Frequently asked questions
Below are answers to some questions frequently asked from Eesti Pank. If you do not find an answer to your question or if you feel you did not understand something, please call our information telephone +372 66 80 719 or email [email protected] You can also ask questions here.
Where can I exchange Ukrainian hryvnias? Can I use a Ukrainian bankcard in Estonia?
Exchange for Ukrainian hryvnias is currently only available in Estonia at Tavid currency exchange bureaux. Exchange rates and more information can be found from the Tavid website.
Several Ukrainian banks are also continuing to provide digital payment services for cards and payments despite the war. This means it is worth Ukrainian refugees who have reached Estonia trying whether their bankcards issued by Ukrainian banks work in Estonia. If they work, then those cards can be used for paying in shops and for withdrawing euros in cash. The exchange rate for hryvnias in such transactions is set by the Ukrainian bank that issued the card.
The Estonian state is providing help to Ukrainian refugees, more information can be found from the state crisis information website.
How old is Eesti Pank?
Eesti Pank is the legal successor of the Eesti Pank that was founded in 1919. The bank started operating on 3 May 1919, with 10 million marks of fixed capital. The central bank did not function during the German and Soviet occupations and Eesti Pank was re-established on 1 January 1990.
Who is Eesti Pank accountable to?
Eesti Pank is accountable to the Riigikogu (see Subsection 3(1) of Eesti Pank Act).
Eesti Pank is the central bank of the Republic of Estonia and an independent constitutional institution which is not subordinate to the government or to any other executive authority. Eesti Pank is not held liable for the financial liabilities of the state, nor is the state held liable for the financial liabilities of the central bank. The highest body of Eesti Pank is its Supervisory Board. In order for the central bank to ensure monetary and financial stability in the best way possible, members of the government are not allowed to sit on the Executive Board.
Does Eesti Pank exchange currency, open accounts, receive deposits or issue loans?
Providing banking services to members of the public or to companies, exchanging currency and buying and selling gold are not among Eesti Pank's statutory duties.
The duties of the central bank under the Eesti Pank Act are:
to help to define the monetary policy of the European Community and to implement the monetary policy decided by the Governing Council of the European Central Bank; to hold and manage the official foreign exchange reserves; to promote the smooth operation of the payment systems and the stability of the financial system; to participate in developing the payment systems and the financial system; to manage the circulation of cash and participate in issuing euro banknotes and coins; to compile the balance of payments of Estonia; to collect and publish the statistics needed for the bank to do its work; to carry out any other functions required by law.
Did the adoption of the euro change the role of Eesti Pank?
Following the adoption of the euro, people from Eesti Pank now also participate in setting euro-area monetary policy. Naturally, Eesti Pank continues to perform its functions as the national central bank. Eesti Pank implements the ECB's monetary policy decisions, prepares economic analyses and forecasts, manages foreign exchange reserves, continues to issue cash and is involved in operating payment systems and managing the collection of statistics. Eesti Pank also continues to maintain financial stability and to regulate the banking sector in close cooperation with the Financial Supervision Authority.
What happened to the assets backing the Estonian kroon after Estonia's accession to the euro area?
As a Eurosystem member, Eesti Pank is still obliged to ensure the functioning of the monetary system and the banking system in Estonia. The same principle applies to all other Eurosystem member states as well.
It is important to emphasise that the cash circulating in Estonia has to be backed by Eesti Pank, not by the ECB's assets. The same applies to the funds and reserve requirements of commercial banks held with Eesti Pank – the funds deposited with Eesti Pank must be covered by the assets of Eesti Pank.
Just as Eesti Pank used to guarantee kroon circulation, it now has to ensure euro circulation. Eesti Pank issues the euro in Estonia with the authorisation of the ECB, and consequently the assets of Eesti Pank are still needed after we joined the euro area in order to ensure currency circulation and the functioning of the banking system.
EXCHANGING ESTONIAN KROONS, THE EURO EXCHANGE RATE, CURRENCY EXCHANGE
For how long will kroons as cash be exchanged for euros?
Kroons can be exchanged for euros for an unlimited time.
Kroons can be exchanged for euros in the Eesti Pank museum at the central exchange rate (1 euro = 15.6466 Estonian kroons) and without any service fee in unlimited amounts and for an unlimited period of time. The museum of the central bank is open from 12.00 to 17.00 from Tuesday to Friday and from 11.00 to 16.00 on Saturdays.
Please note that kroons cannot be exchanged by post. To exchange money, please come to the Eesti Pank museum.
Where can I find the foreign exchange reference rates from after 1 January 2011?
On 1 January 2011, Estonia replaced the kroon with the euro and Eesti Pank ceased to publish daily exchange rate fixings. Euro foreign exchange reference rates are fixed by the European Central Bank. The rates are calculated every working day from the combined data of central banks across Europe and worldwide, usually at 15:15 Estonian time (14:15 CET) and are published on the internet after concentration procedures at 16.00 Estonian time (GMT+2). Euro exchange rates are not published:
on Saturdays and Sundays;
on 1 January;
on Good Friday;
on Easter Monday;
on 1 May;
on Christmas Day and on Boxing Day.
Eesti Pank publishes the euro exchange rate at http://www.eestipank.ee/en/exchange-rates, where the euro exchange rate can also be downloaded in xml, csv, xls and html formats.
The latest euro foreign exchange reference rates can be downloaded from the European Central Bank's website at www.ecb.int/stats/exchange/eurofxref/html/index.en.html.
PDF, CSV, XML and iPhone formats are downloadable at Download latest & previous rates. The reference rates table is equipped with RSS across different currencies.
Useful tips about downloading are available in the section For developers.
If you need exchange rates that are not found in the ECB's exchange rates table, we recommend you use the quotation of the currency against the euro published on the website of that country's central bank. A list of websites for various central banks can be found on the website of the BIS at www.bis.org/cbanks.htm. The reference rate of the SDR (the settlement unit of the International Monetary Fund) is on the IMF's website at www.imf.org/external/np/fin/data/param_rms_mth.aspx.
Can I also view Estonian kroon daily fixings?
Historical daily fixings from 19 June 1992 up to 31 December 2010 are on the Eesti Pank website under Estonian kroon daily fixings. Just choose the date you are interested in and click Display.
Does Eesti Pank still quote TALIBOR and TALIBID?
Eesti Pank stopped quoting TALIBOR and TALIBID on 30 December 2010 because the euro was adopted on 1 January 2011. Since TALIBOR and TALIBID were quoted for transactions two days in advance (T+2), the last day of quotation was 29 December 2010. Historical TALIBOR series are available on Eesti Pank's website.
EURIBOR fixings are available at www.euribor.org.
How can I get a licence to open a foreign exchange bureau?
Under the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act, anyone providing currency exchange services must register themselves in the register of economic activities before they can start operations.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is the registrar under the Economic Activities Act. You can find information about the register at http://mtr.mkm.ee/default.aspx. If you have any further questions, please contact the ministry by email at [email protected]
What should I do with banknotes that are no longer valid? Is it possible to replace them?
To find information about the validity and replacement of banknotes and coins from different countries you should go to the website of that country's central bank. A list of websites for various central banks can be found on the website of the BIS at www.bis.org/cbanks.htm. For information about exchanging kroons, see here.
If I have a damaged or mutilated foreign-currency banknote like a dollar or a yen note, where can I replace it? Is there a fee for replacing such banknotes?
As a rule, damaged and mutilated banknotes are replaced by commercial banks. There is no official procedure in Estonia for replacing damaged or mutilated foreign-currency banknotes, so different banks may have different policies. The same holds for service fees. Please contact a bank directly for more details.
Can I pay with Finnish and other countries' euro coins in Estonia?
All euro coins are valid in the whole of the euro area, so you can use Estonian euro coins in other euro-area countries and the other way around.
What should I do with the "white" 1-kroon coins that were removed from circulation in 1998? Where can I exchange such coins for euros?
The 1-kroon coins that were issued in 1992, 1993 and 1995 ceased to be valid on 1 June 1998 but they can be exchanged at the shop of the Eesti Pank museum during its opening hours from 12.00 to 17.00 from Tuesdays to Fridays and from 11.00 to 16.00 on Saturdays.
Where can I get information about euro cash?
There have been complaints that some traders abroad have refused to accept 100-euro and 200-euro banknotes. Do traders in Estonia have the right to reject such notes? What should I do if they do so?
The Adoption of the Euro Act requires all traders to accept all banknotes without limitations. However, the Law of Obligations Act states that traders and consumers have to proceed from the principles of good faith and reasonableness, taking into account common usage and practices.
This principle of reasonableness means that consumers need to consider which banknotes to use for their purchases. The banknote that you want to use should be reasonably proportional to the amount you have to pay. It is not reasonable to expect the trader to have the right change if you pay with a 100-euro note for a newspaper costing 77 cents.
How many euro coins are traders obliged to accept?
Under the Adoption of the Euro Act, traders have to accept up to 50 coins at a time, whatever their value.
Can I pay with 1-cent and 2-cent coins in Finland?
In Finland, traders have the right not to accept 1 and 2-cent coins if they display a written notice saying they will not do so. In this case, the amount is rounded up to the nearest five cents.
In Estonia, all euro coins are valid for payment and traders must accept them.
What should I do if I discover I have counterfeit cash in my wallet? What should I do to prevent this happening?
It is a good idea to make sure you know the security features of euro banknotes and to check the authenticity of cash when you are given it. Eesti Pank and the European Central Bank sent residents of Estonia information by post explaining the euro banknotes and their security features and you can find full details on the website of the European Central Bank.
If you think a banknote you have may be counterfeit, please contact the police. There is no risk to you if you are not aware you were using counterfeit money, though the police procedures can take some time. If you try to redeem a suspicious banknote with a professional money handler like a bank or a currency exchange bureau, they will have to notify the police.
SALE OF BANKNOTES, COINS AND OTHER NUMISMATIC PRODUCTS
I would like to buy uncirculated kroon banknotes. Are they still on sale and for how long?
Unfortunately uncirculated film-covered kroon banknotes are sold out.
What is the reserve requirement in Estonia?
As from 1 January 2011, the reserve requirement is 2% for liabilities with maturity below two years and 0% for liabilities with maturity over two years.
How are deposits held with Eesti Pank and with commercial banks guaranteed?
Eesti Pank does not hold any household or corporate deposits. However, the central bank holds the reserve requirement of commercial banks.
The deposits of commercial bank customers are guaranteed by the Guarantee Fund. The Guarantee Fund is a legal person in public law founded on 1 July 2002. The Fund is there to guarantee money deposited by customers with credit institutions and investment institutions and the funds of unit-holders of mandatory pension funds, so as to increase the credibility and stability of the financial sector.
On 1 January 2011, the deposit compensation limit increased from 50,000 euros to 100,000 euros for each depositor in a credit institution. You can find more details on deposit guarantees on the website of the Guarantee Fund.
What will happen to my money if my bank becomes insolvent?
Deposits are guaranteed and covered along with the interest accrued by the termination date of the deposit, up to a maximum of 100,000 euros for each depositor in a credit institution. If deposits are suspended, the Guarantee Fund will notify depositors of the compensation procedure in the press and on the websites of the Guarantee Fund and the Financial Supervision Authority. Compensation is paid out within 20 banking days.
Deposits in the subsidiaries of foreign banks (see the list of subsidiaries on the website of Financial Supervision Authority) are guaranteed under the laws of the bank’s home country. For further information see the website of the Guarantee Fund.
What will happen to my loans if my bank becomes insolvent?
You must continue paying both the principal amount and interest as stated in your loan contract and repayment schedule.
What will happen to my securities and pension fund units if my bank becomes insolvent?
There are no consequences for customers' securities accounts or securities like shares, debt securities, fund units or pension fund units if a bank becomes insolvent. Customers still own all their securities and shares as the bank is only a mediator. The value of shares depends on what happens in the securities markets, not on what happens to the bank.
SETTLEMENT OF PAYMENTS
At what times do payments move from one bank to another?
From 1 February 2014 interbank payments within Estonia move through the pan-European retail payments system STEP2, which they can only do during the working hours of that system. The former ten settlement cycles have been reduced to five cycles, meaning that rather than the hour or hour and a half that it used to take for money to be transferred from one bank to another, it takes around 3-5 hours and happens five times during the day. The conditions for each bank depend on whether the bank is connected to the system directly or through another bank.
Bank clients need to be aware that if money has to reach its destination in another bank on the same working day, the payment will need to be initiated in Swedbank, SEB or Danske Bank by 16.30 at the latest, and in Nordea by 15.30 at the latest. For some banks the final deadline for making payments could be 15.00. If a payment is started later, it will reach the payee on the next working day, at around 10.00. Payments within one bank will be made around the clock, even at weekends and holidays.
Further information and answers to questions can also be obtained from the banks.
Why doesn't Eesti Pank operate domestic retail payments between banks any more?
From 1 February 2014 a European Union directive (EL 260/2012) came into force that said that all payment transfers and direct debits in euros must meet SEPA terms and conditions, including payments through the systems of Eesti Pank.
Eesti Pank started preparing for the new system in 2012. The results of the tendering process allowed Eesti Pank to offer the commercial banks improved payment conditions and lower prices, which were down one third on the prices of the time at two euro cents per payment, and to develop a SEPA direct debit service. The prices of the retail payments systems operating in Europe were still cheaper though, and the parent banks of many of the banks operating in Estonia were already connected to the pan-European STEP2 settlement system, so the banks did not choose the solution offered by Eesti Pank. The interbank retail payments system run by Eesti Pank was closed at the end of the working day on 31 January 2014. Eesti Pank will continue to operate the Estonian part of TARGET2, the pan-European system for express interbank payments. The express system can be used for very large payments that reach their destination within around thirty minutes.
What is SEPA, what changes will it lead to?
SEPA brings together in one payment area all the countries of the European Economic Area, meaning all the countries of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway and Switzerland. This lets people, companies and public sector institutions across Europe make and receive electronic payments in euros as credit transfers or direct debits. In addition, SEPA helps to finalise the adoption of the euro, as the implementation of common payment instruments together with euro cash forms an integral whole that helps to improve the competitive ability and efficiency of the entire European economy.
In connection with this, the earlier domestic bank account numbers were replaced from 1 February by international format IBANs, meaning the account numbers became longer as extra digits were added to the front of the old number, and direct debits were replaced by an e-invoice standing order service.
For how long can I still use my privatisation vouchers?
The period when privatisation vouchers could still be used ended on 31.12.2006. Those who applied in time for compensation for unused privatisation vouchers were paid their money by 2012.
INTEREST ON DEBTS
Subsection 94 (1) of the Law of Obligations Act says:
If interest is to be paid on an obligation pursuant to law or the contract, the interest rate shall be applied on a half-year basis and shall be equal to the last interest rate applicable to the main refinancing operations of the European Central Bank before 1 January or 1 July of each year, unless otherwise provided by the law or the contract.
What is the rate of interest?
Interest rates are published in the official publication Ametlikud Teadaanded. The ECB's time series for key interest rates can be found at www.ecb.int/stats/monetary/rates/html/index.en.html.