Increasing number of Latvians register as Estonian residents (1)

Latvian border marker on the Latvian-Estonian border in Valga County. Photo is illustrative. (Postimees/Scanpix)
12/21/2015 12:24 PM
Category: Society

The number of Latvians, who live near the Estonian border but have registered as residents of Estonia, is increasing. The move allows them to switch to the Estonian health care system.

Already around 1,000 Latvians are registered in the border town of Valga (population 12,500), right next to Valka (pop. 5,900) of Latvia. The southern neighbors work in Estonia but live across the border in Latvia, where their children attend schools and kindergartens.

The key factor why Latvians register as Estonian residents, and pay taxes in Estonia, is the health care system. Hospitals are further away in Latvia and fees higher. Latvian residents can still use Valga hospital's facilities, but would have to go through much bureaucracy.

This has led to Valka municipality losing around 0.5 million euros in taxes annually to Valga.

The Latvian Parliament has promised to begin tackling the problem in January.

“Considering the principle of free movement of capital and people in the European Union, this goes on all the time in border areas. People seek the cheapest life, work and tax environment where they get the desired quality of services in return. We must take into consideration and monitor how large these anomalies are,” Valga mayor Kalev Härk said.

J.M. Laats

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