Driving advice for every country in Europe

Find up-to-date driving laws and advice for any country in Europe before you visit, including any accessories you may need to purchase. Don't forget the RAC provides European breakdown cover while you're driving in Europe.

Driving in Latvia

Latvia
Population: 1,9m
Area: 64,600 square kilometres
Currency: Euro (EUR) € = 100 cents

Coronavirus update

Please be aware that driving in Europe may be restricted at the moment.

Check the Foreign travel advice section of the GOV.UK website for up to date advice on all European countries.

With its picturesque Baltic coastal towns, sprawling forests and cosmopolitan capital Riga, Latvia has its fair share of must-see sights. It’s ideal for exploring by car, and driving conditions are generally pretty good.

But if you’re planning a road trip to Latvia, it’s essential you’re fully prepared ahead of time as driving there has many differences to the UK. 

To make your trip to Eastern Europe as safe and effortless as possible, we’ve put together a guide to everything you need to know before you go, from required documents to rules of the road.  

Driving a rented vehicle? Jump to the advice for driving a hire car in Latvia section.

RAC European Breakdown Cover (Basic and Comprehensive) provides a wide range of benefits should you breakdown in Latvia to ensure you stay safe. 

To supplement this, RAC also offers travel insurance. Cover will include medical expenses, baggage, personal money and belongings, among many other benefits.

Things to take when driving in Latvia

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Documents for driving in Latvia

  • A valid, full UK driving licence (you must also be 18 or over)
  • A GB sticker (unless your car is equipped with EU number plates showing the country code in a circle of 12 gold stars on a blue background) 
  • Your motor insurance certificate
  • The V5 registration document for your own car or the hire car paperwork for a rental

Driving in Latvia packing checklist

Aside from the documents above, there are some legally-required items you must bring with you to drive in Latvia.

Unless your headlights can be adjusted, it's a legal requirement to carry headlamp converters (stickers for your headlights when driving on the right, so your lights don't dazzle motorists coming the other way).

A warning triangle is also compulsory to carry in vehicles in case of a breakdown.

It's also recommended to have:

  • Spare bulbs for your car's external lights
  • A fire extinguisher 
  • A first-aid kit
  • A reflective jacket
  • A Green Card (this is no longer a requirement, but it could be useful to back-up your insurance documents and show you've got the minimum legal level of cover. To find out more, contact your insurance company)

You can pick up all the car kit you need from RAC Shop.

Rules of the road in Latvia

  • In Latvia, you drive on the right and overtake on the left. Vehicles from the right and emergency vehicles have priority
  • There are no motorways in Latvia, but there are dual carriageways that run from Riga to other cities. You won’t have to pay a toll to use the roads
  • If you're caught committing a motoring offence while driving through Latvia, you could be given an on-the-spot fine. The police can issue the fines, but they can’t collect them. You must pay or lodge an appeal within 30 days
  • Seat belts should be worn in all seats where a belt is available
  • Children under 150cm in height must use a special seat or the lap strap of an adult seat belt
  • The drink-drive limit is 0.05%. For novice drivers with less than 2 years’ experience, the limit is lower, at 0.02%. Police can test any driver suspected of being over the limit, and refusing to take a test could see you fined

Latvian speed limits

The speed limit is usually 50km/h in built-up areas unless otherwise indicated (in residential areas it’s 20km/h). On country roads, the limit is 90km/h, while on dual carriageways, it’s 100km/h

You are not allowed to use radar detectors or anything that interferes with police equipment

Other things you should know when driving in Latvia

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  • Unleaded petrol and diesel are readily available, as is LPG. A special winter diesel fuel with a very high congealing point is available in winter. Most filling stations will accept credit cards
  • You’re advised to use guarded car parks whenever possible as car thefts and break-ins are common
  • In Riga, you must take care not to park on tramlines. If you park illegally, you may be issued with an on-the-spot fine

In an emergency

112 - Here's a really important bit of knowledge; you can dial 112 from anywhere in Europe and an operator will connect you to an emergency service in the country you're visiting.

Operators can answer your call in their native language, English or French.

Breaking down in Latvia

RAC offers great-value, flexible RAC European breakdown cover tailored to meet your needs. We also offer comprehensive travel insurance, including cover for medical expenses, baggage, personal money and belongings.

Driving a hire car in Latvia

Not all of the information in the guide above will be relevant to those looking to rent a hire car in Latvia.

Though it might be a good idea to read through everything anyway, here are the most important things to know for drivers of rental vehicles:

Rental information

  • The minimum age to hire a car is 21, although this can vary depnding upon your provider
  • You need a full, valid UK driving licence and usually a second proof of ID (passport)
  • Some car rental companies ask that you have held your licence for a minimum term - check with your hire company first
  • Some companies require you to use a credit card for deposit
  • You may not be able to drive outside of Latvia unless planned in advance - check with your hire company first
  • Make sure you get car hire excess insurance before your trip to protect yourself from unexpected costs. It's almost always cheaper to do this with a separate insurer and in advance

Hire car driving tips

  • Latvians drive on the right and overtake on the left - the opposite to the UK
  • The Latvian speed limit is usually 50km/h in built-up areas unless otherwise indicated (in residential areas it’s 20km/h). On country roads, the limit is 90km/h, while on dual carriageways, it’s 100km/h
  • Dial 112 in an emergency
  • It’s compulsory to wear seat belts in the front and rear seats
  • The blood alcohol content limit for drivers of private vehicles is 0.05%. That's lower than the 0.08% in England Wales and Northern Ireland, but the same as Scotland.

Car hire excess cover

Protect yourself from unexpected excess costs when hiring a car.

Driving in Latvia FAQs

  • Can you drive in Riga?

    Yes, although you need to watch out for aggressive drivers in the Latvian capital who may try to intimidate you.

    There are parking meters that operate from 9am-8pm Mondays to Fridays and 9am-6pm on Saturdays. Parking is free on Sundays.

  • Do I need a green card to drive in Latvia?

    Like the UK, Latvia is a member of the Green Card System, a Europe-wide scheme that allows countries to recognise foreign vehicle insurance policies of visiting motorists.

    UK motorists are no longer required to carry a green card to drive in Latvia, but you should check that your policy will cover you in all countries you plan to visit before setting off.

  • What side of the road do they drive on in Latvia?

    As in most of mainland Europe, motorists drive on the right-hand side of the road in Latvia.

  • Do I need a GB sticker for Latvia?

    You will need to display a GB sticker on the rear of your car unless it has EU number plates with the country code in a circle of 12 stars on a blue background.

  • Can I drive my car in Latvia?

    Yes, although before driving your car to Latvia, it’s important you have all the necessary documents to stay safe and legal on the roads, including at least third-party insurance cover.

    You should also ensure you have all the required items needed for your journey in Latvia (such as a warning triangle and a first-aid kit) as well as for any other country you’re planning to drive through.

  • How do I drive to Latvia?

    Getting to Latvia by car from the UK is an epic adventure, so allow plenty of time for your journey. Firstly, you’ll need to take your car across the Channel to Calais on either the Eurotunnel from Folkestone or a ferry from Dover.

    From Calais, head north east through Belgium, Germany, Poland and Lithuania before crossing the border into Latvia. The drive from Calais to Riga takes around 22 hours non-stop.

    Another option is to get a ferry to the Netherlands from Newcastle, Hull or Harwich and travel up through Germany, Poland and Lithuania.

  • What age can you start driving in Latvia?

    To legally drive in Latvia, you must be 18 years or older and in possession of a full valid driving licence.

  • Do I need winter tyres to drive in Latvia?

    Latvia has some very cold months, so winter tyres are mandatory on vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes from 1 December to 1 March.

    You’re not allowed to use spiked tyres between 1 May and 1 October. If you use them in winter, there is no special speed limit.

European Breakdown Cover

Get covered from just £7 this winter. Plus, get a full refund if Covid-19 restrictions prevent travel.†

UK Government travel advice

See up-to-date travel advice


Information in this guide is subject to change

British Embassy Riga

5, J.Alunana iela
Riga
LV 1010
Latvia

Email [email protected]

Telephone 371 6777 4700

Fax: 371 6777 4707

† Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1. For more information visit rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/european-breakdown-cover