Setting up a business

Estonian legal system is based on the continental European model. The new Commercial Code was adopted on 15 February 1995 and has been effective since 1 September 1995. The law expresses the basic principles of Estonian entrepreneurship according to the best European traditions and standards and outlines the role of the Commercial Register. According to the Commercial Code there are five forms of business entities, which are created by entry into the Commercial Register:

Forms of business entities in Estonia

Registering a company

Registration Requirements and fees

Foreign Enterprise Entities - branch of foreign company (välismaa äriühingu filiaal)

More information:

Gateway to Estonian E-State portal: www. eesti.ee
Central Commercial Register
Estonian Translation and Legislative Support Centre

Foreign investors

Foreign investors have equal rights and obligations with local entrepreneurs. All foreign investors may establish a company in Estonia in the same way as local investors, no special restrictions are made.
Foreign investments are protected by internal law and international agreements. Estonia has concluded treaties for the protection of investments with several countries including U.S.; Germany; France; Finland, Sweden; Norway; Switzerland. Also agreements on avoiding double taxation are made with 32 countries including EU countries.
Reinvested profit is not subjected to Corporate Income Tax (dividends paid to resident legal persons are exempt from tax). Companies are subjected to Corporate Income Tax 21/79 if the profit will be distributed. Value added tax is a compulsory 20% supplement to nearly all goods and services sold in Estonia with a few exemptions 5% and 0 % enumerated in Value Added Tax Act.
Social tax is 33% and contains the social security tax 20% and medical insurance 13%.
Excise tax is implied on production and import of tobacco, alcohol, motor vehicles, motor fuel etc.
Land tax is based on the market value of land and ranges between 0.1 to 2.5 percent of market value of land annually (0.1 to 2.0 for arable land and natural grassland).
Gambling tax is implied on companies that offer gambling services.

Estonia is a member of WTO and EU. Although Estonian legal system has been under several reforms it is now modern, simple and easily understandable.

Suggested links

E-state portal: https://www.eesti.ee/eng/topics/business
Estonian legislative text in English: www.legaltext.ee/indexen.htm
Chamber of Notaries: http://www.notar.ee/
The Parliament of Estonia: www.riigikogu.ee/?lang=en
The Estonian Ministry of Justice: http://www.just.ee/
Factsheets about Estonia: http://www.investinestonia.com/
Law Offices: http://www.advokatuur.ee/?id=92&PHPSESSID=73e9962db282fa9afb1ea3731eb07b18

Guide for the start-up entrepreneur (pdf)