Electrical current is 220 volts AC, 50 Hz. European
style two-pin plugs are in use.
Latvian is the official language, but English,
Lithuanian, Russian and German are also spoken.
Tipping is not obligatory in restaurants, but it is customary to
round up the bill to no more than 10% if a service charge has not
been included and the service was good. Carry small change for
tipping taxi drivers. In hotels, tip according to the services
Most visits to Latvia are trouble-free, but street crime can be
a problem for tourists, and there are occasional muggings of
foreigners, particularly if walking alone or at night. Car theft is
rife. Reports indicate that foreigners are being charged
ridiculously expensive prices for drinks in bars in Riga, and
visitors are cautioned against becoming victims by checking on
prices before buying. Muggings are common of tourists out late at
night in the Old Town.
Latvians are generally reserved, quiet and extremely courteous,
and are not comfortable making small talk. Good manners dictates
that people are not embarrassed or criticised in public.
Conducting business in Latvia can sometimes be a challenge due
to bureaucracy, as well as the lack of English spoken. Business
tends to be formal, with a clear-cut hierarchy, and titles are
usually used. Punctuality, directness and organisation are all
important. Suits and ties are the norm and when in doubt, dress
conservatively. Women might encounter some sexism and roles should
be clarified to avoid confusion. Business hours are usually from
9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
The international dialling code for Latvia is +371. The outgoing
code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for
South Africa). City/area codes are in use; there are three for
Riga: (0)3, (0)28 and (0)29. International Direct Dialling is
available from all public and hotel phones. Public phones use
phone-cards, which can be bought from numerous shops and kiosks.
For local operator assistance dial 116, and for international
operator assistance dial 115. The two local GSM mobile phone
operators use GSM 900 and GSM 1800 networks. Riga has an increasing
number of Internet cafes.
Travellers to Latvia over 17 years and arriving with goods
purchased in the EU for personal use do not have to pay duty on 800
cigarettes, 400 cigarillos, 200 cigars, 1kg smoking tobacco; 10
litres of spirits with alcohol content higher than 22%, 20 litres
of alcohol with alcohol content lower than 22%, 90 litres wine or
60 litres of sparkling wine, 110 litres of beer, and 110 litres of
non-alcoholic beverages. Travellers arriving from non-EU countries
do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigarillos, or 50
cigars, or 250g smoking tobacco; 1 litre of spirits with alcohol
volume higher than 22%, or 2 litres spirits, aperitifs, liqueur,
sparkling or still wines with alcohol volume less than 22% and 2
litres still wine; perfume up to 50g or 250ml eau de toilette;
other goods for personal use to the value of EUR175. Prohibited
items include narcotics, guns, and fresh food products.