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Latvia: Immigration law amendments
26th May 2014
Latvian parliament adopted amendments to the Immigration Law in Latvia on May 8th, 2014. The amendments will come into force on September 1, 2014. Changes refer to the minimum thresholds of the property that qualifies for temporary residence permit.

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Market access

Market access for goods is a group of measures set by the government of a country to manage (limit, control or facilitate) the entry of certain goods in the country. These rules can be divided into tariff and non-tariff measures. Tariff measures are taxes imposed on importing certain goods in the country, such as excise taxes. Non-tariff measures are methods that employ rules other than taxation, e.g. quotas on the import of certain goods. It is vital to know about the specific market access rules to develop an effective market entry strategy, otherwise the supply of your products will be hindered, halting the progression of your business.

In Latvia, there are two distinct groups of market access rules:

  1. applying to imports from EU countries
  2. applying to imports from non-EU countries

Market access from the EU

As one of aims of the European Union is to create a united economic and trade environment, market access to Latvia from other member states is not difficult. Goods imported to or exported from Latvia to other EU countries are not considered to be import or export - they are treated as free circulation goods. Thus, the are not subjects to customs declarations and VAT payment upon crossing the border of Latvia. The declarations, however, must be prepared in advance - although there are no stationary customs offices on the borders between Latvia and other EU member-states, there are special mobile customs units, designed for the arbitrary checking of trade vehicles.

In order for the imported or exported goods to be considered free circulation goods, they must belong to one the following categories:

  • goods manufactured in the EU, only using materials that have been produced in the EU
  • goods that have been released for free circulation in the EU countries, even if they had been completely or partially manufactured in a non-EU state
  • goods produced in the EU customs zone from goods that belong to the other two categories

Market access from outside of the EU

Market access to Latvia for goods from a country that is not a EU-member state is not so straightforward and involves import taxes and licence acquisition. The main difference is that goods outside the EU will be checked by a customs office on the border with Latvia. The entering party must present a declaration of the goods, pay any applicable taxes and duties, as well as undergo any other procedure stipulated by law. In contrast to the goods imported into Latvia from other EU member-states, good imported from a third country are not considered free circulation goods, hence the aforementioned procedures.

There is also a difference between preferential and non-preferential import goods. While non-preferential goods must undergo all the procedures, preferential goods can be imported without certain restrictions. In Latvia, preferential goods are mainly exempt from the Customs Duty. This also applies to equipment that meets certain conditions, e.g. machinery used by a company that is terminating its activity outside the EU and relocating in the EU, scientific, cultural and similar inventory, their spare parts, etc.

It should be noted, that Latvia is a party to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) or the Washington Convention, and import of some goods is prohibited entirely or is strictly limited. It mainly concerns goods that come from endangered animals and plants, or these species themselves, such as ivory, coral, tortoise shells, etc. Exporting these goods to Latvia is allowed only under exceptional circumstances stipulated by the Convention.

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