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Latvia
Official Name:

Republic of Latvia

Last Updated: August 2, 2017

Embassy Messages

Riga

 

Further Safety and Security Information

Travel Warnings: Issued when Protracted situations make a country dangerous or unstable. Defer or reconsider travel.

Travel Alerts: Issued when short-term conditions pose imminent threats. Defer or reconsider travel.

Embassy Messages: Issued when local security issues arise.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Riga

S. Velsa iela 1
Riga LV-1510
Latvia

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Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

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6 months recommended

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

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One page per entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

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Not required for stays less than 90 days within a six month period

VACCINATIONS:

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None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

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10,000 Euros or equivalent

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

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10,000 Euros or equivalent

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U.S. Embassy Riga

S. Velsa iela 1 
Riga LV-1510
Latvia

Telephone: +(371) 6710-7000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(371) 6710-7000 or +(371) 2920-5708

Fax: +(371) 6710-7001

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Latvia  for information on U.S. – Latvian relations. 

Visit the Embassy of Latvia website for the most current visa information.

Latvia is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Latvia for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.

  • Passports should be valid for at least six months beyond your stay.
  • If you plan to stay in Latvia more than 90 days, you must apply for temporary residence or check with the Latvian Citizenship and Migration Department if you are eligible to extend your stay.
  • A criminal records check from the United States, which can be requested through the FBI, is required for a temporary residence permit. You must also submit proof of identity and a set of ink-rolled fingerprint impressions.
  • The U.S. Embassy cannot take your fingerprints, but the Latvian State Criminal Police Department is able to provide this service at Bruninieku iela 72, Riga, tel: 371 6720-8662. For more information, contact the Latvian Embassy at 2306 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, tel: (202) 328-2840, fax: (202) 328-2860.
  • You should carry your passport when travelling to neighboring Baltic countries from Latvia – even on day trips – as random passport checks are possible.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Latvia.

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue plotting possibly near term attacks in Europe. All European countries remain potentially vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations. U.S. citizens are reminded to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security.

  • Riga occasionally experiences demonstrations related to internal political issues.
  • You should avoid demonstrations, and exercise caution if within the vicinity of any event.
  • You are required to wear small reflectors on clothing during the dark winter months in Latvia.

Crime: Crime is generally non-violent in nature; however, violent assaults and robberies have occurred. Harassment of foreigners and same sex partners has also occurred in Latvia. 

  • Be aware of your surroundings and take personal security measures to stay safe.
  • The most common crimes encountered by foreign tourists are purse snatching, pick-pocketing, and mugging, especially during the summer tourism season.
  • Riga’s Old Town (Vecriga), Central Train Station (Dzelzcela stacija), Central Bus Station (Autoosta), and Central Market (Centraltirgus) are places that are targeted by thieves.
  • You should avoid walking alone at night and using ATMs after dark.
  • You should be aware of scams in restaurants and tourist pubs. Pay special attention to drink prices, as they may rise to exorbitant levels for tourists. Management may use force to secure payment.
  • Internet crime is a growing concern in Latvia. Common fraudulent schemes involve both internet auction sites and internet job-search sites.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams. 

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy.  

Report crimes to the local police at 112 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(371) 6710 7000. 

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Latvia is 112, which can be called for fire and police assistance. The primary number for ambulance services is 113, but the 112 operator can also help dispatch an ambulance. 112 operators speak English, Latvian, and Russian.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide information on Latvian Victim’s Compensation Program at the Legal Aid Administration
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

The quality of medical care in Latvia continues to improve, but still often falls short of western standards. Latvia has highly trained medical professionals, but hospitals and clinics still suffer from a lack of equipment and resources. 

  • Many doctors speak at least some English.
  • There are few private clinics in major cities that offer services equal to Western European or U.S. standards. 
  • If you are elderly or you have health problems, you may be at increased risk.
  • Western-quality dental care can be obtained in Riga.
  • Payment is expected upon admission at private hospitals   

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Latvian State Agency of Medicines to ensure the medication is legal in Latvia. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. 

The following diseases are prevalent:

  • Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and Lyme disease are widespread throughout the country.
  • If you intend to visit parks or forested areas (even within Riga), you are urged to speak with your health care practitioner before traveling.
  • Tick-borne encephalitis vaccinations are given as a series of three doses, and are not available in the United States. Consequently, travelers should carry and use CDC recommended insect repellents containing either 20% DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 to help diminish bites from ticks and other insects.
  • There are no vaccines against Lyme disease.
  • Hepatitis A is a significant health concern in Latvia.
  • Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Latvia. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. 

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

  • If you violate Latvia’s laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
  • Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Latvia are severe. You can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
  • Driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. The legal blood alcohol limit in Latvia is 0.02 percent for drivers with less than two years of driving experience, and 0.05 percent for drivers with more than two years’ experience.
  • Your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Latvia. 

  • Latvian non-governmental organizations have historically complained of widespread intolerance and underreporting of attacks and discrimination against LGBTI people to authorities, but have recently reported that societal attitudes are slowly improving.  

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While in Latvia, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different than in the United States.

  • The law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, and other state services, and the government generally enforces these provisions. 
  • The law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities; however, most buildings are not yet accessible. Although Latvia has made efforts to improve disabled access, only new and completely renovated hotels, guest houses, hostels, and public buildings provide suitable facilities for seriously disabled travelers.
  • You may find general information on accessibility and accommodations on the website of the Latvian Tourism Board.
  • You will rarely find easy-access public transportation and taxis. Free or reduced fares on public transportation are available only to persons with disabilities who are Latvian residents.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Special Circumstances: Latvia is part of the Eurozone and only euros are accepted.

  • Bank and currency exchange counters may refuse to accept U.S. currency that is crumpled, torn, discolored, or defaced (even small pen strokes are considered defacing). If such notes are accepted for exchange, an additional processing fee, based on the size of the transaction, may be charged. 
  • ATMs are widely available in Riga and in major towns. For security purposes, it is recommended that visitors use ATMs located inside major hotels or shopping malls.
  • Telephone connections with the United States are reliable; however, U.S. toll-free numbers cannot be accessed from Latvia.

Road Conditions and Safety: While in Latvia, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.

  • Latvia’s rate of automobile accidents and fatalities is one of the highest in Europe.
  • If you plan to drive in Latvia, you are required to obtain an International Driving Permit. You may get these through the American Automobile Association (AAA) of the American Automobile Touring Alliance for a small fee.
  • If you drive without an International Driving Permit, you may have your vehicle confiscated by the police.
  • If you are resident in Latvia more than six months, you are required to apply for a Latvian driver’s license.   

Traffic Laws: Driving while intoxicated is a very serious offense and carries heavy penalties. Latvian authorities use roadblocks and breathalyzer tests as enforcement tools.

  • You must use your headlights at all times.
  • Speed limits are usually 50 km/hr in the city and 90 km/hr on the highways.
  • There are currently several mobile speed cameras deployed throughout the country and  unmarked police patrol cars are used to enforce traffic rules.

Public Transportation: Public transportation is generally considered safe, but travelers are encouraged to select well-marked taxis.

See our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of Latvia’s Road Safety Administration (CSDD), the national authority responsible for road safety.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Latvia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Government of Latvia’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Latvia should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci. Information may also be posted to the  U.S. Coast Guard homeport website (https:homeport.uscg.mil), and the NGA broadcast warnings website https://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal select “broadcast warnings”.

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