Using your biometric passport at Riga International airport in Latvia

Riga airport (RIX) is the largest air travel hub in the Baltic region, serving the capital of Latvia and its surrounding regions with nineteen airline companies among which we count Air Baltic, SmartLynx Airlines, Aeroflot, Belavia, Finnair, LOT, Lufthansa, Ryanair, Scandinavian Airlines, Transavia, Turkish Airlines and Wizz Air. These carriers handle domestic and international flights to and from over 100 hundred destinations in the summer and about 80 in the winter season. Conveniently located only 10 kilometres from Riga city centre, its facilities are easily reached by either public transport or taxi cabs.

Its exceptionally good management of the coronavirus outbreak situation has recently earned it a 4-star COVID-19 airport safety rating by Skytrax after the actions taken, the strict rules and safety measures put in place and the effectiveness of the enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures were audited and evaluated. In order to further implement social distancing measures and expedite border control processes -thus contributing to less crowded spaces in the terminals to guarantee the safest possible environment for travellers-, passengers boarding flights at Riga whose destination is a non-EU airport as well as those landing from countries outside of the EU may use their biometric passport to go through the Automated Border Control.

Biometric gates in Riga airport, Latvia

Earlier this month (December 2020) Riga airport announced the introduction and launching of its Automated Border Control System, which consists -for the time being- of 8 biometric gates situated in the non-Schengen arrivals and departures areas, in such a way that travellers flying to non-EU countries or arriving from them can have their facial features scanned and checked against the info in their biometric passport to reduce their waiting time considerably and avoid human interaction. The system provides a more accurate and safer alternative to traditional border control.

Who can go through the Automated Border Control in Riga airport?

To be eligible to clear border control with a biometric passport in Riga, you must be 18 or older, be in possession of an e-passport, be a citizen of a country that belongs to the EU, the EEA or the Swiss Confederation and travel to or from a destination outside the Schengen zone. This advantage is equally granted to passengers in transit. Should you meet all the requirements except for having a biometric ID document, you will go through the border control following the traditional procedures.

Where are the biometric gates in Riga International airport?

The automated border control areas of Riga airport in Latvia can all be found in terminal C (non-schengen flights), and are distributed as follows:

-Four gates on the arrivals area, first floor.

-Two gates on the transit area, first floor.

-Two gates on the departures area, second floor.

Airport hotel in Riga

Will you need to spend an overnight layover at Riga airport? Travellers in transit and passengers of early morning flights may book a room to sleep in the Sky High Hotel, just 2 minutes on foot from the terminals. It offers 19 business-class guest rooms falling into the categories of double occupancy, twin beds or suites. All units feature private shower, TV and may optionally have breakfast included. During your stay, you will enjoy complimentary WiFi internet, access to an onsite gym, tennis courts and a restaurant and free secured parking if required. 

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COVID requirements for tourists travelling to the Canary Islands in Spain

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UPDATE – July 2021: All international travellers over 12 visiting the Canaries must be able to show proof of at least one of these three statuses: being fully vaccinated and having received the last dose at least 14 days prior to travelling, having recovered from COVID19 or having tested negative within 48 hours before arrival. If you plan to travel to the islands soon, we recommend that you check the official Canary Islands website for updated accurate information about your specific case.

Since November 14, 2020 and until further notice, all travellers flying to the Canary Islands on holiday who will not be staying with friends or relatives but have made a reservation to stay in a tourist accommodation –namely an apartment, bungalow, hostel, vacation let, hotel or resort- in Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Gomera, La Palma, El Hierro or La Graciosa will be required to comply with certain COVID prevention measures exclusive to the territory.

Who is exempt from these travel requirements?

The regulations described below only apply to travellers aged 6 and older, and to tourists visiting the Canaries who will stay in a hotel, resort, apartment or similar type of accommodation. Notwithstanding that, those staying in their own property or with relatives and friends are equally advised to get tested and abide by the current regulations in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

What do I need to do before my holiday in Tenerife or Gran Canaria?

Mandatory negative COVID test certificate

Regardless of your country of origin, and irrespective of whether you have travelled to other regions or not before landing in any island of the Canarian archipelago for a leisure stay, you must get a negative COVID-19 swab test within 72 hours prior to checking in at your hotel or resort in Gran Canaria, Tenerife or any other island. You must be able to show an either digital or printed certificate issued by the competent health authority, which needs to correspond to an antigen or PCR negative test (rapid antigen and antibody tests will not be accepted) and include clear information about the time and date it was made alongside your personal details. Failing to show proof of the test may result in being refused admission to the facilities or else quarantined in a guest room until you can get properly tested at the nearest health care centre.

Online Spanish Health Form and Radar COVID app

Likewise, before enjoying a vacation in the Canary Islands, each traveller must fill in the Online Spanish Health Form made available by the national government through the Spanish Travel Health website within 48 hours prior to landing in any island, and download the Radar COVID app, to be kept on their smartphones all throughout their stay and for two weeks after returning to their country.

*Some hotels and resorts in the Canary Islands may stay closed temporarily due to the coronavirus outbreak or are remodelling their facilities, reinventing their services and retraining their staff in order to ensure the safety of their guests. In the meantime, you can check which hotels in the Canaries are currently open.

Safe travel recommendations for tourists

First and foremost, it is recommended that you consider buying travel medical insurance –as you would do when planning any trip-, especially in these unprecedented times. Being in possession of the European Health Insurance Card will also give you great peace of mind.

Mandatory use of face masks to take care of yourself and others while on holiday

During your stay in Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Gomera, Gran Canaria and the other islands in this Spanish archipelago, make sure you wear a surgical face mask correctly while outdoors and in enclosed public spaces. At this time, it is an obligatory measure for anyone in the territory. You may only take off your mask when swimming, exercising or if you suffer from a respiratory condition. This, alongside the recommended 1’5 metre distance between you and people who are not travelling with you, applies also to situations on a beach, at pools, night clubs, theatres, cinemas and entertainment facilities.

COVID prevention in public transportation and activities in the Canary Islands

If you will be commuting by bus in Tenerife, Fuerteventura, La Palma and the rest of the islands, wear your surgical face mask at all times and use the assigned seats only in order to ensure physical distance between passengers. Similar regulations apply on ferries and inter-island planes.

In the open air, do not smoke if there is not at least a 2 metre distance between you and other travellers who are not with you, use hand sanitizer regularly, book your appointment at spas, gyms and restaurants well in advance, follow the guidelines provided by your group tour guide and, if you go shopping, use QR codes and contactless payment methods as frequently as you can.