To apply to the European Court of Human Rights you need to fill in an application form.


You can find the application form and the instruction on the Court’s website, or download them directly:

Download form
Download instructions

Rule 47 of the Rules of the Court explains the rules on the content and length of the application and how it should be organized.


You can write the initial application in any language of the Council of Europe member states. You can find application forms and information about how to apply in various languages on the website of the court.

If the Court accepts your application, further correspondence will be exchanged in the Court’s working language which is most suitable for you – English or French.


As only fully completed forms will be accepted, you need to fill in all required fields and provide all the requested information and documents. Your submissions have to be clear and understandable. It is important to remember that the Court receives thousands of applications every year and it will, therefore, evaluate your application very strictly.

Try to write only about the facts and issues which are related to the human rights violation you are complaining about. To help the Court to better understand what has happened, keep the text simple, focused and avoid emotional or derogatory language.


You need to add all the documents related to the situation you are complaining about (such as complaints you have made and the responses received, and court judgements or other decisions etc.) to your application. The Court will only accept an application which is complete and has all the necessary documents added to it. This includes documents which prove that you have tried to complain about the violation of your rights to the national state authorities and that the last decision has been taken less than 4 months from the date you are sending your form to the Court (or 6 months if the last decision by a national authority or court was taken before 1 February 2022).

Time limits

To complain about a violation of your rights, you must first try to solve it before the national state institutions. A complete application with all the documents that are required by the Court must be sent in within 4 months of the last decision of the Estonian state authorities or courts about your complaint.

[note] If the last decision of a national authority or court was taken before 1 February 2022, you have 6 months to file a complaint.

In a case where there are no national institutions to which to complain, the 4 months will be measured from the next day after the possible violation.

The time limit for an application to the European Court of Human Rights will be measured from the last national decision on your complaint.

example If you have complained to the Administrative court about bad conditions in prison, you must apply to the European Court of Human Rights within 4 months of the last decision of the last applicable instance of the Administrative court.

Ensure that you send your application before the deadline. It will also expire if the last sate of the 6 month period falls on a holiday or weekend.

important You must send you application as soon as possible, as the Court may ask you for additional documents which you have not included with your initial application. You will not be granted additional time to send these documents to the court. All requested documents must be sent before the initial 6-month time limit expires, otherwise your application will be rejected.


Before sending the application and additional documents, it would be useful to save them electronically or scan or copy them. Where the Court considers that important information in your application is missing, you may have to rewrite it. In such cases, you will not be granted additional time and a copy of the application could be useful in the quick preparation of the new form.

Applications must be sent to the following address:

The Registrar
European Court of Human Rights
Council of Europe
F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex

Legal aid

You are not entitled to free legal aid in preparing your initial application to the court.  If necessary, the ECtHR will pay for your lawyer, but only if your application is communicated to the Estonian government. Read more about legal aid.


Last updated 11/04/2024