Fire and rescue services
Call 112 for social welfare emergencies, such as domestic violence or child abuse.
Petty crime is common, particularly in Riga. This includes bag snatching, pickpocketing and muggings. Hotspots include Old Town, the central train and bus stations, the Central Market, parks, and routes to major hotels. Take care of your belongings.
Check the price of drinks before ordering. Tourists are sometimes overcharged. Credit card fraud also occurs in shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Watch your card during transactions. Don't sign blank credit card slips.
Criminals may spike drinks in bars and casinos. Don't leave your drinks unattended.
Car theft is common. Use secure and well-lit car parks. Don't leave valuables in your vehicle.
Severe weather can disrupt transport and infrastructure. Latvia experiences extremely cold winters and heavy snowfall. Flooding can occur in spring, from March to May. Follow the advice of local authorities.
Full travel advice: Safety
Tick-borne encephalitis and other tick-borne diseases are a risk in forest areas. Ticks are active from March to November. Use insect repellent. Check your body for ticks during and after visits to forests.
Hepatitis A and tuberculosis are concerns in Latvia. Waterborne, foodborne, parasitic and other infectious diseases can also occur. Water contamination may be a problem in rural areas. Drink only boiled or bottled water. Avoid raw or undercooked food.
Public medical facilities are good in larger cities, but more limited in rural areas. Private facilities are of a similar standard to those in Australia. You may need to pay up-front. If you're seriously ill or injured, you may need medical evacuation. Ensure your travel insurance covers this.
Full travel advice: Health
Don't use or carry illegal drugs. Penalties are severe, even for small amounts. They include jail terms and heavy fines.
Don't drink alcohol in public, except in designated areas. Authorities may fine you for carrying open beer or wine containers.
Check with local officials before you export religious materials or antiques. There are restrictions on what you can export.
Latvia recognises dual nationality. Contact the nearest Latvian embassy or consulate for details. Always travel on your Australian passport.
Full travel advice: Local laws
Latvia is part of the Schengen area, which means you may be able to enter without a visa. If you need one, the Austrian Embassy in Canberra issues Latvian visas. Carry your passport when you're entering and leaving Latvia, even if you're travelling from or to another Schengen country.
Always carry your passport and your Latvian residency permit if you have one. Officials may ask to see them.
Make sure you have a travel insurance policy with medical cover. You need it to enter Latvia.
Driving in winter can be dangerous due to icy roads and low visibility. Legally, you must fit winter tyres from around 1 December to 1 March. Always drive with your headlights on. Blood alcohol limits are 0.02% if you've been driving for less than 2 years, and 0.05% for everyone else.
Full travel advice: Travel
Petty crime is common, particularly in Riga Old Town. This can include:
Hotspots for pickpockets include:
central train and bus stations
Riga Central Market
routes to major hotels
Pickpockets usually operate in groups.
Criminals may spike drinks in bars and casinos.
To protect yourself from spiking:
never accept food or drinks from strangers
don't leave your food or drink unattended
Reports of tourists being overcharged for drinks at restaurants and tourist pubs have declined. However, check drink prices before you order.
Credit card scams occur in places popular with tourists, such as:
Always keep your card in sight. Don't sign blank credit card slips.
Internet crime also happens, including online dating and financial scams.
Car theft is common, particularly in Riga.
To protect yourself:
use secure and well-lit car parks
don't leave valuables in a vehicle
Civil unrest is uncommon.
However, public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
If you're in an area where protests have happened:
monitor the media
follow the advice of local authorities
While there have been no recent terrorist attacks in Latvia, they can still happen.
There's an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorists have staged attacks in several European cities.
The Latvian State Security Service assesses Latvia's terrorist threat level as low.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Latvia experiences extremely cold winters and heavy snowfall. This can affect major metropolitan areas.
Severe weather can delay transport and temporarily shut down infrastructure.
Flooding may occur in spring, from March to May.
If there's a natural disaster or extreme weather:
use common sense
monitor the news and other local sources for up-to-date information
follow the advice of local authorities
Register with the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System to receive alerts on major disasters.
To enter Latvia, you must have a valid health insurance policy that guarantees coverage of any health-related expense during your stay, including repatriation. If you do not have appropriate travel insurance, you may be required to purchase appropriate medical insurance upon arrival.
Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
what activities and care your policy covers
that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
have a basic health check-up
ask if your travel plans may affect your health
plan any vaccinations you need
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Latvia. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
what the medicine is
how much you'll take
that it's for personal use
Tick-borne encephalitis and other tick-borne diseases are a risk in forest areas.
Ticks are active in spring to autumn, from March to November.
To protect yourself from disease:
use insect repellent
wear long, loose, light-coloured clothing
check your body for ticks during and after forest visits
If a tick bites you:
remove it from your body as soon as possible
make sure you remove the whole tick
monitor the site for signs of infection
Hepatitis A is a major health concern.
Tuberculosis is an increasing risk.
Waterborne, foodborne, parasitic and other infectious diseases can also occur. Water contamination may be a problem in rural areas.
To protect yourself from illness:
boil all drinking water or drink bottled water with intact seals
avoid ice cubes
avoid uncooked and undercooked food, such as salads
Seek medical advice if you suspect food poisoning or have a fever or diarrhoea.
In large cities, the standard of public medical facilities is good. However in rural areas, public medical facilities may be more limited.
Most private medical facilities are well equipped. Services are of a similar standard to those in Australia.
You may need to pay doctors and hospitals up-front before they'll treat you.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to evacuate to a place with better facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties are severe for drug offences, including for possessing small amounts of drugs. Penalties may include long jail terms and heavy fines.
You can't drink alcohol in a public place, unless it's in a designated area. Authorities often issue fines to people for walking with open beer or wine containers.
Authorities also strictly control the export of:
If you're in doubt, check with local authorities. Before you buy an item, ask authorities whether you're allowed to export it.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders.
Make sure you meet all entry and exit conditions. If you don't, the Australian Government can't help you.
Latvia is part of the Schengen area, along with many other European countries. You can enter Latvia without a visa in some cases.
Monitor border conditions by:
checking local news sources
asking transport providers directly
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. These include visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
Latvia doesn't have an embassy in Australia. If you do need a visa, you can apply for it through the Austrian Embassy in Canberra.
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Authorities may ask you to verify your identity while you're in Latvia. Always carry:
your Latvian residency permit, if you have one
Get an entry stamp in your passport from border control staff when you first enter the Schengen area.
Carry a valid passport whenever you enter or leave Latvia. You need this even if you're travelling from or to another Schengen country.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
To enter Latvia, you must have a valid health insurance policy. Your cover must include any health-related expenses during your stay, including the cost of flying you home.
If you don't have adequate insurance, authorities may ask you to buy a policy when you arrive.
The local currency is the Euro.
Latvia is a member of the European Union (EU). If you're travelling between Latvia and any non-EU country, you must declare amounts over 10,000 euros or equivalent. This covers all forms of currency, not only cash.
You'll have to pay a fine when you enter or leave Latvia if you:
don't declare this money
give incorrect information
You don't need to declare currency if you're travelling between EU countries.
If you plan to drive in Latvia, you are required to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP). Get your IDP before you leave Australia.
Driving can be dangerous. Hazards include:
icy roads and low visibility in winter
poorly maintained roads and vehicles
dimly lit roads
You're 2 times as likely to die in a motor vehicle accident in Latvia as in Australia.
Learn the local road rules, including:
always drive with headlights on
fit winter tyres from around 1 December to 1 March (dates vary with weather conditions)
If you've been driving for less than 2 years, the blood alcohol limit is 0.02%. For everyone else, the limit is 0.05%.
Penalties for driving over the limit can include:
a heavy fine
a jail sentence
losing your licence
losing your vehicle permanently
Public transport, including buses and trains, is generally reliable and safe.
Use official, well-marked taxis. These display yellow license plates.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Latvia's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
family and friends
Call 112 for social welfare emergencies, such as domestic violence or child abuse.
English-speaking operators are available.
The Riga tourist police unit has a 24-hour hotline in English. To report a crime, call 2 203 3000 or 67 181818.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
Australia has a Consulate in Latvia headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides limited consular assistance. It does not provide visa and immigration services or passports. For full consular services, contact the Australian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.
Gustava Zemgala Gatve 74
Telephone: +371 29 509100
Klarabergsviadukten 63, 8th Floor
111 64 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46 0 8 613 2900
Facebook: Australian Embassy, Sweden
Check the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
+61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
1300 555 135 in Australia
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.