Living in Tartu

Getting to Tartu by air travel: Tartu Airport

Tartu Airport is located 11 km from the city centre. There are regular flights between Tartu and Helsinki.

You can find the flight schedule and more information here or call +372 605 8888.

Getting to Tartu by air travel: Tallinn Airport

Express buses pick up passengers from Tallinn Airport on their way to Tartu. The airport bus station has a self-service ticket dispenser. The machine accepts card payments, but it is advisable to buy your ticket in advance as Tallinn-Tartu buses are often full. You can buy your ticket here.

Getting to Tartu by air travel: Riga Airport

You can also easily reach Tartu from Riga Airport (245 km from Tartu).

LuxExpress buses operate from Riga airport to Tartu.

Getting to Tartu by train

Tartu railway station is located in a historical station building 1.5 km from the city centre. Daily train service operates on the routes to Tallinn (incl. Jõgeva, Tapa, Aegviidu), Valga (incl. Elva) and Koidula (incl. Põlva and Piusa). By catching a connecting train, you can travel to Tartu for instance from Narva and Jõhvi as well as from Riga through Valga and Valka. There is Wi-Fi available on the trains. It takes 2- 2.5 hours to get to Tartu from Tallinn depending on the train. Tickets can be purchased online, aboard the train, and from the Baltic Station sales kiosk in Tallinn. Find additional information and tickets here.

Getting to Tartu by bus

Tartu bus terminal is located near the city centre and is close to the University of Tartu dormitories as well as the town hall square.

Buses between Tallinn and Tartu leave almost every 30 minutes and tickets can be purchased online or from the ticket office inside the bus station. To get a student discount, you need to present your International Student Card (ISIC). NB! It is advisable to buy your ticket in advance as Tallinn-Tartu buses are often full. It takes 2.5 hours to reach Tartu. The buses are comfortable and most of them are equipped with WiFi. Express buses also have touch screens and you can watch movies (we advise to take your own headphones, but you can also purchase a pair from the bus driver for 1.5-2 EUR depending on the bus).

Tartu has great connections with all of the biggest towns in Estonia as well as Riga, Vilnius and Helsinki. More information about international connections can be found here: Luxexpress, EcolinesEurolines. Finnair operates Tartu-Helsinki flights.

If it is your first time in Tartu, it is probably easiest to take a taxi to reach your final destination in the city. Most taxi drivers speak some English and all taxis are equipped with meters. Choose your taxi here or use the Bolt app to get a fast, clear and personalised service.

Once you get comfortable in Tartu you will learn how to navigate using public transport, bike, or getting around on foot. More information about inner city buses and timetables can be found here.

Tartu Smart Bike Share

In addition, you can use Tartu Smart Bike Share – a public, self-serve bike share system designed for short trips.

Bike share is comprised of 750 bikes across 69 stations. 2/3 of the fleet is equipped with electric-assist motors that provide riders with an extra boost when pedaling.

1. Go to this webpage and register your account.
2. Fill all the fields and connect your account to your personalised bus card and your credit card.
3. Find prices for bus ticket, bike share or joint ticket here.

Redocking a bike will reset the 60-minute ride time.

Get more information about creating an account, riding the bikes and finding the docks from here or from Tartu information telephone 1789 or from e-mail

You are welcome to personalise/register your Tartu bus card by us for free with your Estonian ID-code (when still waiting for your ID-card). If you already have your Estonian ID-card you can easily personalise your bus card here.

  • Both registered and non-registered cards can be used, but only registered cards (a card linked to one particular person) can receive benefits or travel discounts.
  • Using a registered card also ensures that your credit is preserved in the event of you losing your card.

Registered cards are valid only with valid identification.

More information about Tartu bus card can be found here.

What is Smart-ID and what can it be used for?

It is a smart way to authenticate yourself online, log in to e-services and sign digital documents. For example, you can log in to the Internet bank, university information systems or Health Portal, etc.

How can you get a Smart-ID account?

First, you need an ID-card or a TRP card, ID-card reader and PIN codes. Then, download ID-software onto your computer and download Smart-ID app onto your mobile phone. Next, follow the steps provided here.

Some of you probably have Smart-ID already installed via bank office to use internet bank. You can make your first Smart-ID account in SEB bank and Swedbank for free. We encourage you to also use it for other services. You can find an overview of e-services accessible with Smart-ID here.

It’s not obligatory to create a Smart-ID account. ID-card or TRP card is sufficient for using online services and signing documents digitally, as long as you have access to your computer and a smart card reader. However, Smart-ID is a free and convenient mobile application for self-authentication.

If you face any difficulties, feel free to visit Tartu Welcome Centre and we will help you!

Sorting waste at home

In your paper and cardboard container please put:

  • Newspapers, magazines, catalogues, advertising materials
  • Notebooks, printed and blank stationary and drawing paper
  • Envelopes, books without covers
  • Cardboard boxes, paper bags and other clean paper packaging

Please don’t put in your paper and cardboard container:

  • Soiled or wet paper and cardboard
  • Household paper
  • Used paper plates and cups
  • Cardboard drink packaging, clingfilm
  • Foil and carbon copy paper.

In your container for biodegradable waste please put:

  • Meat and fish waste, fruit and vegetables, fruit and vegetable peels, bread, precooked food, bakery products and confectionery, cheese, butter and margarine and other solid food waste
  • Household paper, tissues, coffee grounds, paper filters, teabags
  • House plants and cut flowers

Please don’t put in your container for biodegradable waste:

  • Cooking oil, milk, sour milk, soup, sauces and other liquid food and foodstuffs
  • Liquids
  • Large bones
  • Clingfilm, metal, glass, ashes, cigarette butts, packaging, waxed and laminated cardboard and other non-biodegradable waste

In your packaging container please put:

  • Plastic packaging: yoghurt or butter tubs; oil, ketchup and mayonnaise bottles; packaging of cosmetic products (e.g. cream jars, shampoo bottles); plastic dishes and boxes; plastic bags and clingfilm; other clean plastic packaging.
  • Glass packaging: glass bottles without tax labels, glass jars, other clean glass packaging.
  • Metal packaging: tins, metal lids and tops of food and drink packaging, other clean metal packaging.
  • Drink cartons: clean milk, juice and yoghurt cartons.

Please don’t put in your packaging container:

  • Packaging that is soiled with food or half-full, plastic toys, packaging of hazardous substances (e.g. household chemicals), aerosol packaging (e.g. hairspray), window glass and glass sheets, lighting bulbs.

In case there is something left over, please put it in your container for mixed domestic waste!

Hazardous waste

The following can be handed over free of charge in waste stations of Tartu:

  • Leftover oils and oil filters, oily sweeps
  • Paint, glue, varnish and solvent leftovers in retail packaging
  • Mercury lamps
  • Medicines with expired use-by dates and leftover medicines, other medical waste
  • Chemical and pesticide waste
  • Mercury thermometers and other waste that contains mercury
  • Batteries

There are battery collection boxes for old or unusable batteries in stores selling batteries. All pharmacies accept old or leftover medicines for free.

Broken home electronic devices

Old and unusable household electronics and home appliances, e.g. fridges, washing machines, TV sets, electric cookers, blenders, irons, hair dryers, radios, etc must be taken to waste stations. They are accepted for free.

Find information on where you can take what here.

You can check your knowledge on recycling here.

If you spot a pothole, an open manhole cover, faulty traffic lights, trees that have fallen onto the road, a street lamp that isn’t working, a dangerous icicle or avalanche of snow on a roof, environmental pollution, a broken traffic sign, a vandalised park bench, a flooded street or other property maintenance issues in the city, call City of Tartu Hotline 1789 or report them here.

Curfew in Tartu is set to nights that precede working days from 22.00-06.00 and nights that precede weekend days from 00.00-07.00. There is no curfew the night before 1st of January, 25th of February or 24th of June.

Tartu Perepesa Playroom

Opening hours: Monday to Thursday, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Admission: Free!

Who’s welcome: Children up to seven years old, accompanied by a guardian. In the playroom, they provide age-appropriate developmental toys for the children to enjoy, while parents have the opportunity to connect and make new friends.

Location: Tartu Perepesa is located at Tiigi Street 55, and you can reach them at +372 54740702

Finding hobbies

Tartu has great opportunities for taking up all kinds of hobbies. Have fun exploring!

Pet owners must comply with certain rules for keeping cats and dogs in Tartu and ensure the welfare of their pet. Moreover, the rights of neighbours must also be taken into consideration. It is obligatory to register cats and dogs and implant them with a microchip. This enables animals to be identified more easily and for owners to track their missing pets faster. It is not obligatory to register and implant other pets with microchips, but we highly recommend it.

Find more information on Tartu city website.

Töötukassa (The Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund)

Töötukassa is the organization which helps unemployed persons find new employment.  The first step is to register yourself. You can register as a jobseeker if:

  • you have a temporary residence permit (TRP) or
  • you are a citizen of the European Union or Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway or an asylum seeker from these countries or
  • you are receiving temporary/subsidiary international protection or applying for asylum

You can submit an application via self-service portal by clicking on this link. You are also welcome to make a phone call to office in Tartu 7377200. Then you will have a consultant who will help you navigate in Estonian work scape and help you in finding a suitable job.

Job listings

There are also various companies helping to find a job:

Starting a company

If you are interested in starting your own company check out this information here.


On website Vabatahtlike Värav you will find information about volunteering opportunities.

Employer’s background search

It is important to get to know the employer as a first-time employee and find out about their background as well as credibility.

It is possible to check the background of employers from E-Business register, E-Credit info, Information register, Estonian Tax and Customs Board website.

Preliminary information can also be found on social media and various public databases (e.g.

Entering into contract as an employee

It is custom to enter into contract of employment when starting a job. The most important conditions are agreed upon in this contract (description of responsibilities, salary paid for the work, working time, working place, rest periods, etc).

It is also possible to enter into a contract of services (in Estonian: töövõtuleping) or an authorisation agreement (in Estonian: käsundusleping). With these two types of contracts, social benefits guaranteed by the Employment Contracts Act don’t apply.

You can find comparison of employment contracts from the webpage of Labour Inspectorate.

Types of contracts

  • Contract of employment (in Estonian: tööleping) – a contract in which the employee works for the employer being subject to their leadership and control
  • Contract of services (in Estonian: töövõtuleping) – a contract for providing services with the aim to regulate achieving a certain outcome by a certain date (e.g. painting a house)
  • Authorisation agreement (in Estonian: käsundusleping) – a contract for services with the aim to regulate completing a certain task (e.g. singing at an event or performing using a musical instrument)

Why is it beneficial for the employee to enter into contract?

  • The salary agreed upon is paid out at least once a month
  • The means for the job and work-related refresher and updating courses at the expense of the employer
  • A break during the workday for eating and resting
  • A right for compensation for working overtime, nights or on public holidays
  • Safe work environment and regular health check-ups
  • Salary is paid even if work is not provided under circumstances not dependent on the employee
  • Right for holiday and holiday pay or to receive compensation for unused holiday days if and when employment contract is determinated
  • Right to decline working on holidays, when being sick, etc. The employee does not have to do this undone work later

When working in Estonia

Calculating income tax, deduction of unemployment insurance tax and compulsory funded pension tax from salary is the responsibility of the employer. The employee doesn’t have to worry about paying taxes. It is, however, important to know how it works and how big your salary after tax deductions is.

What taxes and fees are paid from salary?

  • Basic exemption is part of salary that income tax is not deducted from. In 2024 it is up to 654 EUR a month (up to 7848 EUR a year). Salary that exceeds 654 EUR a month is taxable income
  • Income tax rate in 2022 is 20%
  • Employer pays social tax 33%
  • Unemployment insurance tax: 1,6% by the employee and 0.8% by the employer
  • Compulsory funded pension tax rate is 2% – this money is transferred to your pension account in your pension fund where it will start to increase your pension. As of 1 January 2024, persons who have joined the II pillar will have the opportunity to increase their 2% funded pension contribution rate to 4% or 6% if they wish. For this purpose, a corresponding application must be submitted to the registrar of the pension register or account administrator (from 1 January 2024 to 30 November 2024) and the new payment rate will apply from 1 January 2025.
    More information: Amendment to the funded pension contribution rate as of 1 January 2025

Official salary vs envelope salary

Why work officially?

  • Official career (trackable work experience and duration)
  • The supplementary rights (holiday pay/days, solutions for possible arguments, support, etc)
  • Physical person income tax return – a chance to get back income tax in case a person hasn’t worked a full calendar year
  • No need to worry when some establishment (Tax and Customs Board, Work inspection, etc) asks information about your work relationships

What do you miss out on working unofficially?

  • Sickness benefit
  • Occupational accident benefit and unemployment insurance
  • Chance to receive fair parental benefit (the so-called maternity leave benefit)
  • Chance to get a bank loan
  • Legal protection from the employer

Referenced from

Indicators of professional exploitation

  • Excessive working days or hours
  • Low or no salary
  • No respect of labour laws or contract signed
  • No social protection (contract, social insurance, etc.)
  • Wage manipulation

Indicators of deceptive recruitment

  • Deceived about the nature of the job, location or employer
  • Deceived about conditions of work
  • Deceived about content or legality of work contract
  • Deceived about travel and recruitment conditions
  • Deceived about wages/earnings

Please, make a call to human trafficking prevention and victim assistance counseling line +372 660 7320 or send e-mail to if you recognize above mentioned indicators. See additional information here

Find employment contract sample in English here

Useful information about employment contract can be found on webpages and Labour Inspectorate

Useful information about rental contracts can be found here.