Latvia, located on the Baltic Sea, borders Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, the Russian Republic to the east and Byelorussia to the southeast. The geographical position of the country makes it the natural harbour of the region and a strategic reference point between Western and Eastern Europe.
Latvia’s landscape is characterized by lowland plains and rolling hills. The coastal plain is mostly flat, but inland to the east the land is hilly with forests and lakes. There are more than 2000 lakes and forests covering almost half the country. The other half of the land is used for agricultural purposes with a small part consisting of towns, villages and roads.
A HISTORY OF BATTLES
Because of its strategic location, Latvia has been the scene of several battles throughout the ages. There have been struggles with Sweden, Russia, Poland and the Teutonic Knights. At various periods in history Latvia has been ruled by each of them.
The Latvian language, like Lithuanian, originated with the indigenous people of the region and does not resemble any other in Europe. Like its neighbouring Baltic states, Lithuania and Estonia, Latvia celebrated its independence from Soviet rule in 1991 and has since experienced a rapid change to a free market economy.
It took a historic step away from the shadow of its Soviet past when it was formally invited to join the EU in 2004 at the Copenhagen summit of December 2002. This followed an invitation issued at the NATO Prague summit the previous month to also join that alliance.
AN OLD HANSEATIC TRADING POINT
Riga, the capital, is not only the home of more than one third of Latvia’s 2,3 million inhabitants, but also the main transit centre of the country, serving as a harbour, rail and airfreight. In the 14th and 15th centuries Riga became one of the most important trade centres of the Hanseatic League and was granted special rights to transport goods along the Daugava River further to the East. Being the most centrally located city of the Baltic States, Riga has remained an important reference point for the entire region.
Close to Riga you will find Jurmala and the beach resorts along the coast of the Gulf of Riga, which are particularly enjoyable in the summer months.
However, for truly clean waters and long white sand beaches, you need to go to the Baltic Sea coast between the port city of Liepaje, with its abandoned Soviet naval base, and the Kolka Cape, where a small cluster of the ancient Livonian people still have survived and maintain their original language.
Since gaining its independence from the Soviet Union, Latvia has successfully adapted to a market economy, opening up for EU-membership in 2004.
During its 50 years under Soviet rule (1940-91), Latvia underwent heavy industrialization. After it re-established its independence in 1991, the country changed into a democratic parliamentary republic and underwent major privatizations. In February 1999, Latvia was the first Baltic state to join the World Trade Organization. All of this, along with the country’s continuing economic reforms, is expected to contribute to further economic growth and foreign investment.
Along with the economic boost the country experienced after its independence, Riga in particular has become a popular tourist attraction, with its “East-meets-West” atmosphere.
A STABLE ECONOMY
As a crossroads between Western Europe and huge Eastern markets, Latvia has always been attractive for business activities. That is also why many foreign investors consider the country ideal for further expansion eastwards.
Both politically and economically, the country is stable, confirmed by its recent EU-membership. Its excellent location and good transportation infrastructure are aspects to consider when establishing a representative office in the Baltic region.
Foreign companies operating in Latvia have learned to appreciate the highly qualified, educated and easily adaptable workforce in Latvia. Some of the sectors interesting to foreign investments are in Information Technologies, Electronics and Mechanical Engineering, Chemical and Pharmaceutical industries, Wood Processing, Food processing industry and Textiles industry.
CATERING FOR A GROWING EXPAT COMMUNITY
The country is equipped with the facilities required to cater to the needs of its growing expatriate community, most of whom relocate to the capital, Riga. Latvia has many Internet sites providing local and country information which have an English language translation. The capital has cinemas showing English language films and there is a wide choice of International Schools for expat children.
Prepare and Plan Visit
In this initial contact the Relocation Coordinator will brief the Transferee, introducing destination services commissioned, and provide access codes to HTLC Network on-line City-Specific Resource Guides. In addition, the Relocation Coordinator will help the Transferee assess personal and family’s housing needs, as well as their hopes and plans for the sojourn in your new destination. The Transferee will be asked to fill out a Personal Needs Analysis Form, which will enable customized service delivery. After gaining a sense of the Transferee’s needs, the Relocation Coordinator will arrange appointments with schools and real estate agents, an appointment will be set up with one of the Local Counsellors for a city briefing and a programme will be finalised for accompanied property and school viewings.
Airport Pickup and Greeting The Transferee and family will be met at the airport by a Local Counsellor and accompanied to designated hotel.
Destination Country and City Information
The Transferee will be given a briefing on the local city and life in your new destination in general, and will be encouraged to ask any questions. An Information Pack on the destination city will be provided. This Pack includes an information sheet with the HTLC Network office and Local Counsellor contact information and emergency telephone numbers. Further, it includes a city and transport map as well as a hard copy of HTLC Network own City-Specific Resource Guide, which contains a wealth of information such as telephone access codes, English-speaking doctors and expatriate clubs. When available, a copy of the English Yellow Pages, local English language periodicals and other relevant information will also be included in the Information Pack.
City by Zone Tour
The purpose of this tour is to familiarise the Transferee with selected areas of the city and type of housing and amenities available, in order to be better prepared to select the neighbourhood most suitable for personal and family needs. The City By Zone Tour is often delivered in conjunction with a house hunting programme.
International Schooling The Transferee will be briefed on educational opportunities in the area. The Relocation Coordinator will schedule appointments at the selected schools, and the Local Counsellor will accompany the Transferee to pre-arranged appointments although the appointments will be privately held between the Transferee and school administrators. Where possible, the Relocation Coordinator will organise enrolment procedure and arrange for company invoicing.
Full-Day Househunting Programme Following an in-depth briefing by the Relocation Coordinator a programme of property viewings will be arranged. The Local Counsellor will accompany the Transferee to pre-arranged viewings of up to eight properties.
Two-Day Househunting Programme Following an in-depth briefing by the Relocation Coordinator a programme of property viewings will be arranged. The Local Counsellor will accompany the Transferee to pre-arranged viewings of up to fifteen properties.
Lease Negotiation After the Transferee has selected a property, the Relocation Coordinator will negotiate lease conditions with the real estate agency or landlord according to The national destination law. HTLC Network coordinator will prepare a contract that ensures legal protection for the client. Particular attention is given to include a break clause, as international assignments often change in duration and the aim is to give maximum flexibility within the limits of the national destination law.
Property Inspection and Inventory Once the lease has been signed, a thorough property inspection is taken in the presence of the Transferee. This includes an inventory of any furnishings, general condition of the property, and meter readings for utility contracts.
Utility Connections, Phone Line and Bank Account The Relocation Coordinator will arrange all utility and telephone connections, and a Local Counsellor will accompany the Transferee to open a bank account in the selected area.
Settling-In Assistance The Local Counsellor will spend time with the Transferee and family, assisting with requested elements of the relocation process, such as arranging language training, obtaining a satellite decoder or internet service provider, shopping for furniture or securing house contents insurance. Duration of this service depends on various company authorizations.
Car Purchase or Lease The Relocation Coordinator will brief the Transferee on the logistics of making an automobile purchase and will research reputable dealers in the area. The Local Counsellor will accompany the Transferee to dealers and act as a translator. Once the Transferee has made the selection, HTLC Network will take care of necessary documentation including insurance cover. For long-term rental HTLC Network will advise local availability of this service.
If the Transferee requests, and is eligible, the Local Counsellor will assist with National Health Registration. City hall registration is a separate service and if authorizied, HTLC Network will assist with the whole bureaucratic procedure at the relative cityhall.
Ongoing Phone Support The HTLC Network support Helpline is available to all Transferees for 90 days from date of property contract signing. Extensions to this Helpline can be added in periods of three months.
Car Importation Importation of car to your new destination, including full document assistance and re-registration with Vehicle registry.
Full Assignment Tracking Full tracking of all deadlines throughout duration of the Transferees international assignment, notification given of all scheduled renewal dates, such as housing contracts, Permit of Stay and Work Permits. Ad Hoc Services Service rendered both from back and front office is available on an hourly and daily basis.
Immigration procedures and requirements vary greatly from country to country. Documents requested from applicants depend on the citizenship of the individual applying and the status he wishes to obtain in the destination country, be it authorisation to work, authorisation for accompanying family members, tourist or study visas, temporary or permanent residency status.
• HTLC Network has been selected by many International Law and Immigration Firms as well as Global Relocation Companies to represent them exclusively for immigration
• We work closely with the relevant governmental and police authorities in each country
• Our Immigration Team are experts in immigration laws and keep abreast of changing requirements and procedures
• We prepare all documentation for HR, all you have to do is print out and sign
• We inform the Transferee which specific documents are required , which translations must be obtained and if these must be legalised
• We provide HR and Transferees with information on the process flow, timing and specific legal requirements of each destination
• We update all parties involved regularly as to the status of the application
• Whenever possible, we act with a Power of Attorney on behalf of the company and the Transferee; when the Transferee’s presence is required, he will be accompanied to the relevant office in the destination city
• Our Local Counsellors, residents and locals of the destination city, are able to present the all prepared documentation to the relevant offices in person; thus speeding up the process and ensuring an efficient service
For more info about our immigration services in Latvia please contact our marketing department at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Riga, the capital city of Latvia, is the central and largest city of the Baltic States and it is located on the southern shores of the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the Daugava River. Riga is not only the home of more than one third of Latvia’s 2,3 million inhabitants, but also the main transit centre of the country, serving as a harbour, rail and airfreight.
In the 14th and 15th centuries Riga became one of the most important trade centres of the Hanseatic League and was granted special rights to transport goods along the Daugava River further to the East.
Along with the economic boost the country experienced after its independence, Riga in particular has become a popular tourist attraction, with its “East-meets-West” atmosphere.
In a furnished apartment, each room and bathroom would be equipped with all necessary furniture, including electro domestics and kitchen appliances. A standard furnished kitchen would usually include a washing machine, oven, dishwasher, crockery and cutlery. Microwave oven may sometimes also be included. Soft furnishings are generally included.
A semi-furnished would include a furnished kitchen with basic equipment, bathroom furnishings, and some basic furniture in the living area as well as light fittings.
An unfurnished apartment is usually totally bare, with a partially equipped kitchen containing cupboards and sometimes basic electro domestics. Bathrooms normally include fittings.
In cases of long-term rents, there is sometimes room for a small amount of negotiation in price. However, it would not be realistic to expect a reduction of more than about 10%. Most landlords are available to comply with the specific requests of their tenants. Often, extra items of furniture or appliances can be included. If such items are major or costly, a slight increase in rent may be required.
This depends on the Relocation Package you have selected: HTLC Network Basic Package includes 8 properties and the Extended Package includes 15 properties. You will be told at the outset how many properties you will be shown or how much time you have available to do the house hunting. The properties provided will be as close to your ‘Needs Analysis’ description as possible according to what is available on the market at the time.
At times a pre-contract is signed, and a deposit (usually 1 month’s rent) as well as the real estate’s commission is paid (within 10 days after the signing). At other times everything is detailed directly in the general Lease Agreement and the start date of the contract is clearly stipulated.
In the event that the deposit and commission are paid, but the prospective tenant thereafter does not conclude the deal and sign the final contract to lease the property, the monies paid are non refundable.
A security deposit is required. This is generally equal to 1 month’s rent and is stipulated in the Lease Agreement. If a ‘holding deposit’ has been paid at ‘pre-contract’ stage, it is used as the security deposit.
Unless paid by the landlord, real estate agent’s commissions are equal to 10% of the total rent for short-term rents (up to 6 months) and 1 month’s rent for long-term rentals. Rent is generally paid monthly, so the first month’s rent should be paid upon contract signing. At times, a landlord may request an advance payment of the first three month’s rent.
If the lease is in the name of the company, a VAT of 18% is to be added to the rental payments and the real estate agency commissions.
Condominium fees have to be paid for apartment dwellings (to cover lighting, cleaning of common areas, security, waste removal, lift maintenance, janitor). The sum due will be stipulated at the time of the agreement. Utilities are to be paid according to consumption.
Once the property is selected, either a pre- contract is signed or the Lease Agreement is drawn up directly. If a pre-contract is signed, payments are to be made within 10 days of the signing of pre-contract.
HTLC Network will negotiate terms and conditions on your behalf. Once both parties have agreed upon the final version of the contract, an appointment is made for contract signing, generally at the real estate agency. Payments must be made within 10 days of contract signing: Security deposit (generally 1 month’s rent), real estate agents’ commissions and the first rental payment.
At times, if an unfurnished apartment is rented that requires furnishing, the tenant may request the landlord to furnish according to his personal requirements. In such cases, the landlord may ask for an advance payment of 3 months rent upon signing of the contract.
In order to sign a property rental contract, foreigners must provide the following documents: Passport, Residency Permit (for long-term rent), sometimes a Letter of Guarantee issued by his/her employing company.
Upon moving into the apartment, the tenant and the landlord must sign a ‘Deed of Acceptance’ where an overview of the condition of the apartment is stated along with electricity, gas and water readings.
Latvian law does not require Lease Agreements to be registered.
Provided the property and any furnishings are returned in the state in which they were consigned, HTLC Network will be able to negotiate a full deposit return for you. To this end we insist on taking a thorough Property Inspection and Inventory when the tenant enters the property. This inventory is taken in the presence of the landlord and the tenant and two copies are to be signed by both parties.
The tenant must guarantee that the apartment is used only as a private place of residence and make sure all utilities and expenses are paid. In the event of damage to plumbing, water sewer, heating system, electric devices or networks in the apartment caused by the tenant or his dependents, the tenant is responsible for reparation and renovation works at his own expense. The tenant must immediately notify the landlord on any damages caused to the furnishings and equipment in the Apartment.
The landlord is responsible for general maintenance of the property. For example, in the event of a leaking tap or other matter of general maintenance that is not due to any fault of the tenant, the landlord will arrange for repairs and will foot the bill. The landlord secures the technical facility for connecting the telephone line and an individual security alarm system.
For long-term rent, especially those exceeding 2 years or more, it is common practice for a landlord to paint the property prior to letting it to the successive tenant.
Should the property be damaged due to force majeure – e.g. flooding from an apartment on the floor above, the landlord should be informed immediately.
Any alterations can only be made with the written permission of the landlord. If small alternations are requested, they can usually be agreed upon with the landlord prior to occupancy. However, any such alterations can only be made if a Lease Agreement is signed and all the necessary payments have been made.
The terms of the Lease Agreement will stipulate what notice period has to be served; this can vary from 1 to 6 months. If a notice period is not served, the tenant will be liable for rental payments and will loose the security deposit.
The real estate agent’s fee is approx. 4 – 8% of the purchase price. This can be included or not included the purchase price. VAT (presently 18%) depends on the agreement reached. A state tax of 2% of the purchase price and notary fees are also payable.
Water, gas, electricity, telephone, Internet, cable – and satellite TV according to consumption.
Gas and water bills are calculated according to meter readings and existing tariffs multiplication. A special form is to be filled out by the owner/tenant of the property every month after reading the meter. Gas and water bills are sent directly to the property address.
An invoice for the electricity consumed must be filled out on the first day of each month in accordance with the meter reading and then be paid by the end of the current month. Electricity payments can be made directly to the utility company, in all branches of the Latvian Post Office, in banks or online.
For each day that the payment is overdue, the payment beneficiary will charge a penalty fee of 0,15 % in total. If the payment is not made within a month, the electrical company have the right, giving prior notice, to disconnect the electrical system. Reconnection will be carried out 10 days after the payment of the debt, penalty fee and reconnection expenses.
All bills can be paid through commercial banks, at the Latvian Post Office, by credit or debit card or online.
Satellite TV is quite common in Latvia. However, most apartment buildings have cable TV.
A foreigner is required to present a valid passport and Residency Permit, his signed Lease Agreement, and registration at the specific address.
The following types of lines are available: Analogue, ISDN and ADSL. Cable connection is also available.
The phone apparatus has to be bought separately.
Telephone bills arrive directly to the property address. Bills for the telephone can be paid in cash to the telephone company, by bank transfer or direct debit, by credit or debit card, online or through ATM machines.
European Driving licences or licences from countries that are part of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic from 1968, are valid in Latvia. Citizens of other countries must have an International License or otherwise exchange their national license into a Latvian one, should their stay exceed 6 months. In order to do the license exchange, a theory test is required. This test can be taken in Latvian, Russian, English, German or French. A medical test is also required every five years. The converted license is valid for 10 years.
For a period of up to 3 months, thereafter the vehicle must be registered as being in Latvia temporarily.
All foreigners wishing to reside in Latvia for a period exceeding 90 every half-year period need a Residence Permit. EU citizens (including Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) are only required to have a Residence Permit to work in Latvia. This can be requested at the local Immigration Office in Latvia. Non-EU citizens are required to have a Work Permit and work invitation letter to be approved by the Labour Office in Latvia before being able to apply for a Residence Permit. The Latvian Immigration Office must first approve residence Permits before being applied for at the Latvian Embassy in the applicant’s country of origin.
– Extensive rapidly growing client list.
– Exclusive partner/representative of many Global Relocation Service Providers.
– Exclusive representative of many International Law and Immigration Firms.
– Quality control guarantee: Head Office directs all relocations and immigrations in every destination.
– All staff required to attend on-going training sessions and workshops to keep updated as to global mobility needs.
– No language barriers – Assistance provided in all major European languages and many others.
– Corporate consultation with HTLC Netowork’s’ Representatives at location of choice.
– HTLC Network own ‘Resource Guides’ providing a wealth of everyday information for expatlife in destination city.
– Comprehensive FAQs for each country serviced.
– Red Alert List to prepare for the specific challenges of each destination.
– Extra ‘Safety’ section in Resource Guides for countries posing specific security threats.
– 24-hour Emergency Helpline for Transferees throughout the duration of the relocation.
– Complimentary 3-month Helpline.
HTLC Network will prepare all the necessary paperwork, email it to the Company and direct as to how the various documents are to be printed out and signed. We will send one of our Local Counsellors with Power of Attorney to act on behalf of the individual and company.
When the Transferee has to be present to apply for a document, he will be accompanied by our Local Counsellor.
When all paper work has been prepared, approved and signed by the relevant companies, it can take 6-8 weeks during which time Italian law states that the expatriate must not be in Italy.
During HTLC Network’ initial teleconference with the client we go through an in-depth ‘Needs Analysis’ which can include Housing Budget variables for the Destination City. HTLC Network will work with the Company to ensure the workforce locate properties of a suitable standard within the parameters set by corporate policy.
Legally, yes, as long as it can be proved that the individual who signs the contract has the legal right to sign as a representative of the Company. Many landlords however, will not accept this as it is harder to take a foreign Company to court should there be any missing rent payments or problems. As landlord’s rarely accept a foreign Company signing the lease, it is usually signed by the local company that is VAT registered locally.
HTLC Network will prepare the contract in the name of a legal representative of the Company. We require full data of the individual, a photocopy of his/her passport ID pages and a photocopy of the document proving the position within the Company.
The prepared contract will be emailed to the appropriate Company contact and instructions will be given on how it is to be printed out and signed. Once signed, one of HTLC Network’ Local Counsellors will collect the contract and deliver it to the real estate agent for the signature of the landlord. A signed copy will be returned to the Company whilst the three copies of the contract are being registered, thereafter a registered copy will be delivered.
Arrangements will be made to take a thorough inventory in the presence of the tenant and landlord.
For the presentation of document application, it varies from city to city. Wherever possible HTLC Network will prepare power of attorney in order for a Local Counsellor to act on behalf of the Transferee and family.
To release the obtained documents, the Transferee and other members of the family must be present as an original signature is required.
All Local Counsellors are really ‘local’ to the area where they assist Transferees. They are selected for their good knowledge of their city area.
All Local Counsellors are trained by HTLC Network to follow our set pattern of delivering services using an in-house ‘Training and Operations Manual’.
All Local Counsellors are closely directed by Office Coordinators, ensuring a consistent standard of service is delivered.
All relocations are handled by the same system of centralisation. When required, we arrange for a member of our office team to go to the location of a group move to be an in-house Coordinator, working from the Client Company’s premises as a point of reference for HR, Transferees and their families.
In main centres we have several Local Counsellors.
HTLC Network aims to equip your workforce to settle into their new environment as soon as possible. Upon arrival they are presented with a local Information Pack. They are given access to our on-line City Specific Resource Guides that provide general local information as well as specific local information once a suitable property has been located.
We have a 24hour emergency helpline throughout the duration of the relocation. We provide a 90 day complimentary phone line that can be extended throughout the duration of the assignment.
Our aim is to teach the Transferee how to live in his new city and to equip him to be as independent as possible.
Area: 64,589 sq km
Time Zone: GMT+2
Capital city: Riga
Bordering countries: Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania and Russia
Climate: wet with moderate winters and cool summers
Legislative Branch: unicameral Parliament.
National Holiday: 18 November and 21 August
Currency: Latvian lat (LVL)
Population: Approximately 2,3 million inhabitants.
Religion: Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox
Languages: Latvian, Russian, Lithuanian
Ethnic groups: Latvian majority with a large Russian community and smaller Ukrainian, Belarusian, Polish and Lithuanian groups