Overview of Latvia
Sandwiched between Estonia and Lithuania, Latvia shares its longest border with the western Baltic Sea.
Historically occupied by Sweden, Poland, the Germans and neighboring Russia, Latvia briefly became an independent state, in 1918, but was subsequently absorbed into the Soviet Union (post-WWII). Despite gaining independence from the USSR in 1991, Russia remains a dominant cultural influence; Russians comprise Latvia’s second largest ethnic group, and half of Latvia’s population of 2 million speaks Russian, although Latvian is the official language. Latvia today is the unique product of these diverse cultural influences. In Riga, Latvia’s capital and largest city (the largest city in the Baltic states) Soviet-bloc buildings are overshadowed by ornate Art-Nouveau style architectural triumphs. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Riga is the world capital of Art-Nouveau architecture, containing more buildings in that style any other city. Having absorbed so many foreign cultural influences, Latvia nevertheless retains a unique “Latvian” cultural identity and heritage, best reflected in its traditional folk dancing, set to Latvian folk songs. Outside the capital, Latvia contains beautiful countryside, vast forests, green fields, snowy mountains and dramatic coastline.
Latvia signed the Schengen agreement in 2003, becoming part of the Schengen area in 2007.
- Schengen visa eligibility for Latvia includes third country nationals from the following states, who are excluded from visa-free to Latvia/the Schengen area, and are therefore eligible to apply for a Schengen visa to Latvia:
14. BURKINA FASO
19. CAPE VERDE
71. NORTH KOREA
20. CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
74. PAPUA NEW GUINEA
25. COTE D’IVOIRE
27. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
79. SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE
80. SAUDI ARABIA
29. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
82. SIERRA LEONE
32. EQUATORIAL GUINEA
84. SOUTH AFRICA
85. SOUTH SUDAN
86. SRI LANKA
- Third party nationals from the following entities/territories are also required to apply for a Schengen visa: KOSOVO and the PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY.
- All documents required for your Latvian Schengen visa must be filled in using capital letters, completed/translated into Latvia, Russian, or English. Applications for all Schengen visas to Latvia will contain the following Basic Required Documents:
- Valid passport
- Passport sized photos
- Application form
- Fingerprints (biometric data)
- Travel medical insurance
- Visa Fee
- Materials related to your trip:
- Reason for visit
- Where you will stay (accommodation)
- How you will fund your trip (finances)
- Proof that you will leave Latvia before your visa becomes invalid/expires. This is often in the form of a paid roundtrip plane ticket (proof of return).
Note: For more information on what to include in your application, including a detailed description of required materials, please see: Basic Required Documents. Please note that you may have to submit additional Latvian Schengen visa supporting documents related to your specific purpose for travelling.
- The standard Latvian Schengen visa fee for an adult is 80 Euros. Certain types of applicants (most students, children under 6) are exempt from all visa fees. To get a Schengen visa for Latvia, you will likely have to submit a service payment with your visa application-this is a separate cost from the visa fee. Please note that these fees are non-refundable in the case of visa rejection.
How to Apply: Steps
- Step 1: Determine your Purpose for travelling to Latvia, which will determine the Type of visa you should apply for.
- Step 2: Determine how many Entries to Latvia/the Schengen area you need.
- Step 3: Gather your Required Documents.
- Step 4: Schedule a Latvian Schengen visa appointment (if applicable).
- Whichever Latvian Consulate/visa center you are applying through, you will almost certainly have to schedule an appointment in order to submit your application. Alternatively, you may be able to drop off your application without prior arrangement, so long as you do so during normal operating hours.
- Alternatively, you may contact your consulate/visa center directly to find out if you need to schedule an appointment in order to submit your application.
- Step 5: Fill out your application.
- While different Latvian Consulates/visa processing centers may provide different ways of accessing applications, you will almost certainly have to apply online through Latvia’s E-Visa system. Access the online application portal here. Fill the application out online, print it out, and sign it. Submit this paper copy to whichever Latvian Consulate/visa center you are applying through.
- Step 6: Pay the application fee.
- Step 7: Submit your Latvian Schengen visa application (at least 15 days prior to travelling, not before 6 months).
- Different Latvian Consulates/processing centers have different procedures for submitting applications. In almost all cases, applications must be submitted in person to the consulate/center you are applying through. When you submit your application, you will likely also be asked to submit biometric data (fingerprints). Children younger than 12 years are likely exempt from having their fingerprints collected. If you have previously submitted fingerprints (within the last 59 months), you likely will not need to resubmit them.
- Please note, after submitting your application, you may be asked to return at a later date for a personal interview to provide further information/materials related to your trip.
When to Apply
- Submit your application at least 15 days prior to the day you intend to travel, and no earlier than 6 months before you leave.
Where to Apply
- Applications for Schengen visas to Latvia should be submitted at either a Latvian Consulate or a visa application center that has a relationship with Latvia.
- Ideally, you will lodge your application in the country where you legally reside/hold a residence permit for.
- Click here to find Latvian Consulates/Embassies nearest to you.
- If you must apply through a consulate/center located in a country where you are currently legally present, but where you do not legally reside, you must have a valid reason for doing so. Valid reasons include that you are legally staying in another country (on a valid visa/ permit), and that the consulate within the country has accepted your reasons for applying through them and has chosen to process your application.
- In countries where there is no Latvian consular presence, applications may be lodged via the consulate of a Schengen state representing Latvian consular interests.
- The Latvian Schengen visa processing time is generally 15 days, although it can take up to 45 days in certain cases.
If your visa was approved:
- Collect your visa and make sure the information it contains is valid and complete.
If your visa was denied:
- If you receive a Schengen visa rejection for Latvia, you (or your legal representative) have the right to an appeal within 30 days of receiving your rejection.
- You should submit your Schengen visa appeal in writing, in person, by mail, or electronically (so long as it contains a valid electronic signature). The appeal should be written in either Latvian, English, or Russian, or contain an official translation into one of those languages.
- Send your appeal to the Director of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affiars, to the following address:
- Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elizabetes iela 57, Riga, LV-1050, Republic of Latvia.
- The address of the consulate that rejected your application.
- If you have authorized someone to submit your appeal for you, your letter of appeal must be sent with a notarized power of attorney to act on your behalf. Notarized power of attorney issued outside of Latvia, the Swiss Federation, or the European Economic area must be legalized at the Consular Department of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or at the Latvian consulate where you applied. If neither of the previous options are available to you, you may have your power of attorney authenticated via an Apostille from the relevant legal institution in the country which issued it.
- The Consular Department of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs should issue a ruling on your appeal within 30 days of receiving it; you will receive a written copy of their decision in Latvian, with an English summary.
- If your appeal is rejected by the above entity, your final recourse is to lodge an appeal with the Administrative Court of the Republic of Latvia. Their ruling, whatever it is, is final and cannot be appealed.
- Please note, you will likely have to pay an appeal fee, which is non-refundable regardless of the outcome of the appeal (positive or negative).
Finally, once you obtain your Schengen Visa for Latvia, please note the following:
- Your visa may be revoked if you do not notify the Latvian Consulate/visa application center of any changes to your trip itinerary that occur after you have submitted your application.
- Being approved for a Latvian visa does not guarantee you entry to either Latvia or the general Schengen area – you can still be refused entry to both places upon arrival.
- Alternatively, you may have to show additional documents regarding your finances or accommodation in order to enter Latvia/the Schengen area.