Vital Statistics Procedures

Vital statistics procedures are the registration of birth, death, marriage and divorce and the alteration of vital statistics data in the Population Register. The registration of events is regulated by the Family Law Act and the Vital Statistics Registration Act.

All the local governments register births and issue initial birth certificates.

Local governments of county centres register births and deaths, contract and divorce marriages, issue Population Register data, certificates, etc.

The Estonian foreign missions issue repeat certificates for vital statistics procedures, certificates of legal capacity to contract marriage, and extracts from the Population Register as well as enter data concerning vital statistics events in the Population Register on the basis of foreign documents.

Notaries contract and divorce marriage and issue extracts from the Population Register.

Ministers of religion contract marriages.

 

Vital statistics documents

Vital statistics procedures are certified by the data in the population register or extracts issued on the basis of these data. On registering date of birth and certifying marriages and divorces, the first certificate is issued free of charge on the request of the applicant.

Estonian national and local government authorities and other executors of public law functions can use the data entered in the population register and do not require individuals to submit paper copies of such information.

Therefore, when communicating with national and local government authorities, individuals do not have to have a document certifying his or her vital statistics data.

If an individual requires a certificate for a private person or foreign state, the corresponding certificates or extracts can be issued to them. On applying for a certificate or extract, an individual has to specify which family event or certification of data the extract is required as proof of. Upon this data official can decide on which document and in which language to issue.

Estonia has concluded several international agreements on how certificates/extracts are to be issued according to a simplified procedure - no further certification in the form of apostils, legalization or translation is required.

If an individual requires an extract of certificate proving his or her vital statistics data after the original registration of the event, a duplicate certificate can be issued to him/her by the local government of the county center or an Estonian consular post in a foreign state after the individual has paid the fee set for issuing the document.

A state fee of 10 EUR must be paid for issuing a duplicate of a birth, death, marriage or divorce certificate on paper. The fee for issuing an electronic duplicate is 5 EUR. Notaries issue extracts from the population register, ministers of religion cannot issue duplicate certificates.

 

 

Registration of births

The birth of a child is registered in Estonia if the child is born in Estonia, one of the child’s parents was born in Estonia, or both of the child’s parents are Estonian citizens. An application to register a birth may be submitted to any local government (in Tallinn, the Vital Statistics Office). The application must be submitted by a legal representative of the child, who is a parent or guardian, within the first month of the child’s life by visiting the vital statistics office in person. The vital statistics office will then register the birth within seven working days from receipt of the registration application.

If the child’s father knows in advance that he is not able to submit the application to register the birth or an application to acknowledge his paternity within the given period of time, he can submit a relevant declaration of intention before the birth of the child. In this case, he is also required to present his consent for the desired name of the child.

If the child’s parents are married to each other, only one of them has to come to register the birth. But then, it is required to have the other parent’s written consent for the desired name of the child with him or her.

If the child’s parents are married to each other and a health care provider has submitted a birth certificate to the population register, the application to register the birth may be submitted electronically through the state portal eesti.ee. Upon registration of the birth, the parents shall receive notice from the vital statistics office that they can collect the child’s birth certificate if they wish.

If the child’s parent or guardian cannot register the child’s birth within one month with good reason, he or she must notify any vital statistics office that registers children’s births of this fact. In such cases, the deadline for the registration of the birth can be extended for one month.

The following should be submitted when registering a birth:

  • application to register a birth
  • applicant’s (applicants’) identity documents
  • health care provider’s certificate regarding the birth

In certain cases provided by the law, the vital statistics office may require other documents to be submitted to register a birth; for example, the parents’ marriage documents if data about their marriage has not been entered into the population register.

The documents submitted when registering the birth of a child must be in Estonian, Russian or English. If the documents are translated, the translation shall be made by a sworn translator or certified by a notary. A foreign state document as the basis of a birth entry shall be legalized or apostilled unless otherwise specified by an international treaty.

No state fee is required to register a birth. When a birth is registered, a birth certificate may be issued free of charge on request.

If the birth of a child has been registered in a foreign state, the birth does not have to be re-registered; however, a birth document issued by the foreign state should be submitted to the local government of the county center (in Tallinn, the Vital Statistics Office) to enter the birth in the population register.

 

Registration of a death

The procedure for registering deaths changed in Estonia from 1 July 2019. A healthcare service provider or a doctor prepares and death statement electronically, instead of on paper, and forwards the data concerning the death to the Population Register where the death is automatically registered. The next-of-kin of the deceased no longer need to register the death at a vital statistics institution (local government). The initial death certificate is also issued by the healthcare service provider. A death certificate is required for organising burial procedures.

In exceptional cases, deaths are registered at Estonian vital statistics institutions (local governments of county centres, the Vital Statistics Office in Tallinn). These cases are as follows:

  • The person died in Estonia, but the healthcare service provided did not forward the data concerning the death to the Population Register and issued a death statement on paper to the next-of-kin;
  • The person died in a foreign country and his or her last place of residence was Estonia or he or she had Estonian citizenship (NB! The death must not be registered in a foreign country).

In such exceptional cases, an application may be submitted to any local government of a county centre (the Vital Statistics Office in Tallinn) within seven days from the death of the person or from learning of the death of the person.

In order to submit an application, you need to visit a vital statistics institution in person. The vital statistics institution will register the death within three working days from the receipt of the application.

The following needs to be submitted for registering a death:

  • an application for the registration of death;
  • a medical death statement;
  • and the personal identification document of the person making the application.

No state fee is payable for the registration of a death.

If a person has died in a foreign country, but the death was not registered there, documents must be submitted for the registration of the death in Estonian, Russian or English. If the documents are translated, the translation must be done by a sworn translator or notarised. The foreign document (e.g. a medical certificate) necessary for the registration of a death must be legalised or certified with an apostille, unless an international treaty stipulates otherwise.

If a death has been registered in a foreign country, it does not have to be registered again in Estonia, but the foreign death document has to be submitted to the local government of a county centre (the Vital Statistics Office in Tallinn) for entry in the Population Register. The document must be in Estonian, Russian or English or translated into these languages, and certified with an apostille/legalised, unless an international treaty stipulates otherwise.

For the purposes of certifying a death, the first death certificate is free of charge. If the data are automatically forwarded from a doctor to the Population Register, the healthcare institution issues the first death certificate. If the death is registered at a vital statistics institution, the first certificate is issued there.

 

Contraction of marriage

In Estonia, marriage is contracted by a local government of the county center (in Tallinn, Vital Statistics Office) official, a minister of religion or a notary. A joint written application to marry shall be submitted in person to the county government or vital statistics office where the marriage is to be contracted.

The following must be submitted to contract a marriage:

  • personally coming in, a joint written application to marry;
  • identity documents of both prospective spouses;
  • birth certificates of both prospective spouses;
  • in the case of individuals who have been married before, a document proving that the previous marriage has ended or been annulled;
  • in the case of minors, a court ruling on an extension of his or her active legal capacity;
  • a certificate of legal capacity to contract the marriage if a prospective spouse’s place of residence is in a foreign state or if he/she has lived in Estonia less than six months;
  • a document certifying the legal stay in Estonia of an alien if he/she or his/her family member is not a citizen of the European Union.

In certain cases provided by the law, the vital statistics office may require other documents to be submitted to register a marriage. The submission of documents or data is not required if the data necessary for the entry of a marriage can be obtained from the population register.

The documents submitted to a vital statistics office must be in Estonian, Russian or English. If the documents are translated, the translation must be prepared by a sworn translator or certified by a notary. A foreign document as the basis of the registration of a marriage must be legalized or apostilled unless otherwise specified by an international treaty.

A marriage can be contracted within one to six months after submitting an application to marry. With good reason, a vital statistics official may reduce this period.

Upon contraction of the marriage, either spouse can choose to take his or her spouse’s surname or add the surname of the spouse (linked by a hyphen) to his or her surname as used prior to the marriage. Such a new surname may not consist of more than two names linked by a hyphen and only one of the spouses may use such a surname.

When registering the birth of a child, the surname consisting of two surnames may not be given to the child.

To register a marriage, a state fee of 30 EUR must be paid. The state fee has to be paid before submitting the application to the vital statistics office, which will certify the contraction of the marriage. The state fee is not required if the marriage is registered by a notary, but then the notary fee must be paid. On request, a marriage certificate may be issued to certify the marriage.

If an alien wishes to contract a marriage in Estonia, he or she has to certify that he or she is staying in Estonia on a legal basis stipulated by the Aliens Act. In addition, a citizen of a foreign state must submit a certificate of legal capacity to contract a marriage, which certifies that he or she has no hindrances to the contraction of the marriage according to the law of his or her country of residence. The certificate must also be valid on the day of the contraction of the marriage. If an alien cannot submit a certificate of legal capacity to contract the marriage with good reason, he or she may turn to the county court, in whose area of work the marriage is to be contracted, to obtain a permit for the contraction of the marriage without this certificate.

Hindrances to the contraction of marriage may be:

  • gender – marriage cannot be contracted between two persons of the same gender
  • age – marriage can only be contracted between adults (i.e. people of at least 18 years of age). Minors who have attained at least 15 years of age may marry if a court has given them full active legal capacity or extended their active legal capacity for the performance of the acts required for the contraction of marriage and for the exercise of the rights and performance of the obligations related to marriage
  • blood relation – marriage cannot be contracted between relatives in the ascending and descending lines, between brothers or sisters or half-brothers or half-sisters
  • adoptive relation – marriage cannot be contracted between persons whose family relationship is based on adoption. This means that the adopted child cannot marry his or her legal relative in the ascending and descending lines and his or her legal brother or sister or half-brother or half-sister;
  • valid, not finally closed marriage – a marriage shall not be contracted between persons where at least one is already married

An important aspect of the contraction of marriage is also the determination of the proprietary relationship of the spouses. In their marriage application, spouses declare whether they want the regulation of jointness of property, assets set-off incrementally or separateness of property to be applied to their proprietary relationship.

If spouses do not declare their choice, the regulation of jointness of property shall be applied.

Where spouses choose assets to be set-off incrementally or separateness of property as their proprietary relationship, the vital statistics office shall forward the corresponding pro forma with an application to enter the data in the marital property register. On the basis of the application, a marital property registry card shall be opened and a corresponding note shall be sent by the marital property register.

 

Divorce

A marriage can be divorced if both spouses agree to the divorce in a joint written petition to the local government of the county center, the Tallinn Vital Statistics Office or a notary if the place of residence of both spouses according to the population register is in Estonia. If the spouses disagree about the divorce or the circumstances relating to the divorce, or if at least one of the spouses does not live in Estonia according to the population register, the divorce can only be granted by the court.

A vital statistics office may grant divorce if both spouses agree to the divorce in a joint written petition, which must be submitted in person. In addition to the divorce application, a certificate certifying the contraction of marriage must be submitted if the necessary information cannot be found in the population register.

If, with good reason, one of the spouses cannot appear in person to file the joint written petition, he or she may submit a separate notarised application. In such a case, the date of the divorce shall be forwarded only to the spouse who brought the application to the vital statistics office in person.

Documents submitted to the vital statistics office must be in Estonian, Russian or English. If the documents are translated, the translation shall be prepared by a sworn translator or certified by a notary. A foreign document as the basis for a divorce shall be legalized or apostilled unless otherwise specified by an international treaty.

A marriage can be divorced within one to three months after the submission of the application for divorce. If, with good reason, a spouse cannot appear in person at the vital statistics office on the actual date for registering the divorce, he or she may submit a separate consent for registering the divorce certified by a notary or consular post official without coming to the office in person.

Upon the divorce, a spouse may take the surname last used prior to the marriage being divorced or the surname last used before the first marriage.

A state fee of 50 EUR must be paid when registering a divorce. If a divorce is granted by a notary, then the state fee is not paid; however, the notary’s fee must be paid. On request, a certificate of divorce may be issued to certify the divorce.

 

Last updated: 9 July 2019