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Latvia

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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.
  • There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. The Latvian Government assesses the domestic terrorism threat level to be low. Report any suspicious activity to police and follow the advice of local authorities. See Safety and security.
  • Carry your passport and/or Latvian residency permit when crossing borders, even within the Schengen area. See Entry and exit.
  • Australia has a Consulate in Latvia headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides limited consular assistance. It does not provide visa and immigration services, nor does it issue passports. You can get full consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. See Where to get help.

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

Visas

Latvia is a 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. More information: Schengen Convention

Monitor border conditions by checking local news sources and asking transport providers directly.

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.

Passport

Check the expiry date of your Australian passport before you travel. Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months from when you plan to leave that country.

Get an entry stamp in your passport from border control staff when you first enter the Schengen area. Always carry your passport and/or Latvian residency permit when in Latvia as you may be asked to verify your identity. Carry a valid passport when entering or leaving Latvia, even if you are travelling from another Schengen country.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

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:

Money

The currency of Latvia is the Euro (€).

Declare cash of €10,000 or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you are travelling between Latvia and any non-European Union (EU) country. This includes notes and coins, money orders, cheques and travellers cheques. If you fail to declare your cash or you give incorrect information on entry to, or exit from, Latvia, you will be fined. You don't need to declare cash if you are travelling to or from another EU country.

Safety and security

Crime

Street crime, including bag snatching, pickpocketing and muggings occur, particularly in Riga. Travellers are targeted in Old Riga Town. Central train and bus stations, the Central Market, parks and routes to major hotels are prime locations for pickpockets. They usually operate in small groups.

Reports of tourists being charged high prices for drinks at restaurants and tourist pubs has declined. Check the price of drinks before ordering. When paying by credit or debit card make sure the transaction is completed in your presence.

  • 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, 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.

The Latvian State Security Service assess Latvia’s terrorist threat level to be low.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Road travel

Driving in Latvia can be dangerous sometimes due to icy conditions and reduced visibility in winter, poorly maintained roads and vehicles, and poor road lighting. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you are twice as likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Latvia than in Australia.

Latvia has some road rules that Australian drivers may not be familiar with:

  • headlights must be on at all times.
  • winter tyres must be fitted from 1 December to 1 March. These dates may vary according to weather conditions.
  • the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers with driving experience of less than two years is 0.02. This means you can’t drink alcohol at all if you are driving.

Penalties for driving over the blood alcohol limit (0.05) may include a heavy fine, jail sentence, loss of licence and permanent vehicle confiscation.

More information: Road travel

Public transport

Public transport, including buses and trains are considered generally reliable and safe. Use officially marked taxis.

Air travel

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See 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.

More information: Arrested or in prison.

Drug laws

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

More information:

Other laws

Public consumption of alcohol, unless in a designated place, is illegal. Fines for walking with open beer/wine containers are common.

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 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 your 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

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.

More information:

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 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

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

Protect yourself against tick-borne illnesses by:

  • avoiding insect bites, always use 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
  • monitoring the tick site afterwards for any signs of infection.

Other diseases and health issues

Hepatitis A is a significant health concern and Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Latvia.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases can also occur. 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 good. 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:

Natural disasters

Latvia experiences extremely cold winters and heavy snowfall including in major metropolitan areas. This may cause severe transport delays and a temporary shutdown of infrastructure.

Flooding may occur in spring (March to May).

If there is a natural disaster or extreme conditions, use common sense, monitor the news and other local sources for up-to-date information, and follow the advice of local authorities.

More information: Severe weather.

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. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Firefighting and rescue services: 112
  • Medical emergencies: 113
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 110

Victims of crime should file a police report at the nearest police station. For social welfare emergencies, such as domestic violence or child abuse, dial 112 (English speaking operators are available).

 

Tourism services and products

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

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.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas.

Australia has a Consulate in Latvia headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides limited consular assistance. It does not provide visa and immigration services, nor does it issue passports. You can get full consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.

Australian Consulate, Riga 

Teikums Teodors
Gustava Zemgala Gatve 74
Riga LV-1039
LATVIA
Telephone: +371 29 509100
Email: AU.HonConsul.Riga@gmail.com

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

Facebook: Australian Embassy, Sweden

Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

Additional information