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Living and working conditions

Latvia

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area - 64,589 km2

Population –1,919,968 (2018)

Official Language – Latvian

REGISTRATION AND RESIDENCE PERMITS

Arrival in Latvia

Nationals of a European Union (EU) Member State or a European Economic Area (EEA) country, or Switzerland, as well as their family who have received a valid EU/EEA national or family residence permit in an EU/EEA state have the right to enter Latvia if they have a valid travel document.

Working in Latvia

In order to work in Latvia, a citizen of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland is not required to have a work permit, and has free access to the labour market in Latvia.

Employers register each employee with the State Revenue Service (SRS), submitting information about them.

When starting a position, an employee (who is a Latvian tax resident) must submit an electronic payroll tax booklet using the SRS Electronic Declaration System (EDS) or submit it to the SRS Customer Service Centre in person. Once this has been done, tax allowances and tax-free income thresholds can be applied.

Staying in Latvia

If a citizen of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland or members of his/her family wish to stay in Latvia for longer than a three-month period, counting from the first day of entry, they must register with the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs to receive a residence registration certificate.

If an EU national stays in Latvia to find a job, he/she may do that for up to six months without registering.

Pursuant to the Law on Registration of Residence, anyone changing his/her place of residence shall declare the new residence within one month at a residence registration body. The new residence may be declared to the local council where it is located, or registered electronically on www.latvija.lv. A national of an EU/EEA Member State or Switzerland, as well as their family, who have received a registration certificate or a permanent residence certificate issued in the Republic of Latvia should declare their residence with the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs.

If a national of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland has continuously resided in Latvia for five years, he/she has the right to request a permanent residence certificate.

Individuals who have stayed in Latvia for five years, but do not have an EU/EEA or Swiss citizenship, have the right to request the status of a permanent resident of the European Community in Latvia.

See additional information on the homepage of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs: www.pmlp.gov.lv

LOOKING FOR A JOB

Latvian employers usually ask applicants to send their CVs by email or to contact the employer by phone. Employers generally prefer to receive applications from applicants who fulfil all the requirements listed in the relevant job advertisement. In his/her CV, an applicant must describe professional experience, qualifications and skills, highlighting the skills and experience that are relevant for the desired job.

When preparing a CV, focus on the accuracy of provided information, the language and the style and the presentation.

The main thing to bear in mind is that the most important information should stand out. The CV should not be more than two pages long.

Employers often also request a motivation or cover letter in addition to the CV, especially from applicants for higher-level positions. The cover letter is very important. It should be credible and convincing. Employers are looking for applicants who understand their business, their objectives and their market. Deceiving a potential employer about work experience or providing other false information is not acceptable.

It is up to you whether to include a photo in your CV. Some employers ask for a photo, usually for jobs involving customer service.

If you wish to apply for seasonal or menial work, it is usually possible to do that by phone.

Job interview

All companies usually have interviews and tests to determine psychological and personal traits or to assess practical skills. Employers pay attention to personal, as well as professional qualities. It is very important to demonstrate motivation, ability and readiness to perform the job you are applying for. You need to be honest and explain what you could do to improve and in what way. You need to show that you really do want to work for the company offering the position.

In smaller firms, the job interview is conducted by the head of the firm or the line manager. In larger firms the interview panel usually consists of several people, including the head of the firm or relevant department and a human resources specialist.

The employer will expect you to arrive on time for your interview. This demonstrates punctuality and a sense of responsibility.

Dress code will depend on the type of work and the position applied for. It is important that you look neat and tidy. If the employer is a bank or a public body, or if you apply for an office job, you should choose business attire.

It is acceptable to shake hands, when you arrive for a job interview, but do remember to wait for the employer to offer his/her hand first.

In Latvia, interviews are usually formal. It is assumed that the applicant has prepared for the interview and has knowledge of both the company and the position applied for. Applicants are permitted to ask questions about the job and their responsibilities to which they have not yet received an answer.

During the interview, the employer may not ask the applicant any discriminating questions about the applicant’s age, marital status or personal particulars (height, weight, etc.). In Latvia, during recruitment it is prohibited to discriminate on grounds of race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender, social origin, language, political views, etc.

The employer usually notifies you about the outcome of the application procedure within two weeks of the interview, although some companies may not notify you at all. If you do not receive a reply within the stipulated time frame, you can ring the employer and enquire about the outcome.

Concluding an employment contract

Before signing an employment contract, the employee and the employer should discuss working conditions: remuneration, frequency of payment, hours of work and overtime, the probation period, additional benefits and other matters. Remember that in Latvia, an employment contract is concluded in writing. Wages and salaries in Latvia are usually paid twice a month.

INCOMES AND TAXATION

In 2018, the average monthly wage in Latvia was EUR 984.75 before taxes. Remuneration for employees usually depends on their profession and skills, as well as the company’s field of activity. The highest remuneration is in the ICT and finance sectors, as well as for specialists and managers of manufacturing companies.

The average hourly remuneration (gross) per profession is:

  • Engineers: EUR 9–12;
  • IT specialists: EUR 12–18.50;
  • Welders: EUR 6–8;
  • Sales representatives: EUR 7.35–9.80;
  • Warehouse workers: EUR 5.50–6.30.

Wages differ from one region to another: they are highest in greater Riga and lowest in Latgale in the east of the country.

Income of Latvian taxpayers is subject to progressive personal income tax (PIT). PIT rates in 2019:

  • 20% for total annual income of up to EUR 20 004;
  • 23% for the share of annual income above EUR 20 004, but below EUR 62 800;
  • 31.4% for the share of annual income above EUR 62 800.

Any income is subject to the untaxed minimum and tax allowances for dependants.

Annual untaxed minimum and allowances for dependants are also applicable to residents of EU or EEA Member States if they have received more than 75% of their total income in Latvia.

A person is entitled to the differentiated annual untaxed minimum, which is calculated according to a special formula that takes into account the amount of the annual taxable income of a taxpayer and the following aspects:

  • monthly untaxed minimum expected by the State Revenue Service;
  • maximum annual untaxed minimum (in 2019, EUR 2 760);
  • annual taxable income subject to the maximum annual untaxed minimum (in 2019, EUR 5 280);
  • annual taxable income above which no annual differentiated untaxed minimum is applied (in 2019, EUR 13 200).

The tax allowance for each dependant is EUR 2 760 per year or EUR 230 per month.

Social insurance contributions should be paid from any income received for paid work subject to the personal income tax. The current rate of social insurance contributions is 35.09% of the employee’s income (if the employee is covered by all forms of social insurance), of which 24.09% is paid by the employer and 11% by the employee.

The standard rate of value added tax is 21% and the reduced rates levied on certain categories of goods and services are 12% and 0%.

The rate of property tax is:

  • 1.5% of cadastral value of land, buildings and structures;
  • For residential houses: 0.2%, if the cadastral value does not exceed EUR 56 915; 0.4% of the share of cadastral value that is above EUR 56 915, but below EUR 106 715; and 0.6% of the share of cadastral value above EUR 106 715.

Excise duty is charged on alcoholic drinks, tobacco products, petroleum products, non-alcoholic drinks, coffee, natural gas and fluids used in electronic cigarettes.

Customs duty is levied on goods that are imported from countries that are not EU Member States. The applicable taxation rate depends on the type and value of the goods.

Annual motor vehicle duty must be paid by all legal entities and individuals who own vehicles registered in their name in Latvia. This tax must be paid in full before a vehicle can undergo technical inspection. Car and motorcycle taxes must be paid to the State at the Road Traffic Safety Directorate before registration.

Text last edited on: 07/2019

COST OF LIVING

The average gross monthly wage in Latvia in the 3rd quarter of 2018 was EUR 1 006.

30%–40% of the monthly wage is spent on rent and utility services. Average consumer prices in Latvia do not significantly differ from average prices in other European countries, however, prices of certain product groups, e.g. local vegetables, fuel, cigarettes, etc., are comparatively lower.

Average food prices during the 2nd quarter of 2018 were as follows: pork EUR 4.50/kg; sausages, frankfurters EUR 5/kg; chicken fillet EUR 5.70/kg; cheese EUR 5–8/kg; milk EUR 0.90/litre; bread EUR 0.5–1; potatoes EUR 0.5/kg; beer (in shops) EUR 0.7–1.3/500 ml. On average, a meal in a restaurant costs EUR 20 to EUR 40. The price of electricity is from EUR 15.65/100 kWh, while the average price per litre of 95 grade fuel is EUR 1.274 (25 April 2019). A cup of coffee in a café or a restaurant — EUR 1.57. A cinema ticket — EUR 6.54. One visit to a swimming pool — EUR 7.00.

Text last edited on: 07/2019

EDUCATION SYSTEM

The language of instruction at State and municipal education institutions is Latvian. Education in other languages is available at private education institutions and in ethnic minority education programmes. Anyone who completes primary or secondary education in a language other than Latvian should, at the same time, learn the official language and take the State language exam as established by the State.

Top-up of professional skills or retraining must be carried out in the official language, if funded by the State or municipal budget.

Preschool, primary and secondary education at State or municipal schools is funded by the State or the respective local government. There are also several private schools in Latvia which provide education from the preschool level. Private education institutions may set their own tuition fees.

If the certificate/diploma on secondary education has been received in a foreign country, pursuant to the Law On Institutions of Higher Education, this document must be submitted for expert assessment to the Academic Information Centre (AIC).

Citizens of EU Member States and their children receiving education in Latvia are asked to pay and pay the same amount of fees as nationals and permanent residents of Latvia.

Latvia uses a 10-point grading system, with 10 granted for excellent performance. The grading scale is explained in greater detail on the AIC website.

The education system of Latvia consists of eight levels:

Early childhood education (ISCED Level 0)

Children between the ages of two and seven may attend preschool education institutions (nursery schools). Preparation for primary education is mandatory for children from five years of age. Early childhood education for children with special needs is provided in special pre-primary schools.

Primary and lower secondary education (ISCED Levels 1 and 2)

Primary education starts from age six or seven and lasts for nine years (from grade 1 to grade 9). Basic education is compulsory in Latvia. Upon graduation from a primary school, pupils must take national exams; their number and content is determined by the Ministry of Education and Science.

Secondary education (ISCED Level 3)

There are two types of curriculum at the secondary education level:

  • general secondary (three years at a secondary school (vidusskola) or grammar school (ģimnāzija); or at evening (vakara/maiņu) or distance learning (neklātienes) schools;
  • vocational secondary (one to four years at a vocational school (arodskola) or vocational secondary school (arodvidusskola)). Vocational education institutions offer curricula for all sectors of the economy. Students may qualify for a State scholarship.

Upon graduation from a secondary school, pupils must take national exams.

Post-secondary education (ISCED Level 4)

After completion of the general secondary education or vocational education, it is possible to proceed with further professional education programmes (from one to three years) or professional development programmes (no less than 160 lessons, can contribute to a professional qualification).

Tertiary education (ISCED Level 5)

A college (koledža) offers first-level professional tertiary education programmes. Colleges are independent education institutions or study programmes in universities. Regardless of the name of an education institution, college graduates have an equal status both in the labour market and as to further education, as the conditions for development and implementation of educational programmes are the same.

Bachelor or equivalent level education (ISCED Level 6)

Bachelor or equivalent level education can be acquired in colleges, universities and academies.

A college (koledža) is a higher education establishment that teaches first-level professional tertiary education programmes.

A school of higher education (augstskola), an academy (akadēmija) or a university (universitāte) offers second-level professional tertiary education and academic tertiary education programmes.

Study programmes are classified as academic tertiary education programmes (bachelor’s degree 3–4 years, master’s degree 1–2 years) and professional tertiary education programmes (professional qualification 4 years, professional bachelor’s degree 4 years, professional master’s degree 1–2 years).

Tertiary education can be completed by studying full or part-time. There is a limited number of study places funded by the State in every tertiary education establishment. Students may qualify for a State scholarship.

Postgraduate studies (ISCED Level 7 or 8)

A master’s degree gives the right to continue studies in a doctoral programme lasting 3–4 years. In Latvia, doctoral programmes are offered in the following areas:

Social sciences;

Natural sciences;

Law;

Technical sciences;

Humanities.

After completing a master’s degree, it is possible to continue studying for a doctorate in a range of areas. Doctoral programmes last 3–4 years.

RECOGNITION OF DIPLOMAS AND QUALIFICATIONS

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:
- An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
- The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  1. Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

  • a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  • a language passport,
  • certificate supplements,
  • diploma supplements, and
  • a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

USEFUL LINKS

www.nva.gov.lv - National Service for Employment

www.vsaa.lv - Social Security

www.aic.lv - Centre for Recognition of Diplomas and Qualifications

www.vid.gov.lv - National Revenue Agency

www.vdi.gov.lv/en/ - State Labour Inspectorate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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