Latvia may not be one of the largest nations in Europe, but it is a breathtakingly beautiful country with EU membership, a strong economy, tax-haven status and a high-quality investor visa program, all of which makes Latvia an extremely attractive option for foreign investors looking at gaining second citizenship and that all-important EU passport.
Latvia – officially known as the Republic of Latvia – is one of a trio of countries known as the “Baltics” or Baltic States, situated in an area of Northern Europe on the Baltic Sea coastline, the other nations being Estonia and Lithuania. Latvians and Lithuanians are known as Baltic people, while Estonians are Finnic, like the people from neighboring Finland. Other countries that border the Baltic Sea but are not considered to be Baltics are Denmark, Finland, Germany, Poland, Russia and Sweden. Famous Latvians include the ballet dancer and Hollywood movie star Mikhail Baryshnikov, and reigning WBC cruiserweight boxing champion Marius Breidis.
Aside from Estonia and Lithuania, Latvia itself shares borders with Belarus and Russia. Geographically it is famed for its long, wide, beautiful unspoiled beaches and its deep, dense forests. It is a small country, covering just 64,000 km2, and with a population of just less than 2 million, 720,000 of whom live in the capital, Riga. Less than half of the population are ethnic Latvians; there are also high numbers of Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, and Poles living there.
Although Latvia existed under almost constant foreign rule until the late 20th century, the Latvian people have had an identity since the 1300s. Russia granted Latvia independence in 1918, and it became a republic, although after WW2 it would once again fall under Russian/Soviet control. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, Latvia regained its independence and once again declared itself a republic, which it remains today. Like many Northern and Central European countries, Latvia has taken steps to maintain its history and tradition. Some of the medieval architecture in Riga’s “Old Town” is truly remarkable, and Latvian festivals see the locals turn out in traditional dress to dance and perform ethnic music. While Latvia is a Christian country, it also embraces a degree of ritualistic paganism, which is often on display at such festivals. Riga was named “European Capital of Culture” in 2014.
Latvia is an open economy, and part of the European Union’s “Single Market”, which was created to promote ease of trade among EU nations. As well as the EU, Latvia is also a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and in 2014 became a member of the Eurozone, accepting the Euro as its method of currency.
According to a Human Development Report, Latvia belongs to the group of countries listed as being “of very high human development.” Its workforce numbers just under 1 million, and is highly educated, with almost 70% employed in the services sector. Latvia also has strong agricultural and industrial sectors, resulting in a solid export market.
Geographically, Latvia finds itself in an ideal trading location, within touching distance of major Western (Germany, Sweden) and Eastern (Russia, Ukraine) economies, and perched on the Baltic Sea, which in turns leads to the Atlantic. Latvia is rapidly establishing itself as a one of Europe’s “tax-havens”, and is already favored by several major foreign holding companies. No doubt inspired by the examples set by other small countries including Ireland, New Zealand and especially Singapore, Latvia is pushing hard to establish itself as a Financial Centre, a “business hub”, setting itself up as a central trading post for multiple countries, where East can meet West and deals can be done, all in an authentic, friendly atmosphere.
Make no mistake, currently Latvia is an undiscovered gem when it comes to tourism. Latvia’s beaches are wide and deep, with golden sands and clear blue waters. A Latvian tourism website recently commented “Brazil’s famous Copacabana beach is about four kilometers long. In Latvia we have 500 kilometers of long, white sandy beaches.” What’s more, for now at least, Latvia’s beaches are relatively commercialized, so holiday makers can enjoy a level of peace and privacy that would be impossible in France, Italy or Spain. One can rent a beachside villa in Latvia for the cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Spain. Inland, Latvia has stunning landscapes, rich forests and beautiful, dreamy lakes (pictured).
As well as being the Baltic’s largest city, Riga is known for its medieval-style wooden and art nouveau architecture, its multicultural heritage, and its many museums. Tourists will find much to see, including Riga’s “Old Town”, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Riga also has a thriving nightlife, so much so that in recent years it has gained the unfortunate tag of the “Stag Party Capital of Europe”, although this is also the result of the many extreme sporting activities that are catered for in Latvia.
Obtaining Latvian Citizenship
At the time of producing this article, Latvia does not have a Citizenship by Investment program per se, but they have something similar, a Golden Visa Program. Latvia introduced its Golden Visa program in 2010, aimed at foreign (non EU) investors. An investment of €250,000 can gain an individual five years of temporary residency in Latvia. After completion of those five years*, an investor can apply for permanent Latvian residency, and then Latvian citizenship.
The three investment options available for the Latvian Golden Visa program are as follows:
- Bank Term Deposit: An investor must deposit €300,000 in funds into a Latvian bank account which will be sealed by the government for 5 years. The investment is fully refundable after completion of five years
- Real Estate Investment: An investor must purchase real estate within Latvia’s borders of a minimum value of €250,000 (state fees not included) and maintain ownership for five years
- Business Formation: Create a consortium of business partners, each placing a minimum of €200,000 into a project that is approved by the Latvian government. The business must be maintained for a minimum of five years
Benefits of the Latvian Golden Visa program include:
- An individual can receive a five-year Latvian residence permit for a refundable investment of just €250,000
- The Latvian Residence Permit grants its holder access to Europe’s Schengen Zone
- An application includes full family residency at no additional cost
- No minimum residency demands are placed on the investor or their family
- After 5 years*, an investor can apply for permanent Latvian residency, followed by Latvian citizenship
The eventual goal for an investor would be to become a citizen of Latvia, the benefits of which would include:
- Freedom of Movement Within the EU
Latvia is an EU member state, so as a Latvian citizen one has the right to live and work without time limitation in any other European Union nation, including France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden or the Netherlands.
- Powerful Latvian Passport
Latvia’s passport has visa-free access to no less than 165 countries worldwide, placing it just outside the top-ten most powerful passports on the planet according to 2ndPassports.com’s World Passport Rankings. Those countries include all those of Western Europe including the UK and Ireland plus parts of Eastern Europe and Eurasia, the Americas (including the US, Canada and the Caribbean) in its entirety, and Australasia.
- EU Standard Of Living
As a Latvian citizen, you can choose to remain in Latvia, with its rapidly growing economy and favorable tax system, or you may choose instead to take advantage of your EU citizenship and instead look to establish yourself and build your future in a larger, more developed European Union country. Either way, you will be able to take full advantage of the excellent standard of healthcare that is synonymous throughout Western Europe.
How 2ndPassports.com Can Help You*
2ndPassports.com can help to speed up the period of residency normally required for Latvia’s Golden Visa investor program, reducing the temporary residency period from five years to one year or less. Contact us today for further details at email@example.com.
For more information on becoming a Latvian citizen and receiving that life-changing Latvian/EU passport, contact 2ndPassports.com today. We can give you all the information you require on the Latvian Golden Visa program and explain how we can speed up the residency – and ultimately the citizenship – process for you, enabling you to receive your Latvian citizenship and passport in a fraction of the usual time.
Feel free to contact us via email, WhatsApp or Telegram. If you prefer you can chat to one of our expert representatives directly – you can call us using our encrypted phone and Skype lines. All of our contact details are listed at the top of the 2ndPassports.com homepage.
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