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Estonian citizenship

Estonian citizenship is a legal covenant between the Estonian citizen and the Estonian state that entails rights and obligations for both parties. No one may be deprived of citizenship by birth.

Estonian citizenship:

  • is acquired by birth if at least one parent has Estonian citizenship
  • is obtained through naturalization
  • is reinstated in the case of persons who lost Estonian citizenship as minors
  • is lost by way of release of Estonian citizenship, depriving one of citizenship or by accepting the citizenship of another country.

An Estonian citizen may not simultaneously hold the citizenship of any other country. Estonian citizenship is lost by accepting the citizenship of another country. A child may hold more than one citizenship if his or her parents have different citizenships. But upon reaching 18 years of age, a child must within three years give up either his or her Estonian citizenship or that of the other country.

Applying for citizenship

To obtain Estonian citizenship, the person must take examinations on the official language (Estonian), the Estonian Constitution and the Citizenship Act. The official language examination does not have to be taken by those who have acquired basic, secondary or higher education in Estonian. 

Foreign nationals who wish to obtain Estonian citizenship are required to:

  • be at least 15 years of age
  • hold a permanent residence permit or permanent right of residence (if located in Estonia before July 1st 1990)
  • be living in Estonia at least 8 years (out of which 5 permanently) on the ground 
  • be proficient in Estonian at a level necessary for everyday situations
  • know the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia and the Citizenship Act
  • hold a stable legal income that is enough for him or her and his or her dependents to live on
  • have a registered residence in Estonia
  • be loyal to the Estonian state
  • swear an oath: “In applying for Estonian citizenship, I vow to be loyal to the constitutional order of Estonia.”

For applying for citizenship, please address in person a Service Office of the Citizenship and Migration Bureau, or apply by post or by e-mail.

Applying for citizenship for child younger than 15

Estonian citizenship for a minor younger than 15 years of age can be applied for by the child’s:

  • parents (or one parent upon an agreement with the other parent or a single parent who is bringing up the child alone) who obtained Estonian citizenship after the birth of the child
  • guardian who is an Estonian citizen or a guardianship authority if the parents of the minor are dead, they are missing or have restricted active legal capacity or they have been deprived of their parental rights
  • parents (or one parent upon an agreement with the other parent or a single parent who is bringing up the child alone) if they apply for Estonian citizenship simultaneously
  • parents (or a single parent who is bringing up the child alone) who are not citizens of any state and who have legally resided in Estonia for at least 5 years.

When applying for Estonian citizenship for a child, the following documents must be filed:

  • an application form
  • a colour photo measuring 40x50 mm
  • the minor’s birth certificate (optional)
  • the parents’ identity documents (and for those who are not Estonian citizens, also a residence permit).

Additional documents must be filed if:

  • only one parent is an Estonian citizen – an agreement between the parent who is an Estonian citizen and the parent who is not an Estonian citizen provided with officially authenticated signatures
  • the application is filed by a parent who is bringing up the child alone – a document certifying that the parent is bringing up the child alone
  • the application is filed by a guardian – a document certifying the awarding of guardianship
  • the minor is a citizen of another state – a certificate that the minor shall be released from their other citizenship in relation to obtaining Estonian citizenship.

If the granting of Estonian citizenship has been decided by the Government of the Republic, the Police and Border Guard Board will inform you by mail, after which you can go to apply for an ID card or passport of an Estonian citizen for the minor.

Reinstating citizenship

Estonian citizenship may be reinstated if a person lost it as a minor. No one may be stripped of citizenship due to their beliefs. An application must be submitted to the Police and Border Guard Board both to reinstate citizenship and to be released from citizenship.To reinstate Estonian citizenship, an application and the required documents must be submitted to an office of the Citizenship and Migration Board. Reinstatement of citizenship may be applied for by anyone who lost citizenship as a minor. The person seeking to reinstate citizenship must permanently reside in Estonia and have been released of his or her previous citizenship, or he or she must certify that he or she will be released from such citizenship on becoming an Estonian citizen.

The following must be submitted to reinstate citizenship:

  • request (can also be filled out on the spot)
  • colour photograph measuring 40x50 mm
  • identity and citizenship documents into which the Estonian residence permit has been entered
  • documents certifying loss of Estonian citizenship
  • certificate regarding payment of state fee.

Within six months of acceptance of the request, the person seeking to reinstate citizenship must submit documents that certify that he or she has been released from his or her previous citizenship or that the person will be released from previous citizenship upon becoming an Estonian citizen. If you fail to submit the certificate in a timely manner, the processing of the request will be discontinued. The decision on reinstatement of citizenship will be made within three months of submitting the required documents and you will be notified in writing and sent a certificate of citizenship as well. The certificate of citizenship confers the right to apply for an ID card and Estonian citizen’s passport.

Release from citizenship

To be released from Estonian citizenship, an application and the required documents must be submitted to an office of the Citizenship and Migration Board or, if you have permanent residence in a foreign country, to a foreign representation of the Republic of Estonia. A parent, guardian or guardianship authority submits the application for a citizen who is younger than 15 years of age or of limited active capacity. A minor between the age of 15-18 shall submit the request accompanied by the certified consent of his or her parent, guardian or guardianship authority.

To be released from citizenship, the following must be submitted:

  • request (an application done in one’s own hand may also be submitted, specifying the applicant’s first and last name, date and place of birth, place of residence, citizenship being applied for and signature)
  • identity documents
  • certificate regarding holding citizenship of any other country or regarding the fact that the person will receive the citizenship of another country upon being released from Estonian citizenship
  • document certifying payment of the state fee. 

If the Government of the Republic has decided to release you from Estonian citizenship, you will be notified thereof in writing. You can obtain the notice from an office of the Citizenship and Migration Board or, if you have permanent residence in a foreign country, from a foreign representation of the Republic of Estonia, after you have surrendered your Estonian citizen’s identity documents.

A person shall not be released from Estonian citizenship if:

  • the person would become stateless as a result.
  • the person has unfulfilled obligations to the Estonian state.
  • the person is on active duty in the defence forces.

Resources for applicants for citizenship

Persons with unspecified citizenship and citizens of third countries who are at least 14 years of age are eligible to register for the free-of-charge courses held all over Estonia to prepare applicants for taking the examination on the Constitution and the Citizenship Act. “Citizens of third countries” means those who do not yet hold citizenship of any European Union country, such as Russian citizens. The course lasts 12 academic hours. The courses take place in Estonian but, if necessary, information is given in Russian as well.

A set of study materials is available for applicants for Estonian citizenship designed to support their familiarity of the Constitution and Citizenship Act and examination system. Expenses on Estonian studies are compensated from state budget funds for applicants for Estonian citizenship as well as for those the Language Inspectorate has referred to a language examination. In both cases, compensation is paid by the State Examination and Qualification Centre.

The following is included in the set of study materials:

  • Estonian-Russian and Estonian-English dictionaries
  • manual entitled “Abiks Eesti kodakondsuse taotlejale” (Help for applicants for Estonian citizenship)
  • DVD entitled “Eesti ajaloo ülevaade” (Overview of Estonian history)
  • exercise notebook
  • lesson syllabus and teacher’s guides.

The help manual mentioned above and the Estonian-Russian and Estonian-English dictionaries can also be found on the website of the examination centre and Sihtasutus Meie Inimesed (the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People).  Registration for the courses is free of charge – call the telephone number 800 9999 or the mobile telephone number 5669 8908 or send an e-mail to kodanik.kursused@meis.ee.

Text made by SA Innove
Last modified 4. January 2016

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