Latvia marriage is only permitted between a man and a woman. Both persons must be 18 years old. However, in exceptional cases – with the agreement of parents or guardians – a marriage is possible between one person at the age of majority and another person who is only 16 years old. A straight-line marriage between relatives, between brothers and sisters and half-brothers and half-sisters is not permitted in Latvia.
Before 1 January 2013, Latvian laws did not permit a foreigner (either a national of the European Union or other countries) holding a temporary residence permit in Latvia to contract a marriage with another foreigner holding a temporary residence permit. These restrictions are no longer valid now and any foreigner who lawfully resides in Latvia may contract a marriage in Latvia.
To contract a marriage persons have to submit an application, which they both have signed, to a registry office and present their passports or personal ID cards. If one or both persons have formerly had another marriage, but such information in not included in the Population Register, it is necessary to produce a document that confirms the dissolution of the former marriages (death certificate of the former spouse, a marriage dissolution certificate issued by a notary public, an effective court judgment on a dissolution of the marriage or declaring the marriage invalid, or an excerpt from the marriage dissolution register). If one person is a minor, a written permission of the parents, the guardians or the orphan’s court is required. A foreigner has to present a document issued in his/her country, stating that there are no obstacles for the person to contract a marriage.
A marriage may be solemnised:
- by an official of the registry office in the premises of the registry office,
- by an official of the registry office in another place in which the spouses-to-be ensure circumstances that are suitable and relevant for contracting of the marriage,
- by a priest in the church of the confession to which at least one of the spouses belongs. In addition to the abovementioned formal requirements, each congregation may have in place different rules related to, for example, marriage between representatives of different confessions, belonging of the spouses-to-be to the particular congregation and the necessity to undertake a pre-marital courses. Therefore one has to address the priest of the preferred congregation to learn about the particular rules.
Both in the registry office and in the church the marriage will be solemnised in Latvian, but in exceptional cases and upon a request of the spouses-to-be a foreign language may be used at the ceremony.
For the verification of the application and documents necessary for the contracting of marriage a state fee 14 EUR has to be paid, but one should also take into account the costs of registration of the marriage and organisation of the solemn ceremony. These expenses are set out in the pricelist of the local government in which the registry office operates. If you wish to contract the marriage at the church it may also have a fee for the organisation of the marriage ceremony, but it could also have a custom of covering such costs by a donation of an unspecified amount.
A marriage may be declared invalid, if any one of the preconditions stated above (age of the persons married, their kinship, etc.) are not complied with and if the marriage is fictitious – without the purpose of establishing a family. A marriage may be also disputed, if one of the spouses has contracted the marriage under duress, for example, forced by a threat of violence.
A marriage may be dissolved:
- by the court upon a request by one of the spouses,
- by a notary upon a request by both spouses.
IMPORTANT! If you have obtained a temporary residence permit as a spouse of a Latvian citizen, Latvian non-citizen or a foreigner holding a permanent residence permit, your residence permit will be annulled in the event of dissolution of the marriage or death of your spouse. Exceptions refer to the cases of the marriage between a foreigner and a Latvian citizen or non-citizen in which a child has been born.
In the event of dissolution of the marriage you may apply for a permanent residence permit, provided your child has the status of the Latvian citizen or non-citizen and the court has ruled for the child to be under your care.
In the event of death of your spouse you may apply for a permanent residence permit, if your child has the status of the Latvian citizen or non-citizen.
If the marriage is dissolved after the other spouse has obtained the permanent residence permit, at least 3 years have to pass after the date of receipt of the permit for such spouse to be able to invite another foreigner to Latvia as his/her spouse.