Latvia’s location on the Baltic, along with the constant growth in imports and exports, has increased the interest of many to travel to Latvia on business. Traveling to Latvia, the traditional trading spot of Europe, is an experience that besides being lucrative for certain businesses becomes an immersion in its rich and historical culture, architecture and cities. Find out everything you need to know right here.
Business is handled rather traditionally in a lot of different aspects like the exchange of business cards, arrangement of appointments, formal attire, and gifts are very well received when beginning a business meeting. Keep in mind that office hours in Latvia normally go from Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. After joining the European Union in 2004, Latvia has experienced many ups and downs. It suffered along with the rest during the global financial crisis in 2008, being affected in its unemployment rate the worst. It has bounced back quite well and is now considered one of the fastest among the EU countries. This growth is mainly due to exports of timber and wood products, machinery and equipment, metals and textile.
Before you travel
Passport & visa
Anyone traveling from Australia, UK, Canada and the United States require a passport when going to Latvia. They don’t need a return ticket or Visa, if they don’t stay longer than three months. Only a EU national can stay more than 3 months with not need for a visa, but still have to register with local authorities after this time. Even though when travelling between Schengen countries there is no need to show your passport, since the only border controls are done when you enter the first time. Despite this, it is still recommended to carry one. After the three months, in the case of the aforementioned countries.
If you are working during your stay than you would require a work visa. Since Latvia is a member of the EU and part of the Schengen treaty those who belong to these nations can reside and work freely in Latvia without a work permit. If you are a national from the United States, as well as other countries like New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Israel, Japan and Switzerland, you can apply for a resident permit if taking on a contract, once they have arrived to the country. If you are from a nation different from the ones mentioned before, you must request the work visa before entering the country and being officially hired in the country.
There are basically four types of visa in Latvia: Airport visa, Transit visa, short term visa and long term visa. The last two are the ones most sought out for people interested in traveling to Latvia for business or employment. The short term visa is valid for one year and allows the visitor to stay for periods of time no longer than 90 consecutive days. The long term visa on the other hand is valid for 90 days but each time that the person enters the country, although it is also valid for one year.
Be sure to take all of the vaccinations requested by the embassy and the travel agency when traveling to Latvia. Normally, the basic ones are Tetanus, Hepatitis A and Diphtheria.
In Latvia you will be able to make use of all major credit cards. You will find easy access to ATMs in towns and cities. The local currency has been euro since 2014. Latvia has a duty free zone that is open without limits for personal use to EU member nationals, but has certain limitations for those from other countries. Keep these in mind when traveling to avoid inconveniences on your way back to your country.
Once you arrive
Things to see and do
Even though you’re traveling on business, you can still enjoy your free time and go sightseeing while staying in Latvia. The Basilica of Angola is an immense white cathedral where Catholics from the whole country pilgrimage to. It is located near Daugavpils, where the surrounding area of the church are flooded by around 150,000 worshippers during a candle lit procession in August. If you’re more interested in taking all of the nature in be sure not to miss birdwatching in Pape. Pape is located on the migration route of a few birds and other species, so it makes for the perfect place to birdwatch. You can find local tour guides that can show you the coast and wetlands where you can enjoy nature and beautiful fauna. Another breathtaking location you can’t miss out on is Cape Kolka. This is where the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga merge. If you love long walks and birdwatching this is the spot for you. One of the most things that most people find endearing about Latvia is the old world culture and environment. Cesis is full of wooden buildings, castles, churches and even cobbled streets that will literally walk you through pages in history. Cesis has been around since the 13th century making it one of Latvia’s oldest towns.
There are many other, but these are the ones you won’t want to miss while working in Latvia.