A Kalman-filter based inverse emission estimation method for long-lived trace gases is presented for use in conjunction with a Lagrangian particle dispersion model like FLEXPART. The sequential nature of the approach allows tracing slow seasonal and interannual changes rather than estimating a single period-mean emission field. Other important features include the estimation of a slowly varying concentration background at each measurement station, the possibility to constrain the solution to non-negative emissions, the quantification of uncertainties, the consideration of temporal correlations in the residuals, and the applicability to potentially large inversion problems. The method is first demonstrated for a set of synthetic observations created from a prescribed emission field with different levels of (correlated) noise, which closely mimics true observations. It is then applied to real observations of the three halocarbons HFC-125, HFC-152a and HCFC-141b at the remote research stations Jungfraujoch and Mace Head for the quantification of emissions in Western European countries from 2006 to 2010. Estimated HFC-125 emissions are mostly consistent with national totals reported to UNFCCC in the framework of the Kyoto Protocol and show a generally increasing trend over the considered period. Results for HFC-152a are much more variable with estimated emissions being both higher and lower than reported emissions in different countries. The highest emissions of the order of 700-800 Mg yr(-1) are estimated for Italy, which so far does not report HFC-152a emissions. Emissions of HCFC-141b show a continuing strong decrease as expected due to its controls in developed countries under the Montreal Protocol. Emissions from France, however, were still rather large, in the range of 700-1000 Mg yr(-1) in the years 2006 and 2007 but strongly declined thereafter.