Matters related to the citizenship of the Republic of Latvia are regulated by “Citizenship Law”. The institution responsible for naturalization is the Naturalization Board.
Diplomatic and consular missions of the Republic of Latvia, in association with the Naturalisation Board , assist Latvian nationals permanently residing abroad.
Ways to acquire Latvian citizenship
- Latvian citizen`s status Registration;
- Recognition of aliens` (non-citizens`) and stateless persons` children, born after August 21, 1991, as Latvian citizens;
- the regular order
- due to special contribution to Latvia.
1. Registration of the status of a Latvian citizen
The following persons can be registered as Latvian citizens:
- persons who were Latvian citizens before June 17, 1940, and their descendants who have registered according to the legal provisions, except those who have obtained citizenship of another country after May 4, 1990;
- Latvians and Livs whose permanent place of residence is Latvia, and who have registered according to the legal provisions and do not have other country's citizenship, or who have received an expatriation permit from the country of their former citizenship if so required by the legislation of the respective country;
- women whose permanent place of residence is Latvia and who have lost their Latvian citizenship according to the Latvian Law on Nationality, August 23, 1919, by entering into a marriage with a foreigner, and their descendants, if they are registered according to Latvian Law, except for persons who have obtained a citizenship of another country after May 4, 1990;
- persons living in Latvia who have acquired primary or secondary education in Latvia, have studied in a Latvian elementary or a secondary (Grammar/High) school starting from the primary school`s or secondary (Grammar/High) school`s first grade, who do not have other country`s citizenship or who have received an expatriation permit from the country of their former citizenship - if so required by the legislation of the respective country. Citizenship is also granted along with the person to his/her minor children up to 15 years of age residing in Latvia.
In order to be registered as Latvian citizens, persons have to apply to the Naturalisation Department's regional divisions of his/her place of residence.
A child can be registered as a Latvian citizen if at the moment of his/her birth:
- both his/her parents are Latvian citizens;
- one of his/her parents is a Latvian citizen, and the other one is an alien (non-citizen) or a stateless person;
- one of his/her parents is a Latvian citizen, and the other one is a citizen of another country, and both of the parents agree the child will be a Latvian citizen.
Latvian citizenship can be also granted to a child who has been found on Latvian territory and whose parents are unknown, or who has no parents, and who lives in an orphanage or a boarding school in Latvia.
2. Recognition of alien (non-citizen) and stateless person children born after August 21, 1991, as citizens of Latvia
A child is recognised as a Latvian citizen if :
- Latvia is his/her place of residence;
- he/she has not been sentenced to imprisonment for longer than five years for committing a crime in Latvia or any other country;
- all along has been a stateless person or an alien (non-citizen).
Until a child has reached the age of 15, the citizenship application may be submitted by:
- both of his/her parents;
- the child's mother, provided that regarding the father there is no entry in the birth register, or it the application is filled in according to child`s mother`s instructions;
- one of child`s parents, if the other one has died;
- the child's adoptive parents.
The applicant has to be registered in Latvian Population Registry, he/she has to be a stateless person or an alien who upon the moment of submitting an application has been permanently residing in Latvia for at least last five years (for persons who have arrived in Latvia since July 1, 1992 the five year period is calculated starting from the day their Residence Permits were issued).
Application to register children born after August 21, 1991, as Latvian citizens has to be submitted to the local division of the Naturalisation Department, while the final decision is taken by the Department Head.
Acquiring Latvian citizenship through naturalisation
Application to obtain Latvian citizenship through naturalisation is received and reviewed by applicant`s local divisions of the Naturalisation Department.
Latvian citizenship through naturalisation can be obtained by persons who are registered in the Population Registry and
1. who at least five years (for persons who have arrived in Latvia since July 1, 1992 the five year period is calculated starting from the day their Residence Permits were issued) have permanently resided in Latvia and who have reached the age of 15 upon the day of submitting their naturalisation applications;
2. who are fluent in Latvian and are familiar with Latvian history, fundamentals of Latvian Satversme (Constitution), and know the text of Latvian National Anthem;
3. who have legal means of subsistence;
4. who have denounced their former citizenship and have received an expatriation permit from their former citizenship country (if it is required by the law of the respective country), or a different document confirming their loss of citizenship. Citizens of the former USSR who upon May 4, 1990 were permanently residing in Latvia have to submit a confirmation that they have not become citizens of another country.
Children under the age of 15 can be naturalised along the same procedure as their parents.
Persons can't obtain citizenship through naturalisation:
- if they have acted against Latvian independence, against democratic parliamentarian regime or Latvian State, have resorted to unconstitutional methods, provided it has been established by the court;
- if after May 4, 1990 they have propagated fascist, national-socialist, communist or other totalitarian ideas, or incited national or racial hatred, provided it is established by court;
- if they are officials in a different country`s State government, administrative or judicial institutions;
- if they are serving in a different country`s armed forces, internal military forces, security service or police;
- if, after June 17, 1940, they have chosen Republic of Latvia as a place of residence after demobilisation from the Armed Forces of former USSR (Russia) or Internal Armed Forces of USSR (Russia), and have not been permanently residing in Latvia upon the day of their enlistment, except when they or their ancestors have been citizens of Lithuania or Estonia on June 17, 1940, or they have been married to Latvian citizens for at least 10 years.
- if they have been employees, informers, agents or holders of secret addresses of the former USSR (or Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic) KGB (State Security Committee) or security service, or intelligence service, or other special service of other foreign country, if the above is proved according to Latvian Law;
- if they have been punished for a criminal offence in Latvia or any other country, if their deed is recognised as such also in Latvia;
- if, after January 13, 1991 they have been acting against Republic of Latvia as members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Communist Party of Latvia), Worker's International Front of the Latvian SSR, the United Council of Labour collectives, the Organisation of Labour and War Veterans, the Latvian Society Salvation Committee or its regional committees, or the Union of Latvian Communists.
In order to receive citizenship through naturalisation, a person has to:
- submit a Latvian residence certificate, a document confirming his/her (or his/her guardian's) legal means of subsistence, a receipt for payment of State fee, or a certificate issued by the Department of Naturalisation confirming his/her exemption from payment of State fee, 3 photos (30mm x 40mm), and a passport
- pass Latvian Language, History, Satversme and National Anthem tests;
- sign a pledge of loyalty to Republic of Latvia.
After being granted citizenship the new citizen receives an excerpt from the Cabinet of Ministers resolution certifying that he/she has acquired Latvian citizenship, and providing grounds to receive a Republic of Latvia citizen's passport.
State fee for naturalisation is LVL 20,00 -.
Individuals who have been subject to political repression, disabled persons having category I; orphans and children without parents, persons sheltered by social care institutions of the State or Self-governments are exempt from payment of the state fee.
State fee - LVL 10,00 - is collected from persons receiving old-age and long service pensions, disabled persons having category II or III, from State-accredited Secondary (Grammar/High) School and Vocational School pupils, from full time students of State- accredited Highest Education establishments.
State fee – LVL 3,00 – is collected from persons whose income during the last three months before submission of a naturalisation application does not exceed Crisis minimum income as prescribed by the Cabinet of Ministers, from unemployed persons who are registered in State Employment Service and their family members, from families in which there are three or more under age children.
Tests stipulated by the Citizenship Law
Latvian Language skills Tests are divided in two parts:
the written part - a applicant, upon receiving a topic, writes an essay in Latvian, reads a text he/she has prepared beforehand, and writes a comprehension test (90 minutes).
the oral part - examination board interviews the applicant (colloquial Latvian) (15 minutes).
Latvian History, Latvian Satversme and Latvian National Anthem Tests have both oral and written part:
oral part - the applicant answers a question about Latvian Satversme, and another one - about Latvian history and culture.
written part (test) - the applicant receives 18 questions with 3 possible answers to each of them; only one of the 3 answers is correct.
In both tests the applicant has to write or recite the text of Latvian National Anthem.
Applicants beyond the age of 65 have to take the oral part of Latvian language skills test only.
Special test procedures for disabled applicants may be established.
Naturalisation due to special contribution to Latvia
Persons who have contributed outstandingly to Latvian development - people involved in various cultural activities, scientists, sportsmen etc. - and who are not eligible to be naturalised according to the general order provided by the Citizenship law, may be granted Latvian citizenship by a Latvian Saeima (Parliament) decision.
These persons have to submit applications to Saeima first.
Loss of Latvian citizenship
A person can lose Latvian citizenship if he/she:
- renounces Latvian citizenship;
- Latvian citizenship is revoked.
1. Renouncing Latvian citizenship
A person who has another country`s citizenship or who is guaranteed a different country's citizenship has a right to renounce his/her Latvian citizenship.
The denouncement can be denied, if the person has not fulfilled his/her tax obligations, evaded obligatory active Latvian military service, etc.;
The decision of citizenship denouncement can be appealed at the court.
An application to renounce Latvian citizenship has to be submitted to the Naturalisation Department.
2. Revoking of Latvian citizenship
Latvian citizenship may be revoked by verdict of a Regional court (Apgabaltiesa), if a person:
- has received a different country's citizenship without renouncing Latvian citizenship;
- without having received Cabinet of Ministers permission for serving in a different country`s armed forces, security service, police or judicial institutions;
- has provided false information regarding his/her status as a Latvian citizen or faked naturalisation, and thus has received Latvian citizenship by illegal means.
Latvian Citizenship Restoration
For persons who have lost Latvian citizenship due to parents' or adoptive parents' choice, a judicial error or an illegal revocation, Latvian citizenship can be restored on the grounds of his/her request by a decision of the Cabinet of Ministers.
Request for of Latvian citizenship restoration has to be submitted to the Naturalisation Department.