Country guides Europe
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. European style two-pin plugs are in use.
Latvian is the official language, but English, Lithuanian, Russian and German are also spoken.
The official currency is the Euro (EUR). All major credit cards are accepted and there are plenty of ATM machines for withdrawing local currency. Foreign currency can be exchanged at any bank, at money change kiosks and at some hotels. Everyone travelling between Latvia and any non-EU country must declare amounts over 10,000 EUR or equivalent. This covers all forms of currency, not only cash. Most banks are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
Tipping is not obligatory in restaurants, but it is customary to round up the bill to the nearest 10 if a service charge has not been included and the service was good. In hotels, guests can tip according to the services provided.
No health certificates or vaccinations are required to enter Latvia, but visitors are advised to have an inoculation against tick-borne encephalitis if they're planning to hike in the country and forests, or stay in rural areas, especially during the summer months of March to October. Rabies is endemic, and everyone 12 years of age and older should get fully vaccinated for COVID-19 before visiting. Medicines are usually available, but it is best to bring a supply of personal medication. Health insurance is necessary. After Brexit, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for UK citizens. The GHIC allows UK citizens access to state healthcare during visits to the EU. The GHIC is not valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, nor is it an alternative to travel insurance.
Most visits to Latvia are trouble-free, but tourists should be wary of street crime, as there are occasional muggings of foreigners, particularly if they're walking alone or at night. Car theft is occurs. Reports of foreigners being charged extortionate prices for drinks or having fraudulent transactions debited against credit or debit cards have fallen considerably, but it's best to remain vigilant.
Latvians are generally reserved, quiet and extremely courteous, and are not comfortable making small talk. Good manners dictates that people are not embarrassed or criticised in public.
Conducting business in Latvia can sometimes be a challenge due to bureaucracy, as well as the lack of English spoken. Business tends to be formal, with a clear-cut hierarchy, and titles are usually used. Punctuality, directness and organisation are all important. Suits and ties are the norm and, when in doubt, it's best to dress conservatively. Women might encounter some sexism and roles should be clarified to avoid confusion. Business hours are usually from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
Travellers to Latvia over the age of 17 and arriving with goods purchased in the EU for personal use do not have to pay duty on 800 cigarettes, 400 cigarillos, 200 cigars, 1kg smoking tobacco; 10 litres of spirits with alcohol content higher than 22 percent, 20 litres of alcohol with alcohol content lower than 22 percent, 90 litres wine or 60 litres of sparkling wine, 110 litres of beer, and 110 litres of non-alcoholic beverages. Travellers arriving from non-EU countries do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigarillos, or 50 cigars, or 250g smoking tobacco; 1 litre of spirits with alcohol volume higher than 22 percent, or 2 litres spirits, aperitifs, liqueur, sparkling or still wines with alcohol volume less than 22 percent and 2 litres still wine; perfume up to 50g or 250ml eau de toilette; other goods for personal use to the value of €400. Prohibited items include narcotics, guns, and fresh food products.
The international dialling code for Latvia is +371. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK). Hotels, cafes and restaurants offer WiFi, and visitors can purchase local prepaid SIM cards for unlocked phones.
Passport & Visa
The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all the aforementioned countries. Additionally, foreign passengers to Latvia must hold valid health insurance, that includes provision for repatriation costs. It is highly recommended that traveller's passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay in Latvia. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar, must be valid on arrival. British passports with other endorsements must be valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Latvia.
A visa is not required for British passports endorsed 'British Citizen' or 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), nor for holders of identity cards issued by Gibraltar, and endorsed 'Validated for EU travel purposes under the authority of the United Kingdom'. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period for holders of British passports with other endorsements.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Latvia. No visa is required, for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Latvia. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay, and require a valid Schengen visa to enter Latvia.
Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Latvia. No visa is required.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Latvia. No visa is required, for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Latvia Tourist Board, Riga: www.latviatourism.lv112 (fire and rescue), 113 (medical emergencies), 110 (police).
Embassies / consulates in other countries
Embassy of Latvia, Washington DC, United States: +1 (202) 328 2840.
Embassy of Latvia, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7312 0041.
Embassy of Latvia, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 238 6014.
Embassy of Latvia, Melbourne, Australia: +61 3 9499 6920.
Honorary Consulate of Latvia, Johannesburg, South Africa: +27 11 750 1600.
Embassy of Latvia, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 478 0161.
Consulate of Latvia, Auckland, New Zealand: +64 21 190 2618.
Embassies / consulates in Latvia
United States Embassy, Riga: +371 7036 200.
British Embassy, Riga: +371 777 4700.
Canadian Embassy, Riga: +371 781 3945.
Australian Embassy, Berlin (also responsible for Latvia): +49 30 88 00 88 0
South African Embassy, Stockholm, Sweden (also responsible for Latvia): +46 866 076 93.
Embassy of Ireland, Riga: +371 6703 9370.
New Zealand Embassy, Warsaw, Poland (also responsible for Latvia): +48 22 521 0500.