City, municipal government may choose name for baby parents forget to name

Parents in Estonia are legally given one month after birth to name their child.
Parents in Estonia are legally given one month after birth to name their child. Source: Karin Koppel/ERR

Parents in Estonia are given up to one month to decide and register their newborn child's name. While there have yet to be any cases in which someone leaves it up to the state to name their child, should this situation come up, the choice of name is up to officials, as there are no set rules according to which names must be chosen.

The Vital Statistics Registration Act requires parents to register their newborn child's given name within one month of their birth; in exceptional cases, an extension of up to one more month may be granted. According to the Names Act, should a child's name not be registered within the prescribed timeframe, the city or municipal government has the right to choose the child's name.

It is rare, however, that parents wait very long to register the name of their child.

"A child's birth is typically registered in a timely fashion, as parents need to take their child to the doctor, apply for benefits or other such things that require the child to be registered," Ministry of the Interior communications adviser Kersti Ringmets told ERR.

Ringmets said that it has come up that those who have given birth at home have not gone to the doctor to receive a birth certificate. The ministry has come across one case, for example, in which it turned out that the birth of a two-year-old child had gone unregistered.

"The courts had to determine that the child belonged to the mother and when they were born," Ringmets said. "A court judgment indicated the name the child's parents called them. This birth was registered in accordance with a court judgment."

It has also come up, although infrequently, that the child's parents are unable to agree on the child's first and last name at the registration, in which case the local government, acting as the child's guardianship authority, is involved.

The ministry official can't recall any instances in which a local government has actually had to choose a name for a child. Should the situation come up, however, no rules are in place regarding how this name should be chosen.

"A parent's surname must be given as the child's surname," Ringmets said. "Regarding their first name, the parents should also try to find middle ground, taking into account the interests of the child with whom they will be living."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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