International Travel

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Country Information

Latvia

Latvia
Republic of Latvia
Exercise normal precautions in Latvia.

Exercise normal precautions in Latvia. 

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Latvia:

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Embassy Messages
Alerts
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

Destination Description

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

  

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.

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.

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.
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.

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.

Last Updated: August 2, 2017
Travel Advisory Levels

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 Map