Will I need an ETIAS to visit Latvia?
Once ETIAS ( E.U. Travel Information Authorization System) comes into effect in 2021, it will be compulsory for all citizens of so-called ’visa-waiver’ countries. There are around 60 countries across the world whose citizens are allowed free movement within Europe without needing to submit for vetting through a visa system.
Citizens of the U.S.A. and Canada for example, do not need a visa to visit Latvia or indeed any other E.U. or Schengen country. This will change in 2021 when all travelers, who are not European or Schengen citizens, will have to apply for an ETIAS prior to travel.
Latvia is in the European Union which is a union of countries concerned with trade, the environment, and customs. Latvia is also in the Schengen Area, which is a group of countries forming a collective policy on immigration and border controls. Latvia will also be a part of the ETIAS.
The ETIAS is not yet operational, all travelers wanting to visit Latvia at present, must comply with the existing travel policies. For the future, the ETIAS will be a major boost in increasing security throughout Europe. With a large number of government organizations helping to police and enforce the new rules, security across Europe will be much improved.
Latvia, officially the Republic of Latvia, is a sovereign state, situated on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea sharing a maritime border with Sweden. It is bordered by Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, and Estonia.
The country has an area of 64,589 sq. km and has a population of 1.95 million people. The official language is Latvian, Russian is also spoken with English being used for business and tourism. The major religion is Christianity, and the official currency is the euro.
Latvia is a member of both the European Union and the Schengen Area. The capital and largest city is Riga, the second largest is Daugavpils, and the third largest city is Liepaja.
Latvia consists of four main regions
- West Latvia – Kurzeme
- East Latvia – Latgale
- North Latvia – Vidzeme
- South Latvia – Zemgale
Latvia has forests covering 56% of its total land area, the fifth highest proportion of land covered by forests in the E.U.
Agricultural areas account for 29% of the total land area. Nationally protected areas account for 20% of the total land area.
Within Latvia there are
- Four national parks
- One biosphere reserve
- 42 nature parks
- Nine areas of protected landscapes
- 260 nature reserves
- 4 strict nature reserves
- 355 nature monuments
- Seven protected marine areas
- Twenty four micro reserves
Latvia is ranked highly based on the environmental performance of its official policies.
Latvia at a glance
Timezone: UTC/GMT +2 hours
Languages: Latvian 56.3%, Russian 33.8%, Other 0.6%, Unspecified 9.4%
Area: 64,589 KM2
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Calling Code: +371
Travel in Latvia
Latvia has been described as a vast unspoiled parkland with just one city – it’s capital Riga.
Latvia’s National Parks are
- Gauja National Park in Vidzeme
- Kemeri National Park in Zemgale
- Slītere National Park in Kurzeme
- Rāzna National Park in Latgale
Common wild animal species in Latvia include wild boar, bear, beaver, deer, fox, lynx, moose and wolves.
Eurasian beavers, Eurasian otters, European wolves, and European lynx are also common in the vast national parks of Latvia but are not common in other European countries.
About 30,000 species of fauna and flora have been registered in Latvia.
Latvia’s capital city, Riga is a UNESCO World Heritage site, lined with cobblestones and endless beautiful views. Riga is a modern city with a vibrant nightlife and is Europe’s wifi capital with almost 1,000 free wifi hotspots. Among the best sites in Riga are the Central Market, Riga Cathedral and St. Peter’s Church.
Just 30 minutes from Riga, lies the beach town of Jūrmala. There are sandy beaches, legendary spas, mineral water treatments, and famous medicinal mud baths. As well as its natural attractions, Jūrmala also boasts cultural and entertainment events throughout the year. Music lovers enjoy Dzintari Concert Hall, whilst family groups love to go to Līvu aquapark, the biggest waterpark in the Baltics.
Ice Hockey is considered the most popular sport in Latvia with basketball the second most popular sport. Other popular sports include bobsleigh, skeleton, floorball, football, volleyball, tennis and cycling.
The US and Latvia
The U.S.A. and Latvia are strategic allies and valued partners.
Latvia has embraced democracy since gaining its independence and values the principles of an open market.
The U.S. and Latvia both belong to the following organizations
- The United Nations
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and development
- Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe International Monetary Fund
- World Bank
- World Trade Organization
There are no direct flights to Latvia from the U.S., but direct flights from London take less than three hours.
Riga International airport is the busiest airport in the Baltic states. With direct flights to and from 30 countries, it is very convenient to add Latvia to a multi-destination visit to Europe.
U.S. visitors to Latvia are really beginning to discover the wonderful scenery, calm beach scene, and vibrant nightlife. Digital nomads will find that they are well catered to with ample free internet connections.
For travel from 2021, a new travel scheme is coming into effect which will affect visitors who up until then, did not need permission to travel to Europe. Citizens of Europe and the Schengen zone will be unaffected as they are allowed free passage between member countries.
U.S. citizens will be affected and will need to apply for an ETIAS. A simple online form is all that needs to be filled in, with a payment, and within 96 hours, sometimes within minutes, new ETIAS travel authorization will be issued. Once issued, the travel authorization is valid for three years.
List of US diplomatic offices in Latvia
The Embassy of USA in Riga, Latvia
Address: 1 Samnera Velsa St. (former Remtes) Riga LV-1510 Latvia
Phone: +371 6710 7000
Fax: +371 6710 7050