Everything you need to know about marriage in Latvia

16 May 2023·18 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Latvia 01

Latvia, officially known as the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of northern Europe famous for its art nouveau buildings and incredible waterfalls. Every year, over 12,000 marriages are performed in Latvia by both Latvian nationals and foreigners from other countries. To get married in the country, partners may contract a civil, religious, traditional, or symbolic marriage; however, only civil and church marriages are legally binding. Latvia is a popular destination for symbolic weddings as a result of its rich cultural heritage and stunning landscapes. 

Symbolic weddings in the country involve no legal process and are not recognized by law; however, many people still perform them due to the type of freedom that comes with the ceremony. Symbolic ceremonies can take place almost anywhere, from beaches to castles to gardens, and can be customized to reflect the couple's personalities and preferences. Child marriages in Latvia are almost nonexistent, and there are very few cases of forced marriages. The legal marriage age for both partners is 18 years; however, partners between the ages of 16 and 18 years may be allowed to get married provided that they have received parental consent. 

Arranged marriages are not common in Latvia, and the country has a tradition of marriages based on love and mutual consent. In Latvia, it is generally considered important for spouses to choose their own partners based on their personal preferences. As you read on, you will find out more about the types of marriages in Latvia as well as the popular marriage traditions in the country. Let’s get started.

Civil Marriages 

In Latvia, a civil marriage is a legally binding union between two spouses that is performed by a registrar in the presence of two witnesses. This type of marriage is recognized and protected by law in Latvia and other countries across the world. The process of contracting a civil marriage in the country begins with a marriage application. Couples must apply for a marriage certificate at a local civil registry office (Zvrintu notru birojs) at least one month before the planned wedding date. The application can be submitted by either partner, and both partners must appear in person to sign the application. The eligibility criteria require both partners to be at least 18 years old and not already married or in a registered partnership. 

There is a one-month waiting period between the submission of the application and the date of the wedding ceremony. Furthermore, civil marriages are performed in Latvian, and spouses who do not speak this language are required to provide accredited interpreters during the ceremony. All documents obtained from foreign countries must be duly translated into Latvian, and both spouses must be able to demonstrate that they are in good standing with the government of the country. The ceremony usually lasts around 15–20 minutes and involves the exchange of rings and vows, the signing of the marriage certificate, and the pronouncement of the couple as married. After the ceremony, the registrar issues a marriage certificate to the couple. The documents that must be submitted by both spouses are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • Valid passports or other official identification documents, such as a national ID card, must be provided by both partners.
  • Both spouses must submit copies of their government-issued birth certificates.
  • Proof of residency in Latvia for at least one of the partners (such as a rental contract or utility bill)
  • If either partner has been previously married, a divorce decree or death certificate of the previous spouse is required.
  • If either partner is a foreign national, a certificate of no impediment to marriage from their home country may be required. It must also include an apostille to show its authorization and legitimacy.

Religious Marriages 

A religious marriage ceremony in Latvia is not legally binding and does not replace a civil marriage ceremony. It is considered a symbolic or spiritual ceremony that is performed in accordance with the beliefs and practices of a particular religious faith. To have a religious marriage ceremony in Latvia, couples must first obtain a civil marriage certificate from a local civil registry office, which serves as legal proof of marriage. After obtaining the civil marriage certificate, couples can then have a religious marriage ceremony in a church or other religious setting.

The requirements for a religious marriage ceremony in Latvia vary depending on the religious denomination and the specific church or religious organization. In general, couples will be required to contact the officiating religious leader or the church office to obtain information about the requirements and procedures for a religious marriage ceremony. The majority of the population of Latvia is Christian, and only church marriages hold legal ground across the country. Marriages performed by non-Christians are not legally binding in the country.

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Marriage Traditions in Latvia

Flower crowns

This is a popular ceremonial rite at Latvian weddings. Here, the bride often wears a crown made of flowers, herbs, and leaves. The crown symbolizes the bride's purity and fertility and is often made by the bride's family or friends.

Līgo 

Lgo is a traditional Latvian celebration that takes place on the summer solstice, which is one of the most popular times for weddings in Latvia. The celebration involves singing traditional songs, dancing, and lighting bonfires to ward off evil spirits.

Straw decorations 

In Latvian weddings, straw is often used to decorate the wedding venue and the couple's home. The straw decorations symbolize fertility, abundance, and prosperity. It is still a common tradition in both urban and rural areas.

Same-sex Marriages 

Same-sex marriage is not legal in Latvia. The Latvian Constitution defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and the country's laws do not recognize same-sex marriages or partnerships. However, same-sex couples in Latvia can enter into a civil partnership, which provides some legal rights and protections, such as the right to inherit property and make medical decisions on behalf of a partner.

Polygamous Marriages 

In Latvia, polygamous marriages are not recognized or legally valid. Latvian nationals who marry multiple spouses abroad will not have their union recognized in the country. Spouses who are already married cannot legally enter into a new marriage or partnership with another person while still being married to someone else. The penalties for engaging in polygamous marriages or partnerships in Latvia can include fines and imprisonment, and the country's authorities strictly enforce the ban on polygamy.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs, and Duties

Laws

Marriage in Latvia is a legal union between a man and a woman, as specified in Article 1 of the Civil Law. The laws of marriage in Latvia are governed by the Civil Law of 2001. Civil marriages and church weddings are the only legally recognized forms of marriage in Latvia. Christian marriage has its own conditions, but they are also governed by civil law. In accordance with the law, both parties must be at least 18 years old to get married. Anyone who wishes to be married but has not attained the legal age of marriage must have obtained permission from a court or from their parents or guardians if they are between the ages of 16 and 18 years old. 

The couple must have given their willing consent to marriage before it can take place. The use of force or threat to contract marriage is against the civil law of marriage in Latvia. Incestuous marriages between relatives—between brothers and sisters and half-brothers and half-sisters—are not permitted in Latvia. Before getting married, both parties must submit a written application to the Civil Registry Office, also known as the Zvrintu notru birojs, in the district where one of them resides. The written application must include documents such as birth certificates, passports, and a certificate of marital status that proves that both parties are not currently married to anyone else. 

If one or both parties have been married in the past but the marriage ended as a result of divorce or the death of one of the previous spouses, the concerned party must submit a divorce or death certificate to the appropriate authorities. A marriage shall be concluded not earlier than one month and not later than within a period of six months after the submission of the application and other documents necessary for entering into the marriage to the correspondence department. The marriage ceremony must be performed by a civil registry official (Zvrints notrs), and it must be conducted in the presence of two witnesses who must be 18 years of age or older. 

Both parties must give consent to the marriage in front of the official and witnesses. The official will then issue a marriage certificate, also known as precbu apliecba, to the newlyweds. In Latvia, same-sex marriages are not legally recognized. However, same-sex couples can register their partnership, which grants them some of the same legal rights and protections as married couples.

Rights

In Latvia, the legal framework for marriage is established in the Civil Law, which outlines the rights of spouses in marriage. Under the civil law, any man and woman who have reached the age of 18 can enter into marriage in Latvia. However, same-sex marriages are not recognized under Latvian law. Marriage grants spouses the right to joint ownership of any property acquired during the marriage. This means that both partners have equal rights to manage, use, and dispose of the property, unless a prenuptial agreement was signed before marriage was contracted.

Couples have the right to inherit from each other's estates, including any joint property. In the event of the death of one of the spouses, the surviving spouse has the right to inherit all the properties that belonged to the deceased spouse. Spouses have the right to support each other financially during the marriage. If the marriage ends, one spouse may be entitled to financial support from the other spouse, depending on the circumstances. 

Married couples have the right to make decisions on behalf of one another in the event that one of them is unable to. They both have the right to make decisions about their joint affairs, such as where to live, how to raise their children, and how to manage their finances. In Latvia, spouses have the right to divorce if they have been separated for at least a year or if there are other grounds for divorce, such as adultery or abuse. The right to equality is one of the rights couples enjoy in Latvia. Both spouses are considered equal partners in a marriage, regardless of gender. They both have the right to work and receive equal payment for work done. Married couples are granted the right to adopt.

Costs

The cost of getting married in Latvia can range from a few hundred euros to several thousand euros or more, depending on the couple's preferences and budget. Expenses that couples can expect when planning a wedding in Latvia range from the cost of the wedding venue down to the cost of the food and drinks at the event. The cost of registering a marriage in Latvia is around 30 euros. Renting a wedding ceremony venue depends on a number of factors, such as the preferences of the couple and what they hope to achieve, as well as the number of guests invited. The venue for a wedding ceremony can range from around 100 EUR to 1000 EUR or more. 

The cost of a wedding reception in Latvia can vary depending on the number of guests and the type of food and beverages served. The cost can range from 30 euros to 100 euros or more per guest. Wedding dresses and attire can vary depending on the style and quality. A wedding dress costs around 200 EUR to 2000 EUR or more. Hiring a professional photographer or videographer for a wedding can vary depending on the length of the coverage, the number of photos or videos, and the quality. The cost can range from 500 EUR to 2000 EUR or more. The cost of flowers and decorations can vary depending on the type of flowers, the number of arrangements, and the complexity of the designs. These cost around 100 EUR to 1000 EUR or more.

Duties

Couples who are married or in a civil partnership have certain duties and responsibilities toward each other. These duties and responsibilities are intended to ensure a healthy and stable relationship between couples and to promote the well-being of each partner. Couples are expected to provide mutual support for each other, both emotionally and financially. This includes supporting each other's goals and aspirations and providing financial assistance when needed. Spouses have a duty to jointly make decisions in marriage. Couples are expected to make important decisions together, such as where to live, how to manage finances, and how to raise children. 

Married couples are expected to treat each other with respect and consideration and to refrain from any behavior that could harm the other partner, physically or emotionally. Legally married spouses are expected to be faithful to each other and to refrain from having sexual relations with other people outside of the relationship. Spouses have an obligation to contribute to household duties, such as cleaning, cooking, and taking care of children, in a fair and equitable manner. In the event of a divorce or separation, one partner may be required to provide financial maintenance to the other partner if there is a significant difference in earning capacity.

Final Thoughts 

Latvia is home to many beautiful places, and destination weddings are quite popular in the country. There is a wide range of wedding venues, from luxurious hotels to historic castles, rustic barns to charming churches, and stunning beaches to enchanting forests. Some popular wedding destinations in Latvia include the Rundale Palace, the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, the Sigulda Castle, and Jurmala Beach.

The status of homosexuality is allowed in Latvia for both males and females; however, same-sex marriage is constitutionally banned. Spouses in the country are also not allowed to be in a partnership or marriage with more than one partner at a time. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Latvia.

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