The global Covid-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions have contributed to online developments in many sectors. Now foreigners have access to an upgraded system in order to carry out the online notarial activities required in Latvia.

The law in Latvia prescribes that authorities must accept electronic documents, if they are signed with an electronic signature which has the following two features:

  1. it is a qualified electronic signature according to the eIDAS Regulation
  2. it contains an electronic timestamp

However, certain types of documents must in addition be certified by a notary: for example, a land book application for change of title for an acquired property.

The laws are not entirely clear about this; notaries receive internal operational instructions which are not available to the general public and IT service providers are working daily on the systems to ensure that all electronic signatures that qualify according to the eIDAS Regulation are accepted. Currently, secure electronic signatures which are based on the Smart ID system are very often not compatible with the e-notary system, and as a result a lot of people try to get secure electronic signatures which are not based on Smart ID.

According to most experienced notaries, the easiest way for foreigners to sign documents at a notary online is using a Latvian secure e-signature. Follow these three simple steps and you’re done!

  1. When a foreigner has to sign the first notarial document (e.g. a land book application), they visit a notary in person (this is possible even now, during lockdown) and the notary will verify their identity and grant a Latvian ID number for the carrying out of notarial activities
  2. This ID number gives the right to obtain a Latvian secure e-signature and foreigner’s eID card by booking a visit to the OCMA (Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs) in person. A residence permit is not needed to obtain a Latvian secure e-signature or foreigner’s eID card
  3. A Latvian e-signature and foreigner’s eID card, as noted above, provide the option to perform all notarial activities in Latvia online, with very little inconvenience (if any)

The electronic identity tools integrated into a foreigner’s eID provide those holding this card with the possibility to not only carry out notarial activities electronically but also to carry out other online activities:

  1. to use state and municipal e-services
  2. to confirm their e-identity and electronically sign documents
  3. to receive and use an e-address in order to ensure ease of communication with state and municipal authorities
  4. to conveniently confirm their identity in person at institutions and companies such as banks