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Local Laws

United States: Department of State International Travel Information

CRIMINAL PENALTIES

While traveling in Estonia, you are subject to its laws and regulations. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. If you break local laws in Estonia, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what is legal and what is not legal where you are going. 

There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. For example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods abroad. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.

Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and customary international law, if you are arrested in Estonia you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. Embassy of your arrest and to have communications from you forwarded to the embassy.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

As of 2011, Estonia replaced its currency, the kroon, with the euro. Currently, only euros are accepted, although persons holding cash kroons can continue exchanging them for euros at the official rate for an indefinite period at the Bank of Estonia (Eesti Pank) in Tallinn and at selected bank branches elsewhere in Estonia. You can also get local currency from ATMs using your U.S. debit card. Please note that some ATMs will function only if your ATM card has a computer chip. You can use a regular U.S. credit card for payment in most shops and restaurants in Estonia. If you plan to exchange U.S. cash for euros while visiting Estonia, you should be aware that many banks and currency exchanges do not accept old U.S. bills. Accordingly, please try to bring newer bills, preferably those issued after 2000.

If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips on the Women Travelers page.

LBGT RIGHTS

Estonian law prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristics, and the government generally respects these prohibitions. While the law is not specific regarding the forms of sexual orientation and gender identity covered, in practice all were understood to be included. Despite this, many Estonian LGBT activists report the authorities are unwilling to aggressively prosecute possible misdemeanors under penal code provisions involving incitement to hatred. 

There are several LGBT night clubs in Tallinn that operate openly and in general without problems. In addition, there is an LGBT community center in Tallinn.  LGBT public events, including the regional Baltic Pride event in 2011, have been held without incident. Nonetheless, LGBT travelers should consider exercising caution when visiting Estonia, especially with regard to expressing affection in public. According to local advocacy organizations, many LGBT persons, especially males, are reluctant to display affection in public (including holding hands) because incidents of verbal or physical assault have resulted. Many LGBT Estonians also do not reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity and avoid reporting incidents to police. As a result, individual police officers may have limited experience or knowledge with regard to specific concerns of LGBT individuals or the LGBT community more broadly.  The English-language website of the Estonian visitors bureau has specific information regarding the LGBT community in Estonia.

Dual Nationality

Although Estonian law generally does not permit dual nationality, Estonian law does provide that a person who has the right to Estonian citizenship from birth cannot have his/her citizenship taken away. Accordingly, a number of individuals who have claims to Estonian citizenship from birth (generally ethnic Estonians) carry both Estonian and U.S. passports (such as Estonians who move to the United States and naturalize as U.S. citizens, and their children). If you are not ethnic Estonian, but wish to naturalize as an Estonian citizen, the Estonians could ask you to renounce your U.S. citizenship. You are strongly advised to contact us and discuss your case with a consul if you are considering becoming an Estonian citizen (or renouncing your U.S. citizenship for any other purpose). You should note that getting an Estonian residency permit (an “elamisluba”) would have no effect on your U.S. citizenship. If you are a dual U.S.-Estonian citizen who carries both U.S. and Estonian passports, you should be aware that you must show your U.S. passport when entering the United States. U.S. citizens cannot enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program using an Estonian passport. 

ACCESSIBILITY

While in Estonia, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Estonian law requires that most new public buildings and others with community space (e.g., shopping centers) be accessible for persons with disabilities. However, many older buildings are not required to meet these requirements. 

Getting around in Estonian cities and towns may be difficult at times since many sidewalks are narrow and uneven, and cobblestone streets—particularly in Tallinn’s popular Old Town—make access difficult. In general, mobility is easier in cities such as Tallinn, Tartu, and Pärnu compared to smaller towns and rural areas. Roads and sidewalks in the winter can get quite icy, which makes getting around more difficult. In general, public transport is not accommodating to people with mobility disabilities, although selected Tallinn public buses, trams, and trolleys are specially equipped to assist persons in wheelchairs...

The English-language website of the Estonian visitors bureau contains general information for disabled visitors, specific information for visually-impaired travelers and those using wheelchairs, and general accessibility information for hotels and other accommodations in Estonia. An Estonian advocacy group for the disabled, Freedom of Movement (Liikumisvabadus) has a site that provides specific accessibility ratings for hundreds of businesses and public buildings in Estonia, as well as other useful information. You may also e-mail the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn for further information on this topic.

Australia: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Travel Advice

When you are in Estonia, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Penalties for all drug offences, even possession of small amounts, include heavy fines and imprisonment.

There is zero tolerance for drink driving. Penalties for driving with a blood alcohol content greater than zero include heavy fines and imprisonment.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Estonia recognises dual nationality in limited circumstances. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Estonian dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We recommend that you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Australian/Estonian dual national males may be liable for military service if they have a permanent address in Estonia. If you are unsure of your military service obligation, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Estonia.

Our Dual nationals provides further information for dual nationals.

United Kingdom: Foreign and Commonwealth Office Foreign Travel Advice

Don’t use, buy or possess drugs: sale and distribution is illegal and the possession of even the smallest quantities can lead to up to 10 years imprisonment. The substance known as Khat (Kat, or Quat), which is not a controlled substance in the UK, is classed as an illegal drug in Estonia, and carries the same penalties as other illegal drugs.