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Latvia - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Latvia.
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.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
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.
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.
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.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Measles in Europe - March 5, 2018
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 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 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.
* 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
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 must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
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.
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.
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.
Other traffic laws
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. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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