Regional Administration and County Government Reform

Regional administration includes the state administrative function and provision of public services on county or supra-county level. Regional administration is carried out by sectoral state authorities administered by governmental authorities.

As a part of the state reform county governments and their tasks were reorganized and county governments were dissolved in 1.01.2018. Until then county governments were one of the main actors of regional administration.

Ministry of Finance analyses, designs and coordinates regional administration policy and participates in the preparation of corresponding legislation.


The division of tasks after the dissolution of county governments since 1.1.2018


1. Population Procedures

Municipalities in the center of the county:

  • registration of births, deaths, marriages;
  • divorce, change of name, change of sex,
  • providing personal identification number, registration of a place of residence, registration of the recognition of paternity;
  • issue of a statement of the Population Register and vital statistics certificate;
  • entering data of Estonian and foreign vital statistics documents, court orders and international protection orders to the Population Register;
  • the release of data from the Population Register; the improvement and amendment of data of the Population Register.

Offices providing service: Tallinn Vital Statistics Department, Hiiumaa Rural Municipality, Jõhvi Rural Municipality Government, Narva City Government, Jõgeva Rural Municipality Government, Paide City Government, Haapsalu City Government, Rakvere City Government, Põlva Rural Municipality Government, Pärnu City Government, Rapla Rural Municipality Government, Saaremaa Rural Municipality Government, Tartu City Government, Valga Rural Municipality Government, Viljandi City Government, Võru City Government.

Population Procedures tasks in other local authorities remain unchanged, all other local authorities continue to register births, deaths, place of residence and issue statements of the Population Register.

Ministry of the Interior: Organisinq quality assurance of Population Registry; administrative supervision; collecting and archiving entries; data entry in the registry-based population census, training and taking exams from vital statistics officials and issuing legal power to vital statistics officials.

2. Land related tasks

  • Administration of land instalments claims - Centre of State support Services: Determination of the birth of a child-related benefits; granting the authorisation to perform the cutting of mortgaged properties; granting of authorisation for distribution of the registered immovable; mortgage transfers, deletions and reductions.
  • Land reform and land operations - Estonian Land Board: Actions related to privatization of land; actions related to the transfer of land into municipal ownership and retention land in state ownership; actions related to establishment of usufruct on land, actions related to governing unreformed state land and actions related to setting the right of superficies to the state land.

3. Public transportation

  • Management of public transport in the county - Management of public transport in the county is assigned to county public transportation centers, with the exceptions in Saaremaa where it is assigned to Saaremaa Rural Municipality Government and in Harju, Lääne, Lääne-Virumaa and Rapla county where it is assigned to a regional public transportation centre (Põhja- Eesti public transportation centre).
  • Supervision over county bus transport and ticket inspection – Road Administration
  • Managing intra state carriage by ship and by aircraft – Road Administration

4. Matters of social affairs

  • Social Insurance Board: issuing state activity licenses in social sector, state and administrative supervision and gathering statistical data.
  • Local authorities (with the support from Social Insurance Board): Financing and entering in the contracts of alternative and continued care; activities related to juvenile offence matters

5. Educational affairs

  • The Ministry of Education and Research: Supervision over educational institutions; applications for the boarding schools
  • Foundation Innove: organizing the work of counselling committee; administration of blank document forms and medals certifying education; activities related to international education surveys (e.g. PISA) and preparation and following through of national standard-determining test
  • County associations of local authorities (based on contracts with the Ministry of Education and Research: organising joint educational events in a county

6. Developmental affairs

  • Development of the county, i.e. composition of county development strategy, coordination of county security councils and organization of county cultural affairs. These tasks are assigned to either county association of local authorities (in Harju, Järva, Lääne-Viru, Põlva, Rapla, Tartu, Valga and Viljandi county) or to the county development centres (in Hiiu, Jõgeva, Lääne and Võru county) which act as county development organisations.
  • Management of national regional development programs:
    • Enterprise Estonia: Regional investment support programme
    • County development organisations (specified in previous paragraph): local initiative programme
    • Local authorities: sparsely populated areas programme
    • County associations of local governments (where concerned): compensation scheme for the Russian Federation visa processing procedure payment (Ida-Viru County Association of local governments, Foundation Võrumaa Development Centre)

7. Other tasks

  • Supervision over local government administrative acts – Ministry of Justice
  • Composition of county-wise spatial plan and thematic county-wise spatial plan; supervision over comprehensive and detailed special plans – Ministry of Finance
  • Consulting local authorities, administrating alteration of borders od administrative and settlement units – Ministry of Finance
  • Supervision over local authorities in returning and compensating assets – Ministry of Finance
  • Tasks of youth work – Estonian Youth Work Centre
  • Supervision over county libraries – Ministry of Culture
  • Electoral management – State Electoral Office.

Secretaries of city and rural municipality government are responsible for the electoral management on city and rural municipality level, including organizing the work of electoral committees at the election of local government council, State Parliament and European Parliament.

  • Exercising the right of membership in land improvement association – generally Ministry of the Environmental Affairs and Estonian Land Board
  • Establishment and removal of quarantine and establishment of a protection zone around the outbreak site and the surveillance zone - Veterinary and Food Board
  • Acquisition of immovables which contain agricultural or forest land by persons of third countries - Local authorities
  • Managing the position of an island watch – Local authorities

Department of Regional Administration with agencies in counties


Due to the termination of the activities of the county governments in 1.01.2018 a new department of Regional Administration was established in the Ministry of Finance, which overtook part of the
functions of county governments. The department has agencies with 3-6 employees in each county, in total of 67 employees (for comparison: county governments in 1.01.2017 had total of 477 employees).

There is a head of agency and planning and archive specialist in each agency. There are additionally 6 local government advisers, 2 ownership reform specialist and 1 development adviser covering all counties. Head of the agency is responsible for participating in county level cooperation networks, as well as implementing the project of state buildings (Riigimaja) and finalizing unfinished tasks of previous county governments. Agencies are in the structure of department of regional affairs in the Ministry of Finance and does not have independent power of decision or budget. Head of the agency is not comparable to the Governor of the county.


Main tasks of the agencies are:

  • counselling local governments
  • organising the alteration of borders of administrative units and settlement units
  • formulating opinions about sectoral policies concerning the county, participating in the in the design and elaboration process of regional policy
  • organizing the composition of county-wise spatial plans and thematic county-wise spatial plans
  • exercising supervision over local government plans and advising local authorities in planning matters;
  • coordination of the provision of state services in the county;
  • exercising supervision over local authorities in returning and compensating property in the area;
  • exercising supervision over local authorities in returning and compensating assets.


Last updated: 23 May 2018