Latvia, with Riga as its capital, is a Baltic Sea State bordering Estonia, Lithuania, Russia and Belarus. Latvian independence was restored on 21st August 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Since then Latvia ascended to European Union membership on 01st May 2004 but favoured it national currency, the Lat, until 01st January 2014 when it adopted the Euro.
Latvia has a population of around 2,000,000 and covers just less than 25,000 square miles.
Regular ferry services operate from Latvia to Sweden and Germany. Stena Line provides services to Travemunde in Germany from both Liepaje and Ventspils along with a crossing from Ventspils to Nynasham in Sweden. AVE Line also sails to Travemunde from the Latvian capital of Riga and Tallink Silja sail between Stockholm, Sweden to Riga also.
Couriers, van operators, lorry and truck drivers are required to carry the following whilst driving in Latvia: a full passport with at least six months validity, photo driving licence along with the paper copy accompanied by an official translation, a letter of authority to drive, original vehicle registration documents, insurance paperwork (also green card insurance is advisable) and a nationality plate must be affixed to the rear of the vehicle. EU driving rules also apply.
If the journey involves crossing the Latvian border into Russia or Belarus drivers should be aware that delays, sometimes days, are common place. All relevant import documentation must be in place prior and along with customs tax customs services carry a fee.
Road user charges are applicable on vehicles over and above 3.5t. These charges can be paid either via the internet at www.lvvignette.eu or by cash or credit cards at terminals and offices of the Road Traffic Safety Directorate.
In Latvia the following restrictions to vehicle dimensions are in force. Height restriction is 4.0m and width restrictions of 2.55m or 2.6m if refrigerated. As regards length, lorries are restricted to 12m, articulated trucks 16.5m and road trains 18.75m. Maximum permissible weights are as follows. Lorries at 12m long are restricted at the following weights (2 axles 18t), (3 axles 25t 26t if the drive axle is twin wheeled and has pneumatic suspension), (4 axles 32t providing two are steering axles and the drive axle is twin wheeled and pneumatic). Articulated truck weights are dependent on axle configurations and are as follows: (4 axles (2+2) 36t), (4 axles (2+2) with twin tyres and pneumatic suspension 38t), (5/6 axles (2+3, 3+2/3)40t. A weight of 44t can be carried if the axles are (3+2/3) and used for transport of ISO containers or if the vehicle has 6 axles at a (3+3) configuration. Articulated trucks are restricted to 16.5m in length. Road trains have a length restriction of 18.75m and weight limits of 4 axles (2+2) 36t, 5/6 axles (3+2/3+3)40t and 6 axles (3+3) 44t. Any vehicles in excess of the above dimensions require special authorisation, at least 10 days in advance of arrival, from:
State Joint Stock Company Latvian State Roads
3 Gogola Street
Tel: 00 371 702 8169
There is no restriction on the transportation of goods at weekends or on Public Holidays although lorry and truck drivers should be aware that some peak time restrictions in central Riga are applied between the hours of 0700 and 1000 and 1600 to 1900 Monday to Friday. On some bridges a minimum distance of 40m is applied to trucks.
Couriers, van operators, lorry and truck drivers should also be aware of the following driving rules whilst driving in Latvia. Head lamp deflectors are required and lights must be on at all times whilst driving. It is compulsory to carry a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, two warning triangles, reflective jacket and seat belts must be worn. Couriers and van operators under 3.5t should also note that between 01st December and 01st March winter tyres must be used.
In Latvia the following speed limits apply. In built up areas the limit is 50 km/h and outside built up areas vehicles that are less than 7.5t are limited to 90 km/h. Vehicles over and above 7.5t are further restricted to 80 km/h outside built up areas. Traffic offences carry on the spot fines and payment can be demanded immediately. The legal limit for alcohol is 0.05 % alcohol in the blood and random drink and drug testing is in place. A refusal to be breathalysed can lead to more severe penalties.
In the event of any emergency the following numbers can be dialled: Police 02, Fire Brigade 01, Ambulance Service 03, or 112, for all services if using a cellular phone. The telephone number for the road police HQ is 00 371 720 8055.
Further advice and information is available from:
Latvian Hauliers Association email firstname.lastname@example.org
Latvian Customs – Tel: 00 370 704 7500