As a rule, foreign documents submitted in Estonia as proof of a family event must be either legalised or apostilled, depending on the country. The legalisation requirement applies to documents from countries that have not acceded to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents.
Estonia has also concluded other international agreements that further simplify the requirements of foreign documents. Estonia has concluded agreements of legal assistance with Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. The family event certificates of these countries do not need to be legalised or apostilled.
The CIEC certificate
Estonia has acceded to the CIEC (International Commission on Civil Status Conventions) Convention on the Issue of Multilingual Extracts from Civil Status Records, signed in 1976 in Vienna. Under the Convention, countries including Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cabo Verde, Spain, the Netherlands, Croatia, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, France, Romania, Germany, Serbia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Turkey accept a specific certificate format (for births, deaths and marriages) that is multilingual and does not therefore require further translation or apostille authentication.
The Estonian authorities that can issue the certificates under the Convention include local governments of the county center and the Tallinn Vital Statistics Office. The state fee for issuing the certificate is 10 euros. Estonian foreign missions do not issue the Convention certificates. Estonian authorities recognise the Convention format certificates issued by the above mentioned parties to the Convention without the need for translations or apostilles.
Vital statistics documents from Estonia to Finland and from Finland to Estonia
From Estonia to Finland
Birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates, name change decisions, certificates of legal capacity to contract marriage and extracts from the population register issued in Estonia in English may be submitted to Finland without an apostille and without translating the documents into Finnish.
These documents are issued by local governments of the county center (also the Tallinn Vital Statistics Office) and Estonian foreign missions. The state fee for receiving a certificate from a local government of the county center or the Tallinn Vital Statistics Office is 10 euros, while the extract from the population register is issued for free. Estonian foreign missions issue certified extracts of vital statistics for a state fee of 20 euros.
From Finland to Estonia
Estonian authorities accept the following documents issued by Finland in English without the need to translate or apostille the documents:
- extracts from the Finnish population register;
- certificates of the membership registers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland or the Finnish Orthodox Church;
- Finnish certificates of legal capacity to contract marriage.
Divorce certificates to EU Member States
If it is necessary to submit to a European Union Member State (except Denmark) a document regarding a divorce registered in an Estonian local government of the county center or with the Tallinn Vital Statistics Office, a divorce certificate may be substituted with a certificate provided for in Article 39 of the Brussels II Regulation. The certificate is issued by the authority performing the divorce.
The vital statistics authority must be notified of the country of destination of the certificate. The certificate is not issued electronically and a state fee does not apply. The certificate is valid together with the Estonian language version of the original or duplicate divorce certificate.
Similarly, Estonian authorities recognise standard divorce certificates issued by another European Union Member State in accordance with the Brussels II Regulation, provided that a divorce decision in the original language is submitted along with the certificate.
Convention Abolishing the Legalisation of Documents in the Member States of the European Communities (Brussels 1987)
As of 19 September 2013, it is not obligatory to apostille documents certifying family events issued by France, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Ireland or Latvia. Vital statistics documents submitted to these countries need not be apostilled either.