Rights and obligations of citizens

Estonian citizens have the right to state and legal protection and the obligation to be loyal to the Constitution and to take part in the national defence.

Rights of citizens

The rights of citizens are set forth in the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia. Above all they are the rights to the protection of the state (including when abroad), security of person, self-expression and political rights. Citizen status confers not only the right to state and legal protection but also the right to defend the state, to vote and to form political parties.

Citizens have the following rights:

  • to vote in Riigikogu (parliament) and local government elections when they have turned 18 years of age provided they have not been declared to lack active capacity;
  • to belong to political parties;
  • to run for Riigikogu (parliament) if they are at least 21 years of age;
  • to be a candidate for President of the Republic if they are at least 40 years of age and a citizen by birth.

No Estonian citizen may be deported from Estonia or prevented from settling in Estonia. A citizen may be extradited to a foreign country for fulfilling a mutual agreement on extradition of criminals on the basis of the respective legislation. In each individual case, the Government of the Republic shall make the decision, and the decision may be disputed in court.

Obligations of citizens

Similarly to the rights of citizens, the Constitution also governs the obligations of citizens. The citizens of other countries and stateless persons are likewise obliged to comply with the constitutional order in Estonia. The primary obligations of citizens are that they must submit to the constitutional order and take part in national defence. Male Estonian citizens of a certain age are obliged to serve in the defence forces. Males who refuse to serve in the defence forces must undergo alternative service instead. During an emergency or wartime, citizens may be required to assume additional obligations in the interests of national security and the public order. As a last resort, every citizen has the right to take up arms in order to resist an attempt to violently subvert the constitutional order.

Citizens have the following obligations:

  • to submit to the constitutional order;
  • to take part in the national defence if they are male and 16-60 years of age;
  • to take care of their children and family members in need of assistance;
  • to be a responsible steward of their living environment and natural environment and to redress damage done to the environment.

Compiled by: Police and Border Guard Board