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Import regulations and customs duties  - Distribution - Transportation of goods - Standards - Patents and brands

Import regulations and customs duties

In accordance with its European Union membership since May, 1st of 2004, Latvia applies the European Union trade policy such as antidumping or anti-subsidy measures. The European Union import regime applies to Latvia. If Latvia has adopted the main part of EU regulations on May, 1st of 2004, some transitory periods have been granted to the country regarding some EU rules like the freedom of movement for workers or cabotage inside some countries. For further information about each candidate country’s compliance with the acquis, please consult the Enlargement of the EU Guide to the Negotiations published by the European Commission.

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.

When being introduced into Latvia, some products must be "CE" marked in respect for the European Directives adopted on the basis of the New Approach and the Global Approach. For further information, please consult the Guide to the Implementation of Directives based on New Approach and Global Approach.


Customs duties
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).

The duties for non-European countries are relatively low, notably for manufactured goods (4.2% on average for the general rate), however textile, clothing items (high duties and quota system) and food-processing industry sectors (average duties of a 17.3% and numerous tariff quotas, PAC) still know protective measures.

In order to get exhaustive regulations and customs tariffs regarding their products, exporters shall refer to the TARIC code and its database, including all applicable customs duties and all customs trade policy measures for all the goods.


Import taxes
>> 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.
The first supermarkets have made their appearance over the last few years.


Transportation of goods

By road
The road transport network in a is relatively bad state. The roads are very dangerous and a number of accidents take place.

By rail
The railway transport network is better equipped: prices are going up and therefore, infrastructure have to follow and do the same.

By sea
Infrastructures (the most utilised port is Ventspils) for maritime transport are also outdated : equipment and management are insufficient and their potential is not optimised.

By air
As for air transport, there are two big air travel companies : Baltic Airlines and Riair. Riga is the biggest airport in the Baltic region.


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.
Products marking is obligatory, especially for alcohol and tobacco.
Anything concerning standards and certificates is under the responsibility of the Department of Trade policy in the Ministry of Economy.

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.
The Latvian law is very similar to the French Law but the protection of intellectual property rights will be consolidated in the near future.

Texts currently applying to patents/brands

  Text Date entered into law Period of validity Comment
Patent Patent Law March 30, 1995 20 years, renewable for a period not exceeding 5 years :
Trademark Law on Trademarks and Indications of Geographical Origin June 16, 1999 10 years, renewable for a further 10-year period :
Design Law on Industrial Design Protection May 4, 1993 5 years, renewable for two further 5-year periods :


Last modified in 2006 - ongoing update
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