EstoniaOfficial Name: Republic of Estonia
Embassies and Consulates
Telephone: 011-372-668-8128, 8129, 8111, or 8197
Emergency Telephone: 011-372-509-2129 or 011-372-668-8169
Estonia and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since May 1, 2007.
For information concerning travel to Estonia, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Estonia.
Hague Abduction Convention
The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention. In this capacity, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Estonia. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.
The Estonia Central Authority (ECA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministry of Justice. The ECA reviews applications for completeness, translates necessary documents, and forwards applications to the competent civil court in the jurisdiction where the child resides. The ECA can be reached at:
To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Estonia, the applicant should submit a Hague application to the U.S. Central Authority (USCA), along with a statement of the circumstances leading up to and including the removal. The applicant should also provide a description of subsequent efforts to recover and/or maintain contact with the child, and any evidence demonstrating that the United States is the child’s habitual residence. If it has been over one year since the child was abducted, the applicant should include a statement concerning the reason for the delay before filing the application. Although the ECA accepts documents in both English and Estonian, any documents that will be used in a court proceeding must be translated into Estonian. The ECA will assist with such translation free of charge. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the ECA, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.
There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or Estonian central authorities. If the applicant parent does not qualify for legal aid from the Estonian government, he/she is responsible for all attorneys’ fees. The parent’s attorney may be able to recoup some of the costs from the taking parent by petitioning the court. Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.
A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, Estonia. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.
A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Estonia. The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.
Retaining an Attorney
Legal aid is available from the Government of Estonia to qualifying applicants. If an applicant qualifies for legal aid, the Estonian court will appoint a private attorney to represent the parent in the Hague case. The ECA provides assistance to applicants in completing the necessary forms and disclosures in order to petition a court for legal aid. Parents who do not qualify for legal aid must retain a private attorney to represent them at trial.
The U.S. Embassy in Tallinn, Estonia, posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.
This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.
In Estonia, mediation can function as either an alternative or a supplement to Hague litigation. Mediation can take place at any point in the Hague process, and the court also has the option of ordering that parties participate in mediation. The ECA can provide referrals for mediators, who can come from either legal or social work backgrounds. Parties are responsible for costs associated with mediation; however, if a party has been granted financial aid by the court, the costs of mediation will be covered. Further information about mediation in Estonia can be found at http://www.lepitus.ee/.
Do not attempt to take back your child
We strongly discourage taking matters into your own hands. The measures could be illegal and may delay your child’s return. Attempts to re-abduct your child from the United States may:
- Endanger your child and others;
- Prejudice any future judicial efforts you might wish to make in the United States; and
- Could even result in your arrest and imprisonment.
Finally, there is no guarantee that the chain of abductions would end with the one committed by you. A parent who has re-abducted a child may have to go to extraordinary lengths to conceal his or her whereabouts, living in permanent fear that the child may be re-abducted yet again.
If you are contemplating such desperate measures, we advise you to consider the emotional trauma inflicted on a child who is a victim of an abduction and a re-abduction. We discourage re-abduction not only because it is illegal, but also because of possible psychological harm to the child.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction.