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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Latvia. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
  • To enter Latvia, you must have a valid health insurance policy that guarantees coverage of any health-related expense during your stay, including repatriation. See Entry and exit.
  • Street crime occurs in major cities, including bag snatching, pickpocketing, mugging and petty theft. In Riga, airports, train stations, the Central Market, parks, routes to major hotels and the Old Town are prime locations for pickpockets. See Safety and security.
  • There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. See Safety and security.
  • Although civil unrest is generally not a problem in Latvia, you should avoid large demonstrations and protests as they may turn violent. See Safety and security.
  • Australia has a Consulate in Riga which provides limited consular assistance. The Australian Embassy in Sweden provides full consular assistance to Australians in Latvia. See Where to get help.
  • See Travel Smart for other general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

Latvia is party to the Schengen Convention, along with a number of other European countries. This allows you to enter Latvia without a visa in some circumstances.

In other circumstances, you'll need a visa.

Get an entry stamp in your passport from border control staff when you first enter the Schengen area. Carry your travel documents at all times to avoid any difficulties when attempting to depart Latvia, in particular when travelling on ferries between Schengen countries.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Latvia does not have an Embassy in Australia. However, you can submit your Latvian visa application through the Austrian Embassy in Canberra.

More information:

Other formalities

To enter Latvia, you must have a valid health insurance policy that guarantees coverage of any health-related expense during your stay, including repatriation. If you do not have appropriate insurance, you may be required to purchase appropriate medical insurance upon arrival.

More information: Travel insurance

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

By law, you must, as soon as possible:

Money

If you travel directly to or from a country outside the European Union (EU) carrying 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent amount in another currency), you must declare the cash at the place of your  arrival or departure from the EU. The term "cash" includes cheques, travellers cheques and money orders. If you fail to declare the cash or provide incomplete or incorrect information, you will be fined.

Safety and security

Crime

Street crime occurs, particularly in Riga, including bag snatching, pickpocketing, mugging and petty theft. Airports, train stations, the Central Market, parks, routes to major hotels and the Old Town are prime locations for pickpockets. Pickpockets usually operate in small groups.

Crimes have been committed against foreigners at bars, clubs and lounges in Riga. Visitors may be charged extortionate prices for drinks. Check the price of drinks before ordering. Arguments about overcharging have been known to lead to violent assault or threats of violence. Security guards may compel you to pay.

Foreigners have been the victims of serious assault. Young males, either alone or in groups, returning to hotels or hostels from bars and clubs late at night, are particular targets for violent assaults. Avoid parks and areas near parks late at night.

  • Drink spiking occurs in bars and casinos. Do not leave drinks unattended.
  • Car theft is common, particularly in Riga. Use well-guarded and well-lit car parks whenever possible and do not leave any valuables in a vehicle.
  • Credit card fraud occurs in Latvia, particularly in places that are frequented by tourists such as shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Keep a close eye on your credit card at all times.  Do not sign blank credit card slips.
  • Internet-based crime, including internet dating and financial scams, have been reported.

Civil unrest and political tension

Although civil unrest is generally not a problem in Latvia, you should avoid all demonstrations and protests as they may turn violent.

Monitor the media for developments and if you are in an area affected by protests, follow the advice of local authorities.

Terrorism

There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Since 2015, there have been significant pressures on border controls in Europe due to the movement of asylum seekers. Carry your passport when crossing borders, even within the Schengen zone. Keep up-to-date on border conditions by checking local news sources and asking transport providers directly.

Road travel

Driving in Latvia can be dangerous due to local driving practices, poorly maintained roads and vehicles, and inadequate road lighting. You are twice as likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Latvia than in Australia.

When driving, headlights must be on at all times.

Winter tyres are required by law from 1 December to 1 March. These dates may vary according to weather conditions.

More information: Road travel

Air travel

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Latvia.

More information: Air travel

Laws

Local laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular services charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences, including possession of small amounts, are severe and may include long jail sentences and heavy fines.

More information: Drugs

Other laws

Driving offences attract harsh penalties. Penalties for driving over the blood alcohol limit (0.05) may include a heavy fine, jail sentence, loss of licence and permanent vehicle confiscation. The blood alcohol limit for drivers with driving experience of less than two years is 0.02.

The export of religious materials and antiques is subject to strict controls. Local authorities can confirm prior to purchase whether export of particular items is permitted.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

Dual nationals

Latvian authorities recognise dual nationality for citizens of Australia and a number of other countries. For information on dual nationality issues and to check your dual nationality status, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Latvia. Travel on your Australian passport at all times.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance


Physical and mental health

It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Tick-borne illnesses

There is a risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis and other tick-borne diseases in forested areas. Ticks are common from spring to autumn (March to November).

Protect yourself against tick-borne illnesses by:

  • taking measures to avoid insect bites, including using always using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing.
  • regularly checking your body for ticks during and after visiting forested areas.
  • removing any ticks from your body as soon as possible, being careful to remove the whole tick.

Other diseases and health issues

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and tuberculosis) can occur in Latvia.  Water contamination may be a problem in rural areas.

  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.

Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

The standard of public medical facilities in Latvia's large cities is reasonable. In rural regions, however, public facilities may be limited.

Most private medical facilities are well equipped and provide services comparable to the standards found in Australia. Many doctors and hospitals will require up-front payment before commencing treatment.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation could be very expensive.

More information:

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer, or airline.

Emergencies

  • Firefighting and rescue services: 112
  • Medical emergencies: 112
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 110

Victims of crime should file a police report at the nearest police station. Police in Latvia can be slow in assisting victims of crime. It could take 4-5 hours before a police report is issued to a non-Latvian speaker.

The Riga Tourist Police Unit has an English speaking 24-hour hotline (+371 2 203 3000 or +371 67 181818, that can be used to lodge complaints about crimes in Latvia.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular services charter for what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas.

Australia has a Consulate in Latvia headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consul provides limited consular assistance (which does not include visas, immigration services, the issue of passports or notarial services).

Australian Consulate, Riga

C/-Airtours
Vilandes Iela 7
LV-1010 Riga LATVIA
Telephone: +371 67 320 509
Facsimile: +371 67 320 516
Email: strenin@airtour.lv

You can obtain full consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Sweden:

Australian Embassy, Stockholm

Klarabergsviadukten 63, 8th Floor
111 64 Stockholm
SWEDEN
Telephone +46 (0) 8 613 2900
Email: reception.stockholm@dfat.gov.au
Website: sweden.embassy.gov.au

More information on opening hours and temporary closures: sweden.embassy.gov.au

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Latvia experiences extremely cold winters and heavy snowfall.

Flooding may occur in spring (March to May).

Follow the advice of local authorities. Monitor media reports for the latest information.

Additional resources