Vehicle registration

Registration is an act whereby the Estonian Transport Administration enters the details of a power-driven vehicle (including motorcycles, tractors, and mobile machinery) or its trailer, or a off-road vehicle, that is put into service in Estonia and complies with the requirements, and details of the persons related to it, into the traffic register. The registration of a vehicle is authenticated with a registration certificate or on the basis of the data of the traffic register.

A vehicle used in traffic must be registered within five working days after being put into use in Estonia (generally following the importation of the vehicle or customs clearance). The vehicle shall be registered after the pre-registration technical compliance inspection has been carried out and the vehicle meets requirements. Information regarding the persons related to the vehicle (owners, users) shall be entered in the register along with vehicle information.

The vehicle shall be registered in the name of a natural person with Estonian citizenship or a natural person with a permit or right of residence in Estonia, or a legal person registered in Estonian Business Register or a branch of a foreign company. In case the owner of the vehicle is not a natural person with Estonian citizenship or a natural person with a permit or right of residence in Estonia, or a legal person registered in Estonia, an eligible representative shall be entered in the register in their name as an authorised user.

In case an authorised user of the vehicle is to be entered in the register, the applicant of the registration process shall, in addition to other required documents (see below), also submit information regarding the user or lease agreement, or sales contract with the reservation of title of ownership, on the basis of which the vehicle is used. This requirement applies equally to both natural and legal persons. Generally, the authorised user of the vehicle must give their consent to be entered in the traffic register. Such consent is presumed with credit or financial institutions (e.g. leasing companies) and does not have to be submitted separately.

The vehicle is generally registered to one person. In case a vehicle has several owners, all owners shall be registered as co-owners and one co-owner shall be appointed by them to be registered as an authorised owner. Registration certificate shall state the owner and authorised user and the comment field will include a note stating “co-ownership”.

Further information about authorised user can be found here.

The following documents must be submitted for vehicle registration:

  • application to register a vehicle;
  • documents proving legal acquisition of the vehicle;
  • personal identification document of the applicant;
  • authorisation document in case the applicant is a representative of the owner of the vehicle;
  • in case of a new vehicle, certificate of conformity (EC-Certificate of Conformity i.e. CoC) issued by the manufacturer;
  • in case of a used vehicle, valid registration certificate of the country of origin, both parts if the registration certificate consists of two parts;
  • customs clearance documents of vehicles imported from outside the EU;
  • expert report of a reconstructed vehicle or a vehicle constructed on an individual basis;
  • certificate of compliance with requirements set for vintage vehicles for registering a vintage vehicle;
  • national certificate of conformity for registering a vehicle manufactured in Estonia;
  • other documents according to the legislation.

The following documents are required for registering a vehicle built on an individual basis for one’s own use:

  • application to register a vehicle;
  • expert report certifying that the vehicle complies with established requirements;
  • decision approving vehicle registration by the technical department of Road Administration;
  • documents proving legal acquisition of the main parts and materials of the vehicle;
  • certificate of conformity.

state fee shall be paid for vehicle registration.

The Estonian Transport Administration has the right to verify the accuracy of submitted data before making the register entry, that includes the right to verify data regarding a registration certificate issued by a foreign institution.

In case the vehicle has been previously issued transit plates, these must be handed over to the Estonian Transport Administration service bureau upon vehicle registration.

The Estonian Transport Administration refuses vehicle registration if:

  • documents or data required for registration have not been submitted;
  • the vehicle does not meet the established requirements;
  • the vehicle is made up of spare parts;
  • the vehicle has been deleted from the register due to being destroyed or based on a valid certificate of destruction;
  • in another event provided by law.

The service bureau of Estonian Transport Administration shall issue a registration certificate and registration plate(s) for the owner of the vehicle or the owner’s representative.

Registration plates

A registered vehicle must have a national registration plate. 

Read more

Vehicle registration

Off-road vehicle is a vehicle powered by an engine, which is designed to be driven off-road and is not a power-driven vehicle for the purposes of the Traffic Act. Categories of off-road vehicles are brought out in the article of categories.

Off-road vehicles include both wheeled off-road vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles.

Off-road vehicles must be registered in Estonia.

The following documents must be submitted for registering an off-road vehicle:

  • application to register an off-road vehicle;
  • documents proving legal acquisition of the off-road vehicle;
  • personal identification document of the applicant;
  • authorisation document in case the applicant is a representative of the owner of the off-road vehicle.

state fee should be paid for the registration.

The regulation and management of driving off-road vehicles is regulated by Chapter 8 of the Traffic Act. The Nature Conservation Act prohibits driving off-road vehicles in special management and limited management zones. Driving off-road vehicles in protected areas is permitted only with the consent of the manager of the protected area. The local authority has the right to establish additional requirements for driving off-road vehicles on the territory of their municipality or town.

A wheeled off-road vehicle may be driven by a person who holds a driving licence for driving a motor vehicle of any category, except AM category (because AM category only permits to drive a moped that is equipped with a spark ignition engine, the capacity of which does not exceed 50 cm3). Dipped-beam headlamp(s) and rear light(s) and at least one reflex reflector on the front, rear and on both sides, are compulsory. It is prohibited to drive off-road vehicles on roads (except for crossing roads). The driver of an off-road vehicle must wear a strapped motorcycle helmet and not carry a passenger who does not wear a strapped motorcycle helmet.

In case the off-road vehicle complies with the regulations set out for a power-driven vehicle (e.g. L7e category), it is possible to register it as a power-driven vehicle which will allow it, unlike off-road vehicles, to be driven on roads. The driver of a vehicle registered as an L7e category power-driven vehicle must hold the right to drive vehicles in category A2, A, B1 or B. In case the engine capacity does not exceed 125 cm3 and the power of the engine does not exceed 11 kilowatts, the vehicle may also be driven with the right to drive vehicles in category A1. The vehicle must have EC type approval, speedometer and lighting equipment of a road vehicle.

Periodic roadworthiness test of a new off-road vehicle will take place in three years at the latest, roadworthiness tests of used vehicles must be carried out every two years.

A moped is a two-wheeled or three-wheeled vehicle that has a design speed above 25 but not more than 45 km/h and is equipped with a spark ignition engine, the capacity of which does not exceed 50 cm3, or with another combustion engine, the net power of which does not exceed 4 kW, or with an electric engine, the maximum continuous rated power of which exceeds 0.25 kW but not 4 kW.

A light four-wheeled power-driven vehicle that meets the aforementioned conditions and has an unladen mass of no more than 350 kg is also deemed to be a moped. The mass of batteries is not taken into account upon calculating the unladen mass of light four-wheeled electric vehicles.

The categories of mopeds are brought out in the article of categories.

The following documents must be submitted for registering a moped:

  • application to register a moped;
  • documents proving legal acquisition of the vehicle;
  • personal identification document of the applicant.

state fee shall be paid for the registration.

A tractor is a power-driven vehicle designated for field or forest work, which has wheels or tracks and at least two axes, and the maximum design speed of which is at least 6 km/h. Vehicles designed for specific work applications, which are manufactured on the basis of motor vehicles, are not deemed to be tractors. For the purposes of technical requirements it is considered a category T vehicle.

Mobile machinery is a power-driven vehicle on wheels or caterpillar tracks designed for carrying out specific work and with a design speed of over 6 but less than 40 km/h. Vehicles designed for specific work applications, which are manufactured on the basis of motor vehicles, are not deemed to be mobile machinery.

For the purposes of technical requirements it is considered a category LM vehicle.

The following must be submitted for registering a tractor/mobile machinery:

  • application to register a tractor/mobile machinery;
  • documents proving legal acquisition of the tractor/mobile machinery;
  • personal identification document of the applicant;
  • authorisation document in case the applicant is a representative of the owner of the tractor/mobile machinery;
  • in case of pre-registered (used) tractor/mobile machinery, registration certificate of country of origin;
  • customs clearance documents of vehicles imported from outside the EU;
  • expert report for a reconstructed vehicle or a vehicle constructed on an individual basis.

A state fee shall be paid for the registration.

Vessels

Vessels with a total length of under 12-metres and jets (hereinafter “watercraft”) are subject to being entered into the traffic register. The watercraft registration must be requested by the owner of the watercraft who is a natural person and a permanent resident of Estonia or a legal person who has obtained a residence permit in Estonia, and the home harbour of which is in Estonia. The registration requirement does not apply on watercrafts that have been entered into a relevant register of another country.

Prior to the registration, the vehicle and the watercraft are subject to go through a pre-registration inspection.

Ships

Ships are all water craft with an overall length of at least 12 metres performing state administrative duties or used for economic activities or vocational training. Water craft with an overall length of more than 24 metres which are used for recreational activities in Estonian maritime areas and international shipping are also deemed to be ships.

Registration of ships is regulated by the Law of Ship Flag and Ship Registers Act.

Estonian shipowner

  1. The Republic of Estonia, a local authority or other legal person in public law;
  2. an Estonian citizen;
  3. a legal person in private law registered in Estonia;
  4. a seagoing vessel in shared ownership may fly the national flag of Estonia if the greater share of the seagoing vessel is owned by an Estonian citizen or Estonian citizens.

Citizens of the Contracting States of the European Economic Area and legal persons in private law registered pursuant to the laws of the Contracting States whose seat and business establishment is in a Contracting State shall be equal to an Estonian shipowner, provided that they:

  1. have a business establishment in Estonia, considering that the ship herself is not deemed to be a business establishment, or
  2. are responsible persons that have a business establishment in Estonia.

Responsible person

A ship entered in the ship registry or in the register of bareboat chartered ships must have a responsible person.

A responsible person is a legal or natural person who is responsible for compliance with the technical, social and administrative requirements applicable to ships in Estonia, and who complies with the requirements established for an operator within the meaning of the Maritime Safety Act, if:

  1. they have passed a maritime safety audit and have a valid document of compliance (DOC) specified in subsection 6 (12) of the Maritime Safety Act, issued by the Maritime Administration, or
  2. they submit a written confirmation regarding their compliance with the requirements if holding the document of compliance (DOC) is not required by the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea of 1974.

The following ships need not have a responsible person:

  1. seagoing vessels with an overall length of up to 24 metres;
  2. ships which perform state administrative duties;
  3. inland vessels and non-propelled floating vessels;
  4. ships under construction and non-propelled floating vessels under construction;
  5. ships entered in the ship registry which have been chartered out.

Pre-registration inspection of ships

For the first entry in a ship register in Estonia, a standard form shall be submitted to the registrar regarding the technical supervision of maritime safety of the ship. The standard form is issued by the Transport Administration. An application in free form for issue of the standard form and for conduct of a technical survey must be sent by e-mail: ljo@transpordiamet.ee.

In case a ship has all valid maritime safety certificates issued by a Recognised Organisation, the Transport Administration may waive the pre-registration inspection of the ship and issue the standard form on the basis of the maritime safety documents issued to the ship. When making the decision, the Transport Administration will take into account the ship’s maritime safety record in various port state control databases.

A state fee shall be paid for the pre-registration inspection and issue of the standard form in accordance with the rates stipulated in the State Fees Act.

Name and external identification number of ship

Approval of name:
If a ship has previously not been entered in the register in Estonia or if the name is changed in the course of re-registration, a written application in free form shall be submitted to the Ship Supervision Department of the Transport Administration. It may also be submitted electronically, digitally signed, at: laevaregister@transport.ee.

A supporting document certifying ownership to confirm the correctness of the data should be attached to the application.

The owner or charterer of the ship may submit an application to the Transport Administration for keeping the name of the ship in their name; the name of the ship shall be kept in the name of the shipowner of charterer for three years after the date of approval.

Assigning the external identification number (in case of a fishing vessel with an overall length of more than 10 metres, which has previously not been entered in the register in Estonia):

A written application in free form shall be submitted to the Ship Supervision Department of the Transport Administration. It may also be submitted electronically, digitally signed, at: laevaregister@transpordiamet.ee.

A supporting document certifying ownership to confirm the correctness of the data should be attached to the application.

Entry of ship in the estonian ship registry (the ship register and the register of ships under construction)

The ship registry is maintained by the land registry department of Tartu County Court. More specific information is available on the website of the Ministry of Justice.

Applications and other documents can be submitted to the land registry department via a notary or the Transport Administration. Digital applications can be submitted via the Transport Administration, on a standard form. The forms are available on the website of the Ministry of Justice.

Upon registration, the certificate of a sea-going vessel and, at the request of the shipowner, a certificate of nationality are issued for the ship.

For registration of a ship, the following documents shall be submitted to the land registry department:

  1. for the first entry in a ship register in Estonia, a standard form (see: pre-registration inspection of ships) regarding the initial technical survey of maritime safety of the ship;
  2. a tonnage certificate in case of a sea-going ship;
  3. in case of a ship deleted from the Estonian ship register or Estonian ship book, a certificate issued by the Transport Administration regarding re-registration of the ship in the register relating to ships;
  4. for the first entry in the Estonian ship register or in case of changing the name of a ship, a certificate issued by the Transport Administration regarding approval of the name of the ship;
  5. for the first entry in a ship register in Estonia of a fishing vessel, a certificate issued by the Transport Administration regarding assigning an external identification number to the vessel;
  6. in case of a ship that is outfitted with equipment radiating in radio frequencies, the radio licence of the water craft issued by the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority.

Information to be submitted for registration of a sea-going vessel:

  1. the name, number or other mark of identification of the ship;
  2. the type of main engines of the ship, the type of the ship according to its purpose, and the main material of the hull;
  3. the port of registry;
  4. the place and year of build and the name of the builder;
  5. the call sign;
  6. the International Maritime Organization (IMO) number if it is evident from the tonnage certificate or other corresponding document, the results of official measurement and the output of the engines;
  7. data on the owner or shared owners and the size of the shares in the shared ownership, and in the case of a ship of the state, also information about the administrator of state assets and authorised body, if the latter has been appointed;
  8. in case a responsible person exists, their data and contact details, the document certifying the authorisation of the responsible person together with the number of the document or confirmation specified in subsection 42 (2) of the Law of Ship Flag and Ship Registers Act, a written confirmation that the person has a business establishment in Estonia, unless the owner of a seagoing vessel, including a shared owner, has a business establishment in Estonia, and the digitally signed or notarised consent of the responsible person for being entered as a responsible person in the ship registry, unless the functions of the responsible person are performed by the shipowner;
  9. the legal basis for acquiring ownership, which shall be certified;
  10. proof of the right to fly the national flag of Estonia;
  11. the manager in the case of a ship co-operative;
  12. documents which certify that the ship complies with the safety requirements for ships established in the Republic of Estonia;
  13. the provisional certificate of nationality if issued;
  14. receipt for payment of the state fee.

If a ship has not been measured in Estonia, the submission of a tonnage certificate issued abroad is sufficient in legalised form.

Information to be submitted for registration of an inland vessel:

  1. the name, number or other mark of identification of the ship;
  2. the main material of the hull;
  3. the port of registry;
  4. the place and year of build and the name of the builder;
  5. the overall length of the ship and the output of the engines;
  6. information about the owner (ownership shall be certified and in the case of several owners the percentage of each owner’s share shall be indicated), and in the case of the state, also information about the administrator of state assets and authorised body, if the latter has been appointed;
  7. the legal basis for acquiring ownership, which shall be certified;
  8. documents which certify that the ship complies with the safety requirements for ships established in the Republic of Estonia;
  9. receipt for payment of the state fee.

Information to be submitted for registration of a non-propelled floating vessel:

  1. the name, number or other mark of identification of the non-propelled floating vessel (it shall be indicated that the vessel is a non-propelled floating vessel);
  2. the location;
  3. the place of build;
  4. information about the owner (ownership shall be certified), and in the case of the state, also information about the administrator of state assets and authorised body, if the latter has been appointed;
  5. the basis for the creation of ownership, which shall be certified;
  6. documents which certify that the non-propelled floating vessel complies with the safety requirements established in the Republic of Estonia;
  7. receipt for payment of the state fee.

For registration of a vessel under construction, the following documents shall be submitted to the land registry department:

  1. a certificate issued by the Transport Administration regarding the principal measurements of the vessel under construction;
  2. a certificate issued by the Transport Administration or a Recognised Organisation regarding the laying of the keel marked with a permanent name or number;
  3. a certificate issued by the Transport Administration regarding approval of the name of a vessel under construction, of whose hull 75 % is ready or whose name is changed.

Information to be submitted for registration of a sea-going or inland vessel under construction or a non-propelled floating vessel under construction:

  1. the name, number or other mark of identification of the sea-going or inland vessel under construction or the non-propelled floating vessel under construction;
  2. the place of build and the name of the builder;
  3. information about the owner (ownership shall be certified), and in the case of the state, also information about the administrator of state assets and authorised body, if the latter has been appointed;
  4. documents which certify that, with regard to technical characteristics, the seagoing or inland vessel will be eligible for entry in the ship register upon completion;
  5. receipt for payment of the state fee.

If the owner of a seagoing or inland vessel under construction or a non-propelled floating vessel under construction is not the builder of the vessel, a notarised confirmation from the builder concerning the circumstances under which another person became the owner shall be submitted for registration of the vessel.

Entry of ship in the register of bareboat chartered ships

A foreign ship may fly the Estonian flag and be entered in the Register of Bareboat Chartered Ships of the Transport Administration if:

  1. the ship has been chartered bareboat for use in the charterer’s own name;
  2. the shipowner consents to the exchange of flags;
  3. the law applicable to the ship does not prohibit flying the national flag of Estonia.

In order to enter a foreign ship in the First Register of Bareboat Chartered Ships and issue a certificate of nationality, the charterer or a representative of the charterer shall submit, on the basis of an authorisation document, to the Transport Administration the following:

  1. an application in free form by the charterer, in written or digital form;
  2. the name and former names of the ship;
  3. the main material of the hull, the type of main engines, and the type of the ship according to its purpose;
  4. the port of registry;
  5. the name of the builder, and the place and year of build;
  6. the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number if it is in the tonnage certificate or other corresponding document;
  7. the results of official measurement and the output of the main engines according to the official tonnage certificate;
  8. the Safety Management Certificate (SMC) or interim Safety Management Certificate (interim SMC) for a ship for which the Safety Management Certificate is required, or documents certifying the seaworthiness of a ship for which the Safety Management Certificate is not required;
  9. the classification certificate issued by a recognised organisation for a ship for which the classification certificate is required and which is not a ship specified in subsection 1 (1) of the Law of Ship Flag and Ship Registers Act;
  10. the charter party and in case of sub-charter, the sub-charter party;
  11. the consent of the state of initial registration for registration of the ship in the Estonian register of bareboat chartered ships;
  12. the notarised or digitally signed consent of the shipowner for registration of the ship in the register of bareboat chartered ships, if the consent of the shipowner is not set out in the charter party;
  13. the call sign of the ship;
  14. at the request of the registrar, a document certifying that the charterer is a citizen of a Contracting State or a legal person in private law registered under the law of a Contracting State, whose seat and business establishment are in the Contracting State, unless the registrar can obtain these documents free of charge from a respective register of the other Contracting State within a reasonable period of time;
  15. the name, personal identification code or date of birth in the absence of a personal identification code of the owner or shared owners, charterer and responsible person of the ship; in the case of a legal person, its registry code or registration number;
  16. the contact details specified in subsection 47 (6) of the Law of Ship Flag and Ship Registers Act of the owner or shared owners, charterer and responsible person of the ship;
  17. the document certifying the authorisation of the responsible person, and the digitally signed or notarised consent of the responsible person for being entered in the register of bareboat chartered ships as a responsible person, unless the functions of the responsible person are performed by the shipowner or charterer;
  18. the number of the document or the confirmation specified in subsection 42 (2) of the Law of Ship Flag and Ship Registers Act;
  19. the written confirmation of the charterer that the responsible person has a business establishment in Estonia;
  20. the written confirmation of the charterer that as far as they know there are no circumstances specified in clauses 961 (2) 2)–4) of the Law of Ship Flag and Ship Registers Act.

In order to enter a foreign ship in the Second Register of Bareboat Chartered Ships, the charterer shall submit, to the Transport Administration the application and documents listed in the previous section, except for the confirmation specified in clause 19.

All documents in a foreign language (except English) shall be submitted together with a translation into Estonian certified by a notary or sworn translator. Documents issued by administrative agencies of foreign states shall be submitted in legalised form.

If transcripts are submitted instead of originals, the registrar may request from the charterer the original or a notarised or officially certified transcript and issue a provisional certificate of nationality which is valid until the issue of standard documents.

If a ship has not been measured in Estonia, the submission of a tonnage certificate issued abroad is sufficient.

Before entry into the Register of Bareboat Chartered Ships, a state fee shall be paid in accordance with the rates stipulated in the State Fees Act.

Certificates of nationality of bareboat chartered ships shall be issued for ships entered in the register of bareboat chartered ships.

Entry of ship in the database of ships performing state administrative duties

A ship performing state administrative duties is a state-owned ship at the disposal of government agencies and intended for the performance of administrative functions assigned to government agencies.

In order to enter the ship in the Database of Ships Performing State Administrative Duties, the shipowner (or an authorised representative of the shipowner on the basis of an authorisation document) shall submit an application in free form to the Ship Supervision Department of the Transport Administration (laevaregister@transpordiamet.ee).

The following documents must be enclosed with the application:

  1. the certificate of registration of the applicant in the register of enterprises, agencies and organisations of the Republic of Estonia;
  2. the legal basis for acquiring ownership;
  3. documents concerning the technical characteristics and the safety of the ship (standard form, tonnage certificate);
  4. the radio licence of the water craft.

Ship’s letters shall be issued for ships which perform state administrative duties.

Issue of safety certificates

Technical surveys of ships of 500 GT and above are conducted and the required maritime safety certificates are issued by Recognised Organisations. The only exceptions are the Minimum Safe Manning Certificate and the certificates issued in accordance with ISM and ISPS codes and the MLC.

Ships of up to 500 GT, irrespective of their type and navigation area, may be fully subject to technical surveys conducted by the Estonian Transport Administration.

Registry entry booking pilot project

The Estonian Transport Administration and the Land Registry Department of Tartu County Court are starting a pilot project, the aim of which is to create an opportunity for shipowners to book time for making an entry in the ship register through the Ship Supervision Unit of the Estonian Transport Administration. Before submitting the documents to the court, the shipowner may agree on the date of the entry in the register and forward the documents or draft documents for prior checking. The pre-inspection allows the court to assess the correctness of the documents, give feedback and the booking of the entry time gives the shipowners the opportunity to plan the activities related to the registration of the ship more smoothly.

To make a reservation, contact the Ship Supervision Unit of the Estonian Transport Administration at the e-mail address: laevaregister@transpordiamet.ee.

Last updated: 15.10.2021