Guide for Newcomers to Lithuania: Essential Steps for Settling In

Discover crucial steps for settling in Lithuania, including obtaining residence permits, registering your place of residence, securing social security, managing taxes, and more. Get all the tips you need to start your new life smoothly.
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Arrived to Lithuania? First things first, what to do first.

More and more foreigners are choosing to come to Lithuania for various reasons: to settle, to study, to start a business, and more. No matter your purpose, there are steps you need to take to ensure you are fully prepared to live and work in Lithuania. In this article, we offer some tips to help you settle in Lithuania and find opportunities for self-fulfillment.

Obtaining a residence permit in Lithuania

Once you have arrived in Lithuania and plan to stay for more than three months, you will need to register with the Migration Department, either online or at a physical location, which you can find here. After completing this registration, the authorities will be able to verify your status and ensure that you can stay in the country legally. You will also be able to obtain a temporary residence permit and a national visa. However, if you are coming to Lithuania from a third country, you must have the Temporary Residence Permit (TRP) in hand before you travel. Once in Lithuania, you will only be able to extend these documents.

Temporary residence permits are usually issued for 1, 2 or 3 years. They can also be issued for shorter periods. 

Registering your place of residence

If you arrive in Lithuania with a temporary residence permit, you must register your place of residence within one month. You can do this at the municipality or district office where you will be living. If you are unable to declare your place of residence, you may be listed as undeclared. For example, if you are staying in Klaipėda, you must go to the Klaipėda municipality to declare your place of residence.

Registering your place of residence is important for several reasons that will improve your quality of life in Lithuania. Firstly, you will be able to choose and register with the medical institution of your choice and obtain compulsory health insurance. Additionally, you will have access to all the benefits and advantages to which you are entitled. If you have children, they will have access to free public kindergarten and schooling in your place of residence.

Taking care of social security

When you arrive in Lithuania and register your place of residence, you are already insured. Once you pay the first installment of the compulsory health insurance (CHI), your status changes to fully insured. Normally, your employer pays this monthly contribution on your behalf. If you belong to a socially vulnerable group, the state covers this for you. However, if you are not in education, if you are unemployed and not registered with the employment service, or if you are self-employed (starting or developing a business, self-employed, or holding a business license), you must pay this contribution yourself.

The next important step is to register with the National Social Security Fund (SODRA). This state institution is responsible for employment and social protection in Lithuania. Registration with SODRA is particularly important if you lose your job, fall ill, retire, or face other financial difficulties. The social benefits, support, and compensation you receive through SODRA will help you meet your basic living needs.

Find out more by booking a consultation at International House Klaipėda 

Take care of your career

If you don't already have a job in Lithuania, register with the National Employment Service. Besides helping you find a job, they can assist you in improving your skills. For example, you may be offered a Lithuanian language course at no extra cost, which will make it easier for you to understand and speak the language. You can also participate in various re-skilling and upskilling courses. All of this will enhance your skills and improve your chances of finding a job. Registering with the Employment Service also entitles you to financial support from SODRA if you hold a permanent residence permit.

You can register with the Employment Service via the International House Klaipėda website or at the local Employment Service office where you live. The documents required for registration include a passport or identity card and a valid residence permit for Lithuania. Additionally, you may need documents confirming your education and work skills, which will need to be translated into Lithuanian.

Getting to know the Lithuanian tax system

The next and equally important step is to register with the State Tax Inspectorate (VMI). By May 1 each year, individuals who work, earn income, and pay taxes in Lithuania are required to declare their income tax. This can be done online or in person at International House Klaipėda.

However, if you have a business in Lithuania, you will need to interact with this institution more frequently. You will have to pay monthly taxes related to your employees, such as State Social Insurance (SODRA), Compulsory Health Insurance (PSD), Personal Income Tax (GPT), and a supplementary Tier II pension if the employee has one.

If your business is successful and you earn more than €45,000 in Lithuania within a 12-month period or purchase more than €14,000 worth of goods or services from EU countries, you will automatically become a VAT taxable person and must register with the VAT authorities. You can also choose to become a VAT payer at the start of your business by voluntarily applying for VAT registration. VAT is payable monthly at 21%, though various economic activities may qualify for reduced VAT rates.

You can register and find out more about the tax system in Lithuania at VMI or by visiting International House Klaipėda for a personal consultation with a VMI representative.

Choose your healthcare provider

After registering with all the necessary public services, do not forget to register with a medical center. It is best to do this when you are not yet ill to avoid additional stress.

When choosing a medical center, polyclinic, or family doctor's surgery, it is worth checking whether the medical institution has a contract with the territorial health insurance fund (TLK) and whether its services are financed by the compulsory social insurance fund (PSDF). This allows you to enjoy free or cheaper healthcare without overpaying. You can find all the medical institutions whose services are financed by the PSDF here.

Opening a bank account

Opening a Lithuanian bank account offers a wide range of opportunities for generating income, paying for services and goods, accessing e-government services, and registering for various professional appointments, among other benefits. You can open an account at any bank branch.

It's important to note that most banks prioritize services for pre-registered customers. Therefore, doing your homework in advance can save you a lot of time and help you avoid potential problems.

Getting your education and qualifications recognized in Lithuania 

If you have acquired academic education and qualifications abroad, it is advisable to submit your documents to the Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education (CQAS). You can find more information about the recognition procedure and required documents on their website.

Recognition of professional qualifications, on the other hand, verifies that your previous knowledge meets the requirements for a specific field of work. For career advancement in a regulated sector, documentation must be submitted to the relevant central competent authorities. In the case of a non-regulated profession, your competencies will be assessed by potential employers. For a list of regulated professions and contacts for obtaining recognition documents, you can refer to this link.

Once your competencies are validated, you will be able to compete effectively in the labor market alongside similarly qualified job seekers. This gives you an advantage over others who have moved to Lithuania to live and work but have not yet validated their education and skills.

Discover like-minded people

Settling into a new country is made easier when you are part of a community. To stay informed about important information and events that support the international community in Klaipėda, we encourage you to subscribe to the monthly newsletter from International House Klaipėda.