Moving and Removals to Latvia
Removals to Latvia immediately brings in mind the romance of heading to the Baltics for a new life. Latvia has beautiful scenery and picturesque towns, and with many natural features that you’ll want to visit time and again. The culture of Latvia may be very different from your home nation; Therefore, it will help to do some research before you set off. Getting ready for a new life overseas is exciting and overwhelming in equal measures, and having experts on hand can be a huge relief. This guide covers the essentials of moving to Latvia with all the info you’ll need to get started.
Removals to Latvia: About Latvia
Latvia is a small nation that was previously part of the Soviet Union, gaining its independence in 1991. Once dependent on “mother Russia”, Latvia no longer has many ties with it and instead has forged a union with the rest of Europe.
Latvia joined the EU in 2004, and a decade later in 2014 it formally adopted the Euro as its currency.
Unlike many of the countries in the Baltic region, Latvia is a relatively flat nation which overlooks the Baltic Sea. It has warm, mild and sometimes showery summers, and freezing winters with snowfall commencing from November onwards.
The diverse history of Latvia makes it a fascinating place to live; Towns have a unique charm and a vibrant culture which is visible in the architecture and the surroundings.
Removals to Latvia: Language
The national language of Latvia is Latvian, an ancient tongue which shares a lot in common with Lithuanian. When the Soviet Union occupied Latvia, Russian almost entirely replaced the native tongue. Since 1989 it has gradually re-established itself as the language of the nation. Nine out of ten Latvians now speak Latvian as their language.
It may be possible to get by with the basics without learning Latvian; this is primarily the case if you plan on living in Riga. Within Riga, you will find restaurants that have menus translated into English; Most of the tourism industry services will also be able to converse in English too.
However, outside Riga, it may be a different matter; If you don’t speak Latvian, it will limit your ability to integrate into the community.
Younger Latvians now learn English and may be able to converse quite fluently. However, that’s not the case for older members of society. They learnt Russian rather than another European language. Official paperwork will also be in Latvian. In conclusion, if you want to be self-reliant, learn to speak Latvian.
Removals to Latvia: Healthcare
Latvia has a state healthcare system. Although primarily funded via taxation, it falls way short of the standards that many might expect. Lack of access to new medicines and long waiting lists contribute to its ranking as one of the poorest healthcare facilities within Europe.
Therefore, although you may receive free healthcare by contributing via your salary, it’s highly advisable not to rely on the state. Visitors coming to Latvia should seek to take out private healthcare cover to ensure that they receive prompt, suitable and comprehensive treatment as and when needed.
Removals to Latvia: Transport
If you’re keen to have your independence, it’s possible to drive in Latvia. Be advised though that conditions may be somewhat different to what you’re used to. The roads can vary from smooth asphalt to cobbles or even unpaved surfaces. Outside cities the latter is the most common so you will need to adjust your driving accordingly.
If you choose to drive, you will need to familiarise yourself with local laws. For example, you must have your dipped headlights on 24/7 and drive with either winter or all-season tyres between December and March. You will also need to ensure you keep to the right-hand side of the road. You will find information about driving in Latvia in the guides provided by the AA, RAC and European Commission
There are also excellent public transport links within Latvia, with trains, buses, trolleybuses, trams and minibuses all available, depending on your location. The best selection of public transport is available within Riga. However, the links are pretty good outside Riga too with both buses and trains offering national coverage.
You can buy train tickets in advance, or at the station. If the ticket office is closed, you can board the train without a ticket and purchase one during the journey. However, should you choose to do so, you can only pay with cash so make sure you are carrying currency, not just plastic.
Removals to Latvia: Visa Requirements
Latvia is part of the EU and the Schengen area. It allows borderless travel to individuals who can travel within it, either due to their nationality or because they hold a Schengen visa.
EU citizens do not require a visa to enter Latvia or work within it, and they are free to stay as long as they choose. If, however, they opt to stay for longer than three months they will need to register their presence with the local authorities.
You will find essential links for British Expats in Latvia on the UK Govt website
Nationals from countries such as the US and Canada benefit from a visa-waiver agreement that Latvia has with the EU. Therefore, they can stay for up to 90 days in any six month period without needing a visa.
Any national from outside these regions, or who wishes to stay for a more extended period may require a visa to enter Latvia.
Removals to Latvia: Moving to Latvia
With just one main airport and its position near the Baltic Sea, Latvia is a more challenging destination than other places in Europe. Another reason to use a reputable European moving company who will advise you.
To prevent any further delays in clearing Customs, it will be helpful if you avoid packing any prohibited items. Many of these are obvious such as illegal drugs, but other items are not quite as clear-cut. For example, it’s strictly prohibited to bring politically sensitive items into Latvia; Moroccan currency is also banned.
As these items may not be immediately apparent, we recommend that you check the latest list for any restrictions or prohibitions. Whether you choose our Load and Go or our EasyMoves solution, European Moving can help you with your removal. We shall be able to provide advice on a whole range of removal issues you may not have encountered before.