Latvia is a member state of the European Union and travellers have the same rules as in other EU member states. Latvia is a signatory of the Schengen Agreement; accordingly there is no border control for persons entering from the European Union. There are border controls in place with Russia and Belarus.
Latvia’s representative offices abroad issue uniform, Schengen visas, valid in the territory of all Schengen signatory states – this means that with a visa issued at a Latvian Embassy you can enter other Schengen countries. There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union.
Airports in Europe are divided into “Schengen” and “non-Schengen” sections, which effectively act like “domestic” and “international” sections elsewhere. If you are flying from outside Europe into one Schengen country and continuing to another, you will clear Immigration and Customs at the first country and then continue to your destination with no further checks. Travel between a Schengen member and a non-Schengen country will result in the normal border checks. Note that regardless of whether you travelling within the Schengen area or not, some airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport.
Citizens of the following “Annex II” countries and territories do not currently require a visa for entry into the Schengen Area, as a whole, for a maximum of 90 days in a 180 day period: Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina¹, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia², Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuala.
Keep in mind that the counter begins once you enter any country in the Schengen Area and is not reset by leaving a specific Schengen country for another Schengen country, or vice-versa.
To be able to enter the Schengen Area without a visa, the above Annex II nationals are required to have a travel document which is valid for at least 3 months after the intended date of departure and which has been issued in the previous 10 years, have sufficient funds for their stay and onward/return journey, justify the purpose and conditions of their stay, not be listed in the Schengen Information System as someone to be refused entry and not be considered as a threat to public policy, internal security, public health or the international relations of any Schengen country.
Note that while British subjects with the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British Overseas Territories citizens connected to Gibraltar are considered “United Kingdom nationals for European Union purposes” and therefore eligible for unlimited access to the Schengen Area, British Overseas Territories citizens without the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British subjects without the right of abode in the United Kingdom as well as British Overseas citizens and British protected persons in general do require visas. However, all British Overseas Territories citizens except those solely connected to the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas are eligible for British citizenship and thereafter unlimited access to the Schengen Area.
Further note that ¹ Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina need a biometric passport to enjoy visa-free travel ² Serbian nationals with passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate (Serbs residing in Kosovo) still do need a visa.
All visitors from outside the EU, including Americans, must fill out a landing card, available on board some arriving flights (sometimes) or in the entrance hall of the airport from the small box between the customs agents.
The period of stay in Latvia without a visa is 90 days in half a year, counting from the arrival day. If you wish to extend your stay beyond the 90 days in half a year, then you have to apply for a residence permit. More information on entry into Latvia can be obtained on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia and on the website of the Latvian State Border Guard.
Disclaimer: The information above is intended to assist conference attendees with their travel arrangements. Each individual traveling to the conference is responsible for researching all requirements necessary for entry to Latvia specific to his or her case. ESWI has no influence on an individual’s application to a Latvian Embassy or any other agency for a visa to travel to Latvia and cannot be held responsible for the outcome of an individual’s visa application.