Advice for British people living in Latvia, including information on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.
Living in Latvia
This guide sets out essential information for British nationals residing in Latvia, including advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our information on what consulates can and cannot do for British nationals.
Before travelling to Latvia we strongly advise that you read our travel advice.
Entry and residence requirements
If you are a British citizen and British passport holder, you do not require a visa to enter Latvia. Other British nationals should confirm the current entry requirements with their nearest Latvian embassy. You will find contact details for Latvian embassies on the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
If you plan to stay in Latvia for longer than 3 consecutive months you will need to register with the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA). This requirement does not apply to British nationals studying in Latvia, who can stay in the country for up to a year without registering.
Please visit the website of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs for more information.
Once resident in Latvia you must also declare your place of residence. You can do this at your local municipality, OCMA or online here. Please note that if you declare your place of residence at your local municipality or OCMA a charge of 4,27 Euro will apply. Online declarations are free of charge.
Latvian is the language of instruction in all state funded primary and secondary schools. Some schools may offer a part of their curriculum in English but knowing Latvian is still essential for attending a state funded school in Latvia.
The Latvian Language Agency may be able to assist preparing for school to those who speak at least some degree of Latvian. Please visit their website for more information.
There are two International schools in Riga who offer primary and secondary education in English.
Parents should contact schools of their choice well in advance to learn about the enrolment procedures.
Some universities and post graduate institutions offer education programmes in English.
For more information and to see the list of educational establishments in Latvia please visit the website of the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science.
British Citizens do not require work permits or any prior registration with the immigration authorities to work in Latvia (but please see Entry and residence requirements about registration for residence). Your employer will need to apply to the State Revenue Service for your unique tax code. If you already have a personal code in Latvia this will be used for your tax purposes. Your employer will be responsible for deducting your income tax and social security payments from your income.
If you plan to become a self-employed person you will need to register with the tax authorities yourself. You will also be responsible for calculating and paying your tax and social security contributions.
There is a set non-taxable minimum income and you may be eligible for certain tax allowances (i.e. if you have children whom you support etc.) You may be able to claim some income tax back for expenses like education or medical treatment at the end of the annual taxation period.
For information about taxes please visit the website of the State Revenue Service.
Calculating your tax may prove to be a very complex process and you may wish to hire a professional accountant or tax consultant to do this on your behalf. Please get in touch with the Latvian Association of Accountants for contact details.
If you reside permanently in Latvia you may be eligible to the following benefits:
- Unemployment benefit
- Sick pay
- Maternity/Paternity benefit
- Some family benefits
- Disability benefits
- Benefits relating to injuries at work and occupational illness
- Breadwinner’s loss benefit
- Funeral allowance
The definition of permanent residence for purposes of receiving benefits is different from the definition of permanent residence according to immigration legislation, which you will be entitled to only after 5 years of residence in Latvia. In order to be able to receive benefits you are likely to meet permanent residence criteria if you have a registration card (see Entry and residence requirements) and can demonstrate links to Latvia i.e. employment, family etc.
You should know that many benefits are contribution-based. Please visit the website of the State Social Security Agency for more information.
You may be able to export some of your UK benefits when you move to Latvia. For more information please click here.
If you are in receipt of a UK old age state pension, request an S1 form (previously E121) from the Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999. If you are in receipt of an exportable DWP benefit you can request an S1 form the office which pays your exportable benefit.
It is your responsibility to keep the Overseas Healthcare Team or office which pays your exportable DWP benefit up to date with any changes in circumstances which may affect your entitlement to an S1 (E121). When received, register the S1 form with your local social security office, before you register with your local GP surgery and obtain a medical card.
State pensions are calculated from the amount of Social security payments that have been contributed during employment/self employment in Latvia. If you decide to return to the UK you may still be eligible for Latvian state pension for your contributions paid during your time in Latvia. Please visit the website of the State Social Security Agency for more information.
Please see more information about moving or retiring abroad on GOV.UK website.
Driving licences and vehicles
You can use your UK driving licence in Latvia. Upon it’s expiry you will be required to change it to a Latvian driving licence.
You can use your right-hand drive car if you are only visiting Latvia. If you plan to reside in Latvia you will need to register your car and re-arrange it for left-hand driving. You will be given 6 months from the date of registration for this.
Please see the website of the Latvian Road Traffic Safety Directorate for more details and any additional information about driving in Latvia.
This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and may be subject at any time with little or no notice. The FCO and the British Embassy will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.