Various certificates, permits, requests, applications, conciliations and other formalities necessary for the day-to-day work of a company communicating with public authorities, will be organized through the official e-address of the company from the beginning of this year. Creating it is akin to creating a regular e-mail.
However, there is a catch – first you need access to the “Latvija.lv” public administration portal. Such an approach can be obtained by foreigners in a rather complicated way.
“The problems arise at the moment when there are foreign parties on the company's board. In order to create this e-address, they need to connect through the “Latvija.lv” portal, which can only be possible if the person has a Latvian personal code and the tools to connect to this system,” said the senior lawyer of SIA Grant Thornton Baltic Dāvis Albergs..
Foreigners with residence permits in Latvia do not have such problems. Similarly, if at least one board member or a procurer is a Latvian national, all is settled.
But there are plenty of companies in Latvia where the entire board is foreign. They are staying abroad, rarely arriving in Latvia, if ever. Therefore, they do not have such tools.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM) has been informed of the inconvenience of foreign entrepreneurs but does not plan to create an e-address for them or to make it easier for them.
"There are no plans to make it easier. It's part of a safe identification reshuffle. These means of identification that foreigners will receive will be valid not only for an e-address. They open up opportunities to cooperate with any national regulatory authority in a digital way," said Uģis Bisenieks, director of VARAM's responsible department.
“There is no way back. It is rather a matter of understanding and getting used to the situation."
The ministry identified several ways foreigners can get access to “Latvija.lv.” In particular, a residence permit certificate or a special foreign eID card may be obtained, which means arrival at the PMLP in Latvia or one of the embassies. On the other hand, economic operators from countries of the European Union can do so by means of a European common identification card eIDAS.
“The lack of an e-address certainly does not provide for any penalty. But at the same time, of course, the authorities will increasingly and aggressively invite entrepreneurs to use the official e-address, because more and more services will only be available there,” Bisenieks said.
Aware that entrepreneurs need time to adapt to the new arrangements, at least for the time being, the authorities continue to issue documents in existing formats, even though the law did not provide for such a transitional period.
The Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LAA) is also concerned about problems with the e-address for foreign entrepreneurs. It has received complaints from two foreign investors about the difficulties of getting an e-address. In both cases, the companies managed to resolve this by receiving the necessary documents from at least one board member.
However, LIAA is concerned that such an experience may reduce Latvia's attractiveness in the eyes of investors.
"Looking into the future, it is quite believable that we will face cases where we really cannot find a solution because the program simply does not offer any other solutions. If there are such difficulties, it does not make our reputation as open to foreign investment. These challenges are being discussed among investors,"
said Laura Štrovalde, Deputy Director of the LIAA for Investment.
The LIAA has informed the Ministry of Environment and Regional Development regarding the problems of foreign entrepreneurs, but the reply received is similar to the one mentioned - the Ministry does not plan to change the new system for the time being.
An overview of how to get an e-address and what to use it for is available on our other story, and we can say with enough certainty that some local organizations are not faring any better with it than foreigners.