Registration of a death and funerals

The death of a loved one is a difficult event that may result in a lost and helpless feeling for the bereaved. People often need support and assistance with managing affairs at such moments.

How to register a death

In order to register a death, one must submit an application (pdf, 35,2 kB, in Estonian) to a vital statistics office within seven days of the date of death of a person or the date on which the deceased person was found. Applications can also be filled in at vital statistics offices.

Who can register a death

  • spouse
  • relative
  • relative by marriage
  • person who was living with the deceased
  • head of an agency that provided health care service
  • police official
  • other persons that have data about the death

Where can one register a death

A death can be registered:

  • at a county seat by the county government
  • at a local government by the municipality or city government
  • in Tallinn, by the Harju County Government or the Tallinn Vital Statistics Department.

If there is a county government on the territory of the town or local municipality, a death is registered in the county government. Applications to register a death may be submitted to any municipality, city or county government.

A death is registered within three business days of receiving a respective application. The following documents are submitted to register a death:

  • medical death certificate, notice of a police authority, or court decision on establishing the fact of death or regarding declaration of death;
  • identity document of the deceased;
  • identity document of the submitter.

The identity document of a deceased person submitted upon registration of their death is kept by the registrar. If the document has been issued in Estonia, the vital statistics office will deliver it to the Police and Border Guard Board; if the document has been issued in a foreign state, the document is delivered to the respective state.

Issue of death certificates

When a death is registered, a death entry is made in the population register, and a death certificate is issued if requested by the person registering the death. Registration of a death and the initial issue of the respective death certificate is free of charge.

The death of a stillborn child is not registered and death certificates are not issued concerning stillborn children. The death of a stillborn child is certified by a medical death certificate.

To enter a death registered abroad in the population register, documents that have been translated into Estonian, English or Russian, legalised or certified by apostille must be submitted to a county government or a consular official of Estonia in the respective foreign state. The death need not be registered again in Estonia.

Funerals

A funeral can be held in many different ways. Depending on the person’s beliefs and the wishes of the departed, there are two primary ways of burial available: a casket burial, and cremation.

Funerals are divided into religious and secular. A religious funeral may take place in a house of worship, chapel or by graveside. The same applies to cremation ceremonies. The difference between secular and religious funerals is solely in the fact that the secular ceremony is not carried out by a minister of religion. Religious grave burials have been preferred in Estonia to this point, but the number of urn funerals has grown significantly in recent years.

A person cannot be buried before his or her death has been registered in a vital statistics office; burials take place on the basis of death certificates. Only the death of a stillborn child is certified by a medical death certificate.

Funeral benefit

The state funeral benefit is paid to economically disadvantaged persons who were granted subsistence benefit at least once during the month of application for funeral benefit or during the twelve months prior to application.

Funeral benefit shall be granted if an application for the funeral benefit is submitted within six months of the date of death or of the date of learning about the death. The application form to apply for the state funeral benefit (pdf, 178 kB, in Estonian) can be found on the homepage of the Social Insurance Board.

In addition to the state funeral benefit, some local governments also pay funeral benefits.

The Estonian Cemetery Portal

With the help of the Estonian Cemetery Portal you can search for information about the deceased person you are interested in, along with their final resting place. You can also communicate quickly and conveniently with the cemeteries, finding data and e-services for each cemetery.

At the portal you also can find the Register of Tallinn Cemeteries and the public e-services of Tallinn Cemeteries.

In Tallinn, the authority Tallinn Cemeteries (at Pärnamäe tee 36) is engaged in the management of cemeteries, provision of burial services to residents, year-round maintenance of the area and the administration of electronic archives.

Last amended: 12-01-2017 00:00 | Compiled by: Ministry of the Interior