- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Latvia.
- Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
- There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
- Although civil unrest is generally not a problem in Latvia, you should avoid large demonstrations and protests as they may turn violent.
- Australia has a Consulate in Riga, headed by an Honorary Consul, which provides limited consular assistance (not including the issue of passports). The Australian Embassy in Sweden provides full consular assistance to Australians in Latvia.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Latvia for the most up to date information.
By agreement between the Latvian and Austrian governments, Australian residents applying for Latvian visas may submit their visa applications through the Austrian Embassy in Canberra.
When entering Latvia you are required to have a passport with at least three months’ validity remaining. You are also required to have a valid health insurance policy that guarantees coverage of any health-related expense during your stay. If you do not have appropriate insurance, you may be required upon arrival to purchase appropriate medical insurance.
Latvia is a party to the Schengen Convention, along with 25 other European countries, which allows Australians to enter Latvia without a visa in some circumstances. See our travel bulletin on the Schengen Convention for more information.
The export of religious materials and antiques is subject to strict export controls. Local authorities can confirm prior to purchase whether export of such items is permitted.
People travelling directly to or from a country outside the European Union (EU) carrying 10,000 euros or more (or the equivalent amount in another currency) are required to declare the cash at the place of their arrival or departure from the EU. Under the legislation, the term "cash" includes cheques, travellers' cheques and money orders. Travellers failing to declare the cash or providing incomplete or incorrect information will incur a fine. There is no requirement to declare cash for people travelling to or from another EU country.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
Civil unrest/Political tension
Although civil unrest is generally not a problem in Latvia, you should avoid all large demonstrations and protests as they may turn violent.
We advise you to exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Street crime occurs, particularly in the capital Riga, including bag snatching, pickpocketing, mugging and petty theft. Airports, train stations, the Central Market, parks, routes to major hotels and the Old Town are prime locations for pickpockets. Pickpockets usually operate in groups.
A number of crimes committed against foreigners at bars, clubs and lounges in Riga have been reported. Visitors have been charged extortionate prices for drinks. You should check the price of drinks before ordering. Discussions about overcharging have been known to lead to violent assault or threats of violence. Security guards may compel you to pay.
Drink spiking occurs in bars and casinos. Do not leave drinks unattended.
Foreigners have been the victims of serious assault. Young males, either alone or in groups, returning to hotels or hostels from bars and clubs late at night, are particular targets for violent assaults. Avoid parks and areas near parks late at night.
Car theft is common, particularly in Riga. You should use well-guarded car parks whenever possible.
Victims of crime should file a police report at the nearest police station. Police in Latvia can be slow in assisting victims of crime. It could take 4-5 hours before a police report is issued to a non-Latvian speaker.
The Latvian State Tourism Development Agency has created a 24 hour Tourism Hotline (+371 2 203 3000 or +371 67 181818, English speaking), that can be used to lodge complaints about crimes in Latvia.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Latvia.
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 and under no circumstances sign blank credit card slips.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
Latvia has a high rate of car accidents and fatalities. Latvian law requires drivers to use their headlights at all times, including during the day. Winter tyres are required from 1 December to 1 March.
For further advice, see our Overseas Road Safety travel bulletin.
Please refer to our travel bulletin for information about Aviation Safety and Security.
When you are in Latvia, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Penalties for drug offences, including possession of small amounts, are severe and may include long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Driving offences attract harsh penalties. Penalties for driving over the blood alcohol limit (0.05) may include a heavy fine, jail sentence, loss of licence and permanent vehicle confiscation.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
Information for dual nationals
Latvia recognises dual nationality in limited circumstances. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Latvian dual nationals who are arrested or detained. If in doubt, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Latvia for information on your dual nationality status. We recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.
Our Dual Nationals brochure provides further information for dual nationals.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. 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 a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization provides information for travellers and our 'Travelling Well' brochure also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while overseas.
The standard of public medical facilities in Latvia's large cities is reasonable. In rural regions, however, 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. In the event of a serious accident or illness, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities may be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could be considerable.
Emergency services can be contacted on 112.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis) can occur in Latvia.
Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis and other tick-borne diseases. Ticks are common from spring to autumn.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed cases of avian influenza in birds in a number of countries throughout the world. For a list of these countries, visit the OIE website. For information on our advice to Australians on how to reduce the risk of infection and on Australian Government precautions see our travel bulletin on avian influenza.
Where to get help
Australia has a Consulate in Latvia headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides limited consular assistance (not including the issue of passports). Contact details for the Consulate are:
Australian Consulate, Riga
Vilandes Iela 7
LV-1010 Riga LATVIA
Telephone: +371 67 320 509
Facsimile: +371 67 320 516
You can obtain full consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Sweden:
Australian Embassy, Stockholm
If you are travelling to Latvia, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children brochure.
If you are planning on placing your children in schools or childcare facilities overseas we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments. You should exercise the same precautions you would take before placing children into schools or childcare facilities in Australia.