Latvia joined the European Union in 2004 and became part of the Schengen Area in 2007. As a result, it becomes part of the ETIAS visa waiver program from late 2022 and onward, requiring non-Schengen residents to file for visa exemption should they wish to visit the nation.
ETIAS Visa Waiver for Latvia
The purpose of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is to secure the borders of the Schengen Area (including Latvia) while providing visitors with an easy way to apply for ETIAS authorization.
The ETIAS application process can be completed online and should take no more than 10 minutes. You will need to enter some basic information and this will then be checked against international databases to ensure there are no security issues.
Once you have received ETIAS travel authorization, it will be valid for 3 years or until your passport expires. It can be used to visit countries within the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days within any 180 day period.
Do I Need an ETIAS Visa Waiver to Visit Latvia?
If you don’t live in the Schengen Zone, you will likely need an ETIAS to travel to Latvia.
All valid passport holders can apply for an ETIAS online providing they have a valid credit card or debit card (for the €7 fee) and an email address.
Can I Enter Latvia with a Schengen Visa?
Yes, your Schengen Visa will be valid for all countries within the Schengen Zone, including Latvia.
The Schengen Visa is not the same as the ETIAS visa waiver, though. The application process is different and you are also given more freedom within the Schengen Visa.
However, the Schengen Visa is also more complicated and you can’t complete a quick and simple online form like you can with the ETIAS visa waiver.
What Does ETIAS Stand For?
ETIAS stands for “European Travel Information and Authorization System”. It works similarly to systems already in place in the United States, although the ETIAS application process is even quicker and easier.
Visiting Latvia with an ETIAS Visa Waiver
Riga is one of the most visited cities in Latvia. It’s a buzzing modern metropolis filled with gothic cathedrals, entertainment venues, and great restaurants and cafes.
Latvia also has some great national parks, beaches, and old towns. It’s a picture-perfect snapshot of the Baltic states, and there are a couple of UNESCO World Heritage sites as well.
Not only can you visit Latvia with ETIAS authorization, but you are also free to visit nearby Schengen countries, including Lithuania.
As soon as you meet those ETIAS requirements, you are free to visit all Schengen member states for up to 90 days within a 180 day period, and once that expires, you just need to reapply.