Registration of birth and choosing a name

The birth of a child is registered in Estonia if the child is born in Estonia, the residence of the child´s parent is in Estonia or the child’s parent is an Estonian citizen.

If the birth of a child has been registered in a foreign state, the birth does not have to be re-registered. To enter the birth registered in a foreign state in the population register, documents which are translated into Estonian, Russian, or English and legalized or authenticated by a certificate (apostilled) shall be submitted to the local government of the county center, the Tallinn Vital Statistics Department or the Estonian consular post in a foreign state.

The vital statistics office will register the birth within the first month of the child’s life on the basis of the registration application from the parent. With good reason, the deadline for the registration of birth may be extended for up to two months and the vital statistics office registering the birth shall be notified.

An application to register the birth may be submitted to any local government.

The following should be submitted when registering a birth:

  • application (pdf, 53,1 kB) to register a birth
  • health care provider’s certificate regarding the birth (if a child is born in a hospital the medical document is added to the population register and a paper certificate is not needed)
  • applicant’s identity documents (if parents are married to each other, only one of them may come to register the birth - then it is not required to submit other parents identity document)
  • marriage documents, if data has not been entered into the population register
  • if one of the child’s married parents registers the birth, it is required to have other parent´s application for the desired name of the child with him or her
  • the application for the acknowledgement of paternity (if needed) can be submitted to the vital statistics office or in a notarised form.

If the child is born in the hospital the application to register the birth may be submitted electronically through the state portal or with a digital signature by e-mail. Child’s parents must be married to each other to use this service.

The following data shall be entered in the population register upon registration of birth:

  • mother – a woman who gives birth to a child
  • father– a man who
    • is married to the mother of the child or
    • who has acknowledged his paternity or
    • whose paternity has been established by court.

Acknowledgement of paternity

Application for the acknowledgement of paternity (pdf, 31,9 kB) may be submitted at the time of or after registering the birth of a child. In exceptional cases, if it might be impossible or difficult to submit the application for the acknowledgement of paternity after the birth of the child, it can be submitted during the woman’s pregnancy. The application must be submitted to a vital statistics authority in Estonia. If in a foreign country, the application for the acknowledgement of paternity may be submitted to an Estonian consular authority, who forwards it to the Estonian vital statistics authority where the mother consents to the acknowledgement of paternity.

If paternity is acknowledged to a man who is not married to the mother of the child, the mother of the child does not need consent of her husband for the man by whom the child was actually conceived to be able to acknowledge paternity.

If paternity is acknowledged when the birth is registered, the corresponding section in the birth registration application is filled in. If paternity is acknowledged after the birth is registered, the application for the acknowledgement of paternity is filled in after the birth is registered.

If the child’s parents are not married to each other and the father acknowledges paternity after the birth is registered, fathers surname may be given to the child. Court may give a child his or her father’s surname if the descendace from the father of that child is established in a court.

Parent who is a minor

A parent who is a minor cannot submit the application of registering the child’s birth. In case of a single mother the application is submitted by the local government of the child’s place of residence. If one of the parents is a minor and the other an adult (regardless of whether they are married or not), the application is submitted by the adult parent. If a parent who is a minor acknowledges paternity, gives consent to the acknowledgement of paternity or naming, his legal representatives (usually parents) consent is added to the application of registration of the birth. A parent who is a minor can only submit the application of registration if her or his legal capacity has been extended by the court.

Birth certificate

When a birth is registered, a birth certificate may be issued at the request of parents. Registration of birth and a first time birth certificate is free of charge.

Conducting activities at the national and local government administrations (e.g. applying for family allowances, or for child’s identification documents, etc) presenting a certificate is not required – these authorities will receive child’s birth data from the population register. Employer, school, kindergarten or bank may ask for a birth certificate.

If you need to present a vital statistics certificate (a birth certificate, a marriage certificate, a divorce certificate, a birth certificate of own child, a death certificate of own child or spouse) on the basis of a vital statistics act, but you have lost it or it has become unavailable, then you can order a duplicate certificate via population registers e-services. A state fee of 10 Euros (paper certificate) or 5 Euros (electronic certificate) should be paid for issuing a duplicate certificate. More information and reference numbers for the local governments of the county center can you find on homepage of Ministry of the Interior and also at the e-service. If you would like to have a birth certificate in a foreign language, contact your local government of the county center (for excample Vital Statistics Department in Tallinn) for further information.

Naming a child

A child is assigned a name and surname upon agreement between the parents. If they fail to reach an agreement, a guardianship authority shall decide which name is assigned to the child. If the child’s parents are married to each other and only one of them has to come to register the birth, it is required to have the their parent’s written consent for the desired name of the child with him or her.

A given name may consist of not more than three names written as several words or two names linked by a hyphen (for example Mari Ann Mai or Mari-Ann). A given name must not be contrary to good morals and correspond to the gender of the person. A given name must not contain numbers or non-alphabetical signs or with a surname coincide with the full name of a well known person. Exceptions may be made if, due to the child’s or the child’s parents citizenship, family relations, national identity or other circumstances, or a child or the parents of a child have personal connection to the foreign-language name tradition and the name applied for complies therewith.

The spelling of an Estonian name shall be in accordance with the rules of orthography. The pronunciation and the spelling of the Estonian given name is the same and don’t include foreign letters (e.g. c, č, q, w, x y), foreign word letters (f, š, z, ž), foreign letter combinations (for example th, sh) or won’t start with letters g, b, d. Non-Estonian given name shall be in accordance with the rules of orthography of the relevant language and must be in use as a given name in a foreign state. Evidence may be asked from the parents.

A child shall be assigned the surname of the parents if the parents have a joint surname or the surname of the child’s only parent. The surname of one of the parents shall be given to the child if the parents have different surnames. In case of multiple births, children are given the same surname. A surname consisting of two names shall not be assigned to a child as a surname. As an exception a surname consisting of two names may be assigned to the child if a parent has received a surname consisting of two surnames at birth, both or only parent(s) has double name or if a sister or a brother has a surname consisting of two names which coincides with the surname of a parent consisting of two names.

Right of custody

The right of custody shall be entered in the population register upon registration of birth. Parents of a child who are married to each other have joint right of custody. Parents who are not married to each other, shall state whether they wish to exercise joint right of custody or leave the right of custody only to one of the parents or to both.

A parent’s right of custody is the parent’s obligation and right to care for their minor child and includes custody over the person and property. A parent who has the right of custody is the legal representative of the child. Custody over a person is the obligation and the right of a caregiver to raise a child, to exercise supervision over him or her, to ascertain the whereabouts of the child and to take care of the general well-being of the child in any other manner. Custody over property is the obligation and right to administer the property of the child.

Last amended: 10-01-2018 00:00 | Compiled by: Ministry of the Interior