may be minimal.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. We suggest that you visit the website of the Estonian National Tourist Office and national authority responsible for road safety. The website also has useful information about traveling around Estonia by car.
Driving Permits Required In Estonia: . In order to drive in Estonia, you must have the correct license. Estonian authorities strictly enforce their rules on driving with a proper license, and many U.S. citizens have been subjected to hefty fines in recent years due to confusion about Estonian rules, so please read the following information carefully.
If you are a visitor to Estonia, you may drive only if you carry both your valid U.S. driver’s license and a valid International Driving Permit (IDP). You should obtain your IDP from either the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (part of the National Auto Club) before you leave the United States. These are the only two entities in the United States that are authorized by international agreements to provide IDPs. Other entities purport to offer “international driver’s licenses,” but such documents are not recognized by Estonian authorities. If you are a resident of Estonia, you can initially drive in Estonia with your valid U.S. driver’s license and valid IDP, but upon receipt of an Estonian residence permit or after living in Estonia for more than one year (whichever is shorter) U.S. citizens must obtain an Estonian driving license. However, licenses cannot be issued until you have been in Estonia for 185 days within the past year. All individuals required to obtain an Estonian license must pass both a written and a practical driver's exam. An English-language version of the written exam is available and the Road Administration will ensure that an English-speaking examiner is available for the practical driving portion. Although testing may take place at several locations around the country, it is recommended that you contact the Road Administration headquarters at Mäepealse 19 in Tallinn, tel: 620-1200. Your U.S. license and International Driving Permit must have been issued before your “residency” began, so it is imperative that you obtain these documents before you move to Estonia. If you are caught driving without a proper license, you likely will be subject to a fine and your driving privileges may be revoked. Any U.S. citizen who wishes to obtain an Estonian driver’s license should contact the Estonian Road Administration authority (known by the Estonian acronym “ARK”).
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Estonia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Estonia’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.