Buying a car in Latvia
Can I pay for a car in cash?
Yes, there are no restrictions on this. If you travel within the EU, you don't need to declare money you take with you to customs. When entering or leaving the EU, you must declare any sum of money of or equivalent to EUR 10 000 and above to customs using a specific form.
What about payment of VAT?
Within an intra-EU transaction new cars should be sold without VAT. A car is considered new if no more than 6 months have passed since the date on which it was first registered or if its mileage does not exceed 6 000 km. In practice, some sellers may require payment of VAT as a deposit, to be refunded once the car is registered in the buyer's country. Check in advance with the seller how to claim the VAT refund, i.e. what documentation the seller needs from you. Be aware that you have no direct claim against the fiscal authorities, only against the seller so you should claim any refund quickly.
All other cars are considered second hand (more than 6 months since the date of first registration and mileage of more than 6 000 km). They are generally sold inclusive of VAT (21 %) if the supplier is a commercial seller (the supply is not liable to VAT if the supplier is a private person). You don't have to pay VAT in your country of residence.
Is the seller obliged to provide a vehicle inspection?
No. In Latvia, a car must pass its first vehicle inspection no later than 2 years after it is first registered, and then every year.
Is the Latvian vehicle inspection recognised in my home country?
Some countries recognise it. Check in advance with your national authority to avoid unnecessary costs.
Can I have an expert carry out a check on the car at the seller's premises?
Yes, in theory. There are no official organisations for this in Latvia. You will need to choose an expert yourself.
What should I look out for in the contract of sale?
Read the contract carefully and only sign contracts you understand. Some traders try to exclude legal guarantee rights by claiming that the contract is a business-to-business contract or that the car is sold "without warranties" (only in business-to-consumer contracts would such a clause be considered null and void). Make sure that the name of the seller is the same as the name given in the registration document, or that the seller has power of attorney to sell the car in the registered owner's name. If you buy from a trader, make sure that the name of the company is mentioned in the contract and that there is an indication regarding VAT.
Can I cancel a signed contract?
- If the contract is signed on the seller's premises, you have no legal right to withdraw (unless the contract includes the possibility of withdrawal)
- If the contract is a distance sale contract and you have not yet collected the car from the seller's premises, you can withdraw from the contract before delivery. You can also withdraw up to 14 days from delivery of the car to your address. If you collect the car at the seller's premises, the contract is usually signed there and either will not foresee or will exclude the right to a cooling off period.
What documents should the seller provide?
- The contract of sale or an invoice
- The vehicle registration certificate (Transportlīdzekļa reģistrācijas apliecība)
- The European Certificate of Conformity (COC), which is not mandatory in Latvia but usually necessary for registering the car abroad. If no COC is available from the seller, you can contact the manufacturer in your home country to obtain a duplicate for a fee. If the manufacturer cannot provide a COC, you can get further information from the Technical Control and Certification Inspection service of the Latvian Road Traffic Safety Directorate (CSDD).
Check if other documents are needed in the country where you intend to register the car.
Should I apply for temporary plates to drive the car home?
For more information on this, contact the competent authority.
Competent authority: CSDD, Miera Street 25, Riga, LV-1001 Tel: +371 67025777, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prices: Cars EUR 35.91 + EUR 5-10 for additional charges; mopeds, motorcycles and trailers EUR 22.81 + EUR 5-10 for additional charges
Timeframe: You can obtain transit plates within 1 hour in Riga. It can take up to 30 days elsewhere.
Validity: 5 days in Latvia and 30 days abroad (a 5-day extension is possible).
You may also be able to apply for transit plates from your home country. Check with your relevant national authority.
Regular national plates
If you wish to drive home with the national plates still on the car, are you obliged to return them to the competent registration offices, either in the country of previous registration or in the registration country?
If a vehicle registered in Latvia is sold to a foreign buyer, it has to be deregistered for export from Latvia, which includes return of the registration plates to the Road Traffic Safety Directorate (Latvian abbreviation – CSDD).
When the vehicle is deregistered for export from Latvia, the entry 'Deregistered for export from Latvia' (Noņemts no uzskaites izvešanai no LR) is made in the section 'Note concerning the deregistration of the vehicle' (Atzīme par transportlīdzekļa noņemšanu no uzskaites) of the registration certificate.
In order to use such a vehicle on the road, transit number plates must be acquired.
Do I need temporary insurance?
When driving the car home, you must be covered by insurance allowing you to drive on public roads. When applying for transit plates, you need to show proof of (temporary) insurance cover.
If I have a complaint about a cross-border purchase, whom do I contact?
Contact your local ECC: www.ecclatvia.lv
What out of court dispute resolution body is available in Latvia?
The Consumer Rights Protection Centre of Latvia
Brivibas Street 55, Riga, LV-1010
To whom do I report cases of fraud?
To the nearest police station or to the Economic Crimes Administration of the State Police.
If you are resident in another EU Member State, you can contact the main office of the State Police: Ciekurkalna 1st line 1, k-4, Riga, LV-1026 Tel: +371 67075212, Secretariat: +371 67075030, e-mail: email@example.com
Information provided by ECC-Net in March 2016 - see our legal notice.