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International Travel

English

Country Information

Latvia

Country Information

Latvia
Republic of Latvia
Last Updated: August 2, 2017
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Embassy Messages

Riga

 

Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

6 months recommended.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page per entry stamp.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

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

VACCINATIONS:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

10,000 Euros or equivalent

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

10,000 Euros or equivalent

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Riga

Samnera 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

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Destination Description

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

  

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Latvia is a party to the Schengen Agreement. Visit the Embassy of Latvia website for the most current visa information.

  • Passports should be valid for at least six months beyond your stay. For further details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.
  • If you plan to stay in Latvia more than 90 days, you must apply for temporary residence.
  • 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.

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

Information about  dual nationality, or prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our customs information page.

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Safety and Security

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.
  • During the winter, beware of sustaining serious injury from icicles falling from rooftops.

To stay connected:

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.

VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  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 an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
  • provide support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

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.

Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States. Please remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

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

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Latvia, you are subject to its laws. 

Regardless of local law, you can be prosecuted in the United States under U.S. law if you:

  • Engage in sexual conduct with children or use/disseminate child pornography in a foreign country
  • Buy pirated goods

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

  • 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.
  • Your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.

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. 

Customs: Latvian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Latvia of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment, drugs, etc.

WOMEN TRAVELERS:  If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.                     

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

  • In 2015 Mozaika, an NGO that promotes LGBTI rights, received 19 reports of LGBTI rights violations, which ranged from verbal and physical attacks to discrimination at work and bullying in schools.  Non-governmental organizations complained of widespread intolerance and underreporting of such attacks and discrimination to authorities.

See our  LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of the Department of State's 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.
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Health

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

Prescription Medicines: Pharmaceuticals sold in Latvia are produced by companies certified in accordance with EU standards, but may not necessarily be labeled the same as in the United States.

Local Health Concerns:

  • 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.

You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will cover you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:

  • Does my policy apply when I’m outside of the United States?
  • Will it cover emergencies like a trip to a foreign hospital or a medical evacuation?

In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries or may not make timely payments for services provided. If your policy doesn’t cover you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out additional coverage for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.

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Travel and Transportation

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: 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.

Public Transportation:

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

Please refer to our road safety page.  for more information. We also suggest that you visit the website of the Latvian Tourism Board or visit the website for the Ministry of Transport and Mobility for more information on driving in Latvia.

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.

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Riga

Samnera 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

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General Information

Latvia and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since May 1, 2007.

For information concerning travel to Latvia, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Latvia.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

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Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Latvia.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Website:  travel.state.gov
Email: AskCI@state.gov

 

The Latvian Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Children Affairs Cooperation Division within the Ministry of Justice.  The Latvian Central Authority has an administrative role in processing the Hague Abduction Convention applications, which involves reviewing applications for completeness, exploring possible voluntary solutions if appropriate, and submitting applications to the appropriate court.  The Latvian Central Authority (LCA) can be reached at:

Ministry of Justice
Children Affairs Cooperation Division
Brivibas Blvd. 36
Riga, LV-1536
Latvia
Telephone: +371 6703 6801
Fax: +371 6721 0823
E-mail: tm.kanceleja@tm.gov.lv
Website:
 

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Latvia, the USCA encourages a parent or legal guardian to review the eligibility criteria and instructions for completing the Hague application form located at the Department of State website and contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the LCA.  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the LCA, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes. 

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or Latvian central authorities.  The LCA assigns a pro bono (no fee) attorney to represent parents making an application for return or access under the Hague Abduction Convention.  Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in Latvia.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Latvia.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

The LCA will arrange for a pro bono attorney to represent applicant parents who are seeking a child’s return (or access to a child) under the Hague Abduction Convention. While it is the LCA that actually files the Hague petition with the appropriate Latvian court, the LCA-appointed attorney will represent the applicant thereafter.  An applicant parent is not required to retain an attorney privately, and if he/she elects to do so, the applicant parent is responsible for all legal costs.  A private attorney should contact the LCA prior to filing a Hague return application directly with the court. 

The U.S. Embassy in Riga, Latvia, posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

The LCA does not provide mediation services directly, although the LCA is available to provide referrals and information about the mediation process. Some of the child services offices in the larger municipalities have their own in-house mediators available to assist. Parents are responsible for mediation costs and mediation can occur at any stage of the Hague process.  The Latvian legal system allows for mediation on a variety of issues including access, custody, child support, and property issues. 

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

Please see our section on Adoptions from the United States for more information on the process for adopting from the United States.  We urge prospective adoptive parents to consult with the Latvia’s central authority, Ministry of Welfare, to determine whether the Convention applies to an adoption from the United States.

Latvia is a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention).  Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries must be done in accordance with the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations; as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Latvia.

Prospective adoptive parents who have both Latvian and U.S. citizenship, who are residing in Latvia, and who plan for their adopted child to immediately acquire U.S. citizenship are strongly encouraged to follow the Hague Adoption Convention process requirements set forth below. 

Prospective adoptive parents who adopt a Latvian child through the domestic Latvian adoption process are cautioned that the child will generally not be eligible for immigration to the United States immediately following the adoption.  Children adopted through the Latvian domestic process may only be eligible for U.S. immigration benefits after their adoptive parents can demonstrate that the adoption took place before the child’s 16th birthday and that he/she has lived in their legal custody and joint residence, outside the United States, for at least two years.  Please visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for more information on the immediate relative immigration process. 

Note:  If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption:  1) you filed a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, identifying Latvia as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, on behalf of a child from Latvia or; 3) the adoption was completed.  Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s adoption could continue to be processed as a non-Convention intercountry adoption, provided the child’s country of origin agrees.  For more information, read about Transition Cases.  Please contact adoptionusca@state.gov with the details of the case if this situation applies to you.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Latvia, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements.  The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), determines who can adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law in order to immigrate to the United States with an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child from Latvia must meet the following requirements of Latvia:

  • Residency:  Latvian adoption law requires that a parent-child relationship be established between the party seeking to adopt and the child before the final court decision can be made, by the town or city court having jurisdiction over the child.  This is done by sharing a household in Latvia for period of time determined by each orphan court on a case-by-case basis.  Adoptive parents are advised that orphan courts may require them to take care of the adoptive children and share a household in Latvia for a certain amount of time, not to exceed six months, before it can finalize the adoption
  • Age of Adopting Parents:  Latvia requires that the adoptive parent be at least 25 years old and at least 18 years older than the adoptive child.
  • Marriage:  There is no marriage requirement: married couples, as well as single individuals, are eligible to adopt.  Please note that Latvian law does not recognize same-sex marriage.
  • Income:  Latvia does not have any specific income requirements for intercountry adoptions. 
  • Other:  To determine if a parent-child relationship exists and whether the adoption is in the child’s best interest, Latvian orphan courts have the authority to require that adoptive parents take care of the adoptive child(ren) and share a household in Latvia for a set amount of time, not to exceed six months.  Once the orphan court rules in favor of an approved adoption, subsequent trips for adoption approval by court and immigrant visa processing range from two weeks to two months.  
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Who Can Be Adopted

Because Latvia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Latvia must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for intercountry adoption.  For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Latvia have determined that placement of the child within Latvia has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.

  • The Latvian government has stated that it will only approve applications for intercountry adoption if the prospective adoptive parents seek to adopt:
    • a sibling group of three (3) or more children;
    • a child over age nine (9);
    • a child with severe health problems;
    • a child released for intercountry adoption by the Ministry of Welfare because he or she has not been adopted by Latvians; or
    • any adoptable child, regardless of the child’s age or health condition, if at least one of prospective adoptive parents is a Latvian citizen or holds Latvian non-citizen resident (alien) status.

In addition to qualifying as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a child must meet the following requirements of Latvia:

  • Abandonment:  Abandoned children’s parents have willfully forsaken all parental rights, obligations, and claims to the child, as well as all control over and possession of the child, without intending to transfer, or without transferring, these rights to any specific person(s).  The actual act of surrendering such rights, obligations, claims, control, and possession is documented by the orphan court with jurisdiction over the child’s residence.  A child who is placed temporarily in an orphanage or foster care is not considered eligible for adoption if his/her parents express an intention to retrieve the child, are contributing or attempting to contribute to the support of the child, or otherwise exhibit ongoing parental interest in the child.  The orphan court with jurisdiction over the child’s orphanage or foster family monitors the parent-child relationship and has the authority to extend or fully terminate the rights of biological parent(s) within one year from the date when the child is removed from their care.  Once the abandonment and termination of all parental rights is documented by the orphan court, the child becomes eligible for adoption.
  • Relinquishment:  The relinquishment or release of the child by the parent to a third party for custodial care in anticipation of, or preparation for, adoption is not allowed by Latvian laws.  Local law, however, allows biological parents to appoint another person legal guardian of their child(ren) or, with orphan court involvement, place their child(ren) in an orphanage or a foster family.  Both the appointed legal guardian(s) and foster parent(s) subsequently may acquire the right to apply for adoption of the child(ren) in their care. 
  • Age of Adoptive Child:  Latvia will approve applications for intercountry adoption only if the prospective adoptive parents file to adopt a sibling group of three or more children below the age of 18; a single child over age 9; a child(ren) below the age of 18 with severe health problems; child(ren) below the age of 18 listed in the web site of Latvia’s Central Authority as released for intercountry adoption because he or she has not been adopted by Latvians; or any adoptable child regardless of child’s age or health condition if at least one of potential adoptive parents is a Latvian citizen or holds Latvian non-citizen resident (alien) status.  Local adoption law requires that the adoption is finalized before the child’s 18th birthday.

Please note that in order for a child to meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)).  Please note the special rules and instructions on filing dates for children aged 15-16 or siblings aged 17-18). 

  • Sibling Adoptions:  Latvia will approve applications for intercountry adoption if the prospective adoptive parents file to adopt a sibling group of three or more children.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions:  Latvia will approve applications for intercountry adoption if the prospective adoptive parents specify in their adoption application that they are open to adopt child(ren) with severe health problems.  Children with special needs or medical conditions who are released for intercountry adoption are listed in the publicly available web site of Latvia’s Central Authority
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care:  Latvia’s Central Authority will review your adoption application within three business days.  To establish that child-parent relationship has developed and to ascertain that the adoption is in the best interests of the child(ren), orphan courts require that prospective adoptive parents share a household with their potential adoptive child(ren) in Latvia for a period of up to six months.  The time needed to complete an adoption in Latvia from beginning to end varies and may take about one year.
  • Other:  None

Caution:  Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are eligible for adoption.  In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible.  In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).

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How to Adopt

Warning:  Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Latvia before:  1) USCIS has approved your Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, 2) USCIS has provisionally approved your Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, and 3) a U.S. consular officer has issued an “Article 5/17 Letter” in the case.  Read on for more information.

Latvia’s Central Adoption Authority

Ministry of Welfare

Note: Special transition provisions may apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Transition Cases.

The Process

Because Latvia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Latvia must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements.  A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is provided below.  You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements.  Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

 

1: Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider that Has Bee Authorized by Latvia's Central Authority to Operate in Latvia

 

  • The first step in adopting a child from Latvia is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases and that has been authorized by the Government of Latvia.  A primary provider must be identified in each Convention case and only accredited or approved adoption service providers may act as the primary provider in your case.  Your primary adoption service provider is responsible for:
    • Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided consistent with applicable laws and regulations.
    • Supervising and being responsible for supervised providers where used (see 22 CFR 96.14); and
    • Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44.
    • Learn more about Agency Accreditation
  • You must select an accredited or approved U.S. adoption service provider that is authorized by the Republic of Latvia.  A list of the providers that have received Latvian authorization is posted on the U.S. Embassy’s website https://lv.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/adoption/accredited-adoption-service-providers/.
  • Note to adoption service providers seeking authorization by the Latvian Central Authority: 
  • Adoption service providers seeking authorization to provide adoption services in Latvia should apply directly to the Ministry of Welfare by submitting a request in the form of a letter with reference to Article 12 of the Hague Adoption Convention.  The letter should be accompanied by the Convention member state country’s Certificate of Accreditation. A copy of the adoption service provider’s license and evaluation documentation should be attached to the letter.  The application letter should certify that the adoption service provider is aware that Latvia restricts the categories of children available for intercountry adoption (see above Hague Convention Information) and specify whether the adoption service provider seeks to assist in all types of cases or just one. If required by the Ministry of Welfare, applying adoption service providers should also submit letter of verification of accreditation/approval by U.S. State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues.

 

2: Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt  

 

  • Before the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA), adoption service providers in intercountry adoption were exclusively regulated by state law.
  • State licensing authorities in the 50 states have different standards; some have few specific standards governing intercountry adoptions, especially relating to agencies’ conduct abroad.
  • Many state licensing authorities have been unable to hold service providers accountable for illicit practices in intercountry adoption cases.  State laws may not apply to the activities of licensed agencies outside the United States, and states often lack the resources to investigate and take action against agencies involved in such cases.
  • The UAA provides for uniform standards and accountability for service provider conduct regardless of whether the case falls under the Hague Adoption Convention or under the orphan process.

 

3: Apply to Latvia’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child

 

  • Submit Your Dossier to the Central Authority 
  • After USCIS determines that you are suitable and eligible to adopt and approves the Form I-800A application, your adoption service provider will file your Latvian adoption application with the adoption authority in Latvia. In Latvia, your dossier must include your adoption application as well.  Latvia’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under Latvia’s law.  Required documents for the adoption application include:
    • Application, including information about the reasons for adoption as well as information about the sex, age range, and religion of the child (or children) they are interested in adopting;
    • A copy of the parents’ marriage certificate, if applicable, notarized and then authenticated with an Apostille (please see information below about the authentication of documents);
    • A copy of any divorce decree (if applicable) notarized and then authenticated with an Apostille;
    • A statement about the family’s housing (i.e. size, location, type of residence);
    • An autobiography (or curriculum vitae) for each parent;
    • Medical statements regarding the health of the family (hereditary illnesses, if any, and any specific illnesses) for prospective adoptive parents and for each adult household member;
    • A home study, notarized and then authenticated with an Apostille, conducted by a U.S. state adoption agency or a private organization licensed to perform such studies.  Home studies must be current in order for the adoption application to be considered.  Home study updates should be forwarded to the Ministry for applications to remain valid;
    • A police background check for prospective adoptive parents and for each adult household member that has been notarized and then authenticated with an Apostille.
  • Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority 
  • If both the United States and Latvia determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and Latvia’s Central Authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Central Authority for Convention adoptions in Latvia may provide you with a referral for a child.  The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of the child.  The adoption authority in Latvia will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not.  We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for, a specific child.  Learn more about Health Considerations.  If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the central authority in Latvia.  Learn more about this critical decision
  • After receiving and accepting a match, the orphan courts in Latvia require the prospective adoptive parents to personally meet the child and establish a parent-child relationship.  There is a required initial in-country phase of pre-adoption care that may be anywhere from three weeks to two months, though by law the court may require a pre-adoption care period of up to six months.  If, after the initial pre-adoption care term, the orphan court concludes that there is a potential for a parent-child relationship and that the adoption is in the best interest of the child, the court will issue temporary custody decisions that allow the adoption to continue. 
  • At the request of prospective adoptive parents, the Latvian orphan court may permit the prospective adoptive parents to travel with the child to the United States for a limited visitation period prior to the finalization of the adoption.  The duration of the visitation period is dictated by the Latvian orphan court.  Prospective adoptive parents that are granted pre-adoption visitation periods in the United States may apply for a B-2 visitor visa for the child and must present the custody order from the orphan court in support of this application.  The B-2 visitor visa is not an immigrant visa and its validity is only valid for the duration of the court-authorized visitation period.  Prospective adoptive parents must still complete the following steps in order to complete the adoption.  Failure to return to Latvia to complete the Convention adoption process and immigrant visa process would have serious implications on your child's immigration status in the United States, and may restrict your child's ability to obtain lawful permanent status in the United States.

 

4: Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

 

  • Submit a Petition for a Determination on the Child’s Immigration Eligibility 
  • After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States through the Form I-800 Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative.  USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child appears to meet the definition of a Convention adoptee and will likely be eligible to enter and reside in the United States.
  • For Latvian cases, you should file the Form I-800 only after the required initial pre-adoption care period in Latvia is concluded and the orphan court allows the adoption process to continue.  If the Latvian orphan court has granted authorization for a pre-adoption visitation period in the United States, you may file the Form I-800 during this visitation.
  • Submit an Immigrant Visa Application 
  • After provisional approval of Form I-800, the U.S. Embassy in Latvia will request that your adoption service provider submit an immigrant visa application to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Riga responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Latvia. 
  • Click here for an immigrant visa application document checklist:  https://lv.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/adoption/adoption-based-immigrant-visa-applicants/.
  • Please ensure that your adoption service provider has the listed pre-adoption documents readily available for presentation to the U.S. Embassy. 
  • You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number.  Use this information to log into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to file the Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) for your child.  An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name.  Answer every item on the form.  If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block.  Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form. 
  • A consular officer will review the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and the visa application and, if applicable, advise you of options for the waiver of any ineligibilities related to the visa application.
  • The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5/17 Letter”) to Latvia’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Latvia if all Convention requirements are met and the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States.  This letter will inform the Latvia’s Central Authority that the parents are suitable and eligible to adopt, that the child appears eligible to enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.
  • Warning:  Do not attempt to adopt [or obtain custody] of a child in Latvia before you receive provisional approval of your Form I-800 petition AND a U.S. consular officer issues the “Article 5/17 Letter” for your adoption case.
  • Remember:  The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

 

5: Adopt the Child in Latvia 

 

  • Remember:  Before you adopt a child in Latvia, you must have completed the above four steps.  Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption.
  • After you receive your Article 5 letter from the U.S. Embassy in Riga, you, or your adoption service provider on your behalf, will request a hearing date from the Latvian court for approval of the adoption.  If you were granted authorization for a visitation period in the United States with the child, at least one of the prospective adoptive parents and the child must return to Latvia for the approval hearing. In some cases, the courts may waive the requirement for child’s personal appearance at the court. Your adoption service provider will help you to establish the court requirements regarding personal appearance that tend to be case specific. If the court approves the adoption, the decree becomes effective only after 20 days have passed. 
  • The process for finalizing the adoption in Latvia generally includes the following:
    • Role of Adoption Authority:  The Ministry of Welfare is responsible for administering intercountry adoption.  The Ministry prepares an adoption approval (or rejection) statement (or Article 17 letter) for submission to the town or city court responsible for the final adoption decree.  The Ministry’s adoption permission is valid for three months.  After the adoption decree becomes effective, the Ministry of Welfare issues a statement certifying that the adoption has been completed in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention (Article 23 Certificate).
    • Role of the Court:  The main purpose of the Latvian orphan court session is to establish that the adoption will be in the child’s best interests and that the required personal relationship between the parent(s) and child has been established.  Orphan courts decide whether the birth parents’ rights should be terminated; whether an orphan should be placed in an orphanage or whether someone else may be granted custody; and issues related to inheritance rights when a child’s parents die.  Town or city courts approve adoptions by granting full custody of the child to the adoptive parents.  Current law provides for a 20-day period before the final court decree takes effect.  Thus, the adoptive child is eligible to apply for a post-adoption birth certificate, passport, and immigrant visa only after the court decree becomes effective.  
    • Role of Adoption Agencies:  Adoption agencies are allowed to represent parents and may do the required translations and file adoption applications at the Ministry.  Under current law, however, the adoptive parents are required to personally file applications at orphan courts and participate in the orphan court and final court sessions.
    • Time Frame:  Intercountry adoptions in Latvia take approximately one year to complete. 
    • Adoption Fees:  There are no Latvian government fees for adoption services apart from those described below.  Prospective adoptive parents, however, should be prepared to cover fees related to the translation and certification of documents and the processing of new civil and travel documents for the adopted child.  These costs are determined by the government of Latvia and are subject to change.
    • We encourage prospective adoptive parents to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either directly or through your U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to the Convention, U.S. law, or the law of Latvia with your adoption service provider, and when, appropriate, through the Hague Complaint Registry.  For more information in this regard, please refer to information concerning the Hague Complaint Registry.  Improper payments may have the appearance of buying a child, violate applicable law, and could put all future adoptions in Latvia at risk.  The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Further, the IAA makes certain actions relating to intercountry adoptions unlawful, and subject to civil and criminal penalties.  These include offering, giving, soliciting, or accepting inducement intended to influence or affect the relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing functions as a competent authority; or engaging another person as an agent to take any such action.
    • In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
  • Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from Latvia include: 
    • 28.46 euros (about $29.00) for expedited Latvian passport processing fee per person;
    • Fourteen (14.00) euros (about $14.00) for local document Apostille certification by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (see below section on Authentication of Documents);
    • Forty-five (45.00) euros (about $47.00) for court application fee;
    • Eight (8.00) euros (about $8.00) for the court hearing fee;
    • Five (5.00) euros (about $5.00) for copy of court ruling certified by the relevant court;
    • Ten (10.00) euros (about $10.00) for acquiring a Latvian police report in English for adoptive children who have reached their 16th birthday;
    • Translation and notary costs differ from a case to case depending on the volume of documentation
    • See below paragraph 6 on “Panel Physician’s” medical report and the related costs.
  • Documents Required: Please see above for documents required to be submitted with a Latvian adoption application.
  • Note:  Additional documents may be requested.
  • Authentication of Documents:  Please note that Latvia requires document certification authenticated with an Apostille for documents originating in the United States.  Click here for more information on this process:

 

6: Obtain a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

 

  • Now that your adoption is complete [or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States], there are a few more steps to take before your child can head home.  Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
  • Birth Certificate
  • If you have finalized the adoption in Latvia, you will first need to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.
  • The local representative of your Latvia-accredited adoption services provider will assist you with filing an application for your child’s post-adoption birth certificate with Civil Registry of the Ministry of Justice.  If the court approving your adoption application authorized the child’s name change, the post-adoption birth certificate will list the child’s new name in Latvian and English and you will be listed as child’s parent(s).
  • Latvia Passport
  • Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Latvia.
  • The local representative of your Latvia-authorized adoption services provider will assist you with filing an application for your child’s post-adoption passport with the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs of the Ministry of Interior.  To ensure that your travel plans are not delayed you may request expeditious two-day passport processing at the cost of 28.46 euros (about $29.00) per person.
  • U.S. Immigrant Visa
  • After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Riga.  After the adoption is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for a final review of the case, and if applicable, the issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, the final approval of the Form I-800 petition, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa.  This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child.  Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Riga by email at adoptions-riga@state.gov  to schedule your child’s immigrant visa appointment.  As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer with the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if you did not provide it during the provisional approval stage.  Read more about the Medical Examination.
  • Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please be sure to complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC).  If you filed a Form I-800 petition in the United States, you should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number.  You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child.  An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name.  Answer every item on the form.  If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block.  Print and bring the DS-260 form confirmation page to the visa interview.  Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.
  • Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes 1-2 business days.  The U.S. Embassy in Riga is unable to facilitate visa processing on the same day as the immigrant visa interview.  Adoptive parents should plan at least two business days for visa processing by the U.S. Embassy in Riga before making final travel arrangements.
  • Child Citizenship Act
  • For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States:  An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including the child is under the age of eighteen.
  • For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States:  You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s entry into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship. 
  • Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000
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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport

U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child has acquired U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for any international travel. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Department of State’s Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Latvia

In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa to travel abroad. Where required, visas are affixed to a traveler’s passport and allow him or her to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Latvia, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip

Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Latvia, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

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After Adoption

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements

If the adoptive parents and the child continue to reside in Latvia, the orphan court having jurisdiction over the child’s place of residence will monitor the adopted child’s well-being for the first two years after the adoption's finalization.

If the adoptive parents and the child reside outside Latvia, the Ministry requires post-adoption reports on the adopted child for two years after the adoption (one per year).  The first post-adoption report shall be submitted to the Ministry one year after the date the adoption became effective. The second post-adoption report shall be submitted to the Ministry two years after the date the adoption became effective. The reports should be conducted by appropriate child welfare officials in the state where the child resides. 

We urge you to comply with Latvia’s post-adoption/post-placement requirements in a timely manner.  Your adoption service provider may be able to help you with this process.  Your cooperation will contribute to that Latvia’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Resources

Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin.  

You may wish to take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a website, the Child Welfare Information Gateway, which can be a useful resource to get you started on your support group search:

Note:  Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of content.

Complaints

If you have concerns about your intercountry adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Riga, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Department of States takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously.  Our Adoption Comment Page provides several points of contact for adoptive families to comment on their adoption service provider, their experience applying for their child’s visa, or about the Form I-800 petition process.

The Hague Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers. If you think your provider's conduct may not have been in substantial compliance with accreditation standards, first submit your complaint in writing directly to your provider. If the complaint is not resolved through the provider's complaint process, you may file the complaint through the Hague Complaint Registry

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Latvia
1 Samnera Velsa St.
Riga, LV-1510
Tel:  371-6710-7034; 371-6710-7000
Fax:  371-6710-7001
Email:  adoptions-riga@state.gov
Internet:  https://lv.usembassy.gov/embassy/riga/

Latvian Adoption Authority
Children and Family Policy Department
Ministry of Welfare
28 Skolas St., Riga, Latvia, LV-1331
Tel:  371-6702-1600
Fax:  371-6727-6445
Email:  lm@lm.gov.lv
Internet:  http://www.lm.gov.lv

Embassy of Latvia
2306 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel:  202-328-2840
Fax:  202-328-2860
Email:  embassy.usa@mfa.gov.lv
Internet:  http://www.latvia-usa.org/

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C.  20522-1709
Email:  Adoption@state.gov
Internet:  adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet:  uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or I-800 petition:

USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel:  1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email:  NBC.Hague@uscis.dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-2A None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-2B None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-2R None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 24 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 24 Months
L-2 None Multiple 24 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 10 None Multiple 60 Months
O-1 None Multiple 24 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 24 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 24 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 24 Months
R-2 None Multiple 24 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

General Document Information:

Applicants may only obtain their personal Latvian civil documents, including police and court records (parents or legal guardians act on their children's behalf). If applicants are unable to personally appear they may authorize a third party to act on their behalf by issuing a notary-certified power of attorney. An Apostille issued by a Secretary of State is required for a U.S.-issued power of attorney to be accepted as a legal document in Latvia.

Documents should be requested directly from the issuing authority; however, applicants residing abroad may also contact the nearest Latvian diplomatic and consular mission for assistance to obtain documents from Latvia, i.e., civil records, police, court, and military records. Most government authorities have the legal authority to accept document requests and issue them electronically. For U.S. visa purposes, hard copies of documents must be submitted with original signatures and seals. An Apostille must be obtained from the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia for any documents issued by Latvian authorities that will be used in the United States for other than nonimmigrant and immigrant visa application purposes.

Latvian residents who require documents from other countries should check the applicable reciprocity information on availability of the documents from a particular country. They may also seek assistance on requesting documents from abroad from the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia (a service charge is requested).

General Issuing Government Authority Information:

Each type of document is issued by a respective Latvian government authority that has its set standards on how the documents are prepared. List of issuing authorities and other relevant information is provided below.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

Available: YES

Fees: Current fee is 1.42 euros (approx. $2) for requesting a duplicate certificate. The initial death registration is a no-fee service. Note that this information is subject to change based on local legislation.

Document Name: DZIMŠANAS APLIECĪBA  (title of the document normally is provided both in Russian and Latvian if issued during the Soviet Era).

Issuing Government Authority: Civil records before December 31, 1914 are available from the Latvian State Historical Archives.

Civil records from January 1, 1915 to April 30, 1921 are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv). Note: Until 1921, only churches registered birth of a child; therefore, one must know the name of the church when requesting data.

Civil records from May 1, 1921 to December 31, 2012:

o    for Riga city and Riga region are available from the Riga City Civil Register Office (86 Brivibas St., Riga, LV-1010, Latvia; tel.: +371-67181261);

o    for other Latvian cities and regions records are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv).

Civil records from 2013 are available from the nearest Civil Register Office or the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice.

If abroad, one may contact the nearest Latvian diplomatic mission for assistance on obtaining civil records.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Style and format of birth certificates has changed over years. Currently, birth certificates (both initial and duplicates) are printed on A4 size 100g/m2 paper. The Latvian national Coat of Arms is printed at the top of the page in full color print. The ornamental frame along the edge of the certificate is printed in the auseklis [regular octagram] pattern in green. The background pattern is printed in a light color, and the large national Coat of Arms is lightly printed in the center.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Head of Civil Register Office.

Registration Criteria: Birth registration occurs on the bases of a referral from a medical facility where the child was born and information provided by parents. The name of the father of a child born out-of-wedlock is registered on the bases of an application signed by both parents of a child acknowledging paternity.

Procedure for Obtaining: Parents of a child must appear personally and present their passports, marriage certificate, if applicable, and referral from the medical facility. Third parties may represent child's parents if they have a notary certified power of attorney.

Similarly, duplicates of birth certificates may be obtained personally by a subject of the record (parents apply on behalf of their minor children) or by their representative who is in possession of a valid power of attorney.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original document may be prepared by a sworn notary. However, it is recommended to obtain duplicate certificates instead.

Alternate Documents: Civil Register Offices issue also birth registration statements upon request. It is a for-fee service.

A Birth Note (in Latvian - DZIMŠANAS ZIME) is a document that was issued in addition to a birth certificate until 2005. Birth notes verify the fact of birth, but exclude information about parents.

Comments: Starting 2013, when the Civil Register office receives an application for a duplicate birth certificate, they obtain current biographic data on the child and his/her parents from the Population Register of Latvia. The duplicate certificate will list the most current (not historical) name and surname of the child and his/her parents as available in the Population Register.

Along with their duplicate birth certificate or later, applicants may request from a Civil Register office a detail reference with information on historical data and all name changes for all subjects of the record.

Note that name changes approved by the Latvian authorities are included in the Register automatically. The Population Register is updated for new information also based on data people provide when applying to renew their Latvian passports.Otherwise, if the subject no longer is a Latvian passport holder, information about a name change approved abroad may be missing in the Population Register. Some Latvian passport holders fail to comply with the requirement to report their name change in timely manner or at all if they are in possession of a foreign official travel document or photo ID.

Death Certificates

Available: YES

Fees: Current fee is 1.42 euros (approx. $2) for requesting a duplicate certificate. The initial death registration is a no-fee service. Note that this information is subject to change based on local legislation.

Document Name: MIRŠANAS APLIECĪBA (title of the document normally is provided both in Russian and Latvian if issued during the Soviet Era).

Issuing Government Authority: Civil records before December 31, 1914 are available from the Latvian State Historical Archives.

Civil records from January 1, 1915 to April 30, 1921 are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv). Note: Until 1921, only churches registered birth of a child; therefore, one must know the name of the church when requesting data.

Civil records from May 1, 1921 to December 31, 2012:

o    for Riga city and Riga region are available from the Riga City Civil Register Office (86 Brivibas St., Riga, LV-1010, Latvia; tel.: +371-67181261);

o    for other Latvian cities and regions records are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv).

Civil records from 2013 are available from the nearest Civil Register Office or the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice.

If abroad, one may contact the nearest Latvian diplomatic mission for assistance on obtaining civil records.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Style and format of death certificates has changed over years. Currently, death certificates (both initial and duplicates) are printed on A4 size 100g/m2 paper. The Latvian national Coat of Arms is printed at the top of the page in full color print. The ornamental frame along the edge of a certificate is printed in the auseklis [regular octagram] pattern in black. The background pattern is printed in a light color, and the large national Coat of Arms is printed in the centre, in a light color.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Head of Civil Register Office.

Registration Criteria: Death registration occurs on the grounds of a referral from a physician verifying the fact of death and information received from the person applying for the death certificate.

Procedure for Obtaining: Deceased person's relatives may apply for and received a death certificate or it's duplicate. Third parties may represent such relatives if they have a notary certified power of attorney.

Duplicates of death certificates may also be issued to applicants who prove legal necessity to have them.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original document may be prepared by a sworn notary. However, it is recommended to obtain duplicate certificates instead.

Alternate Documents: Civil Register Offices issue also death registration statements upon request. It is a for-fee service.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

Available: YES

Fees: Current fee is 1.42 euros (approx. $2) for requesting a duplicate certificate. The initial death registration is a no-fee service. Note that this information is subject to change based on local legislation.

Document Name: LAULĪBAS APLIECĪBA  (title of the document normally is provided both in Russian and Latvian if issued during the Soviet Era).

Issuing Government Authority: Civil records before December 31, 1914 are available from the Latvian State Historical Archives.

Civil records from January 1, 1915 to April 30, 1921 are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv). Note: Until 1921, only churches registered birth of a child; therefore, one must know the name of the church when requesting data.

Civil records from May 1, 1921 to December 31, 2012:

o    for Riga city and Riga region are available from the Riga City Civil Register Office (86 Brivibas St., Riga, LV-1010, Latvia; tel.: +371-67181261);

o    for other Latvian cities and regions records are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv).

Civil records from 2013 are available from the nearest Civil Register Office or the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice.

If abroad, one may contact the nearest Latvian diplomatic mission for assistance on obtaining civil records.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Style and format of marriage certificates has changed over years. Currently, marriage certificates (both initial and duplicates) are printed on A4 size 100g/m2 paper. The Latvian national Coat of Arms is printed at the top of the page in full color print. The ornamental frame along the edge of a certificate is printed in the auseklis [regular octagram] pattern in red. The background pattern is printed in a light color, and the large national Coat of Arms is printed in the centre, in a light color.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Head of a Civil Register Office or a church official.

Registration Criteria: Marriage ceremony. Under Latvian law, marriage is permitted between two individuals who are at least 18 years old (or at least 16 years old if authorization from parents or orphan court granted), and at least one of them must be a Latvian passport holder or a Latvian permanent resident. Same sex marriages are forbidden under Latvian law.

Procedure for Obtaining: Marriage may be concluded only when both parties are present. Marriage certificate is issued at the end of marriage registration ceremony.

Duplicates of marriage certificates may be obtained personally by the subjects of the record or by their representative who is in possession of a valid power of attorney. Duplicate certificates may be issued only if the marriage is still effective and has not been annulled or otherwise dissolved.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original document may be prepared by a sworn notary or applicants may obtain duplicate certificates from the issuing authorities.

Alternate Documents: Civil Register Offices issue also marriage registration statements upon request. It is a for-fee service.

Comments: Starting 2013, when the Civil Register office receives an application for a duplicate marriage certificate, they obtain current biographic data on both spouses from the Population Register of Latvia. If at the time of application for a duplicate marriage certificate one or both spouses have acquired new names, the duplicate marriage certificate will list them as their names after marriage.

Along with their duplicate marriage certificate or later, applicants may request from the Civil Register office a detail reference on the marriage record with information on historical data and name changes for both subjects of the record.

Divorce Certificates

Available: One may be in possession of a divorce certificate issued at the time of marriage dissolution if:

  1. the marriage was dissolved by a sworn notary (on February, 1 2011 or later. Sworn notaries were granted rights to dissolve marriages as of February 1, 2011), or
  2. a court decision on marriage dissolution became effective before September 1, 1993.

After September 1, 1993, the final document on marriage dissolution is a court decision.

Duplicate certificates are not available. See information below on alternate documents.

Document Name: LAULĪBAS ŠKIRŠANAS APLIECĪBA  (title of the document normally is provided both in Russian and Latvian if issued during the Soviet Era).

Issuing Government Authority: Sworn notaries in Latvia issue divorce certificates since 01-Feb-2011 on marriages dissolved by them.

Local Civil Register Offices issued divorce certificates until September 1994 on divorces approved by courts where court decisions became effective before September 1, 1993. Filing for a divorce certificate was mandatory to finalize the divorce.

For marriages dissolved in court after September 1, 1993, the court decision is a final document proving the divorce.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Documents prepared by sworn notaries are printed on A4 size white paper. The document contains a seal of a notary. Each notary has their own seal. It is round and in red color. It has a complemented Coat of Arms of the Republic of Latvia (as defined by the Latvian Coat of Arms Law) in the center and includes also the sworn notary's full name, title, name of court in jurisdiction of which the notary operates, and their place of service.

Divorce certificates issued by Civil Register Offices until September 1994 were printed on A5 size ivory color paper with an ornamental frame along the edge of a certificate. It contained a blue-color round seal of the issuing Civil Register Office.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Sworn notary on certificates issued by them; Head of a Civil Register Office on certificates issued by theses offices.

Registration Criteria: Notaries in Latvia may dissolve marriages since February 1, 2011 when no disputes regarding custody of children or property exist between the spouses.

Otherwise, only a court may approve a divorce. Before September 1, 1993, spouses had to take an additional step to finalize their divorce and apply for a divorce certificate with a Civil Register Office after a court had approved their divorce.

Procedure for Obtaining: Duplicate certificates are not available. See information below on alternate documents.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original document may be prepared by a sworn notary or applicants may obtain duplicate certificates from the issuing authorities.

Alternate Documents: Transcripts (in Latvian - NORAKSTS) of divorce certificates issued by notaries may be obtained from that same office personally by subjects of the record or their representative who is in possession of a valid power of attorney. A fee applies. The amount of fee is based on the number of pages in the divorce certificate. On average, the fee is about 14.23 euros (approx. $20) per transcript.

The Civil Register Offices maintain data in the marriage register. Courts and sworn notaries forward information about approved divorces to respective Civil Register Offices where marriages were originally concluded. The data are included in the marriage register, and later subjects of the records or their legal representatives may apply for marriage/divorce statements from the marriage register. Fee for this service is 4.27 euros (approx. $6).

Marriage Certificates

Available: YES

Fees: Current fee is 1.42 euros (approx. $2) for requesting a duplicate certificate. The initial death registration is a no-fee service. Note that this information is subject to change based on local legislation.

Document Name: LAULĪBAS APLIECĪBA  (title of the document normally is provided both in Russian and Latvian if issued during the Soviet Era).

Issuing Government Authority: Civil records before December 31, 1914 are available from the Latvian State Historical Archives.

Civil records from January 1, 1915 to April 30, 1921 are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv). Note: Until 1921, only churches registered birth of a child; therefore, one must know the name of the church when requesting data.

Civil records from May 1, 1921 to December 31, 2012:

o    for Riga city and Riga region are available from the Riga City Civil Register Office (86 Brivibas St., Riga, LV-1010, Latvia; tel.: +371-67181261);

o    for other Latvian cities and regions records are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv).

Civil records from 2013 are available from the nearest Civil Register Office or the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice.

If abroad, one may contact the nearest Latvian diplomatic mission for assistance on obtaining civil records.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Style and format of marriage certificates has changed over years. Currently, marriage certificates (both initial and duplicates) are printed on A4 size 100g/m2 paper. The Latvian national Coat of Arms is printed at the top of the page in full color print. The ornamental frame along the edge of a certificate is printed in the auseklis [regular octagram] pattern in red. The background pattern is printed in a light color, and the large national Coat of Arms is printed in the centre, in a light color.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Head of a Civil Register Office or a church official.

Registration Criteria: Marriage ceremony. Under Latvian law, marriage is permitted between two individuals who are at least 18 years old (or at least 16 years old if authorization from parents or orphan court granted), and at least one of them must be a Latvian passport holder or a Latvian permanent resident. Same sex marriages are forbidden under Latvian law.

Procedure for Obtaining: Marriage may be concluded only when both parties are present. Marriage certificate is issued at the end of marriage registration ceremony.

Duplicates of marriage certificates may be obtained personally by the subjects of the record or by their representative who is in possession of a valid power of attorney. Duplicate certificates may be issued only if the marriage is still effective and has not been annulled or otherwise dissolved.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original document may be prepared by a sworn notary or applicants may obtain duplicate certificates from the issuing authorities.

Alternate Documents: Civil Register Offices issue also marriage registration statements upon request. It is a for-fee service.

Comments: Starting 2013, when the Civil Register office receives an application for a duplicate marriage certificate, they obtain current biographic data on both spouses from the Population Register of Latvia. If at the time of application for a duplicate marriage certificate one or both spouses have acquired new names, the duplicate marriage certificate will list them as their names after marriage.

Along with their duplicate marriage certificate or later, applicants may request from the Civil Register office a detail reference on the marriage record with information on historical data and name changes for both subjects of the record.

Divorce Certificates

Available: One may be in possession of a divorce certificate issued at the time of marriage dissolution if:

  1. the marriage was dissolved by a sworn notary (on February, 1 2011 or later. Sworn notaries were granted rights to dissolve marriages as of February 1, 2011), or
  2. a court decision on marriage dissolution became effective before September 1, 1993.

After September 1, 1993, the final document on marriage dissolution is a court decision.

Duplicate certificates are not available. See information below on alternate documents.

Document Name: LAULĪBAS ŠKIRŠANAS APLIECĪBA  (title of the document normally is provided both in Russian and Latvian if issued during the Soviet Era).

Issuing Government Authority: Sworn notaries in Latvia issue divorce certificates since 01-Feb-2011 on marriages dissolved by them.

Local Civil Register Offices issued divorce certificates until September 1994 on divorces approved by courts where court decisions became effective before September 1, 1993. Filing for a divorce certificate was mandatory to finalize the divorce.

For marriages dissolved in court after September 1, 1993, the court decision is a final document proving the divorce.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Documents prepared by sworn notaries are printed on A4 size white paper. The document contains a seal of a notary. Each notary has their own seal. It is round and in red color. It has a complemented Coat of Arms of the Republic of Latvia (as defined by the Latvian Coat of Arms Law) in the center and includes also the sworn notary's full name, title, name of court in jurisdiction of which the notary operates, and their place of service.

Divorce certificates issued by Civil Register Offices until September 1994 were printed on A5 size ivory color paper with an ornamental frame along the edge of a certificate. It contained a blue-color round seal of the issuing Civil Register Office.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Sworn notary on certificates issued by them; Head of a Civil Register Office on certificates issued by theses offices.

Registration Criteria: Notaries in Latvia may dissolve marriages since February 1, 2011 when no disputes regarding custody of children or property exist between the spouses.

Otherwise, only a court may approve a divorce. Before September 1, 1993, spouses had to take an additional step to finalize their divorce and apply for a divorce certificate with a Civil Register Office after a court had approved their divorce.

Procedure for Obtaining: Duplicate certificates are not available. See information below on alternate documents.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original document may be prepared by a sworn notary or applicants may obtain duplicate certificates from the issuing authorities.

Alternate Documents: Transcripts (in Latvian - NORAKSTS) of divorce certificates issued by notaries may be obtained from that same office personally by subjects of the record or their representative who is in possession of a valid power of attorney. A fee applies. The amount of fee is based on the number of pages in the divorce certificate. On average, the fee is about 14.23 euros (approx. $20) per transcript.

The Civil Register Offices maintain data in the marriage register. Courts and sworn notaries forward information about approved divorces to respective Civil Register Offices where marriages were originally concluded. The data are included in the marriage register, and later subjects of the records or their legal representatives may apply for marriage/divorce statements from the marriage register. Fee for this service is 4.27 euros (approx. $6).

Adoption Certificates

Available: Courts approve adoptions and a transcript of a court decision serves in lieu of an adoption certificate. The child's birth records are amended to reflect the new maternity and paternity information after a court has approved adoption of a child.

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Identity Card

Available: YES

There are three types of identity cards issued since April 1, 2012:

  • Latvian citizen identity card - it serves as a travel document for the citizens of Latvia to the countries of the European Union, European Economic Zone and Swiss Confederation, and it will serve as a return certificate from third countries in cases of passport loss/theft.
  • Latvian alien's (non-citizen's) identity card - it serves as a return certificate in the countries of the European Union, European Economic Zone, Swiss Confederation and from third countries in cases of passport loss/theft.
  • Residency permit (temporary or permanent) - not a travel document. The permit gives a foreigner the right to reside in the Republic of Latvia for a definite period of time (a temporary residence permit) or permanently (a permanent residence permit). The document is issued for the citizens of third countries, refugees, stateless persons, and persons who have been granted the asylum status according to the Asylum Law.

Fees: 14.23 euros (approx. $20)

Document Name: PERSONAS APLIECĪBA for ID card and UZTURĒŠANĀS ATĻAUJA  for residency permit

Issuing Government Authority: Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs of the Republic of Latvia (OCMA).

Latvian diplomatic and consular missions abroad accept applications for travel documents from Latvian nationals abroad.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: The cards contain a non-touch microchip that provides individual biometric information. Detailed information about all types of Latvian passports and other identity documents and their security features is available on the Council of European Union Public Register of Authentic and Identity Documents Online (PRADO) website.

Procedure for Obtaining: Every Latvian national is mandated to be in possession of a valid Latvian citizen or non-citizen passport and/or national ID card (eID) after reaching the age of 15. Requests must be filed by the applicants in person. Previous Latvian travel document or birth certificate must be presented at the time of making the application.

Minor children are issued Latvian eID cards upon request for international travel purposes. eID card applications for children under 15 are submitted by one of parents. If one parent is not a Latvian citizen or non-citizen or a citizen of another European Union country, but they need/want to apply for their child's eID card, they must be in possession of a valid power of attorney issued by the parent having such nationality. Presence of the child is not required at the time of submitting the eID card application.

OCMA issues initial residency permit cards to people in refugee, asylum, or stateless resident status upon granting such status.

Certified Copies Available: NO

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police/Prison Records

Available: YES

Fees: from 4.27 Euros (approx. $11)

Document Name: CERTIFICATE (issued in English for U.S. visa or immigration benefits purposes).

Issuing Government Authority: Information Center of the Ministry of Interior at 72b Bruninieku St., Riga, LV-1009, Latvia, or Latvian diplomatic and consular missions abroad.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: The Information Center of the Ministry of Interior issues the certificates for U.S. visa purposes in sealed envelopes. The actual certificates are printed on the Information Center letterhead - A4 size ivory color paper with the complemented Latvian Coat of Arms in full color and the Information Center logo at the top of the page. For immigrant visa processing, applicants should only send a copy of the sealed envelope to the National Visa Center and not break the seal to show contents inside. Applicants must bring the original Police Certificate in the sealed envelope to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate at the time of their interview.

Police certificates obtained through Latvian embassies abroad are issued on embassy-specific letterheads, rather than the letterhead used by the Information Center. They don't come in sealed envelopes.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Chief of Information Center or an official of the Latvian diplomatic of consular mission abroad.

Procedure for Obtaining: Subject of the record or their legal representative must apply for the statement in person by filing an application with the Information Center of the Ministry of Interior. The request may be also submitted electronically using e-signature as defined by the Latvian law or though the Latvian e-services portal: www.latvija.lv(available to those having e-signature or using Latvian online banking).

If abroad, one may contact the nearest Latvian diplomatic and consular mission for assistance on obtaining police records.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original document may be prepared by a sworn notary.

Comments: At the time of submitting a request for a Latvian police certificate, one MUST indicate that it is required for U.S. visa purposes. We recommend using the application form available in this link for ensuring the correct type of police certificate is requested and received.

Under Latvian law, almost all records are routinely expunged after several years. Subsequently, ex-offenders are not normally obliged to indicate their convictions, for example, when applying for a job or when involved in criminal or civil proceedings. The expunged records remain in the Punishment Register and are available if the person specifically authorizes disclosure of the entire record. The police certificates issued for U.S. visa purposes contain the entire record (including convictions that are considered expunged). Note: The Punishment Register contains complete information on criminal offences committed in the territory of Latvia both before and after 1991 when Latvia declared independence.

Court Records

Available: YES

Fees: Fees apply per number of pages in the requested duplicate transcripts.

Document Name: SPRIEDUMS LATVIJAS REPUBLIKAS VARDĀ.

Issuing Government Authority: Courts of the Republic of Latvia or the Latvian State Historical Archives

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Printed on A4 size white paper. The black and white full Coat of Arms of Latvia is printed at the top of the first page. Furthermore, in the upper right corner word NORAKSTS [transcript] is stamped or printed. All pages are numbered and stringed together. The court seal, total number of pages, and signature of the judge is on the last page of the document.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Judge or the archives official

Procedure for Obtaining: Subjects of the record or their legal representatives must apply for court records in person.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original transcript may be prepared by a sworn notary.

Comments: Court decisions in Latvia are gradually made available for accessing online at http://www.tiesas.lv/tiesu-nolemumi (in Latvian only). Personally identifying information is removed when information is accessed by public. Full transcript is/will be available only to the subjects of the record or their legal representatives.

Military Records

Available: YES

Fees: fees apply and vary per type of document request and issuing agency

Document Name: varies depending on the issuing agency

Issuing Government Authority: Records on Latvian citizens who retired from the National Armed Forces of the Republic of Latvia (NAF) after January 1, 2007 are available from the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Latvia (10/12 Krisjana Valdemara St., Riga, LV-1473, Latvia; tel. +371-67335123);

Other records on military service with NAF are available from the State Archives of Latvia (1 Bezdeligu St., Riga LV-1048, Latvia; tel.: +371-67462317; email: lva@arhivi.gov.lv) or its regional branches.

Military service in Soviet Army was recorded in military books (voyenniy bilet) which contain information on the length of service and circumstances of discharge. Often people have these books available for presenting. If unavailable, records about military service in the Soviet Army may be available from the Central Archives of the Ministry of Defense of Russian Federation (74 Kirova St., Podolsk, Moscow Oblast, Russia, 142100). Latvian permanent residents may contact the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia for assistance requesting documents from abroad.

Registration Criteria: Genuine military service

Procedure for Obtaining: Subject of the record or their legal representative must apply for their records as instructed by a respective agency listed above.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original transcript may be prepared by a sworn notary.

Alternate Documents: Military service in Soviet Army was recorded in military books. Often people have these books available for presenting.

Comments: 12 months military service was obligatory until December 31, 2006 for all men, Latvian citizens, between the age of 19 and 27. However, the law provided a number of exceptions, for example, for people with health problems, under criminal proceedings, students enrolled in universities, or having families with at least two small children.

Latvian non-citizens (a.k.a. Latvian alien's passport holders) were not subject to the obligatory military service. They are not eligible to serve in the National Armed Forces of the Republic of Latvia.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Types Available (Regular, Diplomatic, Official, etc.):

  • Latvian Citizen Passport (regular)
  • Latvian alien's (non-citizen) passport (regular)
  • Diplomatic passport
  • Service (official) passport
  • Travel Document (Convention 28 September 1954) for stateless people
  • Travel Document (Convention 28 July 1951) for people in refugee status
  • Travel Document - for people granted asylum

Fees: defined by local legislation

Document Name: PASE for passport; CELOŠANAS DOKUMENTS for travel document

Issuing Government Authority: Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs of the Republic of Latvia (OCMA).

Latvian diplomatic and consular missions accept applications for travel documents from Latvian nationals residing abroad.

Latvian diplomatic and service (official) passports are issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia. OCMA performs personalization and recordkeeping of these passports.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Detailed information about all types of Latvian passports and other identity documents and their security features is available on the Council of European Union Public Register of Authentic and Identity Documents Online (PRADO) website.

Latvia issues biometric passports since November 20, 2007. Only biometric Latvian citizen passport holders may be able to travel to the United States visa free.

Latvian citizen or non-citizen passports issued during the below listed time periods had a 50-years validity for people who were at least 60 years old at the time of submitting their passport applications; however, these passports are no longer valid for travel outside the Schengen Zone or U.S. visa purposes:

  • Citizen passports issued between July 1, 2002 and November 19, 2007;
  • Non-citizen (Alien) passports issued between April 10, 1997 and November 19, 2007.

Registration Criteria:

Latvian citizenship

  • Children acquire Latvian citizenship from birth if both parents are Latvian citizens.
  • A child may be granted Latvian citizenship if at least one of the child's parents is a Latvian citizen. Conditions apply.
  • Latvian non-citizen parents of a child may request registering their child as a Latvian citizen if the child is under 15 and born in Latvia.
  • Latvian citizenship may be granted as a result of naturalization.
  • Latvian citizenship may be granted to permanent residents of Latvia having no other citizenship if they have graduated from a Latvian state elementary or secondary school where study language was Latvian.

In accordance with the recent changes in Latvian citizenship law, dual nationality with certain countries may be permitted for Latvian citizens.

Latvian alien (non-citizen) status:

In 1992, the government of Latvia granted special alien (non-citizen) status to a certain category of former USSR citizens. This status allows these citizens to remain in Latvia permanently. This category of permanent residents bears alien's (non-citizen) passports. Children of non-citizens acquire non-citizen status at birth, unless parents apply for citizenship for the child's. Non-citizens account for approximately 13 percent of Latvian population. They exercise many of the same rights as do Latvian citizens. However, they cannot, for vote or travel visa-free to the United States.

Procedure for Obtaining: Every Latvian national is mandated to be in possession of a valid Latvian citizen or non-citizen passport and/or national ID card (eID) after reaching the age of 15. Applications must be made personally and in person. A previous Latvian travel document or birth certificate must be presented upon submitting an application.

Minor children are issued Latvian passports upon request for international travel purposes. Passport applications for children under 15 are submitted by one of parents. If one parent is not a Latvian citizen or non-citizen or a citizen of another European Union country, but they need/want to apply for their child's passport, they must be in possession of a valid power of attorney issued by the parent having such nationality. Presence of the child is not required at the time of submitting the passport application.

OCMA issues initial travel documents to people in refugee, asylum, or stateless resident status upon granting such status.

Alternate Documents:

  • Latvian citizen or alien's (non-citizen's) identity cards.
  • Return certificates are issued by Latvian diplomatic and consular missions abroad for immediate return to Latvia if one's Latvian passport or travel document goes missing or becomes invalid while abroad, and they are not in possession of a Latvian citizen or alien's identity card. The return certificates must be surrendered to OCMA immediately after return to Latvia.

Comments: Latvian passport holders may choose to list their minor children, their ethnic origin, and transliteration of their names in English in their passports.

Latvian non-citizens must be processed as stateless for U.S. visa purposes. Note: until September 2012, U.S. Embassy in Riga issued visas to Latvian non-citizens with the nationality code LATV [for Latvia]. Visas issued with LATV designation prior to September 2012 remain valid until they expire, as long as visa holders retain their Latvian non-citizen status.

Latvian non-citizens are considered Latvian nationals for U.S. Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa purposes. They may be principal E-1/E-2 visa applicants.

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Riga, Latvia (Embassy) -- Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas

1 Samnera Velsa Street, Riga, LV-1510, Latvia

Tel: (371) 6710-7000

Fax: (371) 6710-7001

E-mail: askconsular-riga@state.gov  

Visa Services

All visa categories for all of Latvia.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 328-2881/2882 (202) 328-2860

New York, NY (646) 230-0590 (646) 230-0591

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Riga
Samnera Velsa iela 1 
Riga LV-1510
Latvia
Telephone
+(371) 6710-7000
Emergency
+(371) 6710-7000 or +(371) 2920-5708
Fax
+(371) 6710-7001
Latvia Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Country Information

Latvia
Republic of Latvia
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Embassy Messages

Riga

 

Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

6 months recommended.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page per entry stamp.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

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

VACCINATIONS:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

10,000 Euros or equivalent

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

10,000 Euros or equivalent

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Riga

Samnera 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

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Destination Description

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

  

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Latvia is a party to the Schengen Agreement. Visit the Embassy of Latvia website for the most current visa information.

  • Passports should be valid for at least six months beyond your stay. For further details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.
  • If you plan to stay in Latvia more than 90 days, you must apply for temporary residence.
  • 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.

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

Information about  dual nationality, or prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our customs information page.

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Safety and Security

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.
  • During the winter, beware of sustaining serious injury from icicles falling from rooftops.

To stay connected:

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.

VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  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 an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
  • provide support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

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.

Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States. Please remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

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

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Latvia, you are subject to its laws. 

Regardless of local law, you can be prosecuted in the United States under U.S. law if you:

  • Engage in sexual conduct with children or use/disseminate child pornography in a foreign country
  • Buy pirated goods

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

  • 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.
  • Your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.

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. 

Customs: Latvian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Latvia of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment, drugs, etc.

WOMEN TRAVELERS:  If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.                     

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

  • In 2015 Mozaika, an NGO that promotes LGBTI rights, received 19 reports of LGBTI rights violations, which ranged from verbal and physical attacks to discrimination at work and bullying in schools.  Non-governmental organizations complained of widespread intolerance and underreporting of such attacks and discrimination to authorities.

See our  LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of the Department of State's 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.
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Health

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

Prescription Medicines: Pharmaceuticals sold in Latvia are produced by companies certified in accordance with EU standards, but may not necessarily be labeled the same as in the United States.

Local Health Concerns:

  • 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.

You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will cover you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:

  • Does my policy apply when I’m outside of the United States?
  • Will it cover emergencies like a trip to a foreign hospital or a medical evacuation?

In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries or may not make timely payments for services provided. If your policy doesn’t cover you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out additional coverage for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.

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Travel and Transportation

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: 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.

Public Transportation:

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

Please refer to our road safety page.  for more information. We also suggest that you visit the website of the Latvian Tourism Board or visit the website for the Ministry of Transport and Mobility for more information on driving in Latvia.

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.

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Riga

Samnera 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

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General Information

Latvia and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since May 1, 2007.

For information concerning travel to Latvia, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Latvia.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

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Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Latvia.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Website:  travel.state.gov
Email: AskCI@state.gov

 

The Latvian Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Children Affairs Cooperation Division within the Ministry of Justice.  The Latvian Central Authority has an administrative role in processing the Hague Abduction Convention applications, which involves reviewing applications for completeness, exploring possible voluntary solutions if appropriate, and submitting applications to the appropriate court.  The Latvian Central Authority (LCA) can be reached at:

Ministry of Justice
Children Affairs Cooperation Division
Brivibas Blvd. 36
Riga, LV-1536
Latvia
Telephone: +371 6703 6801
Fax: +371 6721 0823
E-mail: tm.kanceleja@tm.gov.lv
Website:
 

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Latvia, the USCA encourages a parent or legal guardian to review the eligibility criteria and instructions for completing the Hague application form located at the Department of State website and contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the LCA.  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the LCA, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes. 

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or Latvian central authorities.  The LCA assigns a pro bono (no fee) attorney to represent parents making an application for return or access under the Hague Abduction Convention.  Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in Latvia.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Latvia.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

The LCA will arrange for a pro bono attorney to represent applicant parents who are seeking a child’s return (or access to a child) under the Hague Abduction Convention. While it is the LCA that actually files the Hague petition with the appropriate Latvian court, the LCA-appointed attorney will represent the applicant thereafter.  An applicant parent is not required to retain an attorney privately, and if he/she elects to do so, the applicant parent is responsible for all legal costs.  A private attorney should contact the LCA prior to filing a Hague return application directly with the court. 

The U.S. Embassy in Riga, Latvia, posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

The LCA does not provide mediation services directly, although the LCA is available to provide referrals and information about the mediation process. Some of the child services offices in the larger municipalities have their own in-house mediators available to assist. Parents are responsible for mediation costs and mediation can occur at any stage of the Hague process.  The Latvian legal system allows for mediation on a variety of issues including access, custody, child support, and property issues. 

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

Please see our section on Adoptions from the United States for more information on the process for adopting from the United States.  We urge prospective adoptive parents to consult with the Latvia’s central authority, Ministry of Welfare, to determine whether the Convention applies to an adoption from the United States.

Latvia is a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention).  Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries must be done in accordance with the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations; as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Latvia.

Prospective adoptive parents who have both Latvian and U.S. citizenship, who are residing in Latvia, and who plan for their adopted child to immediately acquire U.S. citizenship are strongly encouraged to follow the Hague Adoption Convention process requirements set forth below. 

Prospective adoptive parents who adopt a Latvian child through the domestic Latvian adoption process are cautioned that the child will generally not be eligible for immigration to the United States immediately following the adoption.  Children adopted through the Latvian domestic process may only be eligible for U.S. immigration benefits after their adoptive parents can demonstrate that the adoption took place before the child’s 16th birthday and that he/she has lived in their legal custody and joint residence, outside the United States, for at least two years.  Please visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for more information on the immediate relative immigration process. 

Note:  If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption:  1) you filed a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, identifying Latvia as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, on behalf of a child from Latvia or; 3) the adoption was completed.  Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s adoption could continue to be processed as a non-Convention intercountry adoption, provided the child’s country of origin agrees.  For more information, read about Transition Cases.  Please contact adoptionusca@state.gov with the details of the case if this situation applies to you.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Latvia, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements.  The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), determines who can adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law in order to immigrate to the United States with an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child from Latvia must meet the following requirements of Latvia:

  • Residency:  Latvian adoption law requires that a parent-child relationship be established between the party seeking to adopt and the child before the final court decision can be made, by the town or city court having jurisdiction over the child.  This is done by sharing a household in Latvia for period of time determined by each orphan court on a case-by-case basis.  Adoptive parents are advised that orphan courts may require them to take care of the adoptive children and share a household in Latvia for a certain amount of time, not to exceed six months, before it can finalize the adoption
  • Age of Adopting Parents:  Latvia requires that the adoptive parent be at least 25 years old and at least 18 years older than the adoptive child.
  • Marriage:  There is no marriage requirement: married couples, as well as single individuals, are eligible to adopt.  Please note that Latvian law does not recognize same-sex marriage.
  • Income:  Latvia does not have any specific income requirements for intercountry adoptions. 
  • Other:  To determine if a parent-child relationship exists and whether the adoption is in the child’s best interest, Latvian orphan courts have the authority to require that adoptive parents take care of the adoptive child(ren) and share a household in Latvia for a set amount of time, not to exceed six months.  Once the orphan court rules in favor of an approved adoption, subsequent trips for adoption approval by court and immigrant visa processing range from two weeks to two months.  
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Who Can Be Adopted

Because Latvia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Latvia must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for intercountry adoption.  For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Latvia have determined that placement of the child within Latvia has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.

  • The Latvian government has stated that it will only approve applications for intercountry adoption if the prospective adoptive parents seek to adopt:
    • a sibling group of three (3) or more children;
    • a child over age nine (9);
    • a child with severe health problems;
    • a child released for intercountry adoption by the Ministry of Welfare because he or she has not been adopted by Latvians; or
    • any adoptable child, regardless of the child’s age or health condition, if at least one of prospective adoptive parents is a Latvian citizen or holds Latvian non-citizen resident (alien) status.

In addition to qualifying as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a child must meet the following requirements of Latvia:

  • Abandonment:  Abandoned children’s parents have willfully forsaken all parental rights, obligations, and claims to the child, as well as all control over and possession of the child, without intending to transfer, or without transferring, these rights to any specific person(s).  The actual act of surrendering such rights, obligations, claims, control, and possession is documented by the orphan court with jurisdiction over the child’s residence.  A child who is placed temporarily in an orphanage or foster care is not considered eligible for adoption if his/her parents express an intention to retrieve the child, are contributing or attempting to contribute to the support of the child, or otherwise exhibit ongoing parental interest in the child.  The orphan court with jurisdiction over the child’s orphanage or foster family monitors the parent-child relationship and has the authority to extend or fully terminate the rights of biological parent(s) within one year from the date when the child is removed from their care.  Once the abandonment and termination of all parental rights is documented by the orphan court, the child becomes eligible for adoption.
  • Relinquishment:  The relinquishment or release of the child by the parent to a third party for custodial care in anticipation of, or preparation for, adoption is not allowed by Latvian laws.  Local law, however, allows biological parents to appoint another person legal guardian of their child(ren) or, with orphan court involvement, place their child(ren) in an orphanage or a foster family.  Both the appointed legal guardian(s) and foster parent(s) subsequently may acquire the right to apply for adoption of the child(ren) in their care. 
  • Age of Adoptive Child:  Latvia will approve applications for intercountry adoption only if the prospective adoptive parents file to adopt a sibling group of three or more children below the age of 18; a single child over age 9; a child(ren) below the age of 18 with severe health problems; child(ren) below the age of 18 listed in the web site of Latvia’s Central Authority as released for intercountry adoption because he or she has not been adopted by Latvians; or any adoptable child regardless of child’s age or health condition if at least one of potential adoptive parents is a Latvian citizen or holds Latvian non-citizen resident (alien) status.  Local adoption law requires that the adoption is finalized before the child’s 18th birthday.

Please note that in order for a child to meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)).  Please note the special rules and instructions on filing dates for children aged 15-16 or siblings aged 17-18). 

  • Sibling Adoptions:  Latvia will approve applications for intercountry adoption if the prospective adoptive parents file to adopt a sibling group of three or more children.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions:  Latvia will approve applications for intercountry adoption if the prospective adoptive parents specify in their adoption application that they are open to adopt child(ren) with severe health problems.  Children with special needs or medical conditions who are released for intercountry adoption are listed in the publicly available web site of Latvia’s Central Authority
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care:  Latvia’s Central Authority will review your adoption application within three business days.  To establish that child-parent relationship has developed and to ascertain that the adoption is in the best interests of the child(ren), orphan courts require that prospective adoptive parents share a household with their potential adoptive child(ren) in Latvia for a period of up to six months.  The time needed to complete an adoption in Latvia from beginning to end varies and may take about one year.
  • Other:  None

Caution:  Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are eligible for adoption.  In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible.  In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).

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How to Adopt

Warning:  Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Latvia before:  1) USCIS has approved your Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, 2) USCIS has provisionally approved your Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, and 3) a U.S. consular officer has issued an “Article 5/17 Letter” in the case.  Read on for more information.

Latvia’s Central Adoption Authority

Ministry of Welfare

Note: Special transition provisions may apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Transition Cases.

The Process

Because Latvia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Latvia must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements.  A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is provided below.  You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements.  Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

 

1: Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider that Has Bee Authorized by Latvia's Central Authority to Operate in Latvia

 

  • The first step in adopting a child from Latvia is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases and that has been authorized by the Government of Latvia.  A primary provider must be identified in each Convention case and only accredited or approved adoption service providers may act as the primary provider in your case.  Your primary adoption service provider is responsible for:
    • Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided consistent with applicable laws and regulations.
    • Supervising and being responsible for supervised providers where used (see 22 CFR 96.14); and
    • Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44.
    • Learn more about Agency Accreditation
  • You must select an accredited or approved U.S. adoption service provider that is authorized by the Republic of Latvia.  A list of the providers that have received Latvian authorization is posted on the U.S. Embassy’s website https://lv.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/adoption/accredited-adoption-service-providers/.
  • Note to adoption service providers seeking authorization by the Latvian Central Authority: 
  • Adoption service providers seeking authorization to provide adoption services in Latvia should apply directly to the Ministry of Welfare by submitting a request in the form of a letter with reference to Article 12 of the Hague Adoption Convention.  The letter should be accompanied by the Convention member state country’s Certificate of Accreditation. A copy of the adoption service provider’s license and evaluation documentation should be attached to the letter.  The application letter should certify that the adoption service provider is aware that Latvia restricts the categories of children available for intercountry adoption (see above Hague Convention Information) and specify whether the adoption service provider seeks to assist in all types of cases or just one. If required by the Ministry of Welfare, applying adoption service providers should also submit letter of verification of accreditation/approval by U.S. State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues.

 

2: Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt  

 

  • Before the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA), adoption service providers in intercountry adoption were exclusively regulated by state law.
  • State licensing authorities in the 50 states have different standards; some have few specific standards governing intercountry adoptions, especially relating to agencies’ conduct abroad.
  • Many state licensing authorities have been unable to hold service providers accountable for illicit practices in intercountry adoption cases.  State laws may not apply to the activities of licensed agencies outside the United States, and states often lack the resources to investigate and take action against agencies involved in such cases.
  • The UAA provides for uniform standards and accountability for service provider conduct regardless of whether the case falls under the Hague Adoption Convention or under the orphan process.

 

3: Apply to Latvia’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child

 

  • Submit Your Dossier to the Central Authority 
  • After USCIS determines that you are suitable and eligible to adopt and approves the Form I-800A application, your adoption service provider will file your Latvian adoption application with the adoption authority in Latvia. In Latvia, your dossier must include your adoption application as well.  Latvia’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under Latvia’s law.  Required documents for the adoption application include:
    • Application, including information about the reasons for adoption as well as information about the sex, age range, and religion of the child (or children) they are interested in adopting;
    • A copy of the parents’ marriage certificate, if applicable, notarized and then authenticated with an Apostille (please see information below about the authentication of documents);
    • A copy of any divorce decree (if applicable) notarized and then authenticated with an Apostille;
    • A statement about the family’s housing (i.e. size, location, type of residence);
    • An autobiography (or curriculum vitae) for each parent;
    • Medical statements regarding the health of the family (hereditary illnesses, if any, and any specific illnesses) for prospective adoptive parents and for each adult household member;
    • A home study, notarized and then authenticated with an Apostille, conducted by a U.S. state adoption agency or a private organization licensed to perform such studies.  Home studies must be current in order for the adoption application to be considered.  Home study updates should be forwarded to the Ministry for applications to remain valid;
    • A police background check for prospective adoptive parents and for each adult household member that has been notarized and then authenticated with an Apostille.
  • Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority 
  • If both the United States and Latvia determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and Latvia’s Central Authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Central Authority for Convention adoptions in Latvia may provide you with a referral for a child.  The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of the child.  The adoption authority in Latvia will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not.  We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for, a specific child.  Learn more about Health Considerations.  If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the central authority in Latvia.  Learn more about this critical decision
  • After receiving and accepting a match, the orphan courts in Latvia require the prospective adoptive parents to personally meet the child and establish a parent-child relationship.  There is a required initial in-country phase of pre-adoption care that may be anywhere from three weeks to two months, though by law the court may require a pre-adoption care period of up to six months.  If, after the initial pre-adoption care term, the orphan court concludes that there is a potential for a parent-child relationship and that the adoption is in the best interest of the child, the court will issue temporary custody decisions that allow the adoption to continue. 
  • At the request of prospective adoptive parents, the Latvian orphan court may permit the prospective adoptive parents to travel with the child to the United States for a limited visitation period prior to the finalization of the adoption.  The duration of the visitation period is dictated by the Latvian orphan court.  Prospective adoptive parents that are granted pre-adoption visitation periods in the United States may apply for a B-2 visitor visa for the child and must present the custody order from the orphan court in support of this application.  The B-2 visitor visa is not an immigrant visa and its validity is only valid for the duration of the court-authorized visitation period.  Prospective adoptive parents must still complete the following steps in order to complete the adoption.  Failure to return to Latvia to complete the Convention adoption process and immigrant visa process would have serious implications on your child's immigration status in the United States, and may restrict your child's ability to obtain lawful permanent status in the United States.

 

4: Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

 

  • Submit a Petition for a Determination on the Child’s Immigration Eligibility 
  • After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States through the Form I-800 Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative.  USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child appears to meet the definition of a Convention adoptee and will likely be eligible to enter and reside in the United States.
  • For Latvian cases, you should file the Form I-800 only after the required initial pre-adoption care period in Latvia is concluded and the orphan court allows the adoption process to continue.  If the Latvian orphan court has granted authorization for a pre-adoption visitation period in the United States, you may file the Form I-800 during this visitation.
  • Submit an Immigrant Visa Application 
  • After provisional approval of Form I-800, the U.S. Embassy in Latvia will request that your adoption service provider submit an immigrant visa application to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Riga responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Latvia. 
  • Click here for an immigrant visa application document checklist:  https://lv.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/adoption/adoption-based-immigrant-visa-applicants/.
  • Please ensure that your adoption service provider has the listed pre-adoption documents readily available for presentation to the U.S. Embassy. 
  • You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number.  Use this information to log into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to file the Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) for your child.  An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name.  Answer every item on the form.  If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block.  Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form. 
  • A consular officer will review the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and the visa application and, if applicable, advise you of options for the waiver of any ineligibilities related to the visa application.
  • The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5/17 Letter”) to Latvia’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Latvia if all Convention requirements are met and the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States.  This letter will inform the Latvia’s Central Authority that the parents are suitable and eligible to adopt, that the child appears eligible to enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.
  • Warning:  Do not attempt to adopt [or obtain custody] of a child in Latvia before you receive provisional approval of your Form I-800 petition AND a U.S. consular officer issues the “Article 5/17 Letter” for your adoption case.
  • Remember:  The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

 

5: Adopt the Child in Latvia 

 

  • Remember:  Before you adopt a child in Latvia, you must have completed the above four steps.  Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption.
  • After you receive your Article 5 letter from the U.S. Embassy in Riga, you, or your adoption service provider on your behalf, will request a hearing date from the Latvian court for approval of the adoption.  If you were granted authorization for a visitation period in the United States with the child, at least one of the prospective adoptive parents and the child must return to Latvia for the approval hearing. In some cases, the courts may waive the requirement for child’s personal appearance at the court. Your adoption service provider will help you to establish the court requirements regarding personal appearance that tend to be case specific. If the court approves the adoption, the decree becomes effective only after 20 days have passed. 
  • The process for finalizing the adoption in Latvia generally includes the following:
    • Role of Adoption Authority:  The Ministry of Welfare is responsible for administering intercountry adoption.  The Ministry prepares an adoption approval (or rejection) statement (or Article 17 letter) for submission to the town or city court responsible for the final adoption decree.  The Ministry’s adoption permission is valid for three months.  After the adoption decree becomes effective, the Ministry of Welfare issues a statement certifying that the adoption has been completed in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention (Article 23 Certificate).
    • Role of the Court:  The main purpose of the Latvian orphan court session is to establish that the adoption will be in the child’s best interests and that the required personal relationship between the parent(s) and child has been established.  Orphan courts decide whether the birth parents’ rights should be terminated; whether an orphan should be placed in an orphanage or whether someone else may be granted custody; and issues related to inheritance rights when a child’s parents die.  Town or city courts approve adoptions by granting full custody of the child to the adoptive parents.  Current law provides for a 20-day period before the final court decree takes effect.  Thus, the adoptive child is eligible to apply for a post-adoption birth certificate, passport, and immigrant visa only after the court decree becomes effective.  
    • Role of Adoption Agencies:  Adoption agencies are allowed to represent parents and may do the required translations and file adoption applications at the Ministry.  Under current law, however, the adoptive parents are required to personally file applications at orphan courts and participate in the orphan court and final court sessions.
    • Time Frame:  Intercountry adoptions in Latvia take approximately one year to complete. 
    • Adoption Fees:  There are no Latvian government fees for adoption services apart from those described below.  Prospective adoptive parents, however, should be prepared to cover fees related to the translation and certification of documents and the processing of new civil and travel documents for the adopted child.  These costs are determined by the government of Latvia and are subject to change.
    • We encourage prospective adoptive parents to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either directly or through your U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to the Convention, U.S. law, or the law of Latvia with your adoption service provider, and when, appropriate, through the Hague Complaint Registry.  For more information in this regard, please refer to information concerning the Hague Complaint Registry.  Improper payments may have the appearance of buying a child, violate applicable law, and could put all future adoptions in Latvia at risk.  The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Further, the IAA makes certain actions relating to intercountry adoptions unlawful, and subject to civil and criminal penalties.  These include offering, giving, soliciting, or accepting inducement intended to influence or affect the relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing functions as a competent authority; or engaging another person as an agent to take any such action.
    • In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
  • Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from Latvia include: 
    • 28.46 euros (about $29.00) for expedited Latvian passport processing fee per person;
    • Fourteen (14.00) euros (about $14.00) for local document Apostille certification by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (see below section on Authentication of Documents);
    • Forty-five (45.00) euros (about $47.00) for court application fee;
    • Eight (8.00) euros (about $8.00) for the court hearing fee;
    • Five (5.00) euros (about $5.00) for copy of court ruling certified by the relevant court;
    • Ten (10.00) euros (about $10.00) for acquiring a Latvian police report in English for adoptive children who have reached their 16th birthday;
    • Translation and notary costs differ from a case to case depending on the volume of documentation
    • See below paragraph 6 on “Panel Physician’s” medical report and the related costs.
  • Documents Required: Please see above for documents required to be submitted with a Latvian adoption application.
  • Note:  Additional documents may be requested.
  • Authentication of Documents:  Please note that Latvia requires document certification authenticated with an Apostille for documents originating in the United States.  Click here for more information on this process:

 

6: Obtain a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

 

  • Now that your adoption is complete [or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States], there are a few more steps to take before your child can head home.  Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
  • Birth Certificate
  • If you have finalized the adoption in Latvia, you will first need to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.
  • The local representative of your Latvia-accredited adoption services provider will assist you with filing an application for your child’s post-adoption birth certificate with Civil Registry of the Ministry of Justice.  If the court approving your adoption application authorized the child’s name change, the post-adoption birth certificate will list the child’s new name in Latvian and English and you will be listed as child’s parent(s).
  • Latvia Passport
  • Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Latvia.
  • The local representative of your Latvia-authorized adoption services provider will assist you with filing an application for your child’s post-adoption passport with the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs of the Ministry of Interior.  To ensure that your travel plans are not delayed you may request expeditious two-day passport processing at the cost of 28.46 euros (about $29.00) per person.
  • U.S. Immigrant Visa
  • After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Riga.  After the adoption is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for a final review of the case, and if applicable, the issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, the final approval of the Form I-800 petition, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa.  This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child.  Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Riga by email at adoptions-riga@state.gov  to schedule your child’s immigrant visa appointment.  As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer with the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if you did not provide it during the provisional approval stage.  Read more about the Medical Examination.
  • Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please be sure to complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC).  If you filed a Form I-800 petition in the United States, you should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number.  You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child.  An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name.  Answer every item on the form.  If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block.  Print and bring the DS-260 form confirmation page to the visa interview.  Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.
  • Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes 1-2 business days.  The U.S. Embassy in Riga is unable to facilitate visa processing on the same day as the immigrant visa interview.  Adoptive parents should plan at least two business days for visa processing by the U.S. Embassy in Riga before making final travel arrangements.
  • Child Citizenship Act
  • For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States:  An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including the child is under the age of eighteen.
  • For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States:  You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s entry into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship. 
  • Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000
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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport

U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child has acquired U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for any international travel. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Department of State’s Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Latvia

In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa to travel abroad. Where required, visas are affixed to a traveler’s passport and allow him or her to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Latvia, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip

Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Latvia, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

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After Adoption

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements

If the adoptive parents and the child continue to reside in Latvia, the orphan court having jurisdiction over the child’s place of residence will monitor the adopted child’s well-being for the first two years after the adoption's finalization.

If the adoptive parents and the child reside outside Latvia, the Ministry requires post-adoption reports on the adopted child for two years after the adoption (one per year).  The first post-adoption report shall be submitted to the Ministry one year after the date the adoption became effective. The second post-adoption report shall be submitted to the Ministry two years after the date the adoption became effective. The reports should be conducted by appropriate child welfare officials in the state where the child resides. 

We urge you to comply with Latvia’s post-adoption/post-placement requirements in a timely manner.  Your adoption service provider may be able to help you with this process.  Your cooperation will contribute to that Latvia’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Resources

Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin.  

You may wish to take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a website, the Child Welfare Information Gateway, which can be a useful resource to get you started on your support group search:

Note:  Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of content.

Complaints

If you have concerns about your intercountry adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Riga, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Department of States takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously.  Our Adoption Comment Page provides several points of contact for adoptive families to comment on their adoption service provider, their experience applying for their child’s visa, or about the Form I-800 petition process.

The Hague Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers. If you think your provider's conduct may not have been in substantial compliance with accreditation standards, first submit your complaint in writing directly to your provider. If the complaint is not resolved through the provider's complaint process, you may file the complaint through the Hague Complaint Registry

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Latvia
1 Samnera Velsa St.
Riga, LV-1510
Tel:  371-6710-7034; 371-6710-7000
Fax:  371-6710-7001
Email:  adoptions-riga@state.gov
Internet:  https://lv.usembassy.gov/embassy/riga/

Latvian Adoption Authority
Children and Family Policy Department
Ministry of Welfare
28 Skolas St., Riga, Latvia, LV-1331
Tel:  371-6702-1600
Fax:  371-6727-6445
Email:  lm@lm.gov.lv
Internet:  http://www.lm.gov.lv

Embassy of Latvia
2306 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel:  202-328-2840
Fax:  202-328-2860
Email:  embassy.usa@mfa.gov.lv
Internet:  http://www.latvia-usa.org/

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C.  20522-1709
Email:  Adoption@state.gov
Internet:  adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet:  uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or I-800 petition:

USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel:  1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email:  NBC.Hague@uscis.dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-2A None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-2B None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-2R None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 24 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 24 Months
L-2 None Multiple 24 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 10 None Multiple 60 Months
O-1 None Multiple 24 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 24 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 24 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 24 Months
R-2 None Multiple 24 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

General Document Information:

Applicants may only obtain their personal Latvian civil documents, including police and court records (parents or legal guardians act on their children's behalf). If applicants are unable to personally appear they may authorize a third party to act on their behalf by issuing a notary-certified power of attorney. An Apostille issued by a Secretary of State is required for a U.S.-issued power of attorney to be accepted as a legal document in Latvia.

Documents should be requested directly from the issuing authority; however, applicants residing abroad may also contact the nearest Latvian diplomatic and consular mission for assistance to obtain documents from Latvia, i.e., civil records, police, court, and military records. Most government authorities have the legal authority to accept document requests and issue them electronically. For U.S. visa purposes, hard copies of documents must be submitted with original signatures and seals. An Apostille must be obtained from the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia for any documents issued by Latvian authorities that will be used in the United States for other than nonimmigrant and immigrant visa application purposes.

Latvian residents who require documents from other countries should check the applicable reciprocity information on availability of the documents from a particular country. They may also seek assistance on requesting documents from abroad from the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia (a service charge is requested).

General Issuing Government Authority Information:

Each type of document is issued by a respective Latvian government authority that has its set standards on how the documents are prepared. List of issuing authorities and other relevant information is provided below.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

Available: YES

Fees: Current fee is 1.42 euros (approx. $2) for requesting a duplicate certificate. The initial death registration is a no-fee service. Note that this information is subject to change based on local legislation.

Document Name: DZIMŠANAS APLIECĪBA  (title of the document normally is provided both in Russian and Latvian if issued during the Soviet Era).

Issuing Government Authority: Civil records before December 31, 1914 are available from the Latvian State Historical Archives.

Civil records from January 1, 1915 to April 30, 1921 are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv). Note: Until 1921, only churches registered birth of a child; therefore, one must know the name of the church when requesting data.

Civil records from May 1, 1921 to December 31, 2012:

o    for Riga city and Riga region are available from the Riga City Civil Register Office (86 Brivibas St., Riga, LV-1010, Latvia; tel.: +371-67181261);

o    for other Latvian cities and regions records are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv).

Civil records from 2013 are available from the nearest Civil Register Office or the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice.

If abroad, one may contact the nearest Latvian diplomatic mission for assistance on obtaining civil records.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Style and format of birth certificates has changed over years. Currently, birth certificates (both initial and duplicates) are printed on A4 size 100g/m2 paper. The Latvian national Coat of Arms is printed at the top of the page in full color print. The ornamental frame along the edge of the certificate is printed in the auseklis [regular octagram] pattern in green. The background pattern is printed in a light color, and the large national Coat of Arms is lightly printed in the center.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Head of Civil Register Office.

Registration Criteria: Birth registration occurs on the bases of a referral from a medical facility where the child was born and information provided by parents. The name of the father of a child born out-of-wedlock is registered on the bases of an application signed by both parents of a child acknowledging paternity.

Procedure for Obtaining: Parents of a child must appear personally and present their passports, marriage certificate, if applicable, and referral from the medical facility. Third parties may represent child's parents if they have a notary certified power of attorney.

Similarly, duplicates of birth certificates may be obtained personally by a subject of the record (parents apply on behalf of their minor children) or by their representative who is in possession of a valid power of attorney.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original document may be prepared by a sworn notary. However, it is recommended to obtain duplicate certificates instead.

Alternate Documents: Civil Register Offices issue also birth registration statements upon request. It is a for-fee service.

A Birth Note (in Latvian - DZIMŠANAS ZIME) is a document that was issued in addition to a birth certificate until 2005. Birth notes verify the fact of birth, but exclude information about parents.

Comments: Starting 2013, when the Civil Register office receives an application for a duplicate birth certificate, they obtain current biographic data on the child and his/her parents from the Population Register of Latvia. The duplicate certificate will list the most current (not historical) name and surname of the child and his/her parents as available in the Population Register.

Along with their duplicate birth certificate or later, applicants may request from a Civil Register office a detail reference with information on historical data and all name changes for all subjects of the record.

Note that name changes approved by the Latvian authorities are included in the Register automatically. The Population Register is updated for new information also based on data people provide when applying to renew their Latvian passports.Otherwise, if the subject no longer is a Latvian passport holder, information about a name change approved abroad may be missing in the Population Register. Some Latvian passport holders fail to comply with the requirement to report their name change in timely manner or at all if they are in possession of a foreign official travel document or photo ID.

Death Certificates

Available: YES

Fees: Current fee is 1.42 euros (approx. $2) for requesting a duplicate certificate. The initial death registration is a no-fee service. Note that this information is subject to change based on local legislation.

Document Name: MIRŠANAS APLIECĪBA (title of the document normally is provided both in Russian and Latvian if issued during the Soviet Era).

Issuing Government Authority: Civil records before December 31, 1914 are available from the Latvian State Historical Archives.

Civil records from January 1, 1915 to April 30, 1921 are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv). Note: Until 1921, only churches registered birth of a child; therefore, one must know the name of the church when requesting data.

Civil records from May 1, 1921 to December 31, 2012:

o    for Riga city and Riga region are available from the Riga City Civil Register Office (86 Brivibas St., Riga, LV-1010, Latvia; tel.: +371-67181261);

o    for other Latvian cities and regions records are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv).

Civil records from 2013 are available from the nearest Civil Register Office or the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice.

If abroad, one may contact the nearest Latvian diplomatic mission for assistance on obtaining civil records.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Style and format of death certificates has changed over years. Currently, death certificates (both initial and duplicates) are printed on A4 size 100g/m2 paper. The Latvian national Coat of Arms is printed at the top of the page in full color print. The ornamental frame along the edge of a certificate is printed in the auseklis [regular octagram] pattern in black. The background pattern is printed in a light color, and the large national Coat of Arms is printed in the centre, in a light color.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Head of Civil Register Office.

Registration Criteria: Death registration occurs on the grounds of a referral from a physician verifying the fact of death and information received from the person applying for the death certificate.

Procedure for Obtaining: Deceased person's relatives may apply for and received a death certificate or it's duplicate. Third parties may represent such relatives if they have a notary certified power of attorney.

Duplicates of death certificates may also be issued to applicants who prove legal necessity to have them.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original document may be prepared by a sworn notary. However, it is recommended to obtain duplicate certificates instead.

Alternate Documents: Civil Register Offices issue also death registration statements upon request. It is a for-fee service.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

Available: YES

Fees: Current fee is 1.42 euros (approx. $2) for requesting a duplicate certificate. The initial death registration is a no-fee service. Note that this information is subject to change based on local legislation.

Document Name: LAULĪBAS APLIECĪBA  (title of the document normally is provided both in Russian and Latvian if issued during the Soviet Era).

Issuing Government Authority: Civil records before December 31, 1914 are available from the Latvian State Historical Archives.

Civil records from January 1, 1915 to April 30, 1921 are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv). Note: Until 1921, only churches registered birth of a child; therefore, one must know the name of the church when requesting data.

Civil records from May 1, 1921 to December 31, 2012:

o    for Riga city and Riga region are available from the Riga City Civil Register Office (86 Brivibas St., Riga, LV-1010, Latvia; tel.: +371-67181261);

o    for other Latvian cities and regions records are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv).

Civil records from 2013 are available from the nearest Civil Register Office or the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice.

If abroad, one may contact the nearest Latvian diplomatic mission for assistance on obtaining civil records.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Style and format of marriage certificates has changed over years. Currently, marriage certificates (both initial and duplicates) are printed on A4 size 100g/m2 paper. The Latvian national Coat of Arms is printed at the top of the page in full color print. The ornamental frame along the edge of a certificate is printed in the auseklis [regular octagram] pattern in red. The background pattern is printed in a light color, and the large national Coat of Arms is printed in the centre, in a light color.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Head of a Civil Register Office or a church official.

Registration Criteria: Marriage ceremony. Under Latvian law, marriage is permitted between two individuals who are at least 18 years old (or at least 16 years old if authorization from parents or orphan court granted), and at least one of them must be a Latvian passport holder or a Latvian permanent resident. Same sex marriages are forbidden under Latvian law.

Procedure for Obtaining: Marriage may be concluded only when both parties are present. Marriage certificate is issued at the end of marriage registration ceremony.

Duplicates of marriage certificates may be obtained personally by the subjects of the record or by their representative who is in possession of a valid power of attorney. Duplicate certificates may be issued only if the marriage is still effective and has not been annulled or otherwise dissolved.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original document may be prepared by a sworn notary or applicants may obtain duplicate certificates from the issuing authorities.

Alternate Documents: Civil Register Offices issue also marriage registration statements upon request. It is a for-fee service.

Comments: Starting 2013, when the Civil Register office receives an application for a duplicate marriage certificate, they obtain current biographic data on both spouses from the Population Register of Latvia. If at the time of application for a duplicate marriage certificate one or both spouses have acquired new names, the duplicate marriage certificate will list them as their names after marriage.

Along with their duplicate marriage certificate or later, applicants may request from the Civil Register office a detail reference on the marriage record with information on historical data and name changes for both subjects of the record.

Divorce Certificates

Available: One may be in possession of a divorce certificate issued at the time of marriage dissolution if:

  1. the marriage was dissolved by a sworn notary (on February, 1 2011 or later. Sworn notaries were granted rights to dissolve marriages as of February 1, 2011), or
  2. a court decision on marriage dissolution became effective before September 1, 1993.

After September 1, 1993, the final document on marriage dissolution is a court decision.

Duplicate certificates are not available. See information below on alternate documents.

Document Name: LAULĪBAS ŠKIRŠANAS APLIECĪBA  (title of the document normally is provided both in Russian and Latvian if issued during the Soviet Era).

Issuing Government Authority: Sworn notaries in Latvia issue divorce certificates since 01-Feb-2011 on marriages dissolved by them.

Local Civil Register Offices issued divorce certificates until September 1994 on divorces approved by courts where court decisions became effective before September 1, 1993. Filing for a divorce certificate was mandatory to finalize the divorce.

For marriages dissolved in court after September 1, 1993, the court decision is a final document proving the divorce.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Documents prepared by sworn notaries are printed on A4 size white paper. The document contains a seal of a notary. Each notary has their own seal. It is round and in red color. It has a complemented Coat of Arms of the Republic of Latvia (as defined by the Latvian Coat of Arms Law) in the center and includes also the sworn notary's full name, title, name of court in jurisdiction of which the notary operates, and their place of service.

Divorce certificates issued by Civil Register Offices until September 1994 were printed on A5 size ivory color paper with an ornamental frame along the edge of a certificate. It contained a blue-color round seal of the issuing Civil Register Office.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Sworn notary on certificates issued by them; Head of a Civil Register Office on certificates issued by theses offices.

Registration Criteria: Notaries in Latvia may dissolve marriages since February 1, 2011 when no disputes regarding custody of children or property exist between the spouses.

Otherwise, only a court may approve a divorce. Before September 1, 1993, spouses had to take an additional step to finalize their divorce and apply for a divorce certificate with a Civil Register Office after a court had approved their divorce.

Procedure for Obtaining: Duplicate certificates are not available. See information below on alternate documents.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original document may be prepared by a sworn notary or applicants may obtain duplicate certificates from the issuing authorities.

Alternate Documents: Transcripts (in Latvian - NORAKSTS) of divorce certificates issued by notaries may be obtained from that same office personally by subjects of the record or their representative who is in possession of a valid power of attorney. A fee applies. The amount of fee is based on the number of pages in the divorce certificate. On average, the fee is about 14.23 euros (approx. $20) per transcript.

The Civil Register Offices maintain data in the marriage register. Courts and sworn notaries forward information about approved divorces to respective Civil Register Offices where marriages were originally concluded. The data are included in the marriage register, and later subjects of the records or their legal representatives may apply for marriage/divorce statements from the marriage register. Fee for this service is 4.27 euros (approx. $6).

Marriage Certificates

Available: YES

Fees: Current fee is 1.42 euros (approx. $2) for requesting a duplicate certificate. The initial death registration is a no-fee service. Note that this information is subject to change based on local legislation.

Document Name: LAULĪBAS APLIECĪBA  (title of the document normally is provided both in Russian and Latvian if issued during the Soviet Era).

Issuing Government Authority: Civil records before December 31, 1914 are available from the Latvian State Historical Archives.

Civil records from January 1, 1915 to April 30, 1921 are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv). Note: Until 1921, only churches registered birth of a child; therefore, one must know the name of the church when requesting data.

Civil records from May 1, 1921 to December 31, 2012:

o    for Riga city and Riga region are available from the Riga City Civil Register Office (86 Brivibas St., Riga, LV-1010, Latvia; tel.: +371-67181261);

o    for other Latvian cities and regions records are available from the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice (38a Aleksandra Caka St., Riga, LV-1011, Latvia; tel.: +371-67830677, +371-67830673; e-mail: dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv).

Civil records from 2013 are available from the nearest Civil Register Office or the Archive of the Civil Register Department of the Ministry of Justice.

If abroad, one may contact the nearest Latvian diplomatic mission for assistance on obtaining civil records.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Style and format of marriage certificates has changed over years. Currently, marriage certificates (both initial and duplicates) are printed on A4 size 100g/m2 paper. The Latvian national Coat of Arms is printed at the top of the page in full color print. The ornamental frame along the edge of a certificate is printed in the auseklis [regular octagram] pattern in red. The background pattern is printed in a light color, and the large national Coat of Arms is printed in the centre, in a light color.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Head of a Civil Register Office or a church official.

Registration Criteria: Marriage ceremony. Under Latvian law, marriage is permitted between two individuals who are at least 18 years old (or at least 16 years old if authorization from parents or orphan court granted), and at least one of them must be a Latvian passport holder or a Latvian permanent resident. Same sex marriages are forbidden under Latvian law.

Procedure for Obtaining: Marriage may be concluded only when both parties are present. Marriage certificate is issued at the end of marriage registration ceremony.

Duplicates of marriage certificates may be obtained personally by the subjects of the record or by their representative who is in possession of a valid power of attorney. Duplicate certificates may be issued only if the marriage is still effective and has not been annulled or otherwise dissolved.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original document may be prepared by a sworn notary or applicants may obtain duplicate certificates from the issuing authorities.

Alternate Documents: Civil Register Offices issue also marriage registration statements upon request. It is a for-fee service.

Comments: Starting 2013, when the Civil Register office receives an application for a duplicate marriage certificate, they obtain current biographic data on both spouses from the Population Register of Latvia. If at the time of application for a duplicate marriage certificate one or both spouses have acquired new names, the duplicate marriage certificate will list them as their names after marriage.

Along with their duplicate marriage certificate or later, applicants may request from the Civil Register office a detail reference on the marriage record with information on historical data and name changes for both subjects of the record.

Divorce Certificates

Available: One may be in possession of a divorce certificate issued at the time of marriage dissolution if:

  1. the marriage was dissolved by a sworn notary (on February, 1 2011 or later. Sworn notaries were granted rights to dissolve marriages as of February 1, 2011), or
  2. a court decision on marriage dissolution became effective before September 1, 1993.

After September 1, 1993, the final document on marriage dissolution is a court decision.

Duplicate certificates are not available. See information below on alternate documents.

Document Name: LAULĪBAS ŠKIRŠANAS APLIECĪBA  (title of the document normally is provided both in Russian and Latvian if issued during the Soviet Era).

Issuing Government Authority: Sworn notaries in Latvia issue divorce certificates since 01-Feb-2011 on marriages dissolved by them.

Local Civil Register Offices issued divorce certificates until September 1994 on divorces approved by courts where court decisions became effective before September 1, 1993. Filing for a divorce certificate was mandatory to finalize the divorce.

For marriages dissolved in court after September 1, 1993, the court decision is a final document proving the divorce.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Documents prepared by sworn notaries are printed on A4 size white paper. The document contains a seal of a notary. Each notary has their own seal. It is round and in red color. It has a complemented Coat of Arms of the Republic of Latvia (as defined by the Latvian Coat of Arms Law) in the center and includes also the sworn notary's full name, title, name of court in jurisdiction of which the notary operates, and their place of service.

Divorce certificates issued by Civil Register Offices until September 1994 were printed on A5 size ivory color paper with an ornamental frame along the edge of a certificate. It contained a blue-color round seal of the issuing Civil Register Office.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Sworn notary on certificates issued by them; Head of a Civil Register Office on certificates issued by theses offices.

Registration Criteria: Notaries in Latvia may dissolve marriages since February 1, 2011 when no disputes regarding custody of children or property exist between the spouses.

Otherwise, only a court may approve a divorce. Before September 1, 1993, spouses had to take an additional step to finalize their divorce and apply for a divorce certificate with a Civil Register Office after a court had approved their divorce.

Procedure for Obtaining: Duplicate certificates are not available. See information below on alternate documents.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original document may be prepared by a sworn notary or applicants may obtain duplicate certificates from the issuing authorities.

Alternate Documents: Transcripts (in Latvian - NORAKSTS) of divorce certificates issued by notaries may be obtained from that same office personally by subjects of the record or their representative who is in possession of a valid power of attorney. A fee applies. The amount of fee is based on the number of pages in the divorce certificate. On average, the fee is about 14.23 euros (approx. $20) per transcript.

The Civil Register Offices maintain data in the marriage register. Courts and sworn notaries forward information about approved divorces to respective Civil Register Offices where marriages were originally concluded. The data are included in the marriage register, and later subjects of the records or their legal representatives may apply for marriage/divorce statements from the marriage register. Fee for this service is 4.27 euros (approx. $6).

Adoption Certificates

Available: Courts approve adoptions and a transcript of a court decision serves in lieu of an adoption certificate. The child's birth records are amended to reflect the new maternity and paternity information after a court has approved adoption of a child.

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Identity Card

Available: YES

There are three types of identity cards issued since April 1, 2012:

  • Latvian citizen identity card - it serves as a travel document for the citizens of Latvia to the countries of the European Union, European Economic Zone and Swiss Confederation, and it will serve as a return certificate from third countries in cases of passport loss/theft.
  • Latvian alien's (non-citizen's) identity card - it serves as a return certificate in the countries of the European Union, European Economic Zone, Swiss Confederation and from third countries in cases of passport loss/theft.
  • Residency permit (temporary or permanent) - not a travel document. The permit gives a foreigner the right to reside in the Republic of Latvia for a definite period of time (a temporary residence permit) or permanently (a permanent residence permit). The document is issued for the citizens of third countries, refugees, stateless persons, and persons who have been granted the asylum status according to the Asylum Law.

Fees: 14.23 euros (approx. $20)

Document Name: PERSONAS APLIECĪBA for ID card and UZTURĒŠANĀS ATĻAUJA  for residency permit

Issuing Government Authority: Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs of the Republic of Latvia (OCMA).

Latvian diplomatic and consular missions abroad accept applications for travel documents from Latvian nationals abroad.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: The cards contain a non-touch microchip that provides individual biometric information. Detailed information about all types of Latvian passports and other identity documents and their security features is available on the Council of European Union Public Register of Authentic and Identity Documents Online (PRADO) website.

Procedure for Obtaining: Every Latvian national is mandated to be in possession of a valid Latvian citizen or non-citizen passport and/or national ID card (eID) after reaching the age of 15. Requests must be filed by the applicants in person. Previous Latvian travel document or birth certificate must be presented at the time of making the application.

Minor children are issued Latvian eID cards upon request for international travel purposes. eID card applications for children under 15 are submitted by one of parents. If one parent is not a Latvian citizen or non-citizen or a citizen of another European Union country, but they need/want to apply for their child's eID card, they must be in possession of a valid power of attorney issued by the parent having such nationality. Presence of the child is not required at the time of submitting the eID card application.

OCMA issues initial residency permit cards to people in refugee, asylum, or stateless resident status upon granting such status.

Certified Copies Available: NO

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police/Prison Records

Available: YES

Fees: from 4.27 Euros (approx. $11)

Document Name: CERTIFICATE (issued in English for U.S. visa or immigration benefits purposes).

Issuing Government Authority: Information Center of the Ministry of Interior at 72b Bruninieku St., Riga, LV-1009, Latvia, or Latvian diplomatic and consular missions abroad.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: The Information Center of the Ministry of Interior issues the certificates for U.S. visa purposes in sealed envelopes. The actual certificates are printed on the Information Center letterhead - A4 size ivory color paper with the complemented Latvian Coat of Arms in full color and the Information Center logo at the top of the page. For immigrant visa processing, applicants should only send a copy of the sealed envelope to the National Visa Center and not break the seal to show contents inside. Applicants must bring the original Police Certificate in the sealed envelope to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate at the time of their interview.

Police certificates obtained through Latvian embassies abroad are issued on embassy-specific letterheads, rather than the letterhead used by the Information Center. They don't come in sealed envelopes.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Chief of Information Center or an official of the Latvian diplomatic of consular mission abroad.

Procedure for Obtaining: Subject of the record or their legal representative must apply for the statement in person by filing an application with the Information Center of the Ministry of Interior. The request may be also submitted electronically using e-signature as defined by the Latvian law or though the Latvian e-services portal: www.latvija.lv(available to those having e-signature or using Latvian online banking).

If abroad, one may contact the nearest Latvian diplomatic and consular mission for assistance on obtaining police records.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original document may be prepared by a sworn notary.

Comments: At the time of submitting a request for a Latvian police certificate, one MUST indicate that it is required for U.S. visa purposes. We recommend using the application form available in this link for ensuring the correct type of police certificate is requested and received.

Under Latvian law, almost all records are routinely expunged after several years. Subsequently, ex-offenders are not normally obliged to indicate their convictions, for example, when applying for a job or when involved in criminal or civil proceedings. The expunged records remain in the Punishment Register and are available if the person specifically authorizes disclosure of the entire record. The police certificates issued for U.S. visa purposes contain the entire record (including convictions that are considered expunged). Note: The Punishment Register contains complete information on criminal offences committed in the territory of Latvia both before and after 1991 when Latvia declared independence.

Court Records

Available: YES

Fees: Fees apply per number of pages in the requested duplicate transcripts.

Document Name: SPRIEDUMS LATVIJAS REPUBLIKAS VARDĀ.

Issuing Government Authority: Courts of the Republic of Latvia or the Latvian State Historical Archives

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Printed on A4 size white paper. The black and white full Coat of Arms of Latvia is printed at the top of the first page. Furthermore, in the upper right corner word NORAKSTS [transcript] is stamped or printed. All pages are numbered and stringed together. The court seal, total number of pages, and signature of the judge is on the last page of the document.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Judge or the archives official

Procedure for Obtaining: Subjects of the record or their legal representatives must apply for court records in person.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original transcript may be prepared by a sworn notary.

Comments: Court decisions in Latvia are gradually made available for accessing online at http://www.tiesas.lv/tiesu-nolemumi (in Latvian only). Personally identifying information is removed when information is accessed by public. Full transcript is/will be available only to the subjects of the record or their legal representatives.

Military Records

Available: YES

Fees: fees apply and vary per type of document request and issuing agency

Document Name: varies depending on the issuing agency

Issuing Government Authority: Records on Latvian citizens who retired from the National Armed Forces of the Republic of Latvia (NAF) after January 1, 2007 are available from the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Latvia (10/12 Krisjana Valdemara St., Riga, LV-1473, Latvia; tel. +371-67335123);

Other records on military service with NAF are available from the State Archives of Latvia (1 Bezdeligu St., Riga LV-1048, Latvia; tel.: +371-67462317; email: lva@arhivi.gov.lv) or its regional branches.

Military service in Soviet Army was recorded in military books (voyenniy bilet) which contain information on the length of service and circumstances of discharge. Often people have these books available for presenting. If unavailable, records about military service in the Soviet Army may be available from the Central Archives of the Ministry of Defense of Russian Federation (74 Kirova St., Podolsk, Moscow Oblast, Russia, 142100). Latvian permanent residents may contact the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia for assistance requesting documents from abroad.

Registration Criteria: Genuine military service

Procedure for Obtaining: Subject of the record or their legal representative must apply for their records as instructed by a respective agency listed above.

Certified Copies Available: A copy of the original transcript may be prepared by a sworn notary.

Alternate Documents: Military service in Soviet Army was recorded in military books. Often people have these books available for presenting.

Comments: 12 months military service was obligatory until December 31, 2006 for all men, Latvian citizens, between the age of 19 and 27. However, the law provided a number of exceptions, for example, for people with health problems, under criminal proceedings, students enrolled in universities, or having families with at least two small children.

Latvian non-citizens (a.k.a. Latvian alien's passport holders) were not subject to the obligatory military service. They are not eligible to serve in the National Armed Forces of the Republic of Latvia.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Types Available (Regular, Diplomatic, Official, etc.):

  • Latvian Citizen Passport (regular)
  • Latvian alien's (non-citizen) passport (regular)
  • Diplomatic passport
  • Service (official) passport
  • Travel Document (Convention 28 September 1954) for stateless people
  • Travel Document (Convention 28 July 1951) for people in refugee status
  • Travel Document - for people granted asylum

Fees: defined by local legislation

Document Name: PASE for passport; CELOŠANAS DOKUMENTS for travel document

Issuing Government Authority: Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs of the Republic of Latvia (OCMA).

Latvian diplomatic and consular missions accept applications for travel documents from Latvian nationals residing abroad.

Latvian diplomatic and service (official) passports are issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia. OCMA performs personalization and recordkeeping of these passports.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Detailed information about all types of Latvian passports and other identity documents and their security features is available on the Council of European Union Public Register of Authentic and Identity Documents Online (PRADO) website.

Latvia issues biometric passports since November 20, 2007. Only biometric Latvian citizen passport holders may be able to travel to the United States visa free.

Latvian citizen or non-citizen passports issued during the below listed time periods had a 50-years validity for people who were at least 60 years old at the time of submitting their passport applications; however, these passports are no longer valid for travel outside the Schengen Zone or U.S. visa purposes:

  • Citizen passports issued between July 1, 2002 and November 19, 2007;
  • Non-citizen (Alien) passports issued between April 10, 1997 and November 19, 2007.

Registration Criteria:

Latvian citizenship

  • Children acquire Latvian citizenship from birth if both parents are Latvian citizens.
  • A child may be granted Latvian citizenship if at least one of the child's parents is a Latvian citizen. Conditions apply.
  • Latvian non-citizen parents of a child may request registering their child as a Latvian citizen if the child is under 15 and born in Latvia.
  • Latvian citizenship may be granted as a result of naturalization.
  • Latvian citizenship may be granted to permanent residents of Latvia having no other citizenship if they have graduated from a Latvian state elementary or secondary school where study language was Latvian.

In accordance with the recent changes in Latvian citizenship law, dual nationality with certain countries may be permitted for Latvian citizens.

Latvian alien (non-citizen) status:

In 1992, the government of Latvia granted special alien (non-citizen) status to a certain category of former USSR citizens. This status allows these citizens to remain in Latvia permanently. This category of permanent residents bears alien's (non-citizen) passports. Children of non-citizens acquire non-citizen status at birth, unless parents apply for citizenship for the child's. Non-citizens account for approximately 13 percent of Latvian population. They exercise many of the same rights as do Latvian citizens. However, they cannot, for vote or travel visa-free to the United States.

Procedure for Obtaining: Every Latvian national is mandated to be in possession of a valid Latvian citizen or non-citizen passport and/or national ID card (eID) after reaching the age of 15. Applications must be made personally and in person. A previous Latvian travel document or birth certificate must be presented upon submitting an application.

Minor children are issued Latvian passports upon request for international travel purposes. Passport applications for children under 15 are submitted by one of parents. If one parent is not a Latvian citizen or non-citizen or a citizen of another European Union country, but they need/want to apply for their child's passport, they must be in possession of a valid power of attorney issued by the parent having such nationality. Presence of the child is not required at the time of submitting the passport application.

OCMA issues initial travel documents to people in refugee, asylum, or stateless resident status upon granting such status.

Alternate Documents:

  • Latvian citizen or alien's (non-citizen's) identity cards.
  • Return certificates are issued by Latvian diplomatic and consular missions abroad for immediate return to Latvia if one's Latvian passport or travel document goes missing or becomes invalid while abroad, and they are not in possession of a Latvian citizen or alien's identity card. The return certificates must be surrendered to OCMA immediately after return to Latvia.

Comments: Latvian passport holders may choose to list their minor children, their ethnic origin, and transliteration of their names in English in their passports.

Latvian non-citizens must be processed as stateless for U.S. visa purposes. Note: until September 2012, U.S. Embassy in Riga issued visas to Latvian non-citizens with the nationality code LATV [for Latvia]. Visas issued with LATV designation prior to September 2012 remain valid until they expire, as long as visa holders retain their Latvian non-citizen status.

Latvian non-citizens are considered Latvian nationals for U.S. Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa purposes. They may be principal E-1/E-2 visa applicants.

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Riga, Latvia (Embassy) -- Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas

1 Samnera Velsa Street, Riga, LV-1510, Latvia

Tel: (371) 6710-7000

Fax: (371) 6710-7001

E-mail: askconsular-riga@state.gov  

Visa Services

All visa categories for all of Latvia.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 328-2881/2882 (202) 328-2860

New York, NY (646) 230-0590 (646) 230-0591

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Riga
Samnera Velsa iela 1 
Riga LV-1510
Latvia
Telephone
+(371) 6710-7000
Emergency
+(371) 6710-7000 or +(371) 2920-5708
Fax
+(371) 6710-7001
Latvia Country Map

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Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.