List of EU countries offering Startup Visa
Published on: 11 February 2021

If you are an entrepreneur from a country lacking visa-free entry to the Schengen area who is looking to build a dynamic new business in Europe, you may be interested in applying for one of the various available EU Entrepreneur and Startup Visa Programs. Many EU governments have launched start up visa programs in order to attract the best and the brightest talent to their respective countries. These programs target innovative women and men who would otherwise need a visa to enter the EU. Startup visas therefore provide a pathway to EU immigration for people who are citizens of countries that do not have visa-free access to the Schengen area. Read on to learn about the EU countries offering the startup or entrepreneur visa and for insight into the best startup visa in Europe. 

Europe Startup and Entrepreneur Visa Index

  • The following is an overview of some of the EU countries offering startup or entrepreneur visa programs. 
  • These programs are generally available exclusively to non-EU/EAA businessmen and women who seek to start a company in Europe that is recognized as being innovate and also possesses the capacity to expand.
  • Each program in each country has a specific set of requirements which you as an applicant must fulfill; regardless of where you are applying for an entrepreneur visa, you must also demonstrate that you can financially support yourself throughout your stay in the EU.
    • Denmark
      • Startup Denmark Program: Applicants submit a business plan to a committee. After considering its particulars, the plan is either rejected or approved. If the plan is successful, the applicant will be eligible for both  Danish residency and a Danish work permit. 
      • Available for a 2-3 year period, with the opportunity to extend. 
      • Applicants can apply in a group of up to 3 people; if the plan is collectively approved, each member must undertake a separate application process. 
      • Apply online through Startup Denmark, here.
    • Finland
      • Teams comprising a minimum of two individuals may apply for a Finnish Startup Permit, after their plan is validated by “Business Finland,” which must sign off on it before you it can ultimately be submitted to the Finnish Immigration Service.  
      • A Finnish Startup Permit is valid for 2 years, with the opportunity to extend.  
      • Apply online via Business Finland, here.
    • Estonia
      • Eligible individuals looking to begin a startup or business in Estonia (or take up an offer of employment at an already established start up, may take advantage of Estonia’s start up and entrepreneur visa program. 
      • There are short term and long-term Estonian Startup Visas, for 90 days or 12 months—the latter can potentially be extended for a total of 183 days. 
      • Third-party national applicants seeking to enter and work in Estonia may apply for the Estonian Startup Visa as “foreign visa founders,” while Estonian employers may apply for a startup visa for a would-be employee from outside the EU, who they want to come and work for them at their respective startup. 
      • Apply online through Startup Estonia, here.
    • Lithuania
      • Applicants looking to start a business in Lithuania can apply for a Lithuania Start Up Visa 
      • Fill out a form and provide information about your company and vision. Applicants will then essentially pitch the idea for their business online, by video, to members of the Lithuanian business and entrepreneur community, who will approve or deny the application (processing time for this is around 15 days).
      • If approved, applicants can apply for a temporary residence permit from Lithuania, which will allow them to move to the country and start a business there within a month of arriving. 
      • Apply online through Startup Visa Lithuania, here
    • The Netherlands
      • Applicants looking to start a business in Holland can apply for a Dutch Startup Visa, which is valid for a period of 12 months, with the opportunity to extend. Entrepreneurs who relocate to Holland to start a business will be required to enter into an official partnership with a facilitator (business mentor). 
      • Apply for Dutch Startup Visas online, through the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst, IND) here.
  • In addition to the above specific startup or entrepreneur visa programs offered by the above countries, the below countries also offer visas ranked on the Europe Startup and Entrepreneur Visa Index, which are vehicles through which a third-country national could enter and start a business in the EU.
    • France
    • Ireland
    • Italy 
    • Spain
    • Germany
    • Cyprus

The Best Startup Visa in Europe

  • Different startup or entrepreneur visa programs have pros and cons depending on the applicant and what he or she is looking for in visa scheme. 
  • That being said, Estonia has what is considered one of the most reputable, attractive, and popular EU Entrepreneur and Startup Visa Programs. For more information on the Estonia startup visa, click here.

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