Estonian visa applications fell by 40 percent in 2022

Estonian Embassy building,  in Moscow.
Estonian Embassy building, in Moscow. Source: KAOS Arhitektid

The number of applications made for Estonian visas fell significantly last year with the biggest decline being seen in Russia, data from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs show.

Overall, applications submitted in Estonia's foreign missions worldwide fell by 40 percent.

In total, 31,452 applications were submitted compared to 52,534 in 2021. This is even fewer than at the peak of the pandemic in 2020 when 33,387 applications were filed.

In 2019, the year before the pandemic started, 158,779 people applied for visas.

While the decline in applications in 2020 and 2021 was related to the coronavirus pandemic, this was not the case last year.

"The significant decrease in 2022 was due to Russia's military aggression in Ukraine, the closure of diplomatic missions, restrictions on the acceptance of visa applications from Russian citizens and entry into Estonia," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in a report.

Russian applications fell by more than half

Estonia stopped accepting applications at its Moscow embassy and consulates in Pskov and St Petersburg after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February. Additional rules were applied in August, barring entry to Russians with valid visas.

Last year, the number of applications made by Russian citizens fell by 60 percent compared with 2021 and 89 percent compared to 2019, when 124,546 applications were accepted.

Additionally, Estonia and Belarus reduced the number of staff at their embassies in October, placing limits on consular work.

In 2019, the consulate in St. Petersburg accepted the most applications - 66,329 - followed by Moscow (45,643), Pskov (13,656) and Minsk (13,293).

But while there was a decline in applications from Russia and Belarus last year, there was an increase in applications submitted to Estonia's embassies in India and Kazakhstan.

The embassy in New Delhi processed 2,547 applications compared to 676 the year before. While the mission in Astana was handed 1,946 compared to 768 in 2021.

Estonia has 18 foreign missions in 17 countries. Consular assistance was requested the most in Finland (262 cases), followed by Italy (76), Spain (74) and Germany (67).

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Editor: Mait Ots, Helen Wright

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