Latvia citizenship

Becoming a citizen of Latvia presents noteworthy advantages for individuals seeking ties to Latvia and the European Union. Latvian nationality grants Latvian citizens the privilege of residing, working, and studying in Latvia without constraints, along with unrestricted movement across the European Union.

This article will explore the different ways to acquire Latvian citizenship, the citizenship application process, all the necessary documents for citizenship, and arm you with some of the benefits of having a Latvian passport.

Benefits of Latvian Citizenship

Gateway to the European Union

Acquiring Latvian citizenship opens the door to the European Union, granting free movement and the option to live, work, and travel across any EU member state. This means you can settle in places like France or Germany, find job opportunities in various industries across Europe, or simply enjoy the ease of travel within the EU.

Schengen Area access

As a Latvian citizen, you gain unrestricted access to the Schengen Area. This allows you to travel visa-free to a host of European countries, experiencing diverse cultures, languages, and histories without the hassle of applying for multiple visas.

Quality education and healthcare

Latvia offers access to high-quality education and healthcare systems. As a citizen, you can benefit from educational opportunities at various levels and enjoy comprehensive healthcare services known for their efficiency and quality.

Economic opportunities

Latvian citizenship can provide a range of economic benefits. The country’s growing economy offers numerous business and investment opportunities. As a citizen, you’re also eligible for various government grants and support programs that can aid in business ventures or personal investments.

Cultural heritage and lifestyle

Bordering the Baltic Sea, Latvia boasts a rich cultural heritage and a unique lifestyle. Citizenship allows you to immerse yourself fully in Latvian traditions, festivals, and the arts, enhancing your understanding and appreciation of this vibrant culture.

Dual citizenship possibilities

Latvia recognizes dual citizenship under certain conditions, allowing you to retain your original nationality while enjoying the benefits of Latvian citizenship. This is particularly advantageous for those who want to maintain close ties with their country of origin.

You can find out more here about what countries Latvia has an agreement with.

Political rights

As a Latvian citizen, you gain full political rights, including voting and participating in referendums. This empowers you to have a say in the country’s governance and decision-making processes.

Family benefits

Latvian citizenship also extends several benefits to families. It provides stability and security for your children, who can enjoy the rights and privileges of being EU citizens, including access to education and healthcare. This makes Latvia an attractive option for those looking to secure a prosperous future for their family.

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How to Obtain Latvian Citizenship

latvia marriage certificate

There are several methods of granting citizenship in Latvia. The primary method individuals obtain Latvian citizenship is through descent. The option that you choose will depend on your personal situation.

The different routes available for obtaining Latvian citizenship are:

  • By naturalization
  • By descent
  • By marriage
  • Investment

Note that each pathway to citizenship in Latvia will have its own requirements and criteria.

GCS-ICONS-58Latvia citizenship by naturalization

Latvia citizenship by naturalization is perfectly possible. You will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 15 years of age
  • Have resided permanently in Latvia for at least five years and have a permanent residence permit. The five years count from the day you receive your permanent residence permit. Note that having a temporary residence permit does not count. Still, after five years with a temporary residence permit, you can apply for a permanent residence permit; five years after this, you can begin the process of obtaining Latvian citizenship.
  • Demonstrate that you can support yourself financially
  • Show Latvian language proficiency
  • Know the lyrics of the Latvian national anthem

You cannot be admitted for Latvian citizenship through naturalization if the following apply to you:

  • You have criminal records (terrorism, anti-state, criminal organization)
  • Have failed to fulfill tax obligations or other payments to the state

For further information, you can consult the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs Republic of Latvia website.

To secure citizenship of Latvia through naturalization, you will need to submit the following documents to OMCA (Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs):

  • Citizenship application for naturalization
  • Personal identification document (e.g., passport)
  • Document to show proof that you have resided in Latvia for five years (e.g., a statement from an employer or a document proving financial activities)
  • Document to show that you have a legal source of maintenance (e.g., a statement from your place of work or a bank statement with a positive account balance, etc.)
  • Passport photograph (4×4 cm)
  • Document showing payment of the state fee – the state fee is €28.46 and is reduced to €4.27 for certain individuals, including pensioners and refugees
  • Legalized criminal record certificate

Latvian citizenship by descent

You will be considered a Latvian citizen by descent if you have a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent who is or was a citizen of Latvia at the time of your birth, and you will be required to provide evidence to prove this.

For the government to grant citizenship by descent, you must provide the following documents:

  • Citizenship application form
  • Birth certificate
  • Valid identity document (e.g., passport)
  • Identity document of a Latvian family member, such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate, or death certificate, proving your eligibility for citizenship by descent

There is no granting citizenship of Latvia by being born in Latvia, except in specific circumstances, such as children born in Latvia to stateless parents or whose parents are unknown.

Latvia citizenship by marriage

To secure Latvian citizenship by marriage, you should:

  • Be married to a Latvian citizen for at least ten years
  • Submit a marriage certificate as proof of your marriage to a Latvian citizen
  • Hold residency in Lativa for five consecutive years

You will also need to provide proof of proficiency in the Latvian language.

Latvia Citizenship by Investment

latvia population register

If you are looking to invest in the Republic of Latvia in return for residency, the Latvia Golden Visa could be an excellent option. While there was speculation about the program ending in 2022, only Russian and Belarussian nationals were banned from participating. For example, now you cannot hold Russian citizenship or Belarussian citizenship and apply for Latvia’s Golden Visa.

The visa is an attractive way for investors to secure residency in a stunning EU country, with investments in an existing Latvian business or starting a business in Latvia starting at just €50,000. There are many different investment options, which is one of the significant advantages of the program. Investment options include 

  • Real estate investment
  • Purchasing government bonds
  • Bank transfers to Latvian financial institutions 
  • Investing in Latvian businesses

You must show that you have the financial means to invest and sustain yourself in the country.

Securing Latvian citizenship by investment is impossible, but the Golden Visa will grant you residency there. After five years, you can apply for permanent residence. After five years of holding permanent residency, provided you meet all the requirements, you can obtain citizenship in Latvia.

Latvia Citizenship Application Process

You must complete the following steps to apply for citizenship by naturalization:

  1. Submit a citizenship application to the OCMA (Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs of Latvia): You can submit your citizenship application at an OCMA in Latvia with the following documents:
    • Official naturalization request
    • Documents proving place of residence in Latvia for the last five years
    • Proof of employment and income
    • A passport-sized photograph
    • A receipt showing the state-required fee has been paid
    • A criminal record certificate.
  2. Pay the state fee: The Latvian state fee is €28.46 and can be paid at the OCMA. Certain residents, including pensioners or refugees, might qualify for a discounted or waived fee.
  3. Pass the naturalization tests: You must complete and pass naturalization tests two months after submitting your citizenship application.
  4. Pass the naturalization tests: You must complete and pass naturalization tests two months after submitting your citizenship application. Residents over 65 are exempt from citizenship tests and you may also be exempt if five years before submitting your citizenship application you:
    • Had completed higher education in Latvia
    • Confirmed your knowledge of Latvia in elementory or secondary school
    • Had received basic education in Latvia
  5. Take a citizenship oath: Upon successfully passing the citizenship exam, you will receive an invitation to pledge allegiance to the Republic of Latvia.

Latvia Citizenship Processing Time

It takes around one year for the Latvian government to process citizenship applications and grant citizenship, depending on your grounds for qualifying to become a Latvian citizen. For example, if you have a Latvian parent born in Latvia, you can be granted Latvia citizenship by descent within a few months. Suppose you’re applying for citizenship through a Latvian great-grandparent. In that case, the process may be longer due to the need for additional scrutiny, potentially involving a more intricate review of genealogical records and historical documentation.

Acquiring Latvian citizenship by naturalization typically takes up to one year, provided you meet all the requirements to become a naturalized citizen of Latvia, including proficiency in the Latvian language, knowledge of the country’s history, and lyrics of the national anthem.

Latvia Dual Citizenship

Latvia does not comprehensively allow dual citizenship. However, according to the Latvian citizenship law, you can acquire or retain dual citizenship with specific nations the country has a dual citizenship agreement with, including member states of NATO, the European Union, and the European Free Trade Association, plus Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil. 

How to Get a Latvian Passport

Obtaining a Latvian passport involves a series of steps, starting with ensuring you are a Latvian citizen. Once your citizenship status is confirmed, you can proceed with the passport application.

The application process

The process begins with gathering all necessary documents, including proof of citizenship, identification, and possibly additional paperwork, depending on your situation. You will then need to fill out an application form available at passport offices or online.

Scheduling an appointment

Next, schedule an appointment at your local passport office or the nearest Latvian embassy or consulate if you are abroad. During the appointment, you will submit documents, including your application, and have your photo taken for the passport.

Fees and processing

Getting your passport sorted comes with a few fees, and they change depending on what kind of service you need – the usual one or the quick-step version – and how old you are.

For Latvians aged 20 to 62, a new passport will cost you $130. For those under 20 or over 65, the fee is reduced to $100.

They’ll start processing your application once you’ve paid the fees. This usually takes a few weeks.

Receiving your passport

Once your application is processed and your passport is ready, you will be notified to collect it. If you applied abroad, your passport would typically be sent to the embassy or consulate where you applied.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Latvian Citizenship

How can I get Latvian citizenship?

You can get Latvian citizenship in different ways, such as through naturalization or descent. Suppose you don’t hold a claim to citizenship by birthright. In that case, you will need to be at least 15, have permanently lived in the Republic of Latvia for five consecutive years with a legal permanent residence, and pass the required citizenship tests. The five years begin when you secure a permanent residency in Latvia. After this, you can apply for citizenship in Latvia.

Who is eligible for a Latvian passport?

There are different ways to obtain a Latvian passport and citizenship in Latvia: 

  • You’re eligible for naturalization if you have lived in Latvia for ten years (the last five with permanent residency.
  • You’re eligible for citizenship by marriage if you’ve been married to a citizen of Latvia for at least five years
  • You’re eligible for citizenship by descent if you have a Latvian parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent who held citizenship at the time of your birth.

Can a US citizen live in Latvia?

Yes, a US citizen can live in Latvia, but they must obtain the appropriate visa or residency permit. For short stays, US citizens can enter Latvia without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period for tourism or business purposes. A residence permit is required for extended stays, which can be obtained for various reasons such as work, study, business investment, or family reunification. The process and requirements for obtaining a residence permit should be checked with the Latvian Embassy or Consulate in the United States or the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs in Latvia.

What is Latvian citizenship by descent exile?

Latvian citizenship by descent exile refers to a specific provision in Latvian citizenship law that allows individuals to claim citizenship of Latvia if they are descendants of Latvian citizens who were forced to leave Latvia as political refugees or exiled during the Soviet and Nazi occupations. This provision aims to restore citizenship rights to the descendants of those who lost their Latvian citizenship due to historical political circumstances. Eligibility often requires providing documentary evidence of Latvian ancestry and the circumstances of exile. It’s a unique aspect of Latvian citizenship law, recognizing the historical impacts of the 20th century on Latvian nationals and their descendants.

How do I get a Latvian passport through naturalization

To get Latvian citizenship through naturalization, you must meet the following requirements: You are at least 15 years old. You have resided permanently in Latvian territory for five continuous years with a permanent residency. You must also pass a Latvian language exam and prove knowledge of the country’s history.

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