Travellers planning to visit Latvia in the year 2022 or beyond must note they will need to comply with new rules and regulations for gaining legal entry into the country. The ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) is a new online permit system that will ask travellers from more than 60 countries to apply for a visa waiver before they can legally enter the country. This is done to provide a better travel experience to third-country visa-exempt nationals as well as to secure the border, prevent terrorism, and better track tourism.
The benefits of an ETIAS is that there is no need to physically visit an embassy or have an in-person interview. In fact, the process to obtain an ETIAS for Latvia is quick, simple, and takes less than 20 minutes to complete. Everything is digital and done online, so there are less hassle and stress for travellers.
Visitors must note ETIAS is not a visa, but a visa waiver, which is a completely different type of travel document.
Latvia, the EU, and the Schengen Area
Latvia, like its Baltic neighbours, joined the European Union on May 1, 2004. It was inaugurated into the Schengen Zone in 2007, which means that travellers can easily travel between the borders of Latvia and other Schengen countries without having to go through a rigorous entry process.
Who needs ETIAS to travel to Latvia?
By the end of 2022, travellers from 60 nationalities are required to have a Latvian ETIAS before they can officially enter the country. The list includes countries from around the world, such as the United States, Peru, Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, New Zealand, Serbia, Nicaragua, the United Kingdom, Saint Kitts and Nevis, El Salvador, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, and more.
Passport and document requirements for Latvian ETIAS
Before travellers can apply for the ETIAS visa waiver for Latvia, there are just a few things they need to have.
First and foremost, the most important ETIAS requirement for Latvia is a passport that is valid for at least three months after entry into Latvia. Latvian visitors will also need to have an email address for receiving their ETIAS visa waiver acceptance, as well as a valid form of payment (such as a debit or credit card) in order to pay for the application fee.
How can I apply for Latvian ETIAS?
If citizens of third countries wish to apply for the Latvian ETIAS programme, they must first start with the online visa waiver application.
The ETIAS application will ask for the traveller’s details, which includes passport information (issue date, expiration date, passport number), personal details (full name, date of birth, gender, and place of birth), contact details (email, address, and phone number), and their expected travel itinerary. ETIAS applicants wishing to visit Latvia will also need to fill out details about their health, as well as any criminal activity and other sensitive background information. The application takes about 20 minutes to complete.
Once approved, the ETIAS is valid for three years (or until the traveller’s passport expires, whichever comes first). Latvian visitors can use their ETIAS to travel to other Schengen countries without having to re-apply for a new ETIAS. This includes Latvia’s neighbouring countries, Estonia and Lithuania.
Travel information about Latvia
Latvia (also known locally as Latvija) is one of the three countries that comprise the Baltic states. Its neighbours are Estonia to the north and Lithuania to the south.
Latvia’s capital is Riga, where more than half of the country’s citizens live. It is a thriving and charming European city for third-country visitors, with cobblestone streets, cosy houses, and little details everywhere they look. Travellers are especially drawn to the Old Town Riga, as well as the Central Market, the Bastejkalna Park, and the charming homes along Albert Street.
The country is rich with nature, forests, and wildlife, as well as a coastline that is home to many beach towns. One of the most famous seaside resorts is called Jurmala, where celebrities and stars from the USSR used to vacation in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Today, it is still a thriving beach town, with many tourists coming from neighbouring countries and beyond. Travellers looking to relax and enjoy the sun are especially recommended to pay a visit to Jurmala.
History buffs will enjoy Gauja National Park in Northeast Latvia. It is famous for its many historical structures, such as the 13th-century castle, as well as the mysterious Gutmanis Cave and many lakes and forests scattered around the park.
If you are visiting during the summer, do not miss the Līgo festival, which falls on June 23. It is the main traditional ethnic festival in Latvia and is characterised by singing, dancing, and a large bonfire. This festival celebrates the summer solstice and is followed by Jāņi (St. John Day) on June 24.