Doing Business In Estonia: Cultural Interactions With Estonians

Doing Business In Estonia: Cultural Interactions With Estonians

Estonia offers world-class infrastructure, highly skilled human capital, and unique digital capabilities when you land in Estonia. The country has a competitive business environment.

Estonians are notoriously reserved and tend to be silent rather than talkative. But as soon as they feel at ease, Estonians can be warm and hospitable to foreigners.

It's wise to learn the culture of the people first before exploring any possible opportunities in the country.

Estonia’s Multi-Cultural Composition

Estonia has 1.3 million people. The Estonian culture borrows heavily from the Germans, the Baltic peoples, the Finns, and the Slavs.

Traces of Russian and Swedish cultures are also noticeable here due to the exceptional geographical position of the country.

The Estonian culture now feels modernized and “European,” but the people preserve their unique identities through language and art.

Cultural Considerations For Business Communication In Estonia

Keep small talk “small”

The Estonians are known for being straight to the point. They don’t engage in small talk or flattery.

If you aren’t used to this kind of communication style, it can be hard to know when they’ve finished saying something.

According to Salford Business School’s Guide to Estonian Culture, “Estonians like to separate their personal and professional lives. Small talks are not a common occurrence and in cases where it happens, it is always kept ‘small’.”

Show respect and admiration for their culture

Estonians long to have their cultural identity recognized. To win the hearts of these people, you must learn their greetings, as well as the business etiquette and protocols of their society.

They will love you if you show effort or interest in their culture or language. Even though Estonians are multilingual and excellent speakers, they’ll put you on a pedestal if you greet them in their Finnic language.

Be neat and stylish

Wondering what to wear for your first business meeting in Estonia? Go for a business suit and tie, and if you are a man. Formal skirts, pant suits and blouses are expected for women.

Estonians also dress fashionably for restaurant dates and meetings. Similarly, you’ll be expected to maintain high fashion standards when visiting a concert or theatre.

If you travel in winter, do not forget to pack warm clothes for the changing weather. Winters can get extremely cold.

Never be late for a meeting

Try not to be late for your appointments since they respect time in Estonia. Inform your Estonian partner if you will be late for any reason.

Estonians have a natural sense of punctuality. They won’t arrive at the meeting one hour before, but they have in them that knack for being always in the right place at the right time.

Video call, don’t email 

77.5% of Estonians have access to the internet. Nearly everyone accesses public services online, and any document can be e-signed. 

On the 4th of August 2020, Estonia issued the world's first digital nomad visa for people who want to work remotely in the country.

Facebook is the most popular social media app in Estonia with 67.3% usage rate.

Email communications must be concise and clear. However, Estonians generally prefer Skype calls over email.


It is of the essence to appreciate and respect Estonian culture if you are to have successful business dealings here. Being punctual, speaking directly, and valuing relationships can establish a good foundation for effective collaborations and enduring partnerships in Estonia.

Subscribe to our newsletter to get expert insights
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Read more about Networking

Would you like to share your expertise with our audience?
Write for us
Write for us