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Latest updates: The Safety and security tab was updated - removal of U.S. Travel Alert for the holiday season.
Latvia - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Latvia. Exercise normal security precautions.
Safety and security
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. Avoid walking alone after dark, especially in parks and poorly lit areas.
Car theft is common, particularly in Riga. Never leave personal belongings unattended in a vehicle, and use secure parking facilities, especially overnight.
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.
Credit card fraud is a concern. When using your card, ensure that it remains in view and retain your transaction copy along with the carbon paper, should there be one.
Avoid invitations by strangers to visit local bars. This is usually a ploy to overcharge customers for drinks. Discussions about overcharging may lead to threats of violence and security guards may force you to pay.
See Overseas Fraud for more information on scams abroad.
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities and there is a potential for other violent incidents, which could target areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Continue to exercise normal security precautions.
Poor driving standards, aggressive drivers and heavy traffic create hazards.
The highway system is generally good, but poor lighting poses risks to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Secondary roads may not be paved.
Winter driving can be especially dangerous since roads are not always cleared of snow. Beware of fog, snow and ice while driving.
Bus service is generally comfortable and reliable. Trains operate throughout the country.
Taxis are a reliable means of transportation. Use only officially marked taxis, such as Baltic Taxi, Lady Taxi and Red Cab.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
General safety information
Exercise normal safety precautions. Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash. Ensure that your personal belongings, including passports and other travel documents, are secure at all times.
Dial 1188 to reach the tourist inquiry hotline for tourism information, assistance and advice or to express a grievance; assistance is available in English.
The Riga Municipality Police has a tourism division for foreigners in distress; dial +371 6718 1818 for assistance, available in English, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Latvian authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Latvia is a Schengen area country. Upon arrival, Canadians are required to present a passport that must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of expected departure from the Schengen area. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
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.
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.
Canadians do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any country within the Schengen area. If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for longer than the 90 days in any 180-day period, you must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa prior to travel. For more information, see Schengen area.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - July 28, 2016 00:00 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider 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 and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks (e.g., those participating in outdoor activities in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
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.
|* 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.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
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
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.
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 provider.
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
Medical facilities are generally good in major centres, but they may be limited in rural areas. Basic medical supplies, however, are generally available. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate payment for health services. Medical evacuation, which can be very expensive, may be necessary in the event of serious illness or injury. Make sure you have travel insurance that covers all medical expenses, including hospitalization abroad and medical evacuation, in case of illness or injury.
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
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Canada and Latvia are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (Council of Europe). 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.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Latvia. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Latvian citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Latvian passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
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.
A Canadian driver’s licence is valid in Latvia for one year. An International Driving Permit is recommended.
The use of cell telephones while driving is prohibited, unless they are fitted with a hands-free device.
Headlights must be on at all times and the use of seat belts is mandatory.
Vehicles should be equipped for severe conditions and must be fitted with winter tires between December 1 and March 1. All vehicles must have a first-aid kit and emergency travel equipment (e.g. warning triangle, fire extinguisher).
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. Convicted offenders 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.
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.
Strict regulations are in place on religious materials and antiquities. Contact the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia for specific information regarding customs requirements or confirm with local authorities if you may take such items with you before attempting to leave Latvia.
The currency of Latvia is the Euro (EUR).
Foreign currency is easily exchanged. While becoming increasingly uncommon, traveller’s cheques can be cashed at banks for a fee.
Credit cards (primarily Visa and MasterCard) are widely accepted in Riga and other major centres. Automated banking machines are widely available, and most will accept Canadian bank cards and major credit cards.
When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheque, money order, traveller’s cheque or any other convertible asset. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on EU currency legislation and links to EU member sites, visit the European Commission’s cash controls website.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Winter weather can be severe due to heavy snowfall and extremely cold temperatures. Flooding may occur in spring.
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
Riga - Embassy of Canada
Stockholm - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the embassy of Canada 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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