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Doing Business in Estonia


Estonia lies in the North-East corner of Europe on the Baltic Sea, South of Finland across the narrow Finnish Gulf. Estonia is the most northerly of the three Baltic states. To the East lies Russia and to the South Latvia. The Estonian population is about 1,300,000 people (2000 census), of which 67.7% are Estonians, 25.6% Russians, 1.3% Belorussians, 2.1% Ukrainians, 0.9% Finns and 2.2% other nationalities. The capital of Estonia is Tallinn. It has a picturesque medieval Old Town with hundreds of fascinating restaurants, cafés and shops. Other larger cities in Estonia are the university town of Tartu in southern Estonia, the spa and health resort Pärnu in the south-west, and the industrial town Narva on the north-eastern border.

Estonia is covered with forest to a great extent and has more than 1500 islands and thousands of lakes. It has many tranquil spots and long empty beaches. The climate is temperate, but with considerable temperature variations. Summer is warm (22-27ºC, occasionally 30ºC), spring and autumn are fairly short and relatively mild (10-20ºC) with lots of rain. Winter lasts from November to mid-March and can be very cold (0 to -10, occasionally up to -25 or even to -35ºC). Heavy snowfalls are common in the winter months, especially in January and February. However, global warming has tended to make the winters milder and the summers rainier.

The official language of Estonia is Estonian, a Finno-Ugric language which is closely related to Finnish, but is not related either to the languages of the other Baltic states or to Russian. Most people in Estonia understand and to a certain extent can speak English and the older generation is also fluent in Russian.

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Tallinn is very well connected with the rest of Europe, and has regular direct flights to London, Brussels, Stockholm, Berlin, Milan, Helsinki, Moscow, etc. Connections to the USA are via Helsinki and New York or Los Angeles. The national airline is Estonian Air (OV). The only international airport in Estonia is Tallinn Airport (IATA code: TLL). It is located 5km (3 miles) northwest of the city. Buses run between the city and the airport (travel time 15 minutes) and a shuttle bus to the main hotels and the city centre meets all flights. Taxis are easily available.

Flights from Tallinn to London takes about three hours, to Frankfurt about two hours 30 minutes, to Los Angeles 22 hours (via Helsinki), and to New York 13 hours 30 minutes (via Helsinki).

Boats from Helsinki to Tallinn take 2-3 hours, helicopter flight about 20 minutes. A bus trip from Tallinn to Riga is about five hours long.

Travellers from all EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and some other countries do not need visas. The list of visa-free countries is expanding every year, check with Ministry of Foreign Affairs web-site (

Estonia is a small country and it takes only about six to eight hours to drive across it. The most convenient way to travel is by car (the details of car hire companies can be found on the internet), but few are: the traffic culture is rather primitive on Estonian roads.

Next best option is coach transport. It takes about two and half hours to go from Tallinn to Tartu by bus, about one hour 45 minutes to Pärnu, and 4 hours to Narva. There is a regular and reliable coach service also to Kuressaare on the biggest island Saaremaa (about 3.5 to 4 hours, including the trip by ferry) and to Hiiumaa (about 4.5 hours, including the ferry).

The train service is not brilliant but there are three or four services a day from Tallinn to Tartu, Narva and Pärnu.

Pickpocketing is a problem, especially in markets and Old Town streets during the summer when the masses of cruise passengers provide an easy target. Violent crime is rare. Women will not need to worry about walking on their own in the day time.

Hygiene standards in hotels, restaurants and cafés are high. It is advisable, however, to vaccinate against tick-borne encephalitis if visiting forested areas. It is also wise to carry an efficient insect repellent in the summer as there are masses of mosquitoes around. Mosquitoes are not dangerous (if you are not allergic to mosquito bites), but they can be exceedingly annoying.


Estonians are fairly quiet and reserved people. They usually talk rather quietly and they keep a physical distance of at least a half a metre while speaking to other people. At first, Estonians may seem aloof and even arrogant in their manners towards strangers, but when the relationship grows closer they warm up and become friendly and nice people. On the whole, Estonians are rational and calm people with a quiet but often sarcastic and with a sometimes wickedly sharp sense of humour.

Etiquette and Business Customs

What forms of interpretation can TJC Global provide?

Video / videoconference interpreting: (also Video Remote Interpreting available) TJC provide language interpreting services to support events such as business discussions, conferences, legal / court / arbitration / litigation, and all other online business interactions in industry during these challenging times.

Participants can communicate with one another via video or voice calls using laptops, smartphones, tablets etc. These can be recorded should you wish to take minutes. Our professionally qualified interpreters can join your online virtual meeting, event, or proceeding, for example, and interpret remotely in the language pairing you require, so as to facilitate smooth communication between all parties.

Telephone / teleconference interpreting is a practical way to bridge any language barriers. The interpreter is either located remotely (away from either party) or is with one of the parties. In both cases they deliver interpreting services through telephone conferencing.

Telephone interpretation is useful for clients who cannot travel to their counterparts’ country, but still wish, for example, to hold business discussions or to communicate progress updates. At TJC Global, we are very happy to provide you with professionally qualified interpreters around the world in almost any selected language combinations.

Simultaneous interpreting (also available with Video Remote Interpretation (VRI))

is used for international conferences, critical business discussions, seminars & symposiums. In this case, there are usually two to three interpreters situated in a booth, away from the audience, who take turns to interpret at high speed, changing over every 15-20 minutes to avoid fatigue.

The interpreters use headsets to listen to the message of the speaker and repeat it immediately (practically “simultaneously”) in the target language for the benefit of relevant audience members.

Consecutive interpreting (also available with Video Remote Interpretation (VRI)) is the most common type of interpreting. It is used for business discussions, negotiations, contract exchanges, commercial, legal, technical discussions, medical or court hearings or on site inspections. The interpreter listens to the speaker, often making notes, and delivers the meaning in the target language afterwards.

The interpreter may wait until a pause or the end, at which point they deliver a translation relatively quickly. Consecutive interpreting may also be used at conferences for panel discussions, Q&A sessions or private discussions between parties – at a stand or elsewhere.

Looking for translation or interpreting assistance ?

TJC Global provides specialist interpreting and translation services in a wide array of specialist fields. Whatever your requirement, we can find the right linguist to assist you. If your industry or project-type is not listed here, please contact us directly with your enquiry.

Our language specialists utilise their knowledge of subject-specific terminology to deliver precise, unambiguous translations whatever the context – enabling you to communicate effectively with the rest of the world. We are also able to adapt to almost any type of project.

What to do next?

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