The postal history of Latvia


In the dukedom of KURZEME (Courland), up to 1795, the mail service is called the KURZEME POST, but in all of the Baltic, after 1795, it is called the RUSSIAN POST. Postmarks were first put to use at provincial "Gubernia" capitals and other large city post offices. Mail was separated into two types - OFFICIAL and PRIVATE mail. Official mail was delivered free-of-charge. For private mail delivery postal fees were charged, based on weight of the correspondence and the distance it had to be carried. Official and private mail had separate cancellations.



The oldest known "Russian Post" cancellation is a Riga postmarking on a private mail from 1771. Cancellation of official mail was introduced 1805


Postmarks of small post offices located along the postal routes were first used during the 1830's but no postmarks were used in the small "horse stop" stations.


Stamps were first introduced in Russia in 1857. From 1857 - 1915 different Russian types of standard postmarking were used on mail.


During World War I the eastern front divided Latvia, a situation which prevailed until 1920. German forces occupied the western part and the eastern part was retained by the Russians. German military authorities established limited civilian postal services and issued German stamps overprinted "Postgebiet Ob. Ost" .


In eastern Latvia Russian stamps still were used for mail, until 1918, when the whole country was occupied by the German army.

 A preliminary treaty was concluded between Russia and Germany which resulted into Latvians resolve to proclaim the INDEPENDENT LATVIA on November 18th 1918. The postal administration began operating in early December 1918 and at December 17th the first stamp of the Latvian Republic was delivered from A. Schnakenberga printing office. According to official documents by the 26th of December 1918 the postal administration of the Republic of Latvia had opened 17 post offices in Latvia. But two more years passed before Latvian territory was liberated from occupation.

Peaceful years of normal economic growth followed. 1921 - 1940, during which postal issues and markings reflected the cultural achievements of the young nation.


In June 1940, a puppet Soviet Latvian government was established in Riga, and in August 1940 Latvia was fully annexed to the USSR as a republic.

Latvia had to once more change masters when Germany in June 1941 attacked Russia. Soviet Russian stamps with overprint were issued in July and used until October. After that German stamps only became valid. In November 1941 German stamps overprinted "Ostland" were issued and used until Germanys surrender on May 9th, 1945.


Since 1945 Soviet Russian stamps only have been used in Latvia until October 19th 1991 when Latvia Post, after the declaration of independence on August 21 1991, issued a set of eight stamps that can be considered to succeed to more than 300 stamps issued during the first Republic of Latvia.