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Eastern Access, Western Transparency

Eastern Access, Western Transparency

The Port of Tallinn's Gateway to Russia

Estonia has been the world’s preferred east-west trade and transit gateway since the Hanseatic League was founded in the 13th century.

In medieval times Tallinn was famous for the transit of salt and squirrel pelts, but today it is known for the movement of oil and bulk goods in and out of Russia, and in particular the Port of Tallinn’s industrial parks where value is added to products in VAT-free zones before export.

Today, at the crossroads of East and West, the Port of Tallinn offers delivery time access to 450 million people within 72 hours.

And most critically, the Port of Tallinn provides that access to those eastern markets with security and transparency rivaled by few in modern Europe.


Estonia, often referred to in international media as the e-state, is well known for its transparency in government and business. Estonia ranked second on the Heritage Foundation's 2011 index of economic freedom (the USA was number one). In the same year, the World Bank ranked Estonia fifth in ease of doing business.

A business may literally be registered in as little as 15 minutes, and Estonia has enabled fast growth of business through a zero-percent tax on reinvested earnings. There are no restrictions on foreign citizens or companies owning property, and the Port of Tallinn offers long-term concessions: land ownership up to 99 years.

This transparent culture also has benefits in management-union relationships, which are constructive and forward-looking, without labor disputes.

Adding Value

Recognizing the needs of its clients to add value via manufacturing or assembly in the free zone areas, the Port of Tallinn has created the most modern infrastructure, superstructure, and technology. It offers deepwater berths, secure warehouses, cold stores, open storage, free zone, and rail and road links in every direction, including the only regular container block train to Moscow in the Baltic States and Finland.

Muuga Harbour, Estonia's biggest cargo harbor, 17 km east of Tallinn, offers 50 ha of industrial park area for development in 0.3-21 ha plots for potential clients. Among the deepest in the Baltic (18 m), Muuga handles 90% of transit cargo volume passing through Estonia.

Paldiski South Harbour, 45 km west of Tallinn, primarily handling primarily ro-ro cargo, scrap metal, containers, timber, peat and oil, offers a 21 ha industrial park space for development.

Location, location, location

Of the Port of Tallinn’s five harbours, the Old City Harbour is the most visible, located only a short walk from the heart of the medieval city.

The Port serves 8.5 million passengers annually through 22 berths, and 7 cruise piers where cruise vessels call more than 300 times each year.

An active network of ferries and mini-cruises connect Tallinn to Helsinki, Stockholm, and St. Petersburg. Tallinn has always had a special relationship with Helsinki, sometimes referred to as its twin city. Only  2-hours  distant, Helsinki is connected by ferries (passenger and ro-ro) departing and arriving just about every hour. Increasingly popular is the 72-hour visa-free stay in Russia  available to passengers taking the ferry from Tallinn to St.Petersburg -the imperial capital of Russia.

Despite its location in the heart of the city, the Old City Harbour is not small, and much of its 53 ha area is available for development.


Estonia’s centuries of bridging east and west have brought flexibility and understanding to the culture that few modern nations offer. Not just Port of Tallinn employees, but virtually all Estonians, are fluent in the languages of business in the region: English, Finnish, and of course Russian.
The nation’s business culture is western, where contracts are honored and punctuality is valued.
The Port of Tallinn offers the best access to the east with the comforts and stability of the west.


Client References
Katoen Natie, Antwerp, Belgium

Katoen Natie’s director Fernand Huts says his company chose Estonia for the work culture and the possibility to move cargo smoothly into Russia. “Merchants from the lowlands have been here for hundreds of years. Estonians are very serious people, and corruption is very low in comparison to its neighbors.”

“Estonia is part of Europe – this is critical – and you don’t have the financial worries of the south. You are situated at the border of a very powerful nation with huge potential. This market will develop very quickly in the future.”

Huts believes Estonia is the best choice for trade with Russia given its logistical location and ice-free port. Another strength is that Estonia uses Russian-gauge rail. “If you look at the map, then Western Europe is very small in comparison to Russia,” says Huts of Estonia’s rail advantage.

5 harbours
18 m max depth at quayside
8.5 mln passengers
300 cruise ship calls
5000 passenger ship calls
36.5 mln t cargo
2000 cargo ship calls
450,000-TEU container capacity
75 ha Muuga industrial park area

Lloyds Register Quality Assurance and Bureau Veritas Certification assure the Port of Tallinn the ISO 9001:2008 quality management standard and the ISO 14001:2004 environmental management system standard

Port of Tallinn is a leading member of the Estonian Logistics Cluster.


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