The fee for a passport has been increased by 4 euros – less than was originally announced. The Ministry of the Interior (IeM) has stated that the new passports include innovative anti-counterfeiting solutions that comply with the regulations of the Council of Europe.
The new anti-forgery solutions have also been incorporated into the passports of 'non-citizens' of Latvia and the travel documents of stateless persons, refugees and persons granted alternative status.
The new passports have an increased number of pages, rising from 34 to 42 pages, which will be of use to people who travel a very large amount outside the borderless Schengen Zone.
Passports of the previous model, which began to be issued as recently as 2015, are still valid until their expiration date. Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis (New Unity) stated at the government meeting that the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP) issues about one and a half thousand passports on average per day – a surprisingly large figure given Latvia's population of 1.9 million.
Indeed, the number of passports being issued has risen sharply in the last two years. Whereas in 2021 only 121,000 were issued, in 2022 the figure rose to 318,679 and last year the total hit 378,551 with factors such as Brexit and the UK's decision to only accept passports as ID on its border likely to be a factor.
Another factor is likely to be Russia's war in Ukraine as the number of passports issued by PMLP includes the number of travel documents of stateless persons, refugee travel documents and the number of travel documents for persons granted alternative status
With the introduction of the new passports, the passport fee will also be hiked. Until now the cost of issuing a passport within 10 working days was 30 euros, but from February 12 the fee will increase by 4 euros to 34 euros. The fee for the urgent issuance of a passport within two working days will be 60 euros instead of the previous 55 euros.
The reduced rate for obtaining both a passport and an identity card at the same time are submitted at the same time, has been cancelled with the Interior Ministry arguing that as an identity card is now a mandatory identity document, whereas a passport remains optional, there is no longer a reason to apply a reduced rate.
At the same time, the classes of persons exempted from paying the fee has been clarified and includes children in care, persons in long-term social care institutions, and persons in prison.