How to Open a Bank Account in Latvia as a Foreigner

Latvia has its capital at Riga, which attracts many expats. People are looking for quality in life, European culture, warm people and beautiful architecture. In case you are a student, worker, or investor in Latvia, it is important for you to open a bank account. This article will guide on how to open a bank account in Latvia as a foreigner.

Latvia is a member of the European Union since 2004. Therefore, it is in the SEPA zone, every bank account has an IBAN number and the currency of the country is the Euro.

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Anyone with legal residence in any European country can get a free Euro IBAN account with N26. It takes 5 minutes to open one.

Document Requirements for Opening a Bank Account in Latvia

Various Latvian banks have different requirements for opening a bank account. To open a bank account, some of the banks will request you to bring a passport or resident Identity card or a work contract. You will also need to present a resident permit. Some banks have an online application. However, you will need to have your documents scanned, and also you will need to visit a branch.

Bank accounts for Ukrainian refugees. Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a number of banks have simplified the process of opening a free bank account for Ukrainian refugees. These banks include Wise, Revolut, bunq and several banks in Latvia have also introduced a simplified the setting up of bank accounts for Ukrainians in Latvia.

Opening Bank Account in Latvia for Foreigners

Generally, foreigners can open bank accounts in Latvia. However, the full list of documents needed differ from bank to bank. Some of the banks that you can open a Latvian bank account for non-resident include BlueOrange, rebranded to BluOr Bank, LPB Bank, PNB Bank, and Rietumu Bank. Majority of banks in Latvia will require you to present a travel document that has an entry stamp in order to open a bank account in Latvia for foreigners. These banks have information available in English, and also they have staffs who speak in English. Other languages are Russian, French and Chinese.

Offshore bank account in Latvia: Is it possible to open an offshore account in Latvia? Yes, individuals and companies are eligible to open a Latvia offshore bank account. Some of the banks you can use to open offshore accounts in Latvia include Rietumu Bank, LPB Bank, BluOr Bank, formerly BlueOrange Bank and PNB Bank.

Open Latvian Bank Account Online

One of the easiest ways to open a bank account in Latvia as a non-resident is to open an account with an online bank in Latvia. Online banks typically have simpler account opening processes and fewer requirements than traditional banks.

There is a growing list of online banks in Latvia. With these online or virtual banks, you don’t need to visit a physical branch to open an account. They offer a number of advantages over traditional banks. For example, they often have iinovative features, lower fees and more competitive exchange rates. They also typically have more user-friendly mobile apps. Revolut, for instance, has a free plan that includes 200 euro free cash withdrawal from any ATM in the world and its card is accepted in most restaurants, shops, hotels, spas, and petrol stations. In addition, it offers multicurrency accounts and it is a crypto friendly bank.

However, if something happens, like card fraud, etc., it’s harder to solve than with traditional banks. For example, if you lose your card, it may take longer to get a replacement from an online bank than from a traditional bank.

Online banks in Latvia include the following:

  • Revolut: Revolut, a popular online bank, offers a free plan for non-residents of Latvia. This plan includes a free debit card, free ATM withdrawals up to €200 per month, and the ability to hold and exchange multiple currencies. Revolut’s debit card is accepted at most merchants in Latvia and around the world, and it also offers a variety of other features, such as commission-free stock trading, and cryptocurrency trading in the app.
  • Bunq: Bunq is a Dutch neobank that offers its services in 30 European countries, including Latvia. It is a popular choice for foreigners and non-residents because it offers a variety of features that are beneficial for this group, such as multilingual support, multi-currency accounts, international money transfers, MasterCard debit cards, and low ATM fees.
  • N26: N26 is a German mobile bank that foreigners in Latvia can use to open a bank account online. These services include a free bank account with a debit card, mobile banking app, and international money transfers. Premium plans offer other features, such as travel insurance, airport lounge access, and higher ATM withdrawal limits.
  • Monese: Monese is an ideal online bank in Latvia for non-residents to open, especially if you are looking for an easy-to-access bank account in Europe, or if you are a traveler or a digital nomad. You can integrate your Monese current account with contactless payments like Google Pay and Apple Pay, as well as online wallets such as PayPal. You can also use Monese to open a multicurrency account in GBP, EUR, and RON and manage two accounts in two separate currencies simultaneously
  • Paysera: Paysera is a financial services company that offers an easy way for expats to open an international account. As a member of SEPA Instant, you can make instant transfers of up to 15,000 EUR within seconds. Paysera is also a good bank for business banking in Latvia.

When making or receiving international payments in Latvia, Wise is one of the best options to consider. It uses the mid-market rate and transfers money from its local bank accounts around the world to reduce your costs.

Best banks in Latvia

In addition to the online banks listed above, Latvia has many traditional banks, both national and international. The following are some of the major banks that you might consider opening an account with.

1. Swedbank

The Swedbank is Latvia’s largest bank. It has over 400 ATMs and more than 50 branches within Latvia. Among the services they offer to their customers include; current accounts, savings account, debit and credit card, online banking and comprehensive online banking, investment and insurance. Also, it has products for children, youth, family and businesses. The bank has a mobile app and supports Google Pay, and it has 24/7 online banking services.

Its basic payment account (with or without additional services) can be opened even if you do not have a residence permit in Latvia. You must submit a certificate proving that you do not hold accounts in any other credit institution in Latvia.

Swedbank Latvia charges a €200 fee to open a bank account as a foreigner. However, paying the fee does not guarantee that your account will be approved. Keep this in mind when deciding whether to open an account with Swedbank Latvia.

2. Citadele

The Citadele Bank has debit cards for accounts that are contactless, while they offer discounts in partner stores. Other products they have are the comprehensive mobile banking, payment cards that have E-Ticket options, term deposits, current and savings account, a wide range of loans, private banking and business financing. They have a wide range of ATMs and branches that are well networked. They offer credit cards and mortgages at low interest rates.

3. Rietumu

Rietumu Bank is a private bank offering services that are generally meant for affluent people and corporations. They offer their services in Latvian, English, Russian, and French. Among the services they offer include; current and savings account, remote banking, investment and business accounts.

4. Luminor Bank

The Luminor Bank, formerly DNB Bank, has a vast network of ATMs and branches. It has among the best banking packages in the market. Some of the services it provides to its clients include current accounts at 0.65per month and a debit card package for only 1.65 per month. It also offers its clients business financing, business accounts, life insurance, investment services, online and mobile banking and credit cards.

Although Luminor offers accounts to individuals, you should be aware that it has a special focus on small and medium-sized companies and affluent private clients.

5. SEB

SEB Bank has many branches and ATMs located in Latvia. It has different products for students, youth, family, corporations and investment. SEB strives to serve all the needs of its clients. Some of the products they have for their clients include debit cards, transfers and low monthly charges. Their fee is 0.43 cents monthly, up to 5 euros.

Banking fees in Latvia

Most online banks don’t charge for opening an account, but traditional banks in Latvia typically charge a fee of about 100 to 250 euros for non-residents. It is important before opening a bank account you research about charges that the banks charge for different services. Compare the prices and go for the bank with desirable services and has competitive prices. Some of the banking fees include TM fees. Many of the banks will not charge withdrawing cash from the ATM if you have an account with the bank ATM you are withdrawing from. Other banking charges include monthly maintenance fee, deposit and wire transfer fees, account balance maintenance fee and account statement by mail.

Fees charged to transfer money internationally

Fees for international money transfers in Latvia vary depending on the bank or money transfer service you use. Traditional banks typically charge higher fees than online banks and money transfer services. Traditional banks may also charge additional fees for receiving international transfers. Online banks and money transfer services generally offer lower fees and more competitive exchange rates than traditional banks. However, they may have different limits on the amount of money you can send and receive.

Sending money internationally by the use of the bank can be very expensive. It becomes costly since banks will need to convert the funds into the currency that is in use in that particular country. Banks charge higher fees above the market rates so that they can make a profit. To make a cheaper money transfer, you can use services such as Wise.

Making Banking as a Foreigner Easier in Latvia

Latvia is a member of the European Union, and its banks are subject to the same regulations as banks in other EU countries. This means that Latvian bank accounts are safe and secure.

To sum it up, dealing with banks in Latvia, whether you are a resident or non-resident, doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Each bank might have its own rules, but the good news is that many people and businesses can access banking services in Latvia.

With the convenience of online applications and bank staff who speak English and other international languages in many places, opening an account is more accessible for non-residents. Plus, options like offshore accounts and virtual bank accounts are available to meet different financial needs.

Just remember that bank fees can vary a lot, so it’s essential to look into the costs and pick a bank that suits you best.

Vincent is a writer and researcher with an interest in finance, banking, startups, and remittance. He holds a Bachelors degree in Applied Statistics with computing. He founded Nexin Startups, an online platform offering startup advice to investors and entrepreneurs. Read more about us and our authors.