- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Latvia. You should exercise 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.
- There has been a significant influx of asylum seekers into Europe, causing localised disruption to cross-border road and train transport services. Travellers should be aware of the possibility of further disruptions, make appropriate contingency plans and follow the instructions of local authorities. See Local travel.
- There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
- Although civil unrest is generally not a problem in Latvia, you should avoid large demonstrations and protests as they may turn violent.
- Australia has a Consulate in Riga, headed by an Honorary Consul, which provides limited consular assistance (not including visas, immigration services, the issue of passports or notarial services). The Australian Embassy in Sweden provides full consular assistance to Australians in Latvia.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
- register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued.
- follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Entry and exit
Latvia is a party to the Schengen Convention, along with a number of other European countries, which allows Australians to enter Latvia without a visa in some circumstances. See our travel bulletin on the Schengen Convention for more information.
Australians travelling in Latvia should carry their travel documents at all times to avoid any difficulties when attempting to depart Latvia, in particular when travelling on ferries between Schengen countries.
Latvia does not have an Embassy in Australia. By agreement between the Latvian and Austrian governments, Australians who require a Latvian visa may submit their applications through the Austrian Embassy in Canberra.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, you should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Latvia for the most up to date information.
When entering Latvia you are required to have a passport with at least three months’ validity. You are also required to 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 upon arrival to purchase appropriate medical insurance. For information about choosing an appropriate travel insurance policy, see our travel insurance page.
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.
People travelling directly to or from a country outside the European Union (EU) carrying 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent amount in another currency) are required to declare the cash at the place of their arrival or departure from the EU. Under the legislation, the term "cash" includes cheques, travellers' cheques and money orders. Travellers failing to declare the cash or providing incomplete or incorrect information will incur a fine. There is no requirement to declare cash for people travelling to or from another EU country.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.
Safety and security
Street crime occurs, particularly in the capital 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 groups.
Crimes have been committed against foreigners at bars, clubs and lounges in Riga. Visitors are soemtimes charged extortionate prices for drinks. You should 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.
Drink spiking occurs in bars and casinos. Do not leave drinks unattended.
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.
Car theft is common, particularly in Riga. You should use well-guarded car parks whenever possible.
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 and under no circumstances sign blank credit card slips.
Civil unrest/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.
There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.
Money and valuables
The official currency of Latvia is the Euro.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
There has been a significant influx of asylum seekers into Europe. In some cases, police have been deployed to prevent asylum seekers from crossing borders and accessing transport. As a result, there has been localised disruption to some cross-border road and rail transport services. You should be aware of the possibility of further disruption to transport services and monitor the local media and other information from transport providers for up to date information. If travelling by road or train, you should allow additional time to cover any disruption, remain vigilant and follow the instructions of local authorities. Australians travelling across affected borders, either by road or rail, should make appropriate contingency plans to cover any disruption to travel plans.
Latvia has a high rate of car accidents and fatalities. Latvian law requires drivers to use their headlights at all times, including during the day. Winter tyres are required from 1 December to 1 March.
For further advice, see our road travel page.
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.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of Latvia, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. 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. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
Penalties for drug offences, including possession of small amounts, are severe and may include long jail sentences and heavy fines. See our Drugs page.
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.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
Information for 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. We recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.
See also our Dual nationals page.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. 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.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
The standard of public medical facilities in Latvia's large cities is reasonable. In rural regions, however, 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. In the event of a serious accident or illness, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities may be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could be considerable.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis) can occur in Latvia.
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.
Where to get help
Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.
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 a 24-hour hotline (+371 2 203 3000 or +371 67 181818, English speaking, that can be used to lodge complaints about crimes in Latvia. The emergency contact number for the national police is 110. Emergency services can be contacted on 112.
If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas. Australia has a Consulate in Latvia which provides limited consular assistance (which does not include visas, immigration services, the issue of passports or notarial services). See contact details below:
Australian Consulate, Riga
Vilandes Iela 7
LV-1010 Riga LATVIA
Telephone: +371 67 320 509
Facsimile: +371 67 320 516
You can obtain full consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Sweden:
Australian Embassy, Stockholm
See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are travelling to Latvia, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Latvia experiences extremely cold winters and heavy snowfall.
Flooding may occur in spring (March to May).
For other useful information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links: