The official language in Latvia is Latvian. Russian is used in communication although many people of younger generations do not know it and speak English instead. Knowledge of Latvian helps to communicate with local people, follow current events and participate in them. A certain level of Latvian is required to work in many professions. It will be necessary to prove your Latvian language proficiency in order to obtain the permanent residence permit or the status of the long-term resident of the European Union in Latvia.
EXAMINATION OF THE LATVIAN LANGUAGE SKILLS
To acquire a permanent residence permit or the status of a long-term resident of the European Union in Latvia it is necessary to prove your Latvian language skills by passing examinations and acquiring a certificate issued by the National Centre for Education. Information on the official language examinations organised by the National Centre for Education, on the examination procedure and rules and sample tests is available here (in Latvian).
RULES OF USE OF THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE AT WORKPLACE
The knowledge of the official language is not compulsory for all professions and positions. There are professions and positions that require mandatory official language knowledge and there are professions and positions with minimum need for the knowledge of the official language or such need is not regulated at all.
Compulsory use of the official language applies to the following positions:
· at state and municipal authorities;
· at courts and authorities of the system of justice;
· at state and municipal enterprises;
· employees of companies where the majority of capital is owned by the state or municipality.
Employees of private companies and the self-employed persons have to use the official language if their activities concern public interests, for example, public security, health and safety, consumer rights and labour rights.
Foreign specialists and members of foreign company management bodies who work in Latvia have to know and use the official language to such extent as is necessary for the performance of their professional and occupational duties or they have to provide for the translation in the official language.
The official language proficiency is confirmed by the official language proficiency certificate issued by the National Centre for Education of the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science. The certificate indicates the official language proficiency level and degree.
The scope of the official language knowledge is divided in 3 proficiency levels: elementary level A, intermediate level B and advanced level C. Each official language proficiency level has two degrees – the lowest 1st degree and the highest 2nd degree.
Elementary level, 1st degree (A1) – the person is able to communicate using expressions and short sentences in relation to simple daily themes, uses the minimum of professional vocabulary, reads and understands short and simple texts. This degree of the language knowledge is necessary for professions and positions related to unqualified manual labour, for example, a cattle breeder, janitor, assistant in the kitchen.
Elementary level, 2nd degree (A2) – the person is able to communicate in simple sentences about daily and professional themes that he or she is familiar with, reads and understands simple texts about daily life and work, is able to complete model documents. This degree of the language knowledge is necessary for professions and positions the process of performance of which is related to compliance with instructions and technologies, use and maintenance of machines and equipment, for example, a builder, plumber, car mechanic, ticket collector.
Intermediate level, 1st degree (B1) – the person is able to handle a simple dialogue about daily and professional themes that he or she is familiar with, to formulate his or her opinion, reads and understands simple texts about different themes, is able to compose model documents. This degree of the language knowledge is necessary for professions and positions related to provision of services to people, for example, a musician, masseur, cook, manicurist and pedicurist.
Intermediate level, 2nd degree (B2) – the person is able to communicate about daily and professional themes, clearly formulate and justify his or her opinion, reads and understands texts about different themes, is able to compose documents necessary for work. This degree of the language knowledge is necessary for professions and positions related to ensuring of public order, performance and supervision of technological processes, accounting and records, for example, ship navigation operator, accountant, shop assistant, security worker.
Advanced level, 1st degree (C1) – the person is able to communicate freely explicitly express and justify his or her opinion regarding different themes, reads and understands texts of diverse content and complexity, is able to compose different business written matter. This degree of the language knowledge is necessary for professions of managers, highly qualified specialists, medical and social care workers, academic staff and tutors at higher education institutions, for example, a captain, director, chief accountant, hotel manager, construction manager, researcher, architect, physician, surgeon, programmer, conductor.
Advanced level, 2nd degree (C2) – the person is completely fluent in communicating in Latvian. This degree of the language knowledge is necessary for employees of public administration authorities and their structural units, employees whose work is related to processing of documents and document management, as well as interpreters and translators, for example a school’s principal, teacher, lawyer, court employee.
WHERE TO STUDY?
For foreign students who arrive to study in Latvia the Latvian language courses are provided within the chosen study programme, therefore one should address their higher education institution for such information.
The University of Latvia together with Riga Technical University and Riga Stradiņš’ University provides a “Couple learning program” within the framework of which students can acquire basic knowledge of Latvian by studying it together with a local student. More information (in English) is available on the homepage of the University of Latvia.
- +Everyday culture
Freedom of religion
Every person has the right to the freedom of religion, which includes the right to freely express their attitude towards religion, to follow a religion alone or in community with others or not to follow any religion at all, to freely change one’s religious or other belief, to perform religious activities, as well as express one’s religious belief with consideration of the applicable law.
To found a religious organisation, there must be among its founders at least 20 Latvian citizens, non-citizens or third-country nationals with temporary or permanent residence permits, who have reached the age of 18. A person may found only one religious organisation.
Any resident of Latvia may become a member of a religious organisation. If the person is under the age of 18 written consent of their parents or guardians is required.
Information regarding founding of religious organisations is available on the homepage of the Register of Enterprises.
Latvia is a multi-confessional country. The three biggest churches in Latvia are the Lutheran, the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Church. Jewish, Muslim, Krishnaite, Mormon, Buddhist and other world religions are also represented in Latvia.
At the state and municipal schools Christian studies may be taught to persons who have expressed in writing their willingness to learn it. Minor persons submit the application of their willingness to learn Christian studies with written consent of their parents or guardians. If the minor is below the age of 14 the application is filed by the parents or guardians of this minor.