In this article, we will explore the process of obtaining a Latvian passport, who is eligible, its benefits, the renewal process, and more.
Located in north-eastern Europe on the shores of the Baltic Sea, Latvia is bored by Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania, and Russia. In 2004, Latvia joined the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) just over a decade after regaining its independence. In 2014, it adopted the Euro as its currency.
An affordable and charming country, Latvia is known for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as Riga’s old city center. It also boasts a number of medieval towns, stunning Art Nouveau architecture dating back to the early 1900s, Ventas Rumba – the widest waterfall in Europe, popular local beers, and delicious cuisine, including the national dish of grey peas and bacon – a hearty and filling dish perfect for warming you up during the chilly winters.
Latvian Passport Benefits
Latvian passport holders are afforded several benefits, such as the ability to obtain Latvian citizenship for their children. The Latvian passport ranks 40th on our Global Passport Index based on factors such as quality of life, mobility, and economic opportunity. On our Quality of Life Index, it ranks 35th, and on our Enhanced Mobility Index, it ranks 31st. You can benefit from visa-free travel to 113 countries, including visa-on-arrival/electronic visas for 59 countries.
As Latvia forms part of the Schengen Zone, having a Latvian passport also allows you to live in any European country and work in any Schengen country, and access affordable universities and study programs in Europe. You will also have access to social security services and European healthcare, and you’ll be able to establish a business in any country in the European Union (EU).
Latvian passport holders can travel visa-free to a selection of countries, including:
|Denmark||Malta||Paraguay||United Arab Emirates|
|Iceland||Nicaragua||Saint Kitts & Nevis||Venezuela|
Latvian Passport Requirements
To obtain a Latvian passport, you first need to become a Latvian citizen. There are four routes to obtaining Latvian citizenship, namely descent, naturalization, marriage, and investment. Each of these routes has its own requirements that must be met, so let’s have a look at what each entails.
Citizenship by descent
To qualify for Latvian citizenship by descent, you must have a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent who is/was a Latvian citizen. If you were born to a Latvian parent, or you are able to provide sufficient proof of your grandparent/great-grandparent being a Latvian citizen, then you may apply for citizenship registration.
You will be required to submit the following documents to the OCMA:
- Application form
- Identification document
- Birth certificate
- Family documents proving that your ancestors were Latvian citizens (e.g., birth certificates, marriage certificates, adoption papers, address registration, etc.)
Citizenship by naturalization
To obtain Latvian citizenship by naturalization, you must meet the following requirements:
- You are 15 years or older
- You have lived in Latvian territory continuously for five years with a permanent residence permit
- You have passed exams on naturalization
- You are able to support yourself financially
- You are able to renounce your initial citizenship
Citizenship by marriage
To obtain Latvian citizenship by marriage, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be married to a Latvian citizen for a minimum of ten years
- Submit your marriage certificate proving your relationship with the Latvian citizen
- Have lived in Latvia for a minimum of five consecutive years
Becoming a Latvian citizen by marriage is a form of naturalization and, as such, requires you to prove your proficiency in the Latvian language.
Citizenship by investment (Golden Visa)
The Latvian citizenship by investment route, also known as the Latvian Golden Visa, is a popular way for investors to become Latvian citizens. If you wish to pursue this route, you must meet the following requirements:
- Make a minimum capital investment of €280,000 in a Latvian bank and pay €25,000 towards the State Budget.
- Invest a minimum of €50,000 in the equity capital of a Latvian company and pay €10,000 towards the State Budget.
- Purchase interest-free stock to the minimum value of €250,000 and pay €38,000 towards the State Budget.
In addition to this, you must have lived in Latvia for a minimum of five years and prove your knowledge of the Latvian national anthem, Latvian history, and so on.
Check out our article: Latvia Golden Visa: Everything You Need to Know.
Latvia citizenship test
The Latvian citizenship exam, also called the citizenship by naturalization exam, will test your knowledge on the following points:
- Basic provisions of the Latvian Constitution
- Basics of Latvian history and culture
- Latvian language proficiency
- Latvian National Anthem lyrics
In order to qualify for Latvian citizenship, you must pass the citizenship exam. The test includes sections of writing, reading, and listening, all of which you must pass. You can take the test three times and can only retake the exam sections you did not pass previously.
If you fail the initial exam, you can retake the exams on Constitutional knowledge, Latvian history, and the national anthem after one month. After three months, you can retake the language proficiency test. If you do not pass on your third attempt, you will need to resubmit your citizenship application.
In certain cases, you may be exempt from sitting the Latvian citizenship exam. You will be exempt if, five years prior to submitting your application for citizenship, you:
- Completed higher education in Latvia
- Confirmed your knowledge of Latvian in a Latvian primary and secondary school
- Received basic education in Latvia
In addition to this, individuals who are older than 65 years of age are exempt from the written portion of the exam.
The general process when applying for Latvian citizenship is as follows:
- Submit your application for naturalization to the nearest Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA). Include the following documents:
- Application request
- Certificate of place of residence in Latvia (for the last five years)
- Proof of legal income
- One identity photograph
- Receipt showing payment of state-required fee
- Police certificate
- Pay the state fee of €28.46. This can be paid by card at the OCMA. Some individuals, such as refugees or pensioners, may qualify to pay a reduced fee or may even be exempt from paying the fee. You can see if you qualify for a fee reduction or waiver at your immigration office.
- Pass the naturalization exams. You will be required to sit this test two months after submitting your application for citizenship. If you do not pass the first time, you will be able to retake the test a month later.
- Sign the loyalty oath. After successfully passing the citizenship test, you will be invited to sign the loyalty oath to the Republic of Latvia.
It can take up to one year for your application to be processed. You can learn more about the specific requirements related to your application (be it by naturalization, descent, marriage, or investment) on the website of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs of the Republic of Latvia.
Important note: If you are a citizen of Australia, Brazil, the EU, New Zealand, NATO, or EFTA, you are allowed dual citizenship under the Latvian Citizenship Law. If you are from any other country, you will need to confirm whether your country has a bilateral agreement for dual citizenship with Latvia.
If you are not from any of these countries and your country of origin does not have a bilateral agreement for dual citizenship with Latvia, you will not be allowed to hold dual citizenship. As such, you will need to provide proof of the renunciation of any other citizenship you may hold. After you have received notice of the success of your application for citizenship, you will need to submit a document declaring the renunciation of your non-Latvian citizenship or a document showing that you no longer hold this citizenship.
Latvian citizens who need to apply for a new passport can do so at the nearest diplomatic or consular mission of Latvia. If you reside outside of Latvia and want to apply for a new passport at your nearest Latvian Embassy or Consulate, you must have declared your place of residence abroad with the Population Register.
You must make an appointment in advance at the Latvian Embassy or Consulate at which you wish to make your application using the electronic appointment system. You will be required to present your current passport in person at your appointment (or a police certificate confirming the loss of your document if this is the reason for your application).
To apply for a new passport, you are required to submit the following documents:
- Current passport
- Confirmation of residence (Meldezettel)
- One passport-size photo (white background, not older than three months)
- The following documents, as relevant to your situation:
- Marriage registration: Original marriage certificate and copy of partner’s passport or ID card
- Divorce: Original divorce decree
- Inclusion of newborn child’s name in your passport: Original birth certificate of child and copy of other parent’s passport or ID card
The standard cost of applying for a passport is €70. For children aged 20 or younger, pensioners, and individuals with level I and II disabilities (with a valid disability card), the cost is €55. If you are unable to collect your new passport in person, it will cost you €10 to receive it by mail.
Your passport will be issued in Latvia, and the process, from submission of documents and payment of all necessary fees, can take between four and six weeks.
Latvia is a captivating country with a rich history, beautiful landscapes, and a pretty affordable cost of living. Becoming a Latvian citizen and obtaining a Latvian passport opens the holder up to the many benefits of residing in a country part of the European Union with a fascinating and welcoming culture and scenic beauty.
How Global Citizen Solutions Can Help
Expats and foreign investors can encounter many difficulties when applying for a Golden passport, which is why it is worthwhile to have an expert on hand to provide personalized citizenship assistance throughout the application process.
Our specialists can help you with the following:
- Minimize the visits you have to make to the designated country
- Have someone who works solely on your behalf
- Reduce the hassle associated with putting your application together
- Acquire insider knowledge from someone with years of experience in the market
Let’s get you moving forward in your quest to obtain a Latvian passport. Get in touch with us to book a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Latvian Passport
1. Who is eligible for Latvian citizenship?
Anyone is eligible to obtain Latvian citizenship by descent, naturalization, marriage, or investment. In order to qualify for Latvian citizenship, you must meet the requirements of the path you choose, as each of their requirements differs.
2. What nationality is a Latvian passport?
A Latvian passport is issued to a citizen of Latvia, a Baltic state on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Latvia shares borders with Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania, and Russia.
3. Do Latvians need a visa to enter the USA?
Latvian citizens can apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) visa waiver if they plan to travel to the United States for short-term (90 days or less) leisure or business purposes. Latvians with dual citizenship in the United States or Canada do not need to apply for this waiver.
4. How to get a Latvian passport?
You can obtain a Latvian passport by one of the following four means:
Each of these routes has different requirements that you must meet in order to obtain a Latvian passport.