Latvia is a European Union country located in the Baltic region. If you’re moving to the country, you will enjoy a temperate climate and an easy living environment among a hospitable, multicultural population.
Before you book your tickets and pack your bags to this amazing country, here is a checklist of documents you must arrange and apply for if needed:
Checklist for Expats Before Moving To Latvia
- Work Permit – You may or may not require a work permit, depending on your nationality. As Latvia is a member of the European Union (EU), EU nationals will require a work permit only if the duration of stay is longer than 90 days. Non-EU nationals will need a work permit before they start working in Latvia. To obtain a work permit, you must furnish proof of your prospective employment (with a registered Latvian business) in Latvia. Depending on the project’s duration, a residency permit will be issued to you.
- Health Insurance – This is the most important, yet most often-ignored, document. As an expat in a new country, expatriate health insurance is a must. It must be bought before you take the much-awaited flight to a new destination.
- Duration of assignment – Clarify this detail with your employer to arrange for a work permit and residency permit.
- Salary - The employment contract must specify the gross annual salary, bonus, and other incentives. Also, inquire about the social security contribution (if applicable to your position).
- Housing and interim living allowance – Check with your employer to see if they will be providing housing facilities.
Healthcare Models in Latvia: Where Do You Fit?
The Latvian healthcare model is divided into two parts, public and private, like other countries in the European Union.
It is important to note that Latvia was not always a part of the EU. It gained independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Latvia became a part of the United Nations, then NATO, and after that the EU. Therefore, the public healthcare system in the country is not as developed as that of other EU countries.
The Latvian expatriate health insurance system, on the other hand, is quite advanced and recommended for expats.
As an expat in Latvia, you will be eligible to use public health services, as you will also be required to contribute towards social security. However, you will find the going a lot easier when you have Latvian expatriate health insurance. That’s because your expat insurance pays for your medical bills when you take advantage of private health care.
Let’s walk through what the public and private healthcare models offer to Latvian citizens and expats:
Public Healthcare in Latvia
The ‘Nacionālais veselības dienests’, or the Latvian National Health Services, governs the public healthcare system. This model runs on funds from social security and subsidized payments for certain kinds of treatments by the citizens and expats in the country.
The state of public healthcare system here is chaotic due to long waiting times, shortage of staff, and shortage of appropriate equipment.
Who can use public healthcare services in Latvia?
- Citizens of Latvia
- Expats in Latvia contributing to the social security system
- Citizens of other EU countries with a European Health insurance Card (EHIC)
What do public healthcare services in Latvia include?
Here is a list of services included in the public healthcare system in Latvia:
- Annual preventive visitation in a public medical center under a General Practitioner (GP)
- Specialist-provided healthcare
- Lab analysis and medical treatments with a GP or specialist’s referral
- Emergency medical assistance in hospitals and trauma centers
- After-treatment care in hospitals, as well as in cases of exacerbation of chronic illness
- Rehabilitation after the treatment phase
- Reimbursed medicines and medical equipment
Here is a list of services not included in the public healthcare system in Latvia:
- Dental care for adults
- Optical care
- Hearing correction aids
Private Healthcare in Latvia
In Latvia, the private health care system does not come under the benefits plan provided by the MOH. Most private hospitals are concentrated in the capital city of Riga and other major cities.
Private medical centers in Latvia have sufficient modern equipment and are managed by top practitioners of the country. Hence, they are very well maintained—and quite expensive.
To take advantage of private medical care, an expat must buy Latvia expat health insurance to avoid out-of-pocket-payments during treatments or hospital stays.
Why must you buy expat health coverage in Latvia?
When you’re moving to a new country with your family, you may need medical care either on a planned or emergency basis. Without expat health insurance, you will have to bear all the expenses out-of-pocket which can be quite expensive in this EU country.
Even if you have access to the Latvian public health insurance system, the low standards can become a cause of worry. And if you avail private medical services without insurance, your savings can take a big hit.
What does expat health insurance in Latvia cover?
- Specialist consultation during a hospital visit/stay
- Wide range of cancer treatment
- Hospital charges and emergency/planned surgery
- Medical evacuation and repatriation
- Dental care and optical care
- CT, MRI, and PET scans
- Maternity care
- Alternative therapies
Expatriate health insurance plans in Latvia can be customized to meet your requirements. Compare plans, select the one that fits your needs best, and purchase before you leave for Latvia. An expat health insurance policy will ensure peace of mind for you in a country other than your own.