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COVID-19 – Global travel advisory
Effective date: March 13, 2020
Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.
This advisory overrides other risk levels on this page, with the exception of any risk levels for countries or regions where we advise to avoid all travel.
Latvia - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Latvia.
Safety and security
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs in Riga, especially in the old part of town, in the market area and around the main railway station. Car theft is common.
- Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash
- Avoid walking alone after dark, especially in parks and poorly lit areas
- Never leave personal belongings unattended in a vehicle
- Use secure parking facilities, especially overnight
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. There is a potential for other violent incidents.
Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.
Credit card and ATM fraud is a concern. Strangers may invite you to visit local bars. This is often a ploy to overcharge customers for drinks. Discussions about overcharging may lead to threats of violence and security guards may force you to pay.
Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
More about overseas fraud
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as these items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Demonstrations may occur. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Road conditions and road safety can vary greatly throughout the country.
The highway system is generally good, but poor lighting poses risks to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Secondary roads may not be paved.
Driving conditions may be hazardous during winter since roads are not always cleared of snow. Beware of fog, snow and ice while driving.
Drivers are extremely aggressive and reckless.
Bus service is generally comfortable and reliable. Trains operate throughout the country.
Taxis are a reliable means of transportation. Use only officially marked taxis.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
COVID-19 - Entry to the European Union countries
The recent European Council’s announcement about the reopening of European Union’s external borders to travellers arriving from certain countries, including Canada, is only a recommendation to the EU Member States. Member States make their own individual determination of who they allow to enter and under what conditions. Special entry requirements could include:
- entry bans, particularly for non-residents
- quarantines of 14 days or more upon arrival, some in designated facilities, at your own cost
- health screenings and certificates as well as proof of adequate travel health insurance
- travel authorization documents to be obtained before you travel
Consider even your transit points, as many destinations have implemented strict transit rules which could disrupt your travel. Check with the diplomatic mission of the countries you plan on visiting and transiting through to know who they allow to enter and under what conditions.
Additional restrictions can be imposed suddenly. Airlines can also suspend or reduce flights without notice. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted, making it difficult for you to return home. You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance related to changes to your travel plans.
- Contact your airline or tour operator to confirm your travel plans
- Contact the nearest foreign diplomatic office for information on destination-specific restrictions
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Latvian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Latvia is a Schengen area country. Canadian citizens do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area. However, visa-free travel only applies to stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country.
If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for a longer period of time, you will need a visa. You must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa(s) prior to travel.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you expect to leave the Schengen area.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: not required for stays up to 90 days*
Business visa: not required for stays up to 14 days
Student visa: not required for stays up to 90 days*
Work permit: required
* The 90-day period begins upon initial entry into any country of the Schengen area. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country within any 180-day period.
When entering Latvia, you must be able to show sufficient proof of medical insurance to customs officials. The insurance must cover the entire length of your stay. If you do not have proof of insurance coverage, you may be required to obtain health insurance from a Latvian insurance company when you arrive.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Pandemic COVID-19 all countries: avoid non-essential travel outside Canada - April 19, 2020
- Global Measles Notice - July 23, 2019
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
- Tick-borne encephalitis is present in some areas of this country.
- It is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
- It is spread to humans by the bite of infected ticks or when you consume unpasteurized milk products.
- Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks during outdoor activities.
- A vaccine against TBE does exist but is only available in countries where the disease is present.
- Learn more on what you can do to prevent tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)?
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Eastern Europe, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Eastern Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Eastern Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in Eastern Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Good health care is only available in major cities. Quality of care varies greatly throughout the country.
Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate payment for health services.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons
Canada and Latvia are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Latvia to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Latvian authorities.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences or heavy fines.
Drinking alcohol in public could lead to detention and a fine.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Latvia.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Latvia, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
Export of religious items and antiquities
Strict regulations are in place on exporting religious items or antiquities. If you purchase or acquire any such item while in Latvia, confirm with local authorities if you may export such items with you before attempting to leave.
You can drive in Latvia with your valid Canadian driver’s licence for one year.
However, you should carry an international driving permit.
Penalties for drinking and driving are severe. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.02 percent for drivers with less than two years of driving experience and 0.05 percent for others. If a police officer suspects you of drinking and driving, they could confiscate your driver's licence on the spot. If you’re convicted, you can expect heavy fines or jail sentences.
If you are involved in an accident, do not move the vehicles until authorized to do so by the police.
All vehicles must have a first-aid kit and emergency travel equipment.
Pedestrians are required to wear small reflectors from dusk until dawn. These are usually pinned to coats or bags. This is particularly important in rural areas, where lack of lighting makes it difficult for drivers to see pedestrians.
When using public transportation, tickets must be validated at the start of any trip. You could be fined on the spot if you fail to show a validated ticket to an official upon request.
The currency of Latvia is the Euro (EUR).
When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs if you have at least €10,000, or the equivalent in other currencies.
This includes the sum of cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets.
This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country.
Cash controls - European Commission
Natural disasters and climate
Winter weather can be severe due to heavy snowfall and extremely cold temperatures.
Flooding may occur in spring.
These conditions can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services. If you decide to travel to Latvia during these periods:
- be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
- stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
Touristic Police in Riga
If you need help, dial +371 6718 1818 for assistance, available in English, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Tourist inquiry hotline
If you’re looking for advice or want to express a grievance, dial 1188. Assistance is available in English.
Riga - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the embassy of Canada in Latvia, in Riga, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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