A successful trip depends on the right planning: Here you can find out what you need to consider when entering Latvia.
To ensure that nothing stands in the way of a trip to Latvia, find out about the entry requirements in advance. Well-informed and with the necessary documents in your pocket, you will explore a country full of surprises. So that there are no nasty surprises when entering and leaving the country, here is an overview of the respective provisions.
Which travel documents are required to enter Latvia?
Citizens of all EU members and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland do not need a visa to enter Latvia. The national identity card or passport is sufficient. You enter the Schengen area without border controls – regardless of whether you are entering Riga by land, ferry or plane.
However, you should always have a valid identity card or passport with you. You can use it to prove your own identity and identify yourself at a security check. Provisional travel documents are also recognized.
The entry requirements for Latvia also grant some non-EU members a visa-free stay of up to 90 days within a period of 180 days. These include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and the Vatican. Outside of Europe, this includes Australia, Brazil, Israel, Japan, Canada and the USA.
A detailed list can be under www.mfa.gov.lv retrieve. A special regulation applies to Turkish nationals. If they have a residence permit in a country belonging to the Schengen area, they only need a valid passport for a stay of up to 90 days. Turkish citizens who do not have a residence permit in the Schengen area must apply for a visa.
Citizens of the following nations must apply for a visa: China, Georgia, Russia and Belarus. A valid passport, copies of the first four passport pages, the completed application form and two biometric passport photos are required. The purpose of the trip must also be documented and evidence provided that the subsistence costs and the return trip can be paid.
Existing foreign health insurance must also be proven. The visa is to be applied for from the respective Latvian representative in the applicant’s country of residence, if necessary also electronically. If you want to stay in Latvia for more than 90 days, you need a special long-term visa or a residence permit. Processing time of up to ten days should be taken into account when processing a visa application.
When entering with children, you should note that a separate ID document is required for each child. An entry in the parents’ passport has not been recognized for several years.
Children under the age of twelve need a child’s passport unless an identity card has been issued. Minors travelling alone must be able to show a travel permit from their parents or guardians who are not present. The latter must be certified by an official body (municipality, police or similar).
What needs to be considered when entering with pets?
The entry regulations for Latvia stipulate that an EU pet passport is required for the entry of dogs, cats and ferrets from EU countries. This must have been issued by authorized veterinarians.
In addition, the animal must have an implanted microchip on the neck and have a valid rabies vaccination. Pets under three months are exempt from vaccination. A health certificate is required for small animals including birds from non-rabies-free countries outside the EU.
It must state that an examination for the presence of antibodies to rabies was carried out three months before entry. In total, no more than five pets can be imported into Latvia.
Which customs regulations should be observed?
As an EU citizen, you are allowed to import goods without restriction if you have not bought them in the duty-free shop, they are for personal use only and should not be sold on.
The following maximum amounts apply to people aged 17 and over: 800 cigarettes, 400 cigarillos, 200 cigars, 1kg tobacco, 10l high-proof alcoholic beverages, 20l intermediate products fortified with alcohol (e.g. port wine, sherry, Campari), 90l wine (of which a maximum of 60l sparkling wine) and 110l Beer.
There are no restrictions on perfumes or Eaux de toilette. Unlimited fuel can be carried if it is in the tank of the vehicle and in addition, a maximum of 10 litres in a reserve can. If the quantities are higher, the reason for this must be mentioned.
When entering from a non-EU country or goods purchased in the duty-free shop, people over the age of 18 may import duty-free into Latvia: when entering by plane, 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; when arriving by ship or by land 40 cigarettes or 20 cigarillos or 10 cigars or 50g tobacco.
Furthermore, 1l spirits with an alcohol content of over 22% or 2l spirits up to an alcohol content of 22% or sparkling wine, 4l table wine, 16l beer and medication for personal use are allowed. For gifts and other goods, there is a total value of 430 € (air or sea travel) or 300 € (if arriving by land). For children under the age of 15, the maximum amount is generally € 285.
Health regulations and special features for drugs and narcotics
All persons entering Latvia must have health insurance. For nationals of the EU and EFTA countries, it is sufficient to present the respective health insurance card (EHIC), which ensures care and reimbursement of costs. However, in the event of an accident, return transport from Latvia after a serious illness or accident is not covered.
These costs are only covered by taking out foreign health insurance, possibly also additional costs for treatment in private practice or at the dentist. There are no mandatory vaccinations when entering Latvia. However, note that Latvia is currently the only EU country where diphtheria still occurs in places. Standard vaccinations for children and adults should therefore always be up to date and refreshed if necessary.
There are strict legal restrictions on taking medicines and narcotics with you when travelling to Latvia. A certificate of necessity must be presented in Latvian or English for taking prescription medicines with you. The amount depends on the respective need for a maximum of twelve months if you are coming from an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway. For everyone else, the amount is limited to three months.
Also, note that over-the-counter medicines bought in your own country may be subject to prescription requirements in Latvia. The import of counterfeit drugs or drugs that are on the doping list is completely prohibited.
For prescription narcotics, a medical certificate of prescription in accordance with the narcotics law is required. This is valid for 30 days. There are various forms, one for the countries of the Schengen area and one for the other countries.
What else needs to be considered when entering or leaving?
The entry requirements for Latvia stipulate that cash, in whatever form, must be declared for more than 10,000 euros upon entry, as well as valuable items (jewellery, furs). So there are always cash checks when entering and / or leaving the country. The scheme also includes shares, traveller’s checks and bonds.
Of course, the importation and possession of drugs of all kinds is prohibited and will result in severe penalties. The import of weapons and dummy weapons is also prohibited. Other types of weapons and ammunition (e.g. sports or hunting rifles and associated ammunition) must be declared. The Latvian border police then issue the required special permit. Failure to comply with this declaration will result in a fine or even a prison sentence.
The import of counterfeit products and articles that infringe copyright laws is strictly prohibited. Appropriate products are confiscated and there is a high fine or even imprisonment. Product piracy is not considered a trivial offence in Latvia! You need a special export license for cultural goods related to Latvian history and for objects of art that are over 50 years old. A violation of this is considered a serious crime.
Also, the protection of species must be considered. For example, it is forbidden to collect shells and snails on the beach and also to take plants or parts thereof from nature. In addition, the note that art objects or souvenirs can also contain materials from species-protected animals or plants, out of ignorance, species protection is always violated when entering or leaving the country, but the Latvian authorities impose at least a fine.
Otherwise, the import of dangerous and harmful products that contain substances harmful to health, as well as material that is unconstitutional or harmful to young people is not permitted.
Meat and milk products may only be imported from EU countries and Andorra, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland. If an animal disease breaks out in one of these countries, a temporary import ban applies only to that country.
Travellers from Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands are allowed to import a maximum of 10kg of animal products from there. All others are only allowed to import animal products if an official health certificate from a veterinary service is presented.
What could be the reasons for refusing entry?
In accordance with the EU Free Movement Policy, Latvia maintains a list of undesirable nations under the Latvian Immigration Act. Thereafter, temporary entry bans may be imposed in certain cases. In such a case, Latvia mostly invokes threats to public order, security and health. Latvia has recently been publicly criticized for various entry bans. As in many other countries, statute-barred offences can also lead to entry bans.