ETIAS Visa Waiver for Latvia

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Latvia is a European country that sits on 64,589 km² of land and has a population of 1.87 million during the 2021 count. It is located in Northern Europe in the Baltic region. Estonia borders Latvia on the North, Lithuania on the South, Belarus on the Southeast, and Russia on the East. Latvia shares a maritime border with Sweden on the West. Riga is Latvia's biggest city, and also its capital city.
Latvia is a member of the Schengen zone. The Schengen zone is a combination of 26 European countries that have no border restrictions among themselves. They allow citizens and visitors to travel freely among all countries in the Schengen zone. Visitors can travel around the Schengen zone for as long as their visas can take. Citizens can, however, stay for as long as they want in other ETIAS countries, living and working as they please.
To gain entrance into Latvia, your passport and a visa are needed. Citizens of a few countries - about 60 of them can enter Europe and the Schengen area without a visa because their governments have a visa liberalization agreement with the European Union. Hence, their citizens do not need a visa to enter Europe. However, this should change from the end of 2022, when the European Union authorities will introduce the ETIAS visa waiver. ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System and will protect the Schengen area from high-risk individuals.

Latvia Visa and Entry Requirements

When entering Latvia, your international passport or an equivalent travel document and a visa are required from most visitors. Citizens from countries with the visa liberalization agreement with the European Union can enter without a permit. However, starting at the end of 2022, these citizens will need an ETIAS visa waiver before entering Latvia and the Schengen area. The visa waiver is an alternative to a visa and is expected to serve as a security system for the Schengen zone.
There are different types of Latvia Visa, depending on the reason for your visit. Study visas, tourist visas, short-term visas, long-term visas, and Schengen visas are some kinds of visas available for visitors to enter Latvia. The Schengen visa works as a perfect short-term visa for tourism and business purposes.
The Schengen visa has a validity period of five years. Within these five years, holders of the Schengen visa can visit the Schengen zone for three months (90 days) every six months (180 days); it is regarded as the 90/180 rule. With the obedience of this rule, Schengen Visa holders can enter Latvia and the Schengen area multiple times.

Who Needs a Schengen Visa to Enter Latvia?

There are two categories of individuals who need a Schengen Visa before they can visit the Schengen zone;
  • Citizens from countries whose governments agree to visa liberalization with the European Union but have been rejected from the Schengen zone in previous times.
  • Citizens from countries that do not have a visa liberalization agreement with the European Union. These countries are called third countries.
Obtaining a Schengen visa is fast and cheaper than other forms of visa. The application process is easy and is carried out at the consulate or Latvian embassy in your home country. In cases where the embassy is absent in your home country, Visa Facilitation Services Global (VFS global) can be of help. However, in extreme cases where either of these is lacking, your best bet is to apply at the consulate of any other Schengen country. When it gets approved and you arrive in the country, you can easily travel to Latvia. It helps if you choose a country that shares a border with Latvia.

What Documents Are Required when Applying for a Latvia Schengen Visa?

When applying for a Latvia Schengen Visa, all the documents required are for confirmation that you have the basic requirements for entering Latvia, and you do not pose any risk to the Schengen area. These are the documents required for a Latvia Schengen Visa:
  • A valid passport. The passport should not be older than ten years and should be valid for at least three months after departing from Latvia.
  • Two recent passport photographs sized 3.5 by 4.5 cm.
  • An appropriately filled visa application form
  • Biometric data (usually fingerprints)
  • Proof of medical insurance
  • Evidence of payment of visa fee
  • A cover letter stating your reason for visiting Latvia
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Proof of finances
  • A round trip itinerary that shows your exit and entry dates, including your flight numbers
  • Proof that you will leave Latvia and the Schengen area; usually a return flight ticket or an onward ticket
  • If applicable, previous Schengen visas.
In appropriate cases, applicants should take photocopies of the original documents along with the originals. Also, note that applicants should fill all forms in block letters. It should be in English, Russian, or Latvia; it should be translated to these languages if issued in other languages.

Travelling to Latvia

Many tourists are beginning to travel to Latvia in search of nature in its authentic and unspoiled form. Annually, Latvia receives about two million visitors, who are always amazed by the beautiful beaches, unspoiled nature, and long coastlines. Visitors take advantage of the open borders among the Schengen zone to visit Latvia and other Schengen countries within the specified 90-day period.
Most visitors arrive via the Riga International Airport, located 10 km away from the city centre. The airport is the largest in Latvia. Including international flights and domestic routes, the Riga International airport has a direct flight to over 80 destinations.
Visitors can also travel into Latvia from neighbouring countries like Estonia and Lithuania by bus or car since the borders are open. Ensure to have your valid driver's license and obey all traffic rules while driving in Latvia. Non-Europeans should have their passport and Schengen Visa with them at all times. Because of its numerous coastlines, visitors from Finland, Sweden, and Germany can come via ferry or other water vessels.

Europe's Travel Authorisation for Latvia

Starting at the end of 2022, citizens from most visa-free countries must present an ETIAS visa waiver before entering Latvia or the Schengen zone. The ETIAS is not a visa; it is a visa waiver that allows visa-exempt visitors access into the European Union. The ETIAS will be valid for three years before renewing it.
It will allow its holders to visit ETIAS countries for a maximum of 90 days every six months. The ETIAS will serve as an added security measure that will only enable low-risk individuals to access Latvia and the European Union at large.
In conclusion, Latvia is a crucial part of the European Union and has long coastlines, beautiful natural scenery, and engaging citizens. Latvia is packed full with an abundance of rare flora and wildlife that is beautiful to look upon.