Essential Considerations For Starting A Business In Latvia 2024

Latvia is known for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant arts scene, reflecting a strong tradition in music and festivals. Additionally, it has a robust information technology sector, which is a leading industry. These characteristics make Latvia an attractive destination for starting a business.

However, there are specific considerations to keep in mind. It’s crucial to understand the country’s economic state, as well as the legal and regulatory requirements for businesses. Taxation policies applicable to businesses and the prevailing labour laws are also important factors to review.

Overall, Latvia offers many opportunities, but thorough preparation is essential for success.


Economic Overview


Latvia’s economy is gradually recovering after a challenging 2023. The war in Ukraine led to a brief recession, but growth is expected to rebound to 1.7% in 2024, according to the European Commission. This positive outlook is partly driven by rising wages, which are increasing consumer spending and stimulating economic activity.

Despite these improvements, Latvia still faces significant challenges. Inflation, which surged due to higher energy prices, is projected to decline slowly, reaching approximately 1.6% by the end of 2024. Another concern is the shrinking workforce caused by emigration and a low birth rate, which could impede long-term growth prospects.

In summary, Latvia’s economic outlook is cautiously optimistic. While the country is showing signs of recovery and growth, it must navigate ongoing issues like inflation and demographic changes to sustain its progress.


Legal and Regulatory Framework


Latvia has become an attractive destination for entrepreneurs due to its efforts to simplify the business registration process. The “New Start-up Law” introduced in 2017 includes features such as tax deductions and streamlined procedures, making it easier for new businesses to get started.

One significant improvement is the ability to register a business electronically, which reduces paperwork and speeds up the process. Additionally, the abolition of the minimum share capital requirement means that founders can start with less initial investment.

However, there are still some essential steps to follow. Choosing an appropriate business structure, such as a sole proprietorship or limited liability company, is necessary. Drafting a company charter and obtaining the required permits and licenses, depending on the industry, are also crucial steps.

Latvia has made considerable progress in creating a supportive environment for new businesses. For those with a strong business idea and determination, the legal and regulatory framework in Latvia offers a solid foundation for launching a successful venture.



Taxation and Financial Management


Latvia has a competitive Corporate Income Tax (CIT) rate of 20%, with a unique twist. Businesses only pay CIT on distributed profits. This allows you to reinvest earnings back into the company tax-free, which can significantly boost growth. However, distributed profits, such as dividends, are subject to the 20% CIT rate.

Smaller businesses can benefit from the (Micro-company Tax) MTB, a flat 25% tax on total turnover, provided specific criteria are met, such as not exceeding a certain revenue threshold and not being VAT registered.

The standard Value Added Tax (VAT) rate in Latvia is 21%. However, exports and certain domestic transactions are zero-rated, meaning no VAT is applied, which can be advantageous for businesses involved in international trade.

These are just the highlights, and it is essential to consult with a tax professional to navigate Latvia’s tax system effectively. With proper planning, Latvia’s tax environment can be leveraged to support business success.


Hiring and Managing Employees


Latvia offers a skilled and educated workforce, making it an attractive location for hiring talent. However, understanding the key labour laws and regulations is essential for smooth operations.

All employment relationships must be formalised with a written contract, usually in Latvian, though exceptions can be made for mutually understood languages. These contracts detail job duties, compensation, benefits, and termination clauses.

Latvia enforces a mandated minimum wage, which is periodically adjusted. Standard work hours are 40 per week, with restrictions on overtime.

Employees in Latvia are entitled to a generous benefits package, including a minimum of four weeks of paid vacation, sick leave, and maternity/paternity leave. Employers are also responsible for social security contributions in addition to the base salary.

Employment can be terminated by either party with notice periods ranging from 10 to 30 days, depending on the circumstances and contract specifics.

In conclusion, while Latvia presents numerous opportunities for entrepreneurs with its rich cultural heritage, strong IT sector, and supportive legal framework, careful planning and understanding of the economic landscape are crucial.

Prospective business owners must navigate taxation policies, labour laws, and regulatory requirements to establish a successful venture. With thorough preparation, Latvia offers a promising environment for business growth and innovation.