Latvia Traveler Information - Travel Advice
Travel Advice with a Travel Advisory overview from the US State Department. Here we cover Visa, Safety & Security, local Laws and Insurance in our Latvia Traveler Information guide.
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Note: Always check that your destination country is one approved for travel by your travel insurance provider.
PASSPORT VALIDITY: 6 months recommended beyond the period of stay.
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: One page per entry stamp.
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: Not required for stays less than 90 days within a six month period.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY: 10,000 Euros or equivalent.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT: 10,000 Euros or equivalent.
Embassies and Consulates
Samnera Velsa iela 1
Telephone: +(371) 6710-7000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(371) 6710-7000 or +(371) 2920-5708
Fax: +(371) 6710-7001
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Latvia for information on U.S.-Latvian relations.
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
Visit the Embassy of Latvia website for the most current visa information.
Latvia is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Latvia for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.
- Passports should be valid for at least six months beyond your planned date of departure. You will be denied entry if your passport is not valid for at least three months.
- 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.
Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our website.
Safety and Security
Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Europe. European governments are taking action to guard against terrorist attacks. However, all European countries remain potentially vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations.
Spontaneous demonstrations take place in Latvia from time to time in response to world events or local developments. We remind U.S. citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations. U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Information regarding demonstrations in Latvia can be found on the U.S. Embassy Latvia website.
You are required to wear small reflectors on clothing during the dark, winter months in Latvia.
Crime: Crime is generally non-violent in nature; however, violent assaults and robberies have occurred. Harassment of foreigners and same-sex partners has also occurred in Latvia.
- Be aware of your surroundings and take personal security measures to stay safe.
- The most common crimes encountered by foreign tourists are purse snatching, pick-pocketing, and mugging, especially during the summer tourism season.
- Riga’s Old Town (Vecriga), Central Train Station (Dzelzcela stacija), Central Bus Station (Autoosta), and Central Market (Centraltirgus) are places that are targeted by thieves.
- You should avoid walking alone at night and using ATMs after dark.
- You should pay careful attention to your surroundings at bars and nightclubs in Riga as there have been recent cases of visitors being covertly drugged and subsequently sexually assaulted.
- 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: Report crimes to the local police at 112, and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(371) 6710-7000. For social welfare emergencies, such as domestic violence or child abuse, dial 112 (English-speaking operators are available). Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- 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 United States.
- assist you with a list of non-governmental organizations and centers providing a number of programs for victims of crime in Latvia. Please see our website for more information.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
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.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules with regard to best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Division in the U.S. Department of Justice has more information on this serious problem.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
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.
- You can be jailed immediately for driving under the influence of alcohol.
- Your U.S. passport will not 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. Cashing personal and Treasury checks issued in the United States may be time-consuming and costly.
- 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.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report – see country reports
- Human Rights Report – see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Latvia.
Credible non-governmental organizations reported widespread intolerance and discrimination against LGBTI persons, as well as underreporting to authorities of attacks and discrimination against LGBTI individuals.
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. See our Traveling with Disabilities page.
- 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.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
The U.S. government does not pay medical bills and U.S. Medicare is not valid overseas.
The quality of medical care in Latvia continues to improve, but 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 limited 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.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. See the Embassy of Latvia’s website for proof of health insurance requirements.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
The following diseases are prevalent:
- Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)
- Lyme disease
- 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 and Lyme-disease are widespread throughout the country. 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 if you intend to visit parks or forested areas.
- Tick-borne encephalitis vaccinations are given as a series of three doses, and are not available in the United States.
- There are no vaccines against Lyme disease.
- Hepatitis A is a significant health concern in Latvia. Hepatitis A vaccine is available in the US and is recommended for those with prolonged stays or travel in rural areas.
- Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Latvia.
For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Travel and Transportation
Road Conditions and Safety: While in Latvia, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
- Latvia’s rate of automobile accidents and fatalities is one of the highest in Europe.
- If you plan to drive in Latvia, you are required to obtain an International Driving Permit. You may get these through the American Automobile Association (AAA) of the American Automobile Touring Alliance for a small fee.
- If you drive without an International Driving Permit, you may have your vehicle confiscated by the police.
- If you are resident in Latvia more than six months, you are required to apply for a Latvian driver’s license.
Traffic Laws: Driving while intoxicated is a very serious offense and carries heavy penalties. Latvian authorities use roadblocks and breathalyzer tests as enforcement tools.
- You must use your headlights at all times. Speed limits are usually 50 km/hr (31 mph) in the city and 90 km/hr (55 mph) on the highways.
- There are currently many mobile and fixed speed cameras deployed throughout the country.
Public Transportation: Public transportation is generally considered safe, but travelers are encouraged to select well-marked taxis.
See our road safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Latvia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Government of Latvia’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Latvia should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and the NGA broadcast warnings website (select “broadcast warnings”).
For additional travel information
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
International Parental Child Abduction
Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Latvia. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report
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