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Latvia is located in Northern Europe and is one of three Baltic States. It has been a member of the European Union since 2004, a member of the Eurozone since 2014 and the 35th member country of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since 2016.
The Latvian banking and financial sector is relatively small, heavily concentrated in the capital, Riga, and has a high proportion of foreign capital. There are currently 23 banks operating on the Latvian market; 16 of them are domestic banks, seven are branches of foreign banks. Most Latvian banks are privately owned and operate as universal banks, but some specialize in corporate banking and/or wealth management. Most foreign banks have their origins in the Scandinavian countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
Out of all banks operating in Latvia, 14 provide corporate banking and other services to non-residents. Latvian banks have actively sought to attract deposits from non-residents. In fact, by the end of 2015, deposits from non-residents had overtaken deposits from residents of Latvia.
Benefits of opening a bank account in Latvia
There are various reasons why non-resident private individuals and companies might decide to open a bank account with one of the Latvian banks:
Latvian banks offer a wide range of services to non-residents, including private, retail and corporate banking, as well as online trading and brokerage services.
Latvian banks employ English- and Russian-speaking personnel and their websites are available in various languages.
KYC procedures are straightforward and simple, with some banks offering customers the option of opening an account online.
Latvia is a member state of the EU and in the Eurozone, facilitating cash transfers to other member countries.
Latvia uses the IBAN system, making international payments easier.
The procedure and documents required to open a bank account for a non-resident company differ from bank to bank. Generally, all the documents you are likely to need can be sorted into two lists: the standard set of corporate documents, which most banks will ask for and are usually listed on the bank's website, and specific documents that banks require from non-residents to make sure that the owner or beneficiary of the company has enough funds, as well as to check his or her background and learn more about the activities of the business. These documents usually cannot be found on the bank's website and in many instances will depend on the customer opening the account.
In addition to the bank's standard account application forms, other commonly required documents include, but are not limited to:
Certificate of incorporation (with apostille)
Memorandum and articles of association (with apostille)
Minutes of the board meeting approving the opening of a bank account
General power of attorney (with apostille)
Documents confirming the ownership of the company by the beneficial owner(s)
Copies of the beneficiaries' passports
Copy of the account manager's passport
Signature list and samples of seal imprints
As mentioned previously, banks have the right to ask for any additional documents during the inspection phase before the account is opened, and later on if the compliance officers believe that any information is missing or if the bank wants to better understand the nature of the customer's business.
Corporate banking for non-residents in Latvia
More than half of the banks in Latvia offer corporate banking and other services to non-residents. These banks have their differences, and before deciding which would be the most suitable for you there are certain things to consider. While most banks offer multilingual services and you are very likely to be able to speak in English or Russian with your private manager, AS “Rietumu Banka” offer their services in Chinese and French in addition to Latvian, English and Russian. AS Rietumu Banka offer retail banking, corporate banking and online brokerage to non-resident individuals and businesses. In addition, it is possible to open a bank account through an online application system.
Meanwhile, AS Norvik Banka offer their non-resident corporate and private customers retail banking, corporate banking and trade and investment services, as well as assistance with residence permits. Again, it is possible to apply for an account online. Another bank offering similar services is ABLV Bank, the second-biggest Latvian bank by assets. While it operates as a universal bank, ABLV Bank also offers financial advisory, investment and asset management solutions to resident and non-resident clients.