The City of Tallinn is to confine free parking for diplomatic vehicles to those used to transport senior diplomats only, starting July next year.
The regulation reflects an overall drive towards reducing the volume of cars on Tallinn's roads, primarily with regard to central Tallinn.
The city by-law change will affect over 200 vehicles and their drivers and occupants, who up until now have also been able to park free-of-charge in the capital.
This situation is: "Exceptional in world practice," Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Tanel Kiik (Center) says.
"We have been discussing the parking arrangements relating to diplomatic mission vehicles with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and have come to the conclusion that we will not continue free parking on that scale," Kiik continued, according to a city government press release.
"Cars used by ambassadors residing in Tallinn can still be parked free-of-charge, but alternative solutions will have to be found for vehicles used by other diplomats and embassy staff," Kiik went on.
Diplomatic missions have already been informed of the planned change, Kiik said.
"We have also introduced the proposed change to the embassies' representatives, and we hope for understanding from all parties involved in the city's restructuring, aimed at the reduction of car use, especially in the Old Town."
Tallinn Transport, a city agency, is also looking for options for providing two on-street parking spaces marked for embassy use in the vicinity of diplomatic missions to make up for the change.
From July 1, 2023, diplomatic vehicles with prefixes CD and AT on their blue license plates will no longer be eligible for free parking at paid parking spots around the capital.
Vehicles with the CMD registration number prefix, of which there are 33 registered in Tallinn and which are for use by ambassadors or heads of a diplomatic mission, will remain eligible for free parking.
The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations provides for the distinctive blue license plates used by diplomatic vehicles internationally, including those of Estonian diplomats abroad.
These signal to the authorities and the public that the occupants may have diplomatic immunity, in addition to speeding up security checks where these are in place, among other functions. Few, if any, complaints about any abuse of these privileges are ever reported in Estonia, and drivers are often locally hired.
Editor: Andrew Whyte