consular information - how we can help
where can i get a visa or renew my passport? DO I NEED A VISA ?
U.S. citizens and passport holders do not need a visa to enter Latvia (as a tourist, for maximum of 90 days within a 6 month period).
Citizens from EU members states, as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico, Taiwan, and Brazil, do not need a visa to visit Latvia. Click here to see a full list of countries whose citizens may enter Latvia without a visa.
Citizens of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China and other countries, not included on the visa-free list, require a visa to travel to Latvia
If you are in New York (or the Tri-State area) and require a Schengen visa for a short-term stay in Latvia, under a joint co-operation agreement between Latvia and Estonia, you can apply for a visa through the Estonian Consulate General here in New York City. The Consulate of Latvia in New York does not issue any visas (or passports).
You can contact the Estonian Consulate General directly for your visa appointment tel: +1-212-883-0636 or email to email@example.com.
All applications require the following:
a) application form
b) passport photo
c) valid travel passport / travel document
d) proof of travel health insurance
e) proof of legal USA residence
f) application fee
g) supporting documents detailing the reason for the visit, return air ticket and proof of accommodation.
More information can be found here.
If you reside on the West Coast of the U.S., then under a co-operation agreement with Poland, you can apply for a Schengen Visa to travel to Latvia via the Consulate General of Poland in Los Angeles. For more information, please click here. All other application requests for a visa should be made directly to the Embassy of Latvia in Washington D.C.
If you wish to apply for a passport, work and residence permit, citizenship, and or have any related legal question or need for an official document from Latvia, these matters are handled by the Consular section of the Embassy of Latvia in Washington D.C (click here for more details). Although we are happy to provide you with advice over the phone or by email, unfortunately, the Consulate in New York does not deal with such administrative matters and applications.
Renewing your Latvian passport
If your current Latvian passport has expired or is about to expire, then you can renew this through the Latvian Embassy in Washington D.C. Unfortunately, the Consulate of Latvia in New York cannot issue the new format passports.
You will need to apply for a new passport, make an appointment with the Embassy to have your biometric passport photo and fingerprints taken. Once this is done, it can take up 6-8 weeks for the passport to be issued and sent to you. A new passport costs $130 for those between 20 and 62 years of age; for those under 20 years of age and over the age of 65, the cost is $100. If you also need a Latvian State ID card as well as the passport the fee is $140 ($120 for those 62 years or older or under 20 years of age). Alternatively, you can also have your passport renewed if you are in Riga. Passports in Riga can be issued within 2-4 business days (a rush fee may apply. Note, the Latvian Embassy in Washington D.C. can only issue a new passport to Latvian citizens who are residing in the United States legally (i.e. have a valid visa, Green Card, or other form of legal residency status).
If you have an expired passport and are not here on a legal basis, the Embassy will not be able to issue you a new passport. Note also, if you hold a non-citizens passport issued by the Latvian government, this can also be renewed in person at the Embassy in Washington D.C. However, non-citizen passports cannot be renewed for those people who have already acquired a U.S. passport, or passport from another country. Please visit the Latvian Embassy website for more details.
All passport applications and renewals require an appointment and visit to the Embassy in Washington D.C. because all new passports include biometric data.The Consular section from Washington D.C. does visit New York, but only once a year (typically in the late summer/early fall). Please see our website or the Embassy's website for the next scheduled visit time. They announce visits to New York (and other States in the U.S.) two months ahead.
Entry into Latvia - requirements for travelers from the United States - FAQ
U.S. citizens do not need a visa to travel to Latvia up to 90 days in a half a year, counting from the first day of entry. In order to travel to Latvia, U.S. citizens are required to hold a valid U.S. citizen passport with a term validity that exceeds the intended period of stay in Latvia by at least three months and a valid health insurance policy for international travel.
Health insurance is required to enter Latvia: to enter any Schengen State country in Europe, travelers need to have standard travel medical insurance that covers medical emergencies up to USD 50,000 (per person). This can be purchased online from a large number of travel insurance providers. If you do not have medical insurance whilst traveling in Latvia you will be at risk of paying for your medical expenses if, by any chance, you have an accident or become ill.
To remain in Latvia for more than 90 days, or to work, study or reside in Latvia, as a self-employed person, a U.S. citizen is required to obtain a temporary residence permit. Please visit the website of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs.
U.S. permanent residents ("Green Card" holders) need a Schengen visa to enter Latvia unless they are citizens of countries whose citizens do not need a visa, and hold a valid passport of that country. An updated list of countries whose citizens do not need a visa to enter Latvia can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website here.
Applying for a Schengen visa - what do I need? where do I apply? ... FAQ
Tourists travel to Latvia on a Schengen visa, which is valid for staying in Latvia as well as in the other Schengen Area member states. Passport control on the border is only done once the person crosses into the Schengen Area. If the person has been issued a visa for a short-stay visit to a Schengen country, the maximum duration of the intended stay is 90 days within a 180-day period. If the person needs to stay in Latvia for longer than 90 days, he or she has to apply for a long-stay visa or a residence permit.
If you wish to visit several Schengen countries, you do not have to apply for a visa in each of the given Schengen country’s diplomatic missions. An application for a visa has to be submitted only to the mission of that country that is your main destination. If there is no main destination, you have to turn to a mission of the country whose external border will be the first to be crossed in order to enter the Schengen Area.
If a third-country national needs to enter a Schengen member state but there are circumstances forbidding him to have a uniform visa valid in all Schengen member states, he or she may be granted a visa with a limited territorial validity. It means that visa is not valid for entering all Schengen member states, but only those indicated on the visa.
To apply for a visa, the following documentation must be submitted: a passport, a visa application form, a photograph, medical insurance policy valid for travel to the entire Schengen Area, documents justifying purpose of entry and other documents which are applicable and pertinent.
The standard cost of a visa is $80 ($50 for citizens of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova).
If you live in New York (or the Tri-State area), you can now apply for the visa through the Estonian Consulate General here in New York City. To apply for a visa please contact them tel: +1-212-883-0636 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please click here. All other application requests for a visa should be made directly to the Embassy of Latvia in Washington D.C.
Collecting biometrics - VIS - Visa Information System
The Latvian Embassy in Washington D.C. and other Schengen State’s embassies and consulates in the U.S. implemented the Visa Information System (VIS).
The VIS is a system for the exchange of visa data among Schengen Member States. These States share a common area of free movement without internal border controls. They have a common visa policy which includes exchanging information on visa applicants.
The visa applicant's biometric data (10-digit finger scans and digital photograph) is collected. It is a simple and discreet procedure that only takes a few minutes. Biometric data, along with the data provided in the visa application form, is recorded in a secure central database.
10-digit finger scans are neither required from children under the age of 12 nor from people who cannot physically provide finger scans.
Frequent travellers to the Schengen Area do not have to give new finger scans every time they apply for a new visa. Once finger scans are stored in the VIS, they can be re-used for further visa applications over a 5-year period.
What does this mean to you if you are applying for a visa to enter Latvia?
If you have never had your biometrics (fingerprints) taken at a Schengen State embassy or consulate for a visa to travel to Europe/Latvia, you will need to make an appointment. If you live in New York, you can now do this via the Consulate General of Estonia in New York. If you reside on the West Coast, you can now do this via the Consulate General of Poland in Los Angeles. All other applicants will need to contact the Embassy of Latvia in Washington D.C., and go there for your visa application appointment. All visa applicants will have to appear in person when lodging the application, in order to provide their fingerprints. You cannot apply by mail for a visa. Nor, unfortunately, can you do this via the Consulate of Latvia in New York.
An appointment this normally takes 7 days to schedule. But you can requested expedited service for an additional fee. After your appointment, the visa will be sent back to you by mail or FedEx, and this take about 10 days. An expedited service can also be arranged if required.
If you have had your biometrics taken at a Schengen State embassy/consulate for a visa to travel to Europe/Latvia in the past 5 years, you only need to send your application and passport to the Embassy of Latvia in Washington D.C. (or the Consulate General of the Republic of Estonia in New York City) in order to receive your new visa.
You can find all application documents for a Schengen visa on the Embassy of Latvia's website, in the Consular information section.
As reminder, you need to apply for a Schengen visa if a) your are not a U.S. passport holder and do not hold a passport of a country that does not require a Schengen visa (see list here); b) Latvia is your primary destination in Europe; b) Latvia is your only destination in Europe; or, c) you have a number of destinations in Europe, but your first port of entry is Latvia.
No border controls for traveling in the Schengen Area
Latvia is part of the Schengen Area. The Schengen agreement allows for passport-free travel across 26 nations in Europe. Those travelers requiring a visa for Latvia require a Schengen visa. A valid Schengen visa is valid for entry into the territory of Latvia.
There are no border controls on the internal borders between Schengen countries, therefore citizens of the European Union and third-country nationals are free to travel within the Schengen Area. If you arrive in Latvia by car or bus from Lithuania or Estonia, or if you travel by ferry or plane from the Schengen countries, you will not have to go through border controls. However, if emergency situations should arise, Schengen member states do have the capacity to temporarily reintroduce border controls for a certain period of time. So please check on such information and verify the conditions and circumstances before beginning your trip.
While under normal conditions, there are indeed no border controls, this does not mean you can leave your travel document behind. While traveling in the Schengen Area, you must have your passport along, and it is this document that can be used as proof of your identity. Bear in mind that drivers’ licenses and bankcards are not deemed to be valid travel documents and such documents are also not considered valid for purposes of personal identification.
Customs procedures - what you need to know regarding entry into Latvia
Travelers in the European Union need to take into consideration that there are maximum amount restrictions on several kinds of goods that may be brought into a European Union member state – tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, coffee, and fuel. Should the maximum limit be exceeded, the goods have to be declared and the applicable excise tax on the goods exceeding the specified limit must be paid.
If you are traveling to the European Union from a third country, different restrictions apply. Persons arriving in the European Union, including in Latvia, have to observe stringent rules concerning food products that they may carry. Meat and meat products, milk and dairy products may not be brought into the European Union for one’s own consumption.
Traveling via Riga, in transit, to another final destination - do I need a Transit Visa ?
If you are flying via Riga to another country, changing planes at Riga airport and Riga is your first entry point in Europe, you do not need a Transit Visa for Latvia. However, if you are flying via Riga to another country, changing planes at Riga airport, and Riga is not your first entry point in Europe (e.g. you are flying first to Denmark or Sweden or Germany, then via Riga to another country), you will need a Schengen zone Transit Visa for Latvia. This Transit Visa can be obtained from the Latvian Embassy in Washington D.C.or via the Estonian Consulate General in New York.
Please note, if your passport requires a visa for entry into Latvia or you are transiting via Riga to another country and Riga is your second entry point to Europe, and your point of departure is the United States, then if you do not have a valid visa you risk not being allowed to board your flight here in the United States.
Transit Visas: these must be applied for before you travel to Latvia - they cannot be issued upon arrival in Latvia.
U.S. Visa - for travelers to the United States from Latvia
As of November 17, 2008, when going on a short leisure or business trip to the USA, Latvian citizens can now travel to the U.S. under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP). However, all individuals having different purpose of travel than aforementioned are required to obtain an appropriate U.S. visa.
Latvian citizens who have valid tourist/business visas may continue traveling with their visas if they choose so. No additional/new requirements for travelers with visas apply.
Latvian non-citizens are always required to obtain a U.S. visa for any purpose of travel.
Please note: Travelers who hold dual citizenship with the United States must enter and depart the United States on U.S. passports.
Requesting a specific document issued in Latvia
You can request a birth or marriage certificate; information about your relatives in Latvia; information about the duration of your employment in Latvia, real estate in Latvia, etc. Please visit the Latvian Embassy website for more details.
Using official U.S. documents in Latvia
Before you can submit official U.S. documents to Latvia's official institutions, they need to be authorized with a special Apostille certification. In New York City, an Apostille may be secured from the Department of State, Certification Unit, 123 William Street, 19th floor, New York, NY 10038. The country where the document is being sent to must be specified. The telephone number is +1-212-417-5684. You may also bring your document to the New York City Office for processing between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:30 pm.
Please note, if the document has also been Notarized, then the signature of the Notary first has to be verified by the County Clerk's Office: New York County Courthouse, 60 Centre Street, New York, New York10007. The Notary office is in the basement. So, you need to go to Centre Street first, get the Notary's signature verified, then go to William Street for the Apostille.The filing fee for an Apostille is $10 per document.
My parents or grandparents were born in Latvia - if I am a U.S. citizen now can I also be a Latvian citizen and how do I apply for citizenship?
As of October 1, 2013, if you are eligible and hold a passport from a country with which Latvia recognizes dual citizenship (e.g. the U.S.), you may be able to apply for Latvian citizenship. You can read further about the rules and regulations and how to apply at the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs.
There are 3 categories of eligibility that you may apply under:
Exiles (those who were forced to leave Latvia between June 17, 1940 and May 4, 1990 due to foreign occupation) and their descendants who were born (and will have been born) by October 1, 2014
Latvia citizenship can be requested by those who were citizens of Latvia on June 17, 1940 and who fled occupation and left Latvia between June 17, 1940 and May 4, 1990, and for this reason did not return to Latvia, as well as their descendants, who will be born by October 1, 2014. Dual citizenship is allowed with any other country!
At the time of your birth at least one of your parents was a citizen of Latvia
In this case dual citizenship is allowed for those who are citizens of the member states of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), NATO or if you are a citizen of Australia, Brazil or New Zealand (children are eligible for dual citizenship with any country, but at age 25 will have to make a choice).
You are an ethnic Latvian or Liv
In requesting citizenship based on your ethnic origin you will be required to pass a language exam in Latvia. You are allowed to maintain dual citizenship with any other country!
Please see this section of their website that details how to register, under what category you might be eligible, and what documents need to be supplied and what forms need to be completed with your application.
If you wish to register by sending your application documents to the Embassy in Washington, please note that you have to include a money order for USD 65 (payable to the Embassy of Latvia) which is the fee to have your application forwarded to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs in Latvia. Please add US 15 to your money order for your original document copies to be mailed back to you or USD 25 if you need them FedEx'd back to you. Note, if you do not wish to supply originals of your documents to the Embassy in Washington you can send notarized copies of them. If you are sending copies of any official U.S. documents (like a U.S. birth certificate), then these need to also have an Apostille stamp on them (supplied by your local US Dept. of State Offices) in addition to the notary stamp. No other copies will be accepted. Your application form and request documents do not have to be notarized - only legal documents like passports and birth certificates, etc..
Please note, that if you hold a non-citizen passport issued by the Latvian government and you have acquired a U.S. passport, you are then no longer permitted to hold a Latvian non-citizen's passport. Your non-citizen Latvian passport must be returned to the Embassy of Latvia in Washington D.C. with a letter explaining when you acquired U.S. citizenship.
You can read more about the application steps and documents needed on the Embassy's website here.
The validity of a U.S. drivers license in Latvia
Drivers licenses issued in the U.S. are valid in Latvia.
Applying for a pension from Latvia
Under the current agreement between Latvia and the United States Latvian citizens who reside in the United States can only receive a pension if they became of pensionable age whilst still living in Latvia. For those Latvian pensioners who left Latvia after January 1, 2002, you can receive a pension if you now live in the United States (however, the pension cannot be paid here, but has to be paid into a bank account in Latvia). For information about pensions, please visit the website of the State Social Insurance Agency for further details (see pages in English, Latvian and Russian). You can also email the Riga office branch: email@example.com (which handles all U.S. related pension enquires). The Consulate in New York nor the Embassy in Washington can handle any of these matters. You must contact Riga with your specific pension questions and needs.
Applying to stay in Latvia for more than 90 days at a time
If for any reason you wish to stay in Latvia for more than 90 days at a time, you will need to apply for permission from the government. For further information, please visit the website of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs.
I would like to work in Latvia as a foreigner - how can I do this?
Foreigners wishing to work in Latvia must have a visa and proper immigration status. You cannot work if you are in Latvia on a tourist visa. For more information about work visas, please visit the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs.
Getting a document notarized by the Consulate in New York
Unfortunately, the Consulate of Latvia in New York cannot provide notary services. Please see your local Notary if you need a document notarized.
Getting a document translated from Latvian to English or getting assistance with interpreter services from Latvian to English
The Consulate is happy to assist with translation services from Latvian to English. A charge will apply depending upon the number of hours involved. Please email us your request.
I hold a Latvian passport which has expired, I have no other passport and I need to travel back to Latvia urgently
If you have a Latvian passport which has expired and need to return to Latvia for an emergency, then the easiest way to do so is to apply for a one-way return document from the Embassy of Latvia in Washington D.C. This will allow you to return to Latvia and then get a new passport whilst you are there. However, you will only be able to return to the United States if you eligible to re-enter the U.S. holding a valid passport, entry document (visa, Green Card, etc.), or have secured permission to enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (which now also includes citizens from Latvia).
I need to have my current Latvian passport certified as a valid document
If you hold a current Latvian passport, the Embassy in Washington D.C. will be able to assist you with an official certification that it is current and a valid document issued by the Republic of Latvia.
We need to send the remains of a deceased person back to Latvia
In circumstances where the remains of a deceased person need to be sent to Latvia the remains needs to be placed in a secure and sealed vessel (with a tamper-proof seal). A funeral director must attest that the only contents in the vessel or casket are that of the remains of the deceased. The documentation that accompanies the remains must include the following: a) an original Certificate of Death (which states the reason for the death); b) an original Certificate of Cremation (if applicable); c) a letter from the funeral director attesting that the casket or urn contains only the remains of the deceased and nothing else; d) if applicable, an embalming certificate that states that the remains of the late have been properly embalmed and are free of any infectious diseases; and e) a document confirming customs clearance regarding the contents of the shipment (declaration that the late is not known to be of an infectious nature of Certificate in Relation to removal of a body outside the State). The above documents must be signed in the presence of a Notary. Then the above documents must have an Apostille seal attached to them. This Apostille certification is available from the Department of State, which has offices in each State (in NYC their offices are located at 123 William Street, in Lower Manhattan). We recommend that a copy of these documents be kept by the person sending the remains to Latvia.
What currency do they use in Latvia?
The euro. Latvia adopted the euro as its currency on January 1, 2014, replacing the Latvian lats.
How do I know I have a valid Latvian passport?
The latest new (European Union) passport currently issued by Latvia is a personal identification travel document that contains a microchip, including personal biometrics such as a digital picture and fingerprints.
Citizen passports issued after July 1, 2002, containing a scanned signature and picture, will be valid until the expiration date and do not have to be changed, unless they have expired.
All citizen passports (blue color) issued before July 1, 2002, containing a glued photograph, as well as passports without an expiration date (beztermiņa), will not be valid for international travel beginning July 1, 2008. You will not be allowed to travel with such a document.
Non-citizen passports (violet color) are valid until the expiration date and do not have to be changed, unless they have expired.
Information in Latvian
Information on passports, repatriating to Latvia, pensions, return certificates, consular register, etc. Visit the Latvian Embassy website here for more details.
Emergency contact assistance
If you are a Latvian citizen visiting the United States and need emergency assistance out of hours you can also contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Emergency Desk in Riga: tel +371 26 33 77 or also visit the Ministry's website page here. They are there to assist in the case of a accident, death, sudden illness, or emergency financial situation.