Import regulations and customs duties
The European Union has a rather liberal foreign trade policy, some products need import licenses. There are some restrictions, especially on farm products, following the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): the application of compensations on import and export of farm products, aimed at favouring the development of agriculture within the EU, implies a certain number of control and regulation systems for the goods entering the EU territory.
Since its accession to the European Union on May, 1st of 2004, Latvia has adopted the EU Common External Tariff. Consequently, trade with Latvia is totally free from customs duties, provided that the country of origin of the goods is one of the other 24 EU Member States. Nevertheless, when introducing goods into Latvia, exporters shall fill in an intrastat declaration.
When the country of origin of the goods exported to Latvia is not part of the European Union, customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value of the goods, in accordance with the Common Customs Tariff (CCT).
>> To get further information on VAT rates, please check the list of VAT rates applied within the European Union
>> More detailed information on excise duties is available concerning alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, energy products on the European Commission website.
The franchising system is not familiar in Latvia, or not understood. There is a legal vacuum concerning this network and license agreements are not easy to respect.
Imported food products, wholesale and retail trade operations are carried out by private wholesalers, specialised in food-processing, but a small part of them is considered as secure and strong enough to start commercial operations. The biggest Latvian companies are Interpego, Prodimex, Imanta, Mono trading house, Interskonto, Laval and Hanzas Uznemums ; they have their own network of small retail stores and grocers or they are able to supply a lot of retail stores characterising this country's commercial background.
Process industries also import meat, or cattle, directly. Seasonal agriculture and food-processing products are often sold in agricultural markets located in big cities, despite the emergence of small groceries and production stores networks.
Transportation of goods
It is advised to write the products labels in the official language : the country of origin must be mentioned along with the ingredients of the product and additives.
Patents and brands
The application for the grant or registration of a patent can be done in the language of the country, in English, in Russian or in German. These applications have to be addressed to the patents office in Latvia, either directly or through the intermediary of a legal representative. The related law of patents was voted in 1993 and as for trademarks, the law was passed in the same year.