- +Voluntary work
1. What documents do European volunteers from third countries require, so they can come to Latvia and perform voluntary work?
A foreigner, who intends to perform voluntary work in Latvia, must obtain an entry visa for a maximum of 90 days. If the foreigner wishes to stay in the Republic of Latvia to perform voluntary work as a participant of a voluntary work programme financed by the European Commission or an international organisation, he or she is issued a long-stay visa for a period up to one year. As a part of the application process for a long-stay visa the foreigner is required to submit:
- a valid travel document valid for a term exceeding the validity term of the requested visa by at least three months with at least two empty pages for affixing visas;
- a visa application form completed in compliance with Annex 2 of Visa Regulations;
- a photo made during submission of the application or a scanned photo;
- a copy of the document confirming that he or she has an insurance policy specified in the Immigration Law, if any required;
- documents justifying the place of stay;
- documents attesting that he or she has the necessary financial means to stay in the Republic of Latvia and to return to the country of residence or depart to another country;
- documents justifying the purpose of entry.
- +Latvian language
1. Can I be exempted from the examination of the knowledge of Latvian language?
Persons with a medical condition that causes functional limitations or medical diagnoses indicated in Regulations No. 733 of the Cabinet of Ministers "Regulations Regarding the Amount of the Knowledge of the Official Language and the Procedures for Examination of the Knowledge of the Official Language for the Performance of Professional Duties and Duties of Office, Receipt of the Permanent Residence Permit and Obtaining of the Status of a Long-Term Resident of the European Union and the State Fee for Examination of the Fluency in the Official Language" Annex 3 are exempted from the examination of the knowledge of the official language. Persons exempted from the examination must present an opinion of a doctor-rehabilitationist to the official of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs.
1. Can an arrival from a third country buy a dwelling in Latvia?
Foreign citizens can buy any type of residential property in Latvia: houses, apartments, land intended for construction of a home and commercial property: hotels, shops, restaurants etc.
2. Where can I find information of the average housing prices in Latvia?
Information on the average housing prices can be found in market reviews of real estate companies and analyses published by banks.
3. Why do I have to reside (and must declare my place of residence) with my spouse, if I am staying here based on a residence permit related to a marriage?
Section 26 of the Immigration Law provides that the spouse may request a residence permit and in these cases a residence permit is issued on the condition that the marriage is monogamous, spouses will live together and they have a common household.
1. What do I do, if I require medical assistance in Latvia?
Medical assistance in the case of a minor injury, a sudden illness and a sudden attack of a chronic disease is provided by a general practitioner. Outside the working hours of the general practitioner one may:
- call the General Practitioners Telephone Helpline 66016001;
- attend doctors on duty;
- attend urgent medical assistance stations;
- seek medical aid at hospitals emergency departments.
In life-threatening situations one must call the State Emergency Medical Service (SEMS) at 113!
If you are using the mobile application eHealthPoint, it can transfer the data on the callers location (GPS coordinates) and the callers information (name, surname, personal code), if it has been entered, to SEMS at the time of the call to the emergency telephone number 113. In many situations this information may speed up the dispatch of a medical team and the provision of medical assistance considerably. The application will also indicate the closest healthcare institution, show its contact details and services it provides, along with a navigation map with the route to the closest healthcare institution marked on it. The mobile application can be downloaded free of charge from Google Play and App Store.
2. Do all newcomers have to pay for medical assistance?
Foreigners issued a permanent residence permit in Latvia and stateless persons, who have been granted the status of a stateless person in the Republic of Latvia, a refugee or a person under subsidiary protection as well as asylum seekers are entitled to the minimum state paid healthcare, the spouse of a Latvian citizen or Latvian alien, who holds a temporary residence permit, is entitled to receive state-paid obstetric care. A person with the state social insurance for the purposes of healthcare according to the Law "On State Social Insurance" is entitled to healthcare services provided under the national compulsory health insurance.
3. What is the Register of Recipients of Services of the National Health Service?
The Register of Recipients of Services ensures registration of persons, who are entitled to healthcare services funded from the state budget.
4. Who is entitled to healthcare services financed by the state?
The following persons are entitled to healthcare services financed by the state:
- a citizen of Latvia;
- a non-citizen of Latvia;
- a foreigner with a permanent residence permit for Latvia;
- a stateless person, who has been assigned the status of a stateless person in Latvia;
- a refugee or a person under subsidiary protection;
- an asylum seeker;
- a person, who according to the Law “On State Social Insurance” is socially insured for health insurance (for example, a self-employed person, whose income reaches the minimum amount of the object of mandatory contributions, an employee, except for those employed by micro-enterprises);
- a person arrested according to the procedure provided for in laws and regulations;
- a detained person or a convicted person serving a sentence at a penitentiary facility;
- children of the aforementioned persons aged up to 18.
In addition to the aforementioned groups of population the spouse of a socially insured (for health insurance) person is entitled to healthcare services financed by the state:
- if the socially insured person is a citizen of the European Union, European Economic Area member state or the Swiss Confederation, or
- if the spouse has a temporary residence permit and he or she is raising a child aged up to seven years or at least three children aged below 15.
The spouse of a Latvian citizen or a Latvian non-citizen, who possesses a temporary residence permit for Latvia is entitled to free obstetric care financed by the state.
In addition, according to the concluded international agreements the following persons are entitled to healthcare services funded from the state budget:
- military pensioners of the Russian Federation, who reside in the Republic of Latvia;
- citizens of Ukraine, who reside in the Republic of Latvia and receive here a pension paid by Ukraine or Latvia and Ukraine (other citizens of Ukraine are entitled only to emergency assistance).
5. How are persons included in the Register of Recipients of Services?
The Register of Recipients of Services receives a part of information on-line from the Population Register kept by the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs. Presently only Latvian citizens and Latvian non-citizens, as well as foreigners issued a temporary residence permit for Latvia are included in the Register of Recipients of Services automatically. In the rest of cases persons are included in the Register of Recipients of Services only if they submit an application to the National Health Service or if another governmental institution addresses the National Health Service indicating that the respective person corresponds to the particular status.
Persons without a personal code of Latvia are not included in the Register of Recipients of Services, but they can receive services either presenting documents confirming their respective status or a decision from the National Health Service.
- +Residence permits
1. To who do I have to submit documents to apply for a residence permit?
The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, the State Border Guard, diplomatic and consular missions of the Republic of Latvia abroad and the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are responsible for the documentation and control of the arrival and stay of foreigners in the Republic of Latvia in their respective areas of competence. Documents for requesting a residence permit must be submitted to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs.
2. In what instances a residence permit may be requested without leaving the territory of Latvia?
A foreigner may submit documents for requesting a residence permit to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, if:
1) he or she is staying in the Republic of Latvia on the basis of a valid visa and is:
- a lecturer with an accredited educational institution;
- a scientist, who has concluded an agreement on scientific cooperation with a scientific institution included in the register of scientific institutions;
- a consultant (expert) providing assistance to a public institution or a person, who is involved in implementation of an international agreement or project the Republic of Latvia is a party to;
- a composer, a musician, a singer, a choreographer, a dancer, a director, an actor, a circus artist, a member of the technical staff of the show or the head of a cultural institution funded by the state or the local government;
- has gained the right to employment in the Republic of Latvia or is staying in the Republic of Latvia due to employment, for which no confirmation of the right to employment is required;
- a sports trainer;
- a professional sportsman upon an invitation from a sports club;
- a pupil of an accredited educational institution in the Republic of Latvia or a full-time student. This condition does not apply to a foreigner, who is a citizen of a state included on the list mentioned in Section 4, Paragraph 9 of the Immigration Law, or a foreigner, who has been granted the status of a stateless person, a refugee or a person under subsidiary protection, or a person granted temporary protection in a foreign state;
- a parent of a Latvian citizen or a Latvian alien, who requests a residence permit based on Section 30 of the Immigration Law;
- a minor child.
2) he or she is staying in the Republic of Latvia on the basis of a valid residence permit;
- he or she is staying in the Republic of Latvia legally and holds a residence permit of a resident of the European Union issued in another EU Member State;
- he or she is a family member of a foreigner, who has been issued a residence permit of a resident of the European Union in another EU Member State and resides in the Republic of Latvia legally, if the family has been founded in another EU Member State before the foreigner, who holds a residence permit of a resident of the European Union issued in another EU Member State, has requested a temporary residence permit in the Republic of Latvia;
- he or she is a citizen of a state, whose citizens do not require a visa to travel to the Republic of Latvia;
- he or she has a valid residence permit issued in another Shengen state;
- he or she holds a valid temporary residence permit issued to him or her as an intra-corporate transferee by another EU Member State, and the foreigner requests a temporary residence permit in the Republic of Latvia as an intra-corporate transferee.
3. Is it possible to receive a residence permit based on a marriage?
A foreigner, who is a spouse of a Latvian citizen or a Latvian alien, or the spouse of a foreigner, who has been issued a permanent residence permit, is entitled to apply for:
- if documents are submitted for the first time — a temporary residence permit for a period of one year;
- if the documents are submitted for the second time — a temporary residence permit for a period of four years;
- if the documents are submitted for the third time — a permanent residence permit.
4. Can the document about the required means of subsistence be submitted by the spouse or another relative, when applying for a residence permit?
A Latvian citizen, a Latvian alien or a citizen of a EU Member State, a European Economic Area State or the Swiss Confederation residing in the Republic of Latvia with a registration certificate or a permanent residence certificate, or a foreigner holding a valid temporary residence or permanent residence permit in the Republic of Latvia may submit a notarized application or an application signed in the presence or an official of the office or the mission about the payment of the foreigners subsistence expenses.
5. Can a person stay in Latvia after the expiry of a residence permit or a visa, if he or she cannot leave Latvia because of the spread of the viral infection Covid-19?
According to the Law on the Management of the Spread of COVID-19 Infection, until 30 June 2021 a foreigner staying in the Republic of Latvia and whose travel document has expired during this period after 12 March 2020 is entitled to obtain a repeated residence permit or to register a residence permit by presenting the abovementioned document.
A foreigner staying legally in the Republic of Latvia according to a C visa issued by the competent authority of Latvia or another Schengen member state in certain exceptional cases may ask to extend the visa and/or the length of his or her stay in Latvia:
The visa and/or the length of the foreigners stay is extended only, if the visa holder has provided evidence of insurmountable circumstances or humanitarian reasons that do not allow him or her to leave the territory of Latvia before the expiry date of the visa or the end of the stay allowed by the visa. Such a visa is extended free of charge.
The validity period of the visa and/or the length of the stay may also be extended in cases, when the visa holder submits evidence of serious personal reasons that justify the necessity of extension of the validity term or the length of the stay. A state duty must be paid for such an extension in the amount of EUR 30.
The Immigration Law on the other hand provides that a person (a foreigner) may be expelled from the country, if he or she is residing or staying in the Republic of Latvia illegally.
1. What are employment opportunities in Latvia without the knowledge of Latvian language?
If the employee has no contact with customers (visitors, buyers etc.) and is able to communicate with the employer (understands work tasks, comments, praise etc.), is employed in the private sector, he or she can work without the knowledge of Latvian language.
2. Where can I find a list of job vacancies in Latvia on the Internet?
The CV and vacancies portal of the State Employment Agency (hereinafter – SEA) for job seekers is the largest data base of job vacancies in Latvia that includes vacancies registered in all 25 branches of SEA. You can view a list of vacancies there updated and supplemented on a daily basis.
You can view all vacancies or select vacancies by the area of activities or location - region. You can also publish your own CV in the portal. Take a look at the portal following this link: http://cvvp.nva.gov.lv.
1. What are education opportunities for arrivals from third countries in Latvia?
Newcomers are entitled to education: basic education (9 years), secondary education (12 years), as well as vocational education and higher education can be acquired at public and private educational institutions.
2. Is education available only in Latvian language in Latvia?
Higher education is available in foreign languages too in Latvia. Basic and secondary education can be acquired in minority schools, vocational education is available only in Latvian language. There are private educational institutions in Latvia, where one can learn also in foreign languages in addition to Latvian.
1. A citizen of which country should become a child born in Latvia to a family, where one parent is a citizen of the Republic of Latvia, the other parent – a citizen of the Russian Federation?
The child may retain the citizenship of both countries until the age of 18. Upon reaching the age of 18 the child may choose the citizenship of one of these countries.
- +Taxes, old age pension
1. What is the amount of taxes for arrivals from third countries for the owner of an enterprise (LLC, IM)?
Taxes are the same as for entrepreneurs in Latvia.
2. Does a newcomer from a third country can receive the old age pension in Latvia, if he or she has worked and paid taxes in Latvia?
That depends on the country the newcomer has arrived from and whether Latvia has an agreement on social security with the newcomers country of origin. Latvia has concluded agreements with the following countries — Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Canada and Australia.
3. Where to find information on 2nd pension level?
Information about the 2nd pension system can be found here: https://www.vsaa.gov.lv/en/services/for-employees/2-nd-tier-mandatory-state-funded-pension-scheme/
4. What is the 2nd pension pillar?
2nd pension pillar: https://www.manapensija.lv/en/2nd-pension-pillar/2nd-pension-pillar/
- +Various matters
1. Are newcomers from a third country entitled to an inheritance in Latvia?
A newcomer from a third country has the right to receive an inheritance in Latvia.
2. Where can a non-resident open a private bank account in Latvia?
A non-resident can open a private bank account with any bank in Latvia.
3. Where can a newcomer from a third country obtain legal counsel, if an administrative penalty has been imposed upon him or her, for example, a parking ticket, a ticket for exceeding the speed limit?
Free legal counsel is available at the Information Centre for Newcomers, Lacplesa Street 75-1B, Riga, LV-1011 (Latvia): http://www.integration.lv/
4. Where can I receive help, if I am suffering from discrimination by the staff of the higher educational institution I am studying at?
If you are suspicious of discriminatory treatment, you can apply for assistance at the Public Defenders Office, Baznicas Street 25, Riga, LV-1010.
5. Are any integration events/courses organised in Latvia, where can I find information about them?
Yes, various integration events/courses are organised in Latvia on a regular basis. More information: www.integration.lv.
6. In what language can applications be submitted to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs?
According to Section 22(4) of the Immigration Law, the documents for the approval of a sponsorship or requesting a residence permit may be submitted in the Latvian, English, French, Russian or German language. The inviter shall submit the application and explanations necessary for the approval of a sponsorship only in the Latvian language.
Based on Section 10(2) of the Official Language Law, State and local government institutions, courts and institutions constituting the judicial system, and State or local government undertakings (companies) shall accept from persons and examine only documents as are in the official language.
7. Can I submit documents to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs electronically?
Yes, you can submit documents to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (hereinafter referred to as OCMA) electronically by signing them with a secure electronic signature.
An application for approval of invitations/summons can be submitted to OCMA by sending them to e-mail: email@example.com using the e-service: the application to the institution is signed electronically (on www.latvija.lv) with a secure electronic signature, adding intended documents as needed.
The information has been prepared using the OCMA website: https://www.pmlp.gov.lv/
8. Can third country nationals residing in Latvia due to employment, including minors living with their parents, receive a European Health Insurance Card (hereinafter referred to as EHIC)? Will EHIC be in force in all the territory of the European Union, for example, if a family goes for a trip to Estonia?
In accordance with the information provided on the website of the National Health Service, "a European Health Insurance Card or EHIC is a plastic card, which certifies that the person is a resident of the European Union Member State, a country of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein) or the Swiss Confederation (hereinafter Member States) and has a social insurance in his/her country. When you stay in other Member State for a short period of time, EHIC confirms your right to receive necessary or urgent medical healthcare in the amount it is provided to residents of the country concerned."
Any third country national, who resides in Latvia due to employment and has a social insurance, as well as his or her minor children, have the right to receive the EHIC.
9. Is it possible to submit to the insurance company an invoice for unjustified calling of an ambulance in relation to suspected infection with Covid-19?
In case of unjustified call, the insurance company does not cover expenses for arrival and services of an ambulance. The insurance indemnity applies only to expenses that arise from calling an ambulance in an acute situation, incl. if infection with Covid-19 is confirmed.
10. If infection with Covid-19 is suspected, is it required to pay when calling an ambulance?
Persons, who reside in Latvia on a basis of temporary residence permit, must pay for calling an ambulance. In acute cases and cases, where infection with Covid-19 is confirmed, the insurance company will reimburse the amount paid for the services provided by an ambulance.
11. Where and how is it possible to apply for a test for viral infection Covid-19?
From 19 December 2020 to 6 April 2021 inhabitants of Latvia can take a Covid-19 test without a referral from a doctor too, if the person shows symptoms of the disease (symptoms of acute respiratory infection, fever, problems with sense of smell, loss of sense of taste etc.). Persons, who have returned to Latvia from the United Kingdom or the Republic of South Africa, on the other hand, can take the test, even if they show no symptoms of the disease.
It is possible to apply for a Covid-19 test calling:
- Phone number for centralised registration for Covid-19 testing – 8303
- Central Laboratory – 8330
- E. Gulbja Laboratory – 67801112
- MFD Laboratory – 8313
- NMS Laboratory – 67144015
- State Scientific Institute "BIOR" – 28369560
- Working hours of phone numbers for registration and testing sites are available on the National Health Service website.
You can also apply for a Covid-19 test electronically:
- on Riga East Clinical University Hospital website – https://www.aslimnica.lv/pieraksts.php
- on E. Gulbja Laboratory website – https://www.egl.lv/autorizacija/?auth
- on Central Laboratory website - https://pieraksts.laboratorija.lv
- on MFD Healthcare Group website - http://www.mfd.lv/lv/covid-19
- on the State Scientific Institute "BIOR" website - https://bior.lv/lv/form/covid
Testing sites and information about each of them can be found on an interactive map: "COVID-19 testing sites in Latvia".
12. Is it possible to renew a driving licence issued in another country in Latvia after the expiry of the driving licence?
If the licence has been issued in another country (outside the European Union), such a licence may be used to drive a motor vehicle in Latvia up to 1 year from the moment of arrival in Latvia. If the person is staying in Latvia longer than 1 year, the licence must be exchanged after taking a driving test with the Road Traffic Safety Directorate (hereinafter – CSDD) according to the established procedure. Before registration for the test the person must apply to CSDD to perform the necessary checks of the driving licence.
If the issuing and validity of the driving licence cannot be verified on-line, CSDD sends a request to the respective foreign authority for provision of detailed information about the driving licence and its validity for exchange. Such a confirmation can also be provided to CSDD by the person, who wishes to exchange the licence, him or herself. In such case according to the procedure established in Latvia for the circulation of international documents it must be legalised or have an Apostille Certificate attached to it.
Driving licences issued in the United Kingdom (UK) will be exchanged without the requirement to take a test after 31 December 2020 (after BREXIT) too.
It should be noted that driving a motor vehicle without a valid driving licence (if it has expired too) is forbidden.