The government wants to make the process of formalizing a marriage simpler by cutting out the need to physically submit an application, replacing the first steps of the process with an e-service. The service is planned to be ready by the second half of 2022.
At present, a couple looking to get married has to visit a notary or an official at the Vital Statistics Office twice, firstly to submit a marriage application and to then register their marriage. The government wants to cut part of the process shorter by allowing couples to submit marriage applications electronically.
Jaanus Valdma, head of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications' information society development, explained: "You still have to go physically, for the prospective couple to prove their wish in person. But we want to make that first step, submitting an application, digital.
Valdma said: "And if one changes their name, they can choose which documents they want to order with their new name and those will be prepared without the person having to roam around institution buildings carrying documents."
When submitting a marriage application, the prospective spouses also have to choose whether their proprietary relationship shall be subject to the jointness of property, the set-off of assets increment or separateness of property regulation. In that process, visiting a notary or an official with the Vital Statistics Office is often used.
Valdma added: "That's what we have solved here, with a lot of text, a lot of info and different links, but also videos. And we will most likely figure out a buffer if it's necessary. There will certainly also be a telephone line that people can call if they need assistance."
Ingrid Sarevet, head of the statistics department in Tallinn, the busiest such office, said she is skeptical of the idea and that people would rush their decisions if an e-service is made available. Freshly wed couples also might not think about their proprietary relationship if they were to get divorced.
Sarevet said: "This is why it is important that an official could slow down their euphoria so the couple would understand the decision they are making. If we were to compare with the last e-service allowing birth registrations, there is basis to think that people will rush their decisions."
She explained: "There have been issues with naming, for example with Russian names, people do not add the A at the end and such things. But with marriage, all that is even more important."
Sarevet thinks the application process for foreign civilians must also be thought through because they have to submit additional documents and often need more assistance with the process.
Sarevet said marriages with foreign civilians make up 15 percent of all marriages in Tallinn and the documentation is much too complicated.
She added: "The explanation of in which form, in which composition those documents have to be submitted, we do not see how an e-service would speed up the process, it would probably just make it longer. It would not simplify the process. It will when it comes to Estonians, they will not have to be there physically but the need for justification and explanation will certainly be larger, by phone or e-mail."
In addition to marriages, the government also has a vision for conscripts of the Defence Forces to submit applications, birth registrations, death registrations, and dealing with all matters regarding pensions. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications hopes to develop the e-service for marriages by the second half of 2022.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste