If a child is born abroad

A medical birth certificate is issued by a hospital when a child is born. The birth of a child has to be registered in the corresponding authority of the foreign country (vital statistics office or other competent body) that issues the child’s birth certificate (with the name of the child and the parents’ information).

If you are an Estonian citizen, live in Estonia, and wish to return here with the child as soon as possible or if you stay to live abroad but want your child to have an Estonian passport or ID card, you need to have the birth certificate certified by apostille (the list of countries that certify their documents by apostille) or legalised (the countries that do not use apostilles).

Apostille certification or legalisation

You can have a document certified by apostille in a competent authority of a foreign country (mostly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country or a representation of the country that issues the document). After that, you need to certify or legalise the document also in the Estonian representation or the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Estonia.

Documents that have been legalised by the foreign representations located on the territory of Estonia need not be legalised in the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Apostille certification or legalisation is not needed in the case of documents issued by Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cabo Verde, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, the Netherlands (the European territory), Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine.

Additional information about the legalisation of documents can be found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There, you can also find the application forms, necessary bank details, and reference numbers to pay the state fee of 30 euros.

A notarised translation has to be made from the birth certificate (or have a sworn translator translate it) either into Russian or English (if the document itself is not in Russian or English).

Where can I get a travel document for my child?

For a child aged up to 1 year, the travel document necessary to return to Estonia (certificate for return) can be obtained from the nearest Estonian embassy or honorary consul. In order to obtain that, one of the parents has to go to the embassy or honorary consul (the document is not issued by post) and submit:

  • an application (completed on the spot)
  • a birth certificate of the child certified as required (by apostille or legalised in the home country) and if needed, also a notarised translation.
  • 2 document photos of the child
  • a written agreement of the other parent to issue a certificate for return for the child.

The certificate for return is usually prepared in one working day and if possible, the birth of a child is immediately entered into the population register of Estonia. In this case, parents do not have to submit a birth certificate to the local government when they return to Estonia, as the information about the child is already in the population register and the child has an Estonian identification code.

What kind of procedures do I have to pay for?

Giving birth in a foreign country is generally not an insured event covered in travel insurance. The parents of a child have to pay hospital bills and other bills (including the state fees or service fees for a foreign birth certificate, translation and certification, additional costs for buying an additional plane ticket or another transportation ticket for the child, etc.) If necessary, you can also ask for help by calling the 24/7 consular information helpline (+372) 5301 9999 or by writing to the web consul on Facebook.

If the child is not entered into the population register

If an entry was not made into the Estonian population register (e.g. the Estonian honorary consuls cannot do that), you need to submit a certified (by apostille or legalised) birth certificate to the local government in Estonia and also have the birth certificate legalised (either in the Estonian embassy or the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and the notarised translation of the birth certificate (if the document itself is not in English or Russian). The information about the child is then entered into the population register and the child gets an Estonian personal identification code.

If a child of parents with undetermined citizenship who live in Estonia was born in a foreign country

The child born abroad to parents with undetermined citizenship who live in Estonia also has to be registered in the corresponding authority of the foreign country (vital statistics office or other competent body) that issues the child’s birth certificate (with the name of the child and parent’s information).

The birth certificate has to be certified by an apostille (the list of countries that confirm their documents by apostille) or legalised (the countries that do not use apostilles).

The certificate for return is issued for the child by the nearest Estonian embassy or honorary consul.

Once the parents return to Estonia, they need to approach the Police and Border Guard Board to apply for an Estonian residence permit for the child. The list of documents needed to submit the application and the ways of submitting it can be found on the website of the Police and Border Guard Board.

If a child is born abroad and remains living there

If you are an Estonian citizen, live abroad, and wish to stay abroad with the child, the birth of the child has to be registered in the corresponding authority of the foreign country. To get an Estonian ID-card or passport for the child, you have to have the child’s birth certificate certified by apostille or legalised.

The application for an ID-card or or a passport has to be sent to the Police and Border Guard Board by mail or submitted in the online environment. ID-card and passport can also be applied for in the Estonian embassy, where it is also possible to submit an application to register a permanent place of residence for the child in a foreign country. The application has to be signed by both parents with the right of custody; otherwise, you need to take a written consent of the other parent.

Starting from 12 years of age, the child’s fingerprints are needed when applying for the passport; therefore, it is possible to apply for a passport by mail or online until the child is 12 years old. After that, you need to take the child to the nearest Estonian embassy or the Service Office of the Police and Border Guard Board in Estonia.

If the child’s data has not been entered into the Estonian population register before, this is done after submitting the application for the ID-card or the passport (the Police and Border Guard Board organises the entry of the child’s data into the population register). The child will get an Estonian personal identification code.

If one of the parents is an Estonian citizen and the other a citizen of another country

A child is considered an Estonian citizen if at least one of their parents is an Estonian citizen. If the other parent is a citizen of another country, then the child can be also given a second citizenship, depending on the laws of the other country (the child will then have a dual citizenship). There are countries that give its citizenship to a child born on its territory whose parents might not be the citizens of the country (e.g. the U.S.). In this case, it might be that a child has multiple citizenships when born (that of the country the child was born in, that of the Estonian parent, and that of the parent who is the citizen of another country). The child’s parents can choose and decide the travel document(s) (passports) of which country they want to apply for the child.

You have to consider that by applying for a travel document, the child’s belonging to the citizenship of one or another country is confirmed and this includes the rights and duties that the citizens have in the country (the right to vote, young men’s conscript service etc.). It also needs to be considered that according to the international custom, Estonia cannot offer consular protection to a dual citizen who lives in the other country they have the citizenship of (e.g. an Estonian-U.S. dual citizen who lives in the U.S. cannot get protection against the U.S. powers from the Estonian embassy, honorary consul, or an embassy of an European Union Member State).

Compiled by: Ministry of Foreign Affairs