Ministry: New Population Register Act to provide better population overview

The Ministry of the Interior on Pikk Street in Central Tallinn.
The Ministry of the Interior on Pikk Street in Central Tallinn. Source: Postimees/Scanpix

The updated Population Register Act to enter into force in January is another step toward ensuring that data regarding people's place of residence is correctly recorded in Estonia's national register, the Ministry of the Interior said on Wednesday.

"Providing actual data about one's place of residence is useful for the individual, the local government and the state alike," Enel Pungas, head of the Population Facts Departmet of the Ministry of the Interior, said according to a ministry press release.

By registering one's place of residence, an individual is granted the right to elect leaders for their local government as well as receive local services and benefits.

Accurate data in the population register provides the state as well as local governments an overview of where people live, which is helpful in the planning of services such as roads and kindergartens, as well as provides a means of contact if necessary.

Anyone whose place of residence, at the request of the dwelling owner, has thus far been specified only to the municipal level in the population register will now be required to register their exact place of residence before the end of the month, or residence data on such individuals will be deleted and beginning net year, they may lose access to residence-based public services.

According to Pungas, the change affects those individuals who have not updated their data after moving or who were requested by the owner of the house or flat to remove from the register a specific address as their place of residence. In such cases, an individual's place of residence in the register may be only be specified on the municipal level, such as the Lasnamäe District of Tallinn or Saaremaa Municipality.

A total of 33,500 individuals are listed under such addresses in the register, approximately half of whom are citizens of other countries that have apparently left Estonia.

Notification deadline to drop from 30 to 14 days

In the future, local governments will have the right to specify data concerning an individual's place of residence so that the data corresponds to the person's actual place of residence. Under the new act, local governments will be able to enter a person' address of residence in the population register even if the owner of the house or flat has not given consent to do so, but it has been determined that the person actually lives at that address.

Under both the currently valid version of the act as well as the updated version entering into effect next year, everyone is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the data concerning their and their children's place of residence in the population register. The act  currently stipulates that an individual has 30 days after moving to update their residence information in the register; beginning next year, the deadline for mandatory notification will be reduced to 14 days.

According to Pungas, registering one's place of residence is simple and can be done within a few minutes on the Estonian state portal, or by contacting one's local government in person, by mail or via email. She recommends doing so as soon as possible, "...or people could be in for unpleasant surprises in January, when they lose the public services associated with one's place of residence, such as a childcare spot, free public transport, childbirth allowance or renewing one's driver's licence."

The population register is a general national register in Estonia. The systematisation of the data resulting from the new act will provide a more accurate understanding of the Estonian population.

For the first time in history, Estonia plans to conduct the 2021 population census on the basis of a register platform, in connection with which the population register is among the country's most important databases.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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