Driving in Estonia

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When Does an American Need an Estonian Driver’s License?

A U.S. citizen may drive in Estonia for up to one year using both a valid U.S. driver’s license and an International Driving Permit.

To obtain an international driving permit, contact AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (through the National Auto Club).  These two agencies are the only two entities in the United States which provide valid, legal international permits.

Americans resident or planning to reside in Estonia should note that there have been some procedural changes since a new Traffic Law entered into force on July 1, 2011. The latest information on Estonian licenses is listed below.

By law, upon receipt of an Estonian residence permit or after living in Estonia for more than one year (whichever is shorter), U.S. citizens wishing to drive must obtain an Estonian driving license. However, licenses cannot be issued until you have been in Estonia for 185 days within the past year.

All individuals required to obtain an Estonian license must pass both a theoretical (written) and a practical driver’s exam.  An English language version of the written exam is available and the Road Administration will ensure that an English-speaking examiner is available for the practical driving portion.  Although testing may take place at several locations around the country, it is recommended that you contact the Road Administration headquarters at Mäepealse 19 in Tallinn, tel: 620-1200. Its office is open Monday through Friday from 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Previous requirements that mandated the completion of a driver’s education course in Estonia have been eliminated, except for those who do not possess a U.S. driver’s license or whose license has been expired for more than five years.  However, your U.S. license and International Driver’s license must have been issued before your “residency” began, so it is imperative that you obtain these documents before you move to Estonia.

Estonian traffic regulations do not allow persons to have two valid driver’s licenses simultaneously, so your valid U.S. license must be surrendered to the Estonian Road Administration when an Estonian license is obtained. The license will not be returned to the resident American, even upon departure from Estonia for return to the U.S.  The Road Administration will issue an official translation of an Estonian driver’s license for use by any American who must travel to the U.S. and use the Estonian license to drive there.

For more information, please visit the Estonian Road Administration, which has jurisdiction over licenses.  The licensing department is still commonly referred to by its former acronym “ARK”.

How to Change a License Issued in the United States into an Estonian Driver’s License?

Individuals wishing to change their U.S. driver’s license into an Estonian license are recommended to visit the Road Administration headquarters (Maanteeamet, Liiklusregistri Tallinna büroo) located at Mäepealse 19 in Tallinn, tel: 620-1200. Its office is open Monday through Friday from 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

In order to change a license, the Road Administration requires the following information:

  1. Completed driver’s license application;
  2. U.S. driver’s license valid or expired less than five years;
  3. Valid International Driver’s Permit;
  4. Valid medical check from an Estonian doctor certifying that you are capable to drive a car (the exam must have been carried out within 2 years of application);
  5. Passport or National Estonian ID-card;
  6. 86,46 EUR;
  7. A digital-photo (free of charge) will be taken at the Road Administration office.

An Estonian Driver’s License is valid for 10 years from its date of issuance.