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Home » Country Etiquette » Latvia

Latvian Etiquette Tips

Latvians are incredibly proud of their fascinating history and culture. Although they may appear somewhat formal to strangers at first, they are friendly and casual with friends. Learn a bit about their culture and etiquette before you visit Latvia and above all, remain polite!


1. Dress Attire

  1. DO dress conservatively for business occasions. A suit is acceptable for men, and women should wear fashionable yet conservative clothes.

2. Table Manners

  1. DON'T start eating until the host begins or until you are invited to do so.
  2. DON'T put the dinner napkin on your lap. Leave it on the table.
  3. DO finish all the food on your plate.

3. Tipping

  1. DO round a restaurant bill up to about 10%. That is customary, but not obligatory.
  2. DO keep some small change with you to tip taxi drivers.

4. Gift Giving and Accepting Gifts

  1. DO give something thoughtful. A thoughtful gift is nicer than something expensive.
  2. DO give flowers in odd numbers, not even. An even number of flowers are for mourning.
  3. DON'T give red roses, as they are for funerals.
  4. DO open your gift upon receipt.

5. Greetings

  1. DO exchange a quick, firm handshake upon greeting. Maintain direct eye contact.
  2. DON'T move to a first name basis until invited to do so.

6. Visitors Etiquette

  1. DO arrive on time. Lateness might indicate that you don't respect your hosts.
  2. DO dress nicely.
  3. DO be aware that you might have to remove your shoes before entering a Latvian home.
  4. DO note that singing after a meal is common. Latvia is often called "the singing nation" because singing is an important part of their culture.
  5. DO bring a gift for your hosts, such as chocolates, liquor, flowers, or fruit.

7. Business Meeting

  1. DO exchange business cards after introductions.
  2. DO have one side of your business card translated into Latvian.
  3. DO behave formally. Business is considered a very formal affair in Latvia.
  4. DO remain patient. It can take several meetings for a decision to be made.
  5. DON'T interrupt people.
  6. DO be direct.
  7. DON'T try to schedule meetings in July and August, which are common vacation months.
  8. DON'T try to bring personal relationships into business. They are kept separate.

8. Socializing and Conversation

  1. DON'T joke about Latvian culture. Latvians are very proud of their culture, so to make a joke about it would be in poor taste.
  2. DON'T discuss Latvia and the U.S.S.R. It can be a very touchy subject with both ethnic Latvians and ethnic Russians.
  3. DON'T ask personal questions. It may seem intrusive.
While traveling in Latvia, remember to be kind and polite and you'll fit in just fine. When in doubt, keep your actions on the formal side. Have a safe and happy trip to Latvia!  
 
 
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