Latvia

Print

Source: EURES The European Job Mobility Portal. For up-to-date information visit the Living and Working Conditions section about Latvia on the EURES Portal.

How to find a job

The most common ways of finding a job in Latvia include personal contacts, newspaper and radio job advertisements, employment agencies, recruitment firms and the internet that immensely broadens the job search options.

Bear in mind that in order to successfully find a job in Latvia adequate knowledge of Latvian is necessary. Latvian is the state (official) language in Latvia, and it is used in all state institutions and in most workplaces. In your job search, knowledge of Russian, and in some cases English, German or Scandinavian languages may prove useful.

The State Employment Agency (NVA)

The NVA is an institution supervised by the Ministry of Welfare that implements the government policy in the area of reducing unemployment and providing support to the unemployed and jobseekers. The NVA provides services, advice and assistance to natural and legal persons in reducing unemployment and supporting the unemployed and jobseekers, and also to national and local authorities and non-governmental organisations.

Information on available vacancies registered in the NVA database (only in Latvian) is available on the NVA homepage: www.nva.gov.lv in the CV and vacancies portal section. You can also upload your CV in this section to seek a job in Latvia.

If you are looking for a job and wish to receive assistance in your search, enrol in a retraining course or participate in other proactive employment activities offered by the NVA, or wish to apply for unemployment benefits, you must register with the NVA and receive the unemployed status. Employees of the NVA will advise on available vacancies, the rights and obligations of unemployed persons and jobseekers, professional suitability, the choice of a suitable profession and re-qualification.

For more information about the offered services, see the State Employment Agency homepage: www.nva.gov.lv

EURES — EURopean Employment Services

The EURES portal www.eures.europa.eu contains extensive information about living conditions and employment opportunities not only in Latvia, but also in other European Union and European Economic Area countries. It is possible to receive free individual advice from NVA EURES consultants. Information about EURES in Latvia can be found on the NVA homepage: www.nva.gov.lv/eures (in English and Latvian).

Employment agencies

According to the law, job placement services (advice regarding employment issues, information on available vacancies, employment or other activities facilitating employment) may be provided by companies licensed by the State Employment Agency (NVA) for provision of such services. Information on private job placement offices licensed to place individuals in jobs in Latvia and abroad is available in the section Licensed private job placement agencies section of the State Employment Agency website.

Only entities licensed by the Ministry of Transport may place individuals in jobs on ships. The list of entities licensed by the Ministry of Transport is available on the website of the Maritime Administration of Latvia, the Registry of Seamen — Recruitment and Placement of Seafarers section.  www.lja.lv

Starting a business

You may become self-employed or set up your company. For information about how to start a business, please contact the State Revenue Service www.vid.gov.lv or the Register of Enterprises www.ur.gov.lv, or consult the homepage of the European Commission ‘Your Europe — Business’ on www.ec.europa.eu.

How to apply for a job

Applying 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 the CV, an applicant must describe their professional experience, qualifications and skills, highlighting the skills and experience that are relevant for the desired job.

When preparing your CV, pay close attention to the accuracy of the provided information, the used language and style and its presentation.

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

In addition to the CV, employers often request a motivation or cover letter, in particular 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 incorrect information is unacceptable.

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 low-skilled work, it is usually possible to do so via telephone. .

Job interviews

All companies commonly conduct interviews and tests to determine psychological and personality 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 interviewing 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.

The dress code will depend on the type of work and the position being applied for. It is important that you look neat and tidy. If the employer is a bank or government body, or if you are applying 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 their hand first.

Interviews in Latvia 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 discriminatory questions about their age, marital status or physical attributes (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 will usually notify you of the outcome of the application procedure within two weeks of the interview, although some firms may not notify you at all. If you do not receive a reply within the stipulated time frame, you can call the employer and enquire about the outcome.

Concluding an employment contract

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

Finding accommodation

Upon arrival in Latvia, for a short period of time you can stay in hotels or hostels until you find a permanent place to live. For information, see: www.latvia.travel/lv/lapa/naksnosanas-vietas

If you would like to rent a flat or a house, check advertisements in the press, on the internet (www.ss.comwww.reklama.lv/lvhttps://inch.lvwww.city24.lv; ) or with real estate agencies (www.incity.lvwww.niss.lvhttps://www.arcoreal.lvwww.kivi.lvwww.latio.lvwww.ober-haus.lv; www.rentinriga.lv). You can also visit www.1188.lv ‘Enterprises’→‘Real Estate’ section, where you will find a list of real estate agencies in the entire Latvia. Various advertisements can also be found in social media, including about rental or sales of homes, etc.

You may also contact a local authority to check if housing owned by the local authority is available for rent; however, housing of local authorities is mainly available only in small towns and villages.

The rental agreement should be signed in writing and should cover all key aspects: price, duration, terms of use, repair costs, pets, etc. The rental agreement may be signed for up to 10 years as indefinite agreements are not allowed according to the law.

On the average, apartment rental in the capital usually costs EUR 250–550 per month, and this amount usually does not include utilities (water, electricity, gas, internet, phone, etc.). The price depends on the size, condition, and location of the apartment; the proprietor may also request an advance.

The cost of renting an apartment in other cities of Latvia is normally lower than in Riga, but will usually be no less than EUR 70 a month. You should remember that owners may request payment of the rent in advance (1–3 months).

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.

2.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.

3.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.

4.Europass

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

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.

Types of employment

Minimum age for starting work

In Latvia you may work from the age of 15.

In exceptional cases, children from the age of 13 may, with the written consent of a parent (guardian), while not having to attend classes, be engaged in work that is easy and does not undermine the child’s health and safety, for example, agricultural work, cleaning work, and door-to-door delivery of goods. Such employment may not impede the child’s schooling.

Starting work

Before a person can start working, the employer and employee must conclude a written employment contract.

An employment contract is considered to be concluded from the moment the employer and employee have agreed on the work to be done and the payment for the work, and on the employee’s acceptance from that moment onwards of the terms of employment set by the employer and the employer’s instructions.

An employee has the right to conclude employment contracts with multiple employers, unless the employment agreement or the collective employment agreement states otherwise.

Employment contracts in Latvia are normally concluded for an indefinite period of time. In specific cases it is possible to conclude an employment contract for a fixed term by duly justifying such necessity, for example, seasonal or casual work, paid public work, etc.

An employment contract concluded for a fixed term will state the date on which the employment relationship terminates or the circumstances giving rise to the end of the respective job. The term of such employment contract may not exceed 3 years.

If, upon expiry of the term for which an employment contract has been entered into, neither party has requested termination of the employment contract and the employment relationship effectively continues, the employment contract is deemed to last for an indefinite period of time.

Setting a probation period

Upon the conclusion of an employment contract, a probation period may be set to determine whether the employee is suitable for the assigned work. If a probation period is not indicated in the employment contract, it is considered to be concluded without a probation period. A probation period may not exceed 3 months.

Probation periods may not be set for individuals under 18.

Flexible forms of employment

Latvian employers mostly prefer traditional employment, although there is a growing trend to choose flexible forms of employment such as part-time work, contracted work and fixed-term contracts. Remote work is a form of employment that has become increasingly popular in Latvia during recent years, for example, work at home that gives the employer and employee the opportunity to make working relations more flexible and also allows employees to combine their work with family life and social life and to perform their duties more independently.

Additional information on employment rights can be found on the homepage of the State Labour Inspectorate: www.vdi.gov.lv (in English and Latvian).

Seasonal work

Seasonal work in Latvia is legally defined mainly considering the duration of the employment contract. Usually, the agreement has to be signed for an indefinite period of time, but in some cases terminated agreements are allowed, and seasonal work is one of such cases. All cases when the work is considered seasonal pursuant to the law are listed in Cabinet Regulation No. 272. The Employment Law lays down two main exceptions from the general rules concerning seasonal workers:

Agricultural seasonal workers have a right to apply a lower income tax rate, namely, 15 %, if their employment does not last longer than 65 days and their income is lower than EUR 3000 (law On Personal Income Tax).

Third country seasonal workers in agriculture, forestry and fisheries have a right to receive remuneration that is no lower than the average monthly gross wages in the respective sector (Cabinet Regulation No 225 ‘Regulations regarding the amount of financial means necessary for a non-national and the Determination of the existence of financial means’).

All laws and regulations of the Republic of Latvia are available on https://likumi.lv/, in the Latvian language, though some legal acts also have an English translation.

Employment contracts

In order for employment to start in Latvia, the employer and employee must conclude a written employment contract.

An employment contract is drawn up in two copies, one copy kept by the employee, and the other by the employer.

The Labour Law provides for two types of employment contracts:

Employers must normally conclude employment contracts with employees for an indefinite period of time. In specific cases it is possible to conclude an employment contract for a fixed term by duly justifying such necessity, for example, seasonal or casual work, paid public work, etc.

The employment contract shall state:

In addition to the aforementioned information, the parties may agree on the inclusion of additional information; in this case, the information must comply with the laws and regulations applicable to the employment relationship. Provisions of employment contracts may not undermine the legal status of employees.

The employer and employee may amend the employment contract by mutual agreement. Amendments to the employment contract must be made in writing.

Additional information on employment rights can be found on the homepage of the State Labour Inspectorate: www.vdi.gov.lv (in English and Latvian).

Working time

Normal working hours and the length of a working week

A normal working day must not exceed 8 hours, while a normal working week is 40 hours.

The working week is fixed at 5 days. If, due to the nature of the work, a 5-day working week is not feasible, after consulting the employee representatives the employer may set a 6-day working week. If a 6-day working week is in place, the length of the working day may not exceed 7 hours. On Saturdays, work must end earlier than on other days. The length of the working day on Saturdays is stipulated in the collective agreement, terms of employment or the employment contract.

Overtime

Overtime is permitted if the employer and employee have agreed about it in writing. Pursuant to the Labour Law, employees who work overtime or on holidays, shall receive a premium of no less than 100% of their hourly or daily wages, but if the parties have agreed about a piecework salary, no less than 100% of the piecework price for the performed work.

Night work

A night worker is an employee who usually performs night work in accordance with a shift timetable or for at least 50 days during a calendar year. Night hours are from 10pm to 6am. Employees who work at night, shall receive a premium of no less than 50% of their hourly or daily wages, but if the parties have agreed about a piecework salary, no less than 50% of the piecework price for the performed work.

Shift work

If it is necessary to ensure uninterrupted operation, an employer may decide about the shift work after consulting employee representatives. In such cases, the length of the shift may not exceed the normal daily working hours for the respective employee category.

Working days before public holidays

The length of the working day immediately before a public holiday is reduced by one hour, unless the collective labour agreement, working regulations or employment contract provide for even shorter working hours.

This rule applies to workers for which the normal working hours are in place. It does not apply to workers employed part-time. If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, there is no requirement to reduce the working hours for workers employed during normal working hours on the Friday before that.

Weekly rest periods

The length of weekly rest periods may not be shorter than 42 consecutive hours in any 7-day period. This rule may not be applied if accrued working hours are calculated.

If a 5-day working week is in place, employees are granted two rest days per week; if a 6-day working week is in place, one rest day per week. Usually, two consecutive rest days are granted.

Sunday is the universal rest day during the week. If it is necessary to ensure uninterrupted operation, an employee may be assigned to work on Sundays, giving them a rest day on another day of the week.

Breaks

Every employee has the right to breaks if their working day is longer than 6 hours. A break must be granted after no more than 4 hours after the start of work. The length of breaks is determined by the employer after consulting employee representatives, but they cannot be shorter than 30 minutes. If it is not possible to grant the entire rest break all at once, it may be broken up into parts which may not be shorter than 15 minutes each. Breaks are not included in the working time.

Work on public holidays

Employees shall not be required to work on public holidays. If it is necessary to ensure uninterrupted operation, an employee may be required to work on a holiday, but they must be granted another day off in lieu or be paid appropriate compensation.

Additional information on employment rights can be found on the homepage of the State Labour Inspectorate: www.vdi.gov.lv (in English and Latvian).

Leave (annual leave, parental leave, etc.)

Paid annual leave

Every employee is entitled to paid annual leave. This leave may not be shorter than 4 calendar weeks, not including public holidays.

By agreement between the employer and employee, paid annual leave for the current year may be granted in instalments; however, one instalment of annual leave in a given year may not be shorter than 2 uninterrupted calendar weeks.

Cash compensation for annual leave is prohibited, except in cases where an employment relationship is terminated and an employee has not used their paid annual leave.

Procedures for granting paid annual leave

Paid annual leave is granted every year at a specific time in accordance with an agreement between the employer and employee or a leave timetable. When granting paid annual leave, the employer is obliged to take the employee’s wishes into account as far as possible.

An employee may ask for paid annual leave for the first year of employment if they have been continuously employed by the employer for no less than 6 months. The employer is obliged to grant such leave in full.

 Additional leave may be granted to employees if:

The collective agreement or employment contract may stipulate other cases when additional leave may be granted (for night work, shift work, long-term work, etc.).

An employer may grant an employee unpaid leave at the employee’s request.

Work on public holidays

Employees must not work on official public holidays.

Official public holidays are:

New Year’s Day — 1 January

Good Friday — Friday (March/April)

Easter Sunday — Sunday (March/April)

Easter Monday — Monday (March/April)

Constitutional Assembly of the Republic of Latvia Convocation Day. Labour Day — 1 May

Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia — 4 May

Mother’s Day — second Sunday of May

Whitsun — Sunday (June)

Midsummer’s Eve — 23 June

Janis Day — 24 June

Proclamation of the Republic of Latvia — 18 November

Christmas — 24, 25, 26 December

New Year’s Eve — 31 December

Maternity and childbirth leave

Maternity leave (56 calendar days) and childbirth leave (56 calendar days) are aggregated and 112 calendar days are granted irrespective of how many maternity leave days the pregnant woman has taken prior to the birth.

Leave granted due to pregnancy and childbirth is not included in the paid annual leave.

In principle, a woman taking maternity and childbirth leave retains her position. If this is not possible, the employer must provide a similar or equivalent job for the woman with equivalent working conditions and terms of employment.

Paternity leave

The father of a child is entitled to 10 calendar days of leave. Paternity leave may be granted immediately after the child’s birth and no later than 2 months after the birth.

Childcare leave

Every employee has the right to childcare leave due to the birth or adoption of a child. Childcare leave lasts 18 months, and may be requested at any time until the child reaches the age of 8.

The period spent by an employee on childcare leave is included in their total service time.

An employee taking childcare leave retains their previous job. If this is not possible, the employer must provide a similar or equivalent job for the employee with equivalent working conditions and terms of employment.

Study leave

An employee who is studying at any educational institution while continuing to work may, in accordance with the collective agreement or employment contract, be granted paid or unpaid study leave.

Employees sitting state exams or writing and defending theses are granted paid study leave of no less than 20 working days per year. If an employee receives lump sum remuneration, they are granted study leave during which average remuneration is/is not paid.

Additional information on employment rights can be found on the homepage of the State Labour Inspectorate: www.vdi.gov.lv (in English and Latvian).

Remuneration

In the private sector, an employee and an employer agree on the salary before any work is started. Remuneration in state and local authorities is set by the Law on Remuneration of Officials and Employees of State and Local Government Authorities.

Employee remuneration usually depends on their profession and skills, as well as the company’s business area. The highest remuneration is paid in ICT and finance, as well as to specialists and managers of manufacturing companies.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, the average gross monthly wage in the public sector of Latvia was EUR 1 223.

In Latvia, the minimum monthly wage is defined by the state. As of 1 January 2021, it should be no less than EUR 500 per month for standard working time (40 hours per week). The minimum hourly rate is calculated on the basis of the number of hours worked during the respective month.

Wages differ from one region to another: they are the highest in Riga and the surrounding area, and the lowest in Latgale in the eastern part of the country.

Employers are obliged to pay social insurance contributions for their employees.

Tax and contribution rates for employees:

As of 2021, the social security contributions amount to 34.09%, of which 23.59% are paid by the employer and 10.50% by the employee.

Income of the Latvian taxpayers is subject to a progressive personal income tax (IIN) of 20%, 23% or 31% depending on the level of income.

For more information about the personal income tax rate, see the State Revenue Service homepage: https://www.vid.gov.lv/lv/iedzivotaju-ienakuma-nodokla-likmes

Employers are obliged to pay wages no less than twice per month, unless the employee and employer have agreed on monthly payments. Most larger companies pay wages by a bank transfer to their employees’ current accounts.

When wages are paid, the employer must issue a payslip which shows the amount paid, the taxes withheld and the social security contributions paid, as well the number of hours worked, including overtime and hours worked at night and on holidays. The employer is obliged to explain how amounts on the payslip are calculated if an employee so requests.

Income is subject to an individual non-taxable minimum; its maximum amount in 2021 is EUR 300 per month, and tax allowances for dependent persons are EUR 250 per month for each dependent.

The annual tax-free income and allowances for dependent persons are also applied to residents of EU Member States or EEA Member States if they earn more than 75% of their total income in Latvia.

Additional information on employment rights can be found on the homepage of the State Labour Inspectorate: www.vdi.gov.lv (in English and Latvian).

End of employment

An employment relationship may only be terminated in the cases provided for in the Labour Law.

By mutual agreement of the parties

The employee and employer may terminate an employment relationship if they arrive at a mutual agreement. Such agreement should be concluded in writing.

Upon expiry of the employment contract, if the contract has been concluded for a fixed term

The employment relationship ends on the day the employment contract expires. If such deadline is not specified, the employer is obliged to notify the employee in writing about the expected termination of employment no later than 2 weeks in advance.

Termination of employment upon request by third parties

For employees who are under 18, parents, guardians or the State Labour Inspectorate may request termination of employment if such person performs work that endangers their health, safety, or morals or undermines their development or education.

Upon notice by either party (employee or employer)

An employee has the right to terminate the employment contract by giving prior written notice of 1 calendar month, unless a shorter notice period is stipulated in a collective agreement or employment contract. At the request of the employee, periods of temporary incapacity may be excluded from the notice period.

An employment contract may be terminated before the end of the notice period if the employer and employee agree accordingly.

An employee has the right to give immediate written notice of termination of the employment contract to the employer if the employee has a substantial reason which prevents them from continuing the employment relationship on the basis of morality and fairness.

During the probationary period, the employer and employee have the right to terminate the employment contract by giving a 3-day written notice.

An employer has the right to terminate the employment contract in writing only on the grounds related to an employee’s behaviour or abilities, or on the grounds of organisational, technological or similar measures being undertaken in the company, for example, if the employee has seriously violated the employment contract or employment terms without a good reason, or if the employee is unable to perform the contracted work due to health reasons, etc.

Depending on the reason for dismissal, the notice period may be zero or 10 days, or 1 month.

An employment contract may be terminated if the number of employees in a company has to be reduced or in case of collective dismissal.

An employer may not give a notice of termination of an employment contract to an employee who is a member of a trade union without the approval of the trade union.

An employer may not give a notice of termination of an employment contract to a pregnant woman; women in the post-natal period may not be given a notice of termination for up to 1 year. If a woman is breastfeeding, termination is forbidden for the entire breastfeeding period. It is also prohibited to terminate an employee who is designated as disabled, except in specific cases provided by the law. Termination of an employment contract is permitted in the following exceptional cases: liquidation of a company or termination on grounds related to an employee’s behaviour.

In Latvia, employment may also be terminated upon retirement.

In cases where employees consider the termination of their employment to be illegal, they have the right, within 1 month from the date of receipt of the notice of termination, to appeal to the court to find the notice of termination of employment invalid. In case of a dispute, the employer, not the employee, is responsible for proving the legitimacy of the termination of the employment contract and its compliance with the prescribed procedure for the termination of employment contracts.

Additional information on employment rights can be found on the homepage of the State Labour Inspectorate: www.vdi.gov.lv (in English and Latvian).

Healthcare system

Healthcare services are provided by state, municipal and private medical institutions. State-funded healthcare services are only available at medical facilities that have signed contracts with the National Health Service.

In Latvia, state-funded medical assistance is available to nationals and non-nationals of Latvia, as well as citizens of European Union Member States, European Economic Area countries and the Swiss Confederation, who reside in Latvia due to their employment or as self-employed persons, and their family. It is also available to non-nationals with a permanent residence permit in Latvia, to refugees and persons granted subsidiary protection, as well as to detainees and convicted prisoners. Other residents must pay for medical services in accordance with the healthcare facility or specialist’s price list.

Medical examinations are mandatory for people whose work is associated with possible risks to the health of others (e.g. in the catering sector), employees whose health may be affected by harmful environmental factors at work and employees who work in special conditions. The cost of a mandatory medical examination before commencement of work (commencement of employment) are borne either by the person concerned or the potential employer depending on the mutual agreement. The costs of further medical examinations are borne by the employer.

Emergency medical assistance

For emergency medical assistance in Latvia (NMP), dial the NMP service number (113) or the emergency rescue service number (112). These numbers are accessible both from mobile phones and land lines.

For less serious illnesses or injuries, you can contact your general practitioner or call the GP consultation helpline at +371 66016001 (weekdays from 5pm until 8am, 24 hours a day on weekends and holidays, advice possible in Latvian, Russian and English), or go to the nearest accident and emergency ward or hospital admission department.

Primary healthcare

In Latvia, primary healthcare is provided by general practitioners. The general practitioner along with a certified nurse or certified physician’s assistant provides healthcare services to patients at the general practitioner’s practice or the patient’s home.

Every resident has the right to choose a family doctor, confirming the selection by registering with their preferred doctor. Registration is free of charge. For information about general practitioners working in your municipality or city, see the homepage of the National Health Service (www.vmnvd.gov.lv). You can book an appointment with a doctor in his/her practice or electronically on the national e-health portal www.eveseliba.gov.lv The national e-health portal can also be used to e.g. check information about your incapacity certificates, apply for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), view the received e-prescriptions, receive information about e-referrals and their results, etc.

Each resident may only be registered with one general practitioner.

If you would like to receive state-funded medical treatment and pay only a patient’s contribution, you should find out the following before visiting a doctor:

A visit to a general practitioner normally has to be scheduled in advance, and patients will be given an appointment within 5 working days of requesting one. However, each general practitioner is available at least 1 hour per working day to see patients with serious illnesses who do not have a prior appointment.

Inpatient and outpatient medical care

Residents may visit outpatient treatment centres to consult with specialists, undergo examinations, or receive other outpatient healthcare services. To receive hospital services as an inpatient, residents may visit treatment centres, which provide healthcare services covered by the state. When a patient receives state-funded healthcare services, they must pay a patient’s contribution.

For an exhaustive list of patient contributions, see the homepage of the National Health Service, section Healthcare Services www.vmnvd.gov.lv .

To receive a state-funded consultation by a specialist, have a diagnostic examination, or be treated in a hospital by paying just a patient’s contribution, a referral from a general practitioner or another doctor is usually required.

Dentistry

In Latvia, dental services, including visits to a dental hygienist, are funded from the state budget only for children under 18 and if the treatment is provided by a dentist or medical institution which has a contract with the National Health Service.

Purchasing drugs

Prescription and non-prescription drugs may be purchased in pharmacies. To purchase prescription drugs, you need a prescription issued by a general practitioner or a specialist. Prescriptions are issued free of charge, but the patient has to pay a patient’s contribution when visiting the specialist. No contribution needs to be paid if the doctor does not examine the patient or provide a consultation. A list of drugs paid by the state can be found on the website of the National Health Service.

For information about healthcare options and patient’s contributions, contact the respective healthcare facility, the National Health Service (www.vmnvd.gov.lv) or regional health insurance funds, or call the free helpline 80001234.

If you have received an S form before you left your country (e.g. S1), please remember to register it with the National Health Service when you arrive to Latvia.

Incomes and the taxation system

The average gross monthly wage in Latvia in 2020 was EUR 1 143.

Employee remuneration usually depends on their profession and skills, as well as the company’s business area. The highest remuneration is paid in ICT and finance, as well as to specialists and managers of manufacturing companies.

The average hourly remuneration (gross) per profession is:

Wages differ from one region to another: they are the highest in Riga and the surrounding area, and the lowest in Latgale in the eastern part of the country.

Latvian taxpayer income is subject to a progressive personal income tax (IIN). IIN rates in 2020:

Income is subject to the non-taxable minimum and tax allowances for dependent persons. The non-taxable minimum is different for each person and is calculated according to a special formula that takes into account the taxable annual income of the respective individual. As of 2021, the maximum non-taxable minimum personal income is EUR 300 per month.

In 2021, the tax allowance is EUR 250 for each dependent person.

The annual tax-free income and allowances for dependent persons are also applied to residents of EU Member States or EEA Member States if they earn more than 75% of their total income in Latvia.

All income received from paid work on which personal income tax must be withheld is subject to social insurance contributions. The current rate of social insurance contributions is 34.09% of the employee’s income (if the employee is covered by all forms of social insurance), of which 23.59% is paid by the employer and 10.5% by the employee.

The standard rate of the 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:

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

Customs duty is levied on goods that are imported from third countries. The applicable tax 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 a roadworthiness test. Car and motorcycle taxes must be paid to the state via the Road Traffic Safety Directorate before registration.

Education system

The language of instruction at state and municipal educational institutions is Latvian. Education in other languages is available at private educational institutions and in ethnic minority education programmes. Anyone who receives primary or secondary education in a language other than Latvian should, at the same time, learn the national language and take the state language examination in accordance with the scope and procedure established by the state.

Improvement of professional skills or retraining must be carried out in the official language, if funded from the state or municipal budget.

Preschool, primary and secondary education at state or municipal schools is funded by the state or respective local authority. There are also several private schools in Latvia, which provide education from the preschool level. Private educational institutions may decide about their tuition fees.

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

Nationals of EU Member States and their children receiving education in Latvia are charged the same amount and in line with the same procedures as nationals and permanent residents of Latvia.

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

The Latvian education system consists of 8 levels:

Preschool education (ISCED Level 0)

Children between the ages of 1.5 and 7 attend preschool educational institutions (nursery schools). Preparation for primary education is mandatory for children from the age of 5. Preschool education for children with special needs is provided in special preschool educational institutions.

Basic education (ISCED Level 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. When graduating from primary school, pupils must take the s.c. centralised examinations; 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 secondary education level:

When graduating from secondary school, pupils must take centralised examinations.

Post-secondary education (ISCED Level 4)

After completing general secondary education or vocational education, it is possible to attend continuing professional education programmes (lasting 1 to 3 years) or professional development programmes (lasting no less than 160 lessons, which can count as credits towards a professional qualification).

Tertiary education (ISCED Level 5)

A college is an educational establishment that offers first-level professional tertiary education programmes. Colleges are independent educational institutions or study programmes in universities. Regardless of the name of an educational 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 education (ISCED Level 6)

Tertiary education can be acquired in colleges and universities, higher education schools and academies.

A college is an higher educational establishment that offers first-level professional tertiary education programmes.

A higher education school, an academy or a university 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 acquired by completing full-time or distance learning studies. There is a limited number of study positions 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 grants the right to continue studies in a doctoral programme lasting 3-4 years. Doctoral study programmes in Latvia are offered in the following fields:

Social sciences

Natural sciences

Law

Technical sciences

Humanities

After master’s studies, it is possible to continue studying for a doctoral degree in a range of fields. Doctoral programmes last for 3-4 years.

Cultural and social life

Latvians can be described as reserved, self-reliant, independent and tenacious. To others, Latvians might seem unsociable and uncommunicative individualists, though they need a bit of time to develop trust and friendship. A typical Latvian saying is Runāšana — sudrabs, klusēšana — zelts (‘Speaking is silver, silence is gold’).

People love to give flowers as gifts, and this is one of the nicest ways to show your appreciation to someone. Name-day celebrations, comparable to birthday parties, are popular.

Latvia’s inhabitants have a special relationship with storks; for example, if a stork makes its nest near a house, it is believed that the residents of the house are blessed. Many people in Latvia still make home-made wine, beer and cheese. In summer, during the night from 23 to 24 June, you will certainly want to take part in celebrating the Midsummer’s Eve and the Janis Day when the whole night is spent with much revelry, including searching for the mystical ‘flowering fern’.

Latvia is a land of many faiths, with the leading one being Christianity, divided into Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, Baptists, Anglicans, Old Believers and other faiths. Apart from the major faiths, Judaism, Islam, Krishnaism, Mormon, Buddhist, and other world religions are present in Latvia. Latvia is also unique in having preserved a comparatively high number of Old Believer congregations.

Latvia is a small but beautiful country with many interesting tourist attractions (the Baltic Sea coast, with sandy beaches in some places and pebble beaches in others, the Gauja National Park, which is nicknamed ‘Little Switzerland’, interesting natural formations found in the entire country, ancient cultural monuments, etc.). In Latvia and particularly in Latgale, handicrafts and other forms of folk art, such as pottery, weaving, plaiting, etc. have deep roots.

Latvia has a rich theatre heritage, and people enjoy going to performances. The song and dance festivals usually held in summer attract participants and spectators from around the world.

Sports are very popular in Latvia, including ice hockey, basketball, biathlon and bobsleigh. You can visit ice rinks, sports clubs and family leisure centres.

Riga can be considered the cultural metropolis of Latvia, with an impressive concentration of scientific, cultural and entertainment facilities. Many museums have become important centres of cultural life, where various public events take place on a regular basis.

A directory of Latvia's museums can be found at: www.muzeji.lv

The new building of the National Library of Latvia, also called the ‘Gaismas pils’ (Castle of Light) (www.lnb.lv) is a unique European landmark of cultural heritage.

To find out more about recent developments and news in this area, visit the portal of the Ministry of Culture: www.km.gov.lv.

You will find web pages with information about various cultural events here: http://www.rits.lv/http://www.satori.lv/, etc.

More information on Latvia and tourism in Latvia is available on tourist information portals:  www.latvia.travel/lvwww.vietas.lvwww.tours.lvwww.travelnews.lvwww.travellatvia.lv.

Details of cultural activities can also be found on local authority websites.

Text last edited on: 07/2021