The British Ambassador to Latvia, Mr Keith Shannon, hosted meetings about Brexit for British citizens resident in Latvia on 1 October at King’s College, The British School of Latvia, and on 2 October at Riga Stradins University.
Senior officials from the Latvian Ministry of Interior’s Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, the Latvian State Social Insurance Agency, the Latvian National Health Service, and the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science joined the meeting.
The Ambassador provided an overview of the current status of Brexit negotiations, emphasising that the United Kingdom Government’s objective is for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union with a Withdrawal Agreement (a ‘Deal’) but that, like any responsible government, it must also prepare for the United Kingdom to leave without an agreement (‘No Deal’).
The Ambassador and Latvian officials then explained the preparations that had been made by the governments of the United Kingdom and Latvia for both ‘Deal’ and ‘No Deal’ scenarios, covering residency, social security including pensions and healthcare.
Get ready for Brexit
The Ambassador advised that in order for British citizens who are legally resident in Latvia on the date of Brexit to benefit fully from the law “On Legal Cooperation and Protection of Human Rights in the Transition Period after the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union”, which was passed by the Latvian Parliament on 21 March 2019, there are four actions they should take now, before the United Kingdom leaves the European Union:
- make sure you are legally registered in Latvia
- exchange your British driving licence for a Latvian one
- check your entitlement to healthcare in Latvia
- check your passport is valid for travel
Questions & answer session at the event
After the presentations from the Ambassador and Latvian officials, a number of questions were asked and answered. For the latest information, please refer to the Living in Latvia guide.
Is a new residence document or card needed after Brexit?
After Brexit, the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (Pilsonības un migrācijas lietu pārvalde) will write to each British citizen legally resident in Latvia on the date of Brexit inviting them to submit an application for a new residence document/card. A completed application can be submitted by post, electronically signed with secure electronic signature, or personally at any client service centre of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs.
The deadline for the submission of applications will be 31 December 2020. Examination of an application will be free of charge, but a fee will be applied for the issuance of the new residence card/document: 15.00 EUR (within 10 working days) or 30.00 EUR (within 2 working days). The new residence card/document will contain the description “former citizen of the European Union”. The validity period for the new residence card/document will be 5 or 10 years.
Please check that the address you provided when you applied for your residence card/document is up to date as that is the address to which the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs will send the letter.
You are required to keep the Office for Citizenship and Migration Affairs informed of any changes to your personal data or changes to your travel document (passport). If you have any changes to your family situation (e.g. marriage, divorce, birth of a child) you are also required to inform the Office for Citizenship and Migration Affairs.
British citizens arriving in Latvia after Brexit will be required to register for residence in the same way as citizens from any other visa-free countries (e.g. US, Canada) if they intend to stay for more than 90 days.
Will I still be able to go through the EU/EEA/CH immigration line at Riga airport?
If you have a Latvian residence card/document you will still be able to use it with your British passport to go through the EU/EEA/CH immigration line at Riga airport. If you do not have a Latvian residence card/document you must use the other line.
If I get something sent to me through the post from the United Kingdom will I have to pay customs duties?
After Brexit there will be changes in duties to be paid for parcels received in Latvia from the United Kingdom by post. Personal packages sent by post from an individual to an individual will be exempt from duties if their value does not exceed 45 EUR. For packages above 45 EUR value customs duties, VAT and excise tax (for excise goods) will be applied. There will be different rules for commercial packages.