Adaptation policy is a relatively new direction in Estonian policymaking, which supports the formation of a cohesive society, contributes to the creation of a sense of cohesion between various population groups, and to the growth of awareness among Estonian residents with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Migration trends are changing and indicate that people are becoming more and more mobile, and therefore, more people are coming to live in Estonia than are leaving. People usually come to Estonia to work or study, or they arrive in the course of family migration.

Today's Estonia has become a country where people from various ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds live. As a result, the need to develop and empower the field of adaptation at the policymaking level has also increased.

In conclusion, the policies related to the field of adaptation also have broader objectives:

  • socio-economic cohesion in the society;
  • the prevention of conflicts and other risks between communities comprised of different nationalities;
  • development of a comprehensive system of support services that supports adaptation and integration, and involves the state, local governments, NGOs and entrepreneurs.

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In order to develop the field of adaptation, the Ministry of Culture is implementing three main activities:

  • the adaptation programme "Settle in Estonia";
  • the development and implementation of support networks, including the development of adaptation support services;
  • the development and implementation of the information platform and its support services.

These activities are designed to achieve a situation whereby the effective adaptation of new immigrants is ensured, followed by the effective integration of the new immigrants, as well as permanent residents of other nationalities, into the Estonian language, cultural and value space. With the cooperation of the partners in the field, it is important to achieve a situation in which adaptation and integration services are people-centred and coordinated, thereby supporting the development of the Estonian economy, the cohesion of society and making a contribution to internal security.

It is important to ensure equal opportunities for independent living and well-being for all the people living in Estonia, regardless of their origins and native languages. Adaptation policies can help make Estonian society cohesive and unified, and enable people with various linguistic and cultural backgrounds to acquire an Estonian identity, actively participate in society, share democratic values and a common cultural space, thereby developing a sense of cohesion.


Adaptation – the process by which new (relocated) immigrants adjust to their new environment and host society. The process is characterised by the acquisition of knowledge and skills that help to operate in the everyday life of a new environment (e.g., finding a place to live, a school or kindergarten, learning about taxes, health and social services, language learning opportunities, etc.); about the fields of activity related to the functioning of the state (e.g., how the society is organised, how the state operates, what are the rights and obligations of the people who are citizens of another countries, as well as issues related to residency permits and residency rights, etc.), and the cultural field (e.g., basic understanding of the host society's core values, cultural practices, primary language learning, etc.).

A new immigrant – a person who has legally resided in Estonia for less than five years and has been granted a temporary Estonian residence permit on the basis of the Aliens Act; an alien under the International Protection Act; and a European Union citizen and his or her family member who has acquired, or been granted, the right of temporary residence on the basis of the Citizen of the European Union Act.


Financing for the field of adaptation breaks down as follows: 85% comes from European Union Structural Funds; and 15% from the national budget.  

With the support of funding from European Union, the project called “Supporting the Adaptation of New Immigrants” is being implemented with the aim of ensuring a smooth adjustment process for the new immigrants settling in Estonia, and making them more competitiveness in Estonian society, including in the labour market, lifelong learning and civil society.


Kerli Zirk

Cultural Diversity Department

Last updated: 20.10.2021