Healthcare in Latvia

Each country's health system is different and might not include all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS.

This means you may have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care.

Visitors to Latvia

Finding help in an emergency

In the event of an emergency in Latvia, you can call 112. This call is free of charge from any landline or mobile phone. 24-hour urgent care is available at all hospitals and also some health centres (called Poliklinika).

Other important numbers to note down:

  • 113 – ambulance
  • 110 – police
  • 80001234 – Free-of-charge information service about state provided healthcare services. You can call this number weekdays from 8.30am to 5pm
  • 66016001 – GP out-of-hours consultation phone line, a service provided by the Latvian Ministry of Health with the aim of giving residents access to medical advice and educational tips on how to handle minor illnesses instead of going to A&E

Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU

The government always advises UK citizens to take out travel insurance when going overseas, both to EU and non-EU destinations.

Emergency medical care is provided to anyone requiring urgent attention. You can expect to be charged in full for any care provided without an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

You should always buy enough travel insurance and make sure you have access to funding to cover any medical treatment abroad.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary) as they might be needed by you or your insurance company to apply for any refund.

Currently, your EHIC enables you to access the necessary state-provided healthcare in Italy at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free if you are staying there temporarily. If you are asked to pay for health services upfront, it is likely that you are not being treated under the state system. EHIC does not cover private treatment. There are also other exclusions, such as the cost of returning people to a home country.

Be especially careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative. They might reassure visitors that they can claim back whatever is paid out, but they are referring to private insurance and not the treatment given under the EHIC. EHIC does not cover certain costs, including:

  • private treatment
  • being brought back to the UK
  • mountain rescue services
  • cruises

People with pre-existing health conditions

If you have a pre-existing health condition, you should buy medical travel insurance before visiting Latvia. You must tell the insurance company about any pre-existing health conditions you have, to make sure you can get the cover you need. If you have an EHIC, this will be valid until the UK leaves the EU but may not work after that.

If you have a pre-existing condition that will need treatment while abroad, ask your doctor in the UK for advice before you travel. Make sure you take with you any documents about your health condition or medication.

If you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment, see our section about seeking medical treatment in Europe.

Dentists

Dental services are not provided under the Latvian NHS. Ensure you have an adequate health insurance policy to cover you for any dental treatment necessary in Latvia.

Hospitals

Like in the UK, you need a GP or specialist referral to be admitted to hospital in non-emergency situations.

Prescriptions

Pharmacies in Latvian are called Aptieka. You will be charged for your prescriptions in full unless they are for specific conditions (these include diabetes, cancer or mental health problems), in which case you will receive back 50-100% of the fees you paid. Read the section about medicine to be reimbursed on the Latvian NHS website.

Bringing your own medicines to Latvia

Some prescribed medicines contain drugs that are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation in the UK. This means that extra legal controls apply to these medicines.

You may need a personal licence to take controlled medicines abroad. Specific requirements also apply to:

  • the information that you must take with you
  • how you carry your controlled medicines

You can also visit the GOV.UK website for more information on travelling with controlled medicines.

After the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your access to healthcare when visiting Latvia is likely to change. If you are planning to visit Latvia after the UK leaves the EU , you should continue to buy travel insurance so you can get the healthcare treatment you need, just as you would if visiting a non-EU country. If you are using an EHIC issued by the UK, this will still be valid until the UK leaves the EU .

The UK government is seeking agreements with countries, including Latvia, on healthcare arrangements for UK nationals after the UK leaves the EU.

This guide will be updated with further information on travelling to Latvia as the circumstances change.

Working in Latvia

Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU

If you are a permanent resident in Latvia, you are entitled to the same healthcare as Latvian nationals.

If you are a worker posted by a UK company to Latvia, you may be entitled to health cover funded by the UK in Latvia. Contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for more details:

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AN
United Kingdom

Telephone: 0300 200 3500
Outside UK: +44 0191 203 7010

Opening times: 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (closed weekends and bank holidays).

For more information, visit the Moving abroad section.

After the UK leaves the EU

If you are a permanent resident in Latvia, you are entitled to access emergency healthcare under the same conditions as Latvian nationals.

You are also likely to need to apply for a temporary or permanent residence permit to live in Latvia, depending on your personal circumstances. More information can be found on the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs website.

If you are a UK posted worker, due to ongoing domestic healthcare reform debate you need to follow developments to see whether you will be able to buy into the state system (if permissible) to continue to receive the healthcare you need on the same terms as a Latvian national. Alternatively, you may need to obtain private healthcare insurance.

Pensioners in Latvia

Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU

If you live in Latvia and receive an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 certificate.

You may need to liaise with a different team, depending on the exportable benefit. Further information is available under Claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad on the GOV.UK website. Please note that different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

S1 certificate (formerly known as E121)

An S1 certificate helps you and your dependants access healthcare in Latvia. If you have an S1 certificate, it will be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

After this date, the certificate may not be valid, depending on decisions by member states.

You should continue to apply for an S1 certificate until the UK leaves the EU.

You may be eligible for an S1 certificate, if you:

  • have worked and paid contributions in the UK
  • receive some UK benefits such as pensions

Apply through the Business Services Authority for an S1 certificate.

For exportable UK pensions and contribution-based Employment Support Allowance, you can apply for your certificate via the International Pension Centre at the Department for Work and Pensions on 0191 218 7777.

Further information is available under Claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad on the GOV.UK website. Please note that different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

After the UK leaves the EU

You are likely to need to apply for a temporary or permanent residence permit to live in Latvia. More information on each can be found on the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs website.

If you are a permanent resident in Latvia, you are entitled to the same healthcare as Latvian nationals.

Students in Latvia

Until the UK leaves the EU, if you are going to study or are currently studying in Latvia as part of a UK-recognised course, you may be entitled to healthcare paid for by the UK government. You and any dependants will need an EHIC. The government always advises UK citizens to take out travel insurance when going overseas, both to EU and non-EU destinations.

After the UK leaves the EU, you may need to apply for a residence permit. You should continue to buy travel insurance and ensure that any insurance product you buy has the necessary healthcare coverage to ensure you can get any treatment you might require.

Page last reviewed: 28/01/2019
Next review due: 28/01/2022