Exporting guide to Estonia

Overview

Estonia is a Northern European hub for industrial, supply chain and global business services. It is an easy place to do and grow your business. For UK exporters who need local employees, Estonia has a hardworking, well-educated and skilled workforce. It is a world leader in information technology producing 4 'unicorn' companies: Transferwise, Skype, Playtech and Taxify.

Business environment

Estonia has been one of the fastest growing economies in the region. This is due to liberalisation of the economy, innovation and openness to foreign capital. The Estonian legal and tax environment is entrepreneur-friendly. Innovative e-services mean that it takes no more than 3 hours to start a business online. It does almost all banking transactions and tax declarations online.

This makes it a good starting platform for small and medium enterprises. English is widely spoken, making it easy for UK companies to work with local partners.

Growing export market

The UK and Estonia are like-minded countries in most respects. Estonia is a small country with a potential greater than its size which makes it ideal for UK exporters to discover. The UK has steadily been among Estonia’s top 10 trade partners with potential to grow in both physical goods and services.

Trade gateway

Estonia serves as a gateway to the wider region including markets in Scandinavia, the Baltics, Central Europe and Asia. It is the geographical midpoint of Northern Europe. Due to its strategic location, modern infrastructure, multi-modal capabilities and reliable but flexible approach, it is the best place to set up distribution centres and to generate added value.

Skyscrapers in an Estonian city

Estonia: at a glance

Economic growth

8.3%

Actual figure (IMF, 2021)
The UK is 7.4% (IMF, 2021, projected figure)

GDP per capita

$27,282

Actual figure (IMF, 2021)
The UK is $47,203 (IMF, 2021, projected figure)

Currency

Euro

Business language

Estonian

English is widely spoken

Time zone

UTC +2

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Opportunities for exporters

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Estonia have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors:

Check for trade barriers

Trade barriers, such as tariffs or taxes, can raise costs, cause delays, or even stop you from exporting. Check for any issues that may impact your business when exporting.

See current trade barriers

See resolved trade barriers

Check duties and customs

Find information on how to export goods from the UK. View the duties, rules, restrictions, and the documents you need for your products.

See current duties and customs procedures

Doing business in Estonia

Prepare to export

VAT

VAT is charged at 20%. Rates of 0% and 9% apply to certain goods and services.

If you’re registered for VAT in the UK, it may be possible to zero-rate the goods you export to Estonia, provided certain conditions are met. Article 16 of the Value Added Tax Act on the Riigi Teataja website lists the applicable goods and services.

You can find more information on tax rates in Estonia through the Estonian Tax and Customs Board.

Corporate tax

There is no corporate income tax on retained and reinvested profits. 14% to 20% tax applies on distributed profits.

You can find further information on corporate tax from the Estonian Investment Agency.

Customs

You are encouraged to use a customs clearance agent familiar with Estonian customs clearance formalities.

The Estonian Tax and Customs Board gives details of all relevant regulations concerning legislation, formalities, duties and tariffs in Estonia.

Estonia has established free zones at Muuga Harbour (part of the Port of Tallinn), Sillamäe Port and Paldiski. These are regarded as being outside the remit of the Customs area for purposes of import and export duties. VAT and excise duties do not have to be paid on goods brought into free zones for later re-export when doing business in Estonia.

Standards and labelling

Products and packaging must meet relevant EU standards. All consumer goods must have a translation in Estonian attached to the packaging, and contain the product name, contents, name of the manufacturer and instructions for use. This is most commonly done in the form of a post-production sticky label.

The Estonian Centre for Standardisation and Accreditation is responsible for standards.

Services regulations

Information on rules for selling services and business travel to Estonia is available on GOV.UK.

Operating in Estonia

Intellectual property

As a first step, we advise you to speak to an intellectual property lawyer if you think you need patent protection when exporting.

The Estonian Patent Office gives an overview of legal protection of patents, trademarks, utility models, industrial designs, geographical indications and integrated circuits in Estonia.

The UK's Intellectual Property Office provides practical information to help you protect, manage and enforce your intellectual property (IP) abroad.

Payment terms

Most methods of payment are available in Estonia. They range from pre-payment to letters of credit and after-payment, depending on the type of business, and the relationship and level of trust between supplier and buyer. Before opening a credit line, you should seek legal advice and ensure you carry out proper due diligence.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.