In general, Latvia is a healthy place and there are no major risks associated with travel here.
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Before You Go
No vaccinations are required to travel to Latvia, but the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travellers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, regardless of their destination.
There is risk of tick-borne encephalitis in rural areas – vaccination is advised if you plan to spend time outdoors.
Citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway or Liechtenstein receive free or reduced-cost, state-provided health-care cover with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for medical treatment that becomes necessary while in Latvia. Each family member will need a separate card. UK residents can get application forms from post offices, or download them from the Department of Health website (www.dh.gov.uk), which has comprehensive information about the card’s coverage.
The EHIC does not cover private health care, so make sure that you are treated by a state health-care provider. If you see a private provider or do not have proof of EHIC coverage, you will need to pay directly and fill in a treatment form; keep the form to claim any refunds. In general, you can claim back around 70% of the standard treatment cost.
For travellers from countries outside of Europe, it is advisable to purchase travel medical insurance before your trip.
Availability & Cost of Healthcare
Latvia's health care system is underfunded but broadly delivers effective care, particularly in Rīga. Hospitals and clinics in more rural areas may lack sufficient resources and equipment, and may speak limited English.
Travelers carrying a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can obtain medically necessary treatment on the same terms as Latvians. Seek doctors registered with the National Health Service (Nacionālais veselības diensts, NVD), which will reimburse treatment costs directly to the provider – patients are only charged a small fee, if any at all, at the time of treatment.
Travelers without an EHIC will need to pay out-of-pocket costs for treatment. Expect to pay around €40 for an initial appointment with a general practitioner.
While teeth brushing is fine, it is recommended to avoid water straight from the tap in Latvia; boil or filter before drinking, or purchase it bottled.