How to Move to Latvia? (EU and Non-EU Residence Permit)

How to move to Latvia? Let’s discuss how you can immigrate to Latvia and obtain a residence permit as an EU and Non-EU citizen

Are you considering moving to Latvia? In this post we will discuss the options to get a residence permit in the country as an EU and as a non- EU citizen, for the purpose of work, business, investment and study. We will also list the advantages and disadvantages about living in Latvia.

move to latvia

Latvia Overview

Latvia is a country in Northeastern Europe, and part of the Baltic States together with Estonia and Lithuania. The country is a full European Union member, a member of the Schengen area, and currently uses the Euro common currency. The economy of Latvia is relatively stable, and the country has experienced huge economic growth since it got independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990’s.

However, Latvia is currently the worst performer in terms of recent economic development in the region. Lithuania is doing a bit better than Latvia, and Estonia is doing fairly better than both.

Below, we will analyze the options if you want to move to Latvia, temporarily or permanently.

Latvia Residence Permit for EU Citizens

If you are an EU citizen and you want to live in Latvia for more than 3 months, you need to register your stay. The process is pretty straightforward and you can do everything after you are already in Latvia. You will need to either own real estate, have a rental contract, or the consent of a property owner in Latvia to live and register your address there.

In Riga, usually it will take longer for you to register your stay than in other parts of the country. However, in Latvia, you can register your stay in any city, it doesn’t necessarily need to be in the city where you live. This way, you can get it done much faster, and get your Latvia residence card in a matter of just a few days.

Once registered, you can go on and start your activities, whatever they might be: work, study, retirement, non-economic activities broadly with the same rights as citizens of Latvia.

Latvia Residence Permit for Non EU Citizens

If you are not an EU citizen, things are slightly more difficult. However, Latvia is one of the EU countries with the highest availability and flexibility in terms of residence permits for non-EU nationals.

There are residence permits for most categories. Currently, they include, non-EU citizens residence permits for study, work, running a business, self-employed persons, real estate and bond investors, retirees, and many others. Let’s cover a few them below. There are really many, so we will not cover all of them.

Residence Permit for Business

Firstly, let’s check how to get a residence permit to run business in Latvia. There are a few different options, including residence permits for company shareholders, for self-employed persons, and also, if you want to run a start-up company in Latvia.

The disadvantage here is that things are not that easy. While anyone, even non-EU citizens can freely open a company in Latvia, getting a residence permit involves a number of requirements to be met. 

The most difficult requirement in my opinion is that your business plan must be checked and approved by a sworn auditor. But, at least you can set up the business plan initially and try to get it approved. If it does, then you can move on and actually invest.

The easiest option if you want to run business in Latvia is going for the Startup Visa. The financial requirement to apply is just 6000 euros, but remember, you will still need to get your business plan approved.

Residence Permit for Investors in Latvia

Now, let’s check two options that I consider some of the best ones if you want to live in the European Union and you want to be a passive investor, as opposed to an active business manager.

The first option is the real estate investment residence permit in Latvia. You need to make a real estate investment of 250.000 euros to qualify for this residence permit, plus some government fees. There is no minimum number of days you need to stay in Latvia to renew it. 

The second option is investing in bonds in Latvia. You need to invest 250.000 euros in an interest-free government bond plus fees. The advantage with the bonds is the liquidity. You don’t need to look around for properties, and if you don’t want to renew your residence permit you will not need to find a buyer for your property. However the government fees are lower if you invest in real estate.

Studying in Latvia

Another option to move to Latvia is by studying there. There are three main advantages if you want to move to Latvia to study.

The first advantage is that you will be able to find a decent amount of inexpensive degrees in English. 

The second advantage is that the cost of living in Latvia is considerably lower than in most European countries. This applies not only to Western European countries but also when compared to its immediate neighbor, Estonia.

Finally, full time students can work while having a student residence permit in Latvia. This is limited to part time work during your studies, and you can work full time during breaks, for example, in your summer vacation. 

Residence Permits for Retirement

Latvia also has a residence permit option for retirees. This option is good if you want to actually spend most of the time of the year in Latvia, and the funds you need to be eligible for it are far lower than investing in real estate or opening a company.

From the Baltic region, Latvia is currently the only country that has a specific residence permit for retirees.

Other Residence Permits in Latvia

There are other reasons that render you eligible for a residence permit in Latvia. Among them, the most common ones are working for a Latvian company, being married to a Latvian national.

Permanent Residence Permit in Latvia

When you complete 5 years living on a temporary residence permit in Latvia, you will be eligible to apply for permanent residency. In some cases this time window can be reduced.

Apart from the time living in the country requirement, you will also need to prove you have at least basic knowledge of the Latvian language to get your permanent residence.

Latvian Citizenship by Naturalization

If you are aiming to get Latvian citizenship, you will need to add some extra years in the country before you can apply. Once you become a permanent resident of Latvia, you need to live in the country for 5 years in order to be eligible for Latvian citizenship. Among other requirements, you will also need to be fluent in Latvian.

Advantages of Living in Latvia

Now, let’s check some of the main advantages of living in Latvia:

Good Number of Residence Permit Options

One of the most significant advantages of Latvia is that they have a broad options of residence permits. This is especially good about Latvia, since the other countries in the vicinity have much less options. Among this option, the real estate investment one and the retirement one are really interesting.

European Transportation Hub

Another important advantage is that Riga is a good transportation hub in Europe. This is especially the case if you want to travel from and to countries in Northern Europe, such as those in Scandinavia, or former Soviet Republics, like Ukraine, Russia and even Uzbekistan.

The Riga Airport offers direct flights to all of these locations plus to many other European hubs.

Relatively Low Taxes and Level of Bureaucracy

Another interesting advantage of Latvia is its relatively low taxes and low level of bureaucracy. While taxes in Latvia are definitely not super low, they are fairly lower than most Western European countries, especially when it comes to income taxes.

Bureaucracy in Latvia is also less complicated than the average in Europe. Many processes can be done electronically and the fact that the country is quite small also helps.

Disadvantages of Latvia


One thing that might be considered as a disadvantage for some is the weather. Latvia, just like the other Baltic States has a pretty low overall average temperature. Winters in Latvia are pretty long and dark, which may be an unpleasant disadvantage for some. If you like snow and subzero temperatures, Latvia is a great option.

On the other hand, Latvia has pretty interesting summers. Days are rarely excessively hot, and they are also quite long. In fact, it gets dark just a few hours per night during summer in Latvia.

Everyone is a Polyglot 

Most people in Latvia speak three languages, either fluently or at least have a decent command of them. They are Latvian, English and Russian. The younger generation know less Russian than older generations. But Latvia is still by far the country in the European Union with the highest percentage of Russian speakers. 

This can be a disadvantage if you are a foreigner entering the Latvian job market. While many jobs do not require you to speak neither Latvian nor Russian, it is quite common that job offers have Latvian, Russian and English as a requirement for the position.

Latvia Brain Drain

The last disadvantage I would like to point out about Latvia is the Latvia Brain Drain. Latvia is one of the European countries with a significant negative net migration rate. In other words, for more than a decade, every year in Latvia, more people are leaving the country than moving to it.

This impacts the country’s economy and daily life in many ways. I do hope that Latvia finds a way to keep its citizens living in the country and attracting more foreign talent to the country.

Other Resources to Traveling in Latvia

Are you in Latvia or considering moving or traveling to it soon? Check some of our other guides to the region, such as where to stay in Tallinn and the cost of living in Tallinn, Estonia.