When using travel services, consumers usually have to make fairly high upfront payments and often purchase services from companies operating abroad. Travel is therefore an area in which consumers should pay particular attention to the choice of service provider - finding a reliable company saves potential frustration and economic damage later on. This applies to individual travel services and package holidays and related travel arrangements that consist of multiple travel services.

Before you buy a trip or travel service

  • Find out what the trip or travel service includes and consider whether it meets your needs, including:

- whether and under what conditions the contract can be amended or revoked, for example with regard to time limits;

- What is the final price of the trip or travel service.

  • Check the background of the service provider. Also check the blacklist of companies that did not comply with the Committee's decisions. Search online for information and read the opinions of previous travelers in the forums.
  • When buying a package or related travel arrangements, check that the travel company has submitted a notice of economic activities to the register of economic activities and has a guarantee;
  • If you buy a package tour through a travel agent, please also read in the tour operator's annual report that the tour operator has granted the right to offer and sell package tours prepared by the tour operator.

If you experience problems with certain travel services while traveling, contact the service provider immediately and try to find a solution that suits you. If you cannot reach an agreement, contact the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority.

ECC-Net, the mobile application of the Network of Consumer Centers of the European Union on Passenger Rights, gives you information about your rights in typical situations, such as shopping, car rental or hotel booking. It also provides you with the necessary wording that you can use in the local language at the destination of your trip. You can also use the application to find the contact details of local embassies and the locations of consumer protection centers.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommends that you register your stay abroad before travelling. If a natural disaster or terrorist attack occurs in the host country, the Consul can contact you quickly and provide consular assistance if necessary.

Passenger rights

Around 70 million people travel by bus in the European Union every year, and the EU must ensure that people can travel safely and comfortably. An EU regulation has been in force in Estonia since 1 March 2013, granting bus passengers the same rights as air, train and boat passengers.

See the 2019 and 2021 reports on the implementation of the Regulation on bus passengers' rights in Estonia.

Regardless of the planned length of the bus journey, you have the following basic rights:

  • You have the right to obtain information about the bus journey before and during the journey. Furthermore, the bus company and / or the terminal management must provide you with relevant and comprehensible general information about passengers' rights within their jurisdiction.
  • You may lodge a complaint with the bus company within three months of the date on which the bus journey took place or should have taken place, and the carrier must respond to your complaint no later than three months after receipt of the complaint.
  • If your mobility is restricted, for example due to disability or injury, the airline, travel agency or tour operator may not charge you higher fees for reservations or tickets. If your mobility equipment is lost, damaged or destroyed during the journey, you have the right to financial compensation.

For long-distance bus services (scheduled length of regular services is at least 250 kilometers), you have the following rights:

  • You have the right to receive information on the delay or departure of the journey as soon as possible, in any case no later than half an hour after the scheduled departure time of the bus. As soon as this is clear, the bus company or, where applicable, the bus station operator must provide you with information on the expected new departure and arrival time. If, due to a cancellation or delay, you miss a connection, the bus operator or, where applicable, the terminal management will make reasonable efforts to inform you of alternative connections.
  • If a bus journey is more than three hours cancelled or delayed by more than one and a half hours, the bus company must provide you with adequate assistance, including snacks, meals and soft drinks. If the delay or cancellation of the bus journey requires an overnight stay, you are also entitled to accommodation for up to two nights at a total cost of up to 80 euros per night. You have no right to request accommodation if the delay or cancellation was caused by severe weather or major natural disasters.
  • If the bus journey is overbooked or cancelled or the estimated departure time is more than two hours, the bus company must reimburse you and, if necessary, return you to the first departure point free of charge if you decide to cancel the journey.
  • In the event of injury or death as a result of a bus accident, you or your relatives have the right to claim compensation from the carrier for the costs and damage caused by death or personal injury. You are also entitled to compensation in the event of loss or damage to luggage. In addition, the carrier must cover your basic needs after the bus accident.
  • If your mobility is restricted, for example due to disability or injury, you are entitled to special assistance free of charge both on the bus and at the designated bus terminal. In Estonia, the designated bus terminals are located in Tallinn and Parnu. Information on designated bus terminals in other EU member states can be found here. If necessary, your assistant must also be provided with free transport.

In December 2012, an EU Regulation came into force in Estonia, giving consumers rights similar to those of air passengers when travelling by water. In particular, the Regulation provides better protection for consumers in the event of long delays or cancellations.

See the 2016 and 2019 reports on the implementation of the Passenger Rights Regulation in Estonia in Estonian. See also the 2016 and 2019 reports submitted to the European Commission.

You have the right to be informed of the delay or cancellation of the trip as soon as possible, but in any case no later than half an hour after the scheduled departure time of the ship. As soon as this is clear, the company or, if applicable, the terminal operator must provide you with information on the expected new departure and arrival time.

If your journey is delayed or cancelled by more than 1.5 hours, you have the right to request transport to another scheduled destination on a different route as soon as possible and at no additional cost. Instead of changing your route, you can claim a refund and a free return trip to the first departure point.

If your journey is delayed or cancelled by more than 1.5 hours, the company must provide you with adequate assistance, including snacks, meals and refreshments. If the delay or cancellation of the boat trip requires an overnight stay, you are also entitled to accommodation for up to three nights. If the accommodation is located away, you have the right to transport between the port terminal and the accommodation.

If your journey is delayed or cancelled by more than 1 hour, you may claim compensation in the amount of 25-50 percent of the ticket price, depending on the planned journey and the length of the delay. Compensation must be paid to you by the company within one month of the application. Compensation may be refused if the delay or cancellation of the journey is due to weather conditions or exceptional circumstances, such as strong winds, stormy seas, strong currents, strong ice, abnormally high or low water levels that impede the safe operation of the ship.

If you are unable to solve the problem in this way and the boat trip started in Estonia or went to Estonia from a third country, please contact the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority. If the trip started in another EU country, you will find the contact details of the competent authorities here.

If your mobility is restricted, for example due to disability or injury, you are entitled to special assistance free of charge both at the port terminal and on board the ship. If your mobility equipment is lost or damaged during the journey, you are entitled to financial compensation.

Know that when purchasing airline tickets, you must receive an e-ticket or booking confirmation from the dealer. If you have purchased tickets from a dealer who is not a travel service provider and does not provide an e-ticket or booking confirmation, contact the travel service provider and see if the bookings are valid and paid for.

Basics of buying tickets for scheduled flights

  • Reservations for scheduled flights must be processed for a limited period of time, usually 24-72 hours. The lower the price, the faster the seats must be purchased. On some promotions and airlines, you cannot book a flight without immediate payment.
  • For example, with low-cost flights, it is never the case that a reservation is made in November and the ticket is issued in February. Only relatively high prices with flexible conditions allow you to stay longer if there are still enough seats available on certain flights.
  • You can check whether the reservation is in the form of a ticket on the airline's website or on one of the three major international reservation websites: Amadeus, the most common in Estonia, Galileo, which is also used in Estonia, or Saber, which can be used if you bought the ticket outside Estonia.
  • It is not in the interest of an honest seller to hide a reservation or ticket number. On scheduled flights, you can always find this information either in the ticket or in the booking confirmation.
  • From the above mentioned sources you will also get information about flight times, terminals, possible stopovers, the airline that actually operates the flights, catering, reserved seats, aircraft types, etc.
  • Check-in for the flight is based on your name and booking code and / or ticket number. Please note that some airlines may charge additional fees for check-in at the airport, but it may not be possible to check-in online for some routes. In this case, there will be no extra charge. You can also register for a flight online if requested and approved by a ticket seller, but this may involve a service charge.
  • Any intermediary cannot foresee overbooking. It can only become clear at the airport before departure that someone has to be cancelled due to overbooking. In this case, you as a passenger will receive financial compensation, a replacement flight to the destination and assistance, at least within the European Union, but usually also elsewhere.

Passengers must inadvertently take into account that flight delays and cancellations are part of everyday life in this mode of transport. In order to protect passengers and reduce risks, uniform rights for passengers have been introduced in the European Union.

  • If the flight is delayed by two hours or more, the airline has a duty of care. The airline must provide you with food and drink and communication facilities, such as 2 free phone calls or e-mails;
  • In the event of a delay of five hours or more, the airline will offer the passenger a refund of the ticket price for the cancelled part or part of the journey and if the flight is not appropriate for the original itinerary of the passenger, and if
  • Postponed to the next day, the airline will offer you free accommodation and, if necessary, transfer between the airport and the accommodation.

In the event of overbooking, the airline must ask you whether you would voluntarily give up your seat in order to receive compensation. If you agree, the airline must offer you another way to reach your destination or refund you the ticket price. If you voluntarily disagree, but are denied boarding against your will, in addition to the second chance to reach your destination or get your ticket back, you are also entitled to compensation of 125-600 euros. You are also entitled to assistance and, if necessary, accommodation, including transportation between accommodation and the airport, if you are denied boarding.

In the event of flight cancellation, the airline must offer you either a refund or some other way to reach your final destination, the airline must also provide you with assistance and, if necessary, accommodation, and you are entitled to compensation of 125-600 euros. There are also exceptions:

  • If the flight is cancelled due to exceptional circumstances, weather conditions, strikes by airport staff, etc., you are not entitled to compensation;
  • if you have been informed of the cancellation at least 14 days before the trip, you are not entitled to compensation;
  • If the departure and arrival times of the proposed replacement flight are not materially different from the original flight times, you will not be entitled to compensation.

If your baggage is damaged, delayed or lost, contact the relevant service desk immediately and report it. In the case of damaged baggage, the complaint must be lodged with the airline within 7 days at the latest, and in the case of lost baggage within 21 days. The maximum baggage allowance is SDR 1288 per passenger, approximately EUR 1,600.

If, for example, your mobility is restricted due to disability or injury, you are entitled to assistance both at the airport and on board the aircraft.

How to file a complaint?

  1. First of all, complain to the airline that operated the flight. The complaint sent to the airline must be accompanied by the passenger's ticket or booking confirmation (showing: passenger's name, flight number, flight date, flight itinerary). Use following complaint form
  2. If the airline does not respond to your complaint within six weeks or you are not satisfied with the response, you can contact the competent National Enforcement Body for assistance. You can contact the competent authority of the certain state if:
  • the flight departs from an airport located in its territory. 
  • a flight originating outside the European Union arrives in its territory. 
LIST OF National enforcement bodies with their contact information can be found here

European Commission issued Interpretative Guidelines on Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. According to guidelines point 7.1. the air carrier is obliged to answer to the inquiry of the National Enforcement Body within 2 months. This means that the whole process is time consuming.

Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority shall simply assist passenger in communicating with the air carrier and request an official position form the air carrier. If the correspondence with the air carrier does not lead to the expected goal the authority shall issue an opinion on its own regarding occurred incident. The issued opinion is not legally binding document. 

As a next step it is possible to turn to court against the air carrier. The claim must be filed to the court of the country where the air carrier is established. It is possible to file a claim using European Small Claims Procedure if the value of the claim does not exceed 5000 EUR. This procedure seeks to improve and simplify cross boarder claims in civil and commercial matters. Read more here.

Please note that there is a separate out-of-court dispute resolution body in some countries to deal with a passengers´ complaint. If you wish to claim compensation from an airline for non-compliance with airline tickets or care obligations, you should contact an out-of-court dispute resolution body, if available.

You can file a complaint against airlines which are established or have official branches in Estonia to the alternative dispute resolution body such as Consumer Disputes Committee. Click here to file a complaint.

The complaint to the national enforcement body must be accompanied by a ticket or booking confirmation (showing: passenger's name, flight number, flight date, flight itinerary), the passengers´ complaint to the airline, and, if the airline has responded to your complaint, the airlines´ response.

Everyone has the right to travel. To make travel a pleasant experience, the European Union has introduced several rights in addition to general passenger rights, which aim to enable passengers with special needs to travel as easily as other citizens.

You must not be discriminated against because you have a disability or reduced mobility. Carriers, travel agents, and tour operators may not refuse to accept a reservation, issue a ticket, or allow you to board a plane or ship, train, or bus on the grounds of your disability or reduced mobility. In exceptional cases, it may not be possible to transport you to the ship/bus/train due to safety requirements or the construction of the means of transport or the port/bus station/train station's infrastructure and equipment. In this case, however, carriers should try to offer you suitable alternative means of transport.

If you are denied boarding despite having a reservation or ticket and having informed the carrier of your special needs, you can choose between compensation and re-routing. For more information on compensation rates and other remedies for delays, cancellations, or denied boarding, see Air Passenger, Boat Passenger, and Bus Passenger Rights.

You may not be charged a higher fee for reservations or tickets. Your bookings and tickets are subject to the same conditions as bookings and tickets for all other passengers.

You are entitled to free assistance at the airport/train station/bus station/port and on the plane/train/bus/ship. There are special call points at airports and large train stations where you can talk directly to helpers. Bus and port stations must also have a clearly marked place where you can announce your arrival and ask for help. At airports, assistance also extends to baggage check-in, and transport is provided to reach the boarding gate.

Before the journey, you should inform the carrier of your need for assistance to facilitate the provision of assistance. The need for assistance must be notified to the travel service provider no later than 48 hours in the case of train and boat travel and at least 36 hours in bus and coach travel before the need for assistance. In the case of air travel, notify the service provider of the need for assistance 48 hours before the flight's scheduled departure time.

You should arrive at the designated place at the agreed time (no earlier than one hour for the boat, bus, and train journeys) before starting the journey. If you have not agreed on a time, you should appear at the airport for check-in no later than one hour before the flight's departure time or, if there are designated arrival and departure points, no later than two hours before the flight.

You have the right to receive travel information based on your specific needs. It is essential to get information about the plane's safety instructions tailored to your specific needs.

You are entitled to compensation if your mobility equipment is damaged, destroyed, or lost during the journey due to the actions of the carrier or terminal operator/station operator. The compensation must correspond to the equipment's replacement value or, where appropriate, to the cost of repairs.

You have the right to complain if the rights of a passenger with special needs have been violated. Firstly, complain to the airport/bus station/train station/port or carrier. If there is no response to the complaint or you are not satisfied with the response, you can contact the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority for assistance.

It is often very convenient to rent a car to explore the sights both abroad and at home. Although renting a car is easy, you should be very careful to avoid any possible problems later.

Before renting a car

  • find out the price lists and rental conditions of different providers;
  • be aware that when booking a car via an online portal, the terms of the contract between the rental company and the dealer may differ;
  • observe the special conditions established by the providers when reviewing the rental conditions (mileage restriction, returning the car with a full tank of petrol, requirements for driving time, the age limit for the driver);
  • pay attention to the insurance contract attached to the lease contract and make sure that car insurance exists and is valid (the liability of insurance companies varies greatly from country to country);
  • specify what happens if the insurance does not cover the cost of repairing the damage caused to the car and in which case the insurance is not valid at all;
  • remember that, as a rule, the rental car can only be driven by the person specified in the rental agreement. Otherwise, the insurance will not be valid;
  • specify the car return (e.g., when the rental company's service points are open so that you can record the condition of the car with the company at the time of return);
  • read the contract carefully and if something is not clear, ask the customer service for help.

Last updated: 08.11.2021