Guidance

Living in Latvia

Official information that British people moving to and living in Latvia need to know, including residency, healthcare and driving.

Brexit: what you need to know

There will be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in Latvia while the UK remains in the EU.

While the government continues to negotiate Brexit, you should:

Before you go

See our travel advice for Latvia and sign up for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.

See moving and retiring abroad.

Visas and residency

See entry requirements for Latvia in our travel advice.

If you plan to stay in Latvia for longer than 3 consecutive months, you must 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.

Once resident in Latvia you must also declare your place of residence. You can do this at your local municipality, the OCMA or online through the Public Administration Services Portal. If you declare your residence at your local municipality or OCMA, you will pay a small fee. Online declarations are free.

Healthcare

See our travel advice for Latvia.

The NHS has information about healthcare for British people living in and visiting Latvia.

You need a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to get emergency medical treatment during temporary stays in EU countries. You also need comprehensive travel insurance to cover anything not covered by your EHIC.

You can find the main hospitals in the medical facilities list. You should also check your prescriptions are legal in Latvia.

S1 form - healthcare paid for by the UK

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Latvia and get an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit.

You need to apply for a S1 form - contact the Department for Work and Pensions’ International Pensions Centre.

Working in Latvia

See working in another EU country.

Some jobs may require a UK criminal records check (known as a DBS check).

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, they will use this. Your employer is responsible for deducting your income tax and social security payments from your income.

If you are self-employed, you must register with the tax authorities yourself. You will be responsible for calculating and paying your tax and social security contributions.

Tax

See tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

See information about paying income tax in Latvia.

We recommend that you get professional advice on paying tax in Latvia. See the Latvian Association of Accountants for contact details.

There is a set rate for non-taxable minimum income, and you may be eligible for certain tax allowances (for example, if you have children whom you support). You may be able to claim some income tax back for expenses like education or medical treatment at the end of the tax year.

See the State Revenue Service for detailed information about paying tax in Latvia.

You may also be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

Pensions

See State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension.

The Latvian government bases state pensions on the social security payments you made while working in Latvia. If you return to the UK, you may still be eligible for a Latvian state pension – see the State Social Security Agency for more information.

If you haven’t worked in Latvia, you should claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre.

If you’ve worked in several EU countries, see state pensions abroad.

Life certificates for UK state pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.

Benefits

See claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad.

Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them.

Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit can’t be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

You may be eligible to claim some Latvian social security benefits – see Latvian social security benefits. Many Latvian benefits are only available if you have made enough social security contributions in Latvia.

In order receive benefits you must be a ‘permanent resident’. The definition of permanent residence for the purpose of receiving benefits is different from the definition of permanent residence in immigration legislation. You are likely to meet this requirement if you have a registration card (see Visas and residency) and have links to Latvia such as employment or family.

See the State Social Security Agency for more information.

Driving in Latvia

See driving abroad and road travel in Latvia.

See driving licence renewal and exchange and taking a vehicle out of the UK.

When your UK licence expires you must exchange it for a Latvian driving licence.

You can use your right-hand drive car if you are visiting Latvia. If you are resident in Latvia, you must register your car and make the necessary changes so that it is suitable for left-hand driving. You will have 6 months from the date you register residency to do this.

See the Latvian Road Traffic Safety Directorate for more information.

Voting

British citizens living abroad can vote in some UK elections – you’ll need to register as an overseas voter.

If you’re resident in Latvia, you can vote in local municipal and European Parliamentary elections.

Births

See register a birth abroad.

Deaths

See what to do after someone dies.

See also list of English-speaking funeral directors in Latvia.

Getting married

See getting married abroad.

Renewing passports

See overseas British passports applications and get an emergency travel document (sometimes called an emergency passport).

Pets

See travelling with pets.

Emergencies

As well as the European emergency number 112, Latvia also has:

  • 110 – police
  • 113 – first aid

If you need urgent help, contact the British Embassy Riga.

Accommodation and buying property

See buying a property abroad.

Other useful information

Returning to the UK

To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.

See tax if you return to the UK.

See bringing your pet to the UK.

Disclaimer

Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Latvian authorities. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Published 15 November 2013
Last updated 8 March 2018 + show all updates
  1. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.
  2. First published.