The political, administrative and legal system
Lithuania is an independent democratic republic. In Lithuania, the authority of the State is executed by the Seimas (Parliament), the President and Government of the Republic and the Court. The authority’s powers are limited by the Constitution, and its institutions serve the people.
The Lithuanian parliament has one chamber, the Seimas, with 141 members. Members of Parliament are elected for a four-year term. The President, the head of State, is elected for five years. The President proposes a candidate for Prime Minister, i.e. the head of Government, who is then approved or rejected by the Seimas.
The Seimas, made up of representatives elected by the people, the President and the Government are entrusted with the adoption of laws. Citizens of the Republic of Lithuania also have the right to propose legislation. If 50 000 citizens with the right to vote propose a bill to the Seimas, then it must be debated by the Seimas. Laws are considered to be passed if the majority of Seimas members taking part in the sitting vote for them. Laws passed by the Seimas come into force once they have been signed and officially announced by the President of the Republic of Lithuania, provided the introduction of the same laws has not been set at a later date.
Justice in the Republic of Lithuania is administered by the courts alone. The judges and courts who administer justice are independent. The courts of the Republic of Lithuania are the Supreme Court of Lithuania, the Court of Appeal of Lithuania, county and district courts. By law, special courts may be established to try administrative, employment, family and other categories of cases.
The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania http://www.tm.lt/
Taxes and charges on labour
Those working in the Republic of Lithuania pay resident income tax. The income tax of a temporary resident in Lithuania is based on:
• income derived from an individual activity performed by a permanent establishment;
• Lithuanian income at source not gained by a permanent establishment.
From 1 January 2009, all income is subject to a uniform tax rate of 15 percent, exept the income from distributed profits.
An income tax rate of 20 percent is applied to income from distributed profit. Such income includes dividends (funds received by a member of an entity as a result of the distribution of the profit thereof or the reduction of the authorised capital thereof, or the fair market value of property received). Income from distributed profit does not include income received by a member of an entity of unlimited civil liability.
An income tax rate of 5 percent is applied to income from individual activities, except for income from liberal professions and from securities (including income from derivative financial instruments). (The provisions are applied to calculate and report income for 2010 and for subsequent tax periods)
The income tax of a fixed amount is paid to acquire a business certificate. The fixed amount is set by municipal councils.
The tax period for income tax coincides with the calendar year. The first tax period for income earned by a temporary resident in Lithuania by a permanent establishment in Lithuania is the calendar year during which the permanent establishment was or should have been registered. For further information on taxes on labour, see the website of the State Tax Inspectorate under the State Ministry of Finance www.vmi.lt.
Incomes and cost of living
Since 1st July, 2016 the minimum monthly wage in Lithuania is EUR 380 per month. The law defines a working week as 40 hours with a period of rest of at least 24 hours. There is also a law on overtime and leave.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Economics, the average monthly salary in the first quarter of the year 2016 was EUR 748.
The Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania www.finmin.lt.
The Ministry of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania www.socmin.lt.
Lithuania’s currency, from 2015 January is the euro. ATMs can be found in all towns and cities, where cash can be withdrawn using credit or cheque cards. Most restaurants and petrol stations accept bank cards.
There are food stores even in small towns. With the exception of the Curonian Spit and other popular tourist areas (e.g. Vilnius’ old town), restaurant prices are much lower than in most EU countries. Most of the shops are open from 10.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m., closing at 4.00 p.m. on Saturdays. Food stores are normally open until 10.00 p.m. In villages, shops have shorter working hours and a lunch break. Shops stock both Lithuanian goods and goods from around the world. The large shopping centres Maxima, IKI and Rimi sell not just food, but also manufactured goods and household appliances.
In Lithuania, amber souvenirs, handcrafted instruments, national costumes and national and festive sashes can all be bought. Beautiful objects made from linen, clay, wood, metal and leather can also be found. Pagan elements are reflected in folk art, as Lithuania was the last country in Europe to adopt Christianity.
Haggling is common at markets, less so in shops.
Banks and shops close on national holidays.
Most investment involves the construction of small hotels. Holiday homes are gradually being renovated, usually being converted into hotels. There are few campsites. The main ones are located in picturesque settings such as Palanga and Trakai and near larger towns. Tents can be pitched beside most of Lithuania’s lakes and rivers and, for a small fee, the national parks.
In Lithuania you can stay at a hotel, rent a house, apartment or cottage or buy a cottage, apartment or house. When buying or renting a home, it is important to complete all the right legal paperwork. You can seek help from a real estate agency or a firm of lawyers (notaries). Private contacts, help from friends, colleagues, acquaintances, relatives or business partners are just some of the ways of looking for accommodation. Alternatively, you can post your own ad stating what sort of accommodation you are looking for. Flats and houses for rent are usually advertised in the local and national newspapers, e.g. “Alio reklama”. The largest newspapers also has internet websites: www.alioreklama.lt, www.lrytas.lt www.ekontaktas.lt. Advertisements on internet can be found: www.skelbimai.lt, www.skelbiu.lt, www.bustonuoma.lt. Estate agencies can be found in the yellow pages (http://imones.lrytas.lt/en) or on the internet: http://domo.plius.lt, www.aruodas.lt, www.ober-haus.lt etc. Estate agencies charge a certain percentage of the price in commission.
For further details, see the websites of the Lithuanian State Department of Tourism www.tourism.lt , the Lithuanian Tourism Services Directory www.viskasturizmui.lt.
The cultural and social life
Population of Lithuania: 2 869 690.
Ethnic groups: 84.2% Lithuanian, 6.6% Polish, 5.8% Russian.
Religion: 77.3% Roman Catholic, 4.1% Orthodox
Official language: Lithuanian
Remains discovered by archaeologists reveal that Lithuania’s pagan culture was part of the culture of the Baltic tribes. Lithuania is famous for having a great variety of mounds once covered with wooden defensive forts. Steeped in legends about palaces vanishing underground and bottomless wells, these mounds have become a unique part of the Lithuanian landscape.
The regional differences in Lithuanian culture reflect the country’s complex history: the cultures of Minor and Greater Lithuania differ. The latter contains four regions – Aukštaitija, Žemaitija, Dzūkija and Suvalkija – each with their own beautiful, unique dialect. It should be noted that the Lithuanian language is unique in that it is one of only two living languages remaining in the Baltic group of the Indo-European family.
Theatre is one of the most popular aspects of Lithuanian culture. The rudiments of theatre go back many years. Acting manifested itself in various forms, in barns, courtyards and even churches. The trend for a symbolic portrayal of reality is still alive in performances today. Lithuania has a wealth of excellent directors, actors, professional and amateur theatres. These are much loved abroad, enjoy a fine reputation and always draw crowds. Lithuania’s theatres have earned international recognition and generously share their artists with other theatres.
Lithuania currently has 13 professional theatres, several orchestras and 106 museums. Lithuania’s youth theatre is particularly popular both in Lithuania and abroad. The Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, led by Professor Sondeckis, is world renowned. Theatres, concert halls and exhibitions are open throughout the year. Festivals are held throughout the summer, where valuable works of art can be acquired.
Various ethnographic festivals are also held in Lithuania. Užgavėnės celebrates the end of winter and the return of spring. During the Kaziukas craft fair, artisans sell handicrafts made from wood, ceramics and linen in markets, squares and streets. On Palm Sunday, people gather grasses and branches from decorative bushes and make verbos (palms). Joninės, the shortest night, is celebrated on 24 June.
Telephone: the country code is +370.
Mobile telephone operators include Bite, Omnitel and Tele2.
Internet: State libraries, Internet centres and Internet cafes all offer public Internet access.
Post: postal services are provided by State-run and some private companies.
Press: newspapers are published in Lithuanian, with some in Russian or Polish. Lietuvos Rytas and Respublika are the main dailies. The Lithuanian Weekly and Lithuanian Worker are published in English.
National holidays: New Year 1 January, Lithuanian Statehood Restoration Day 16 February, Lithuanian Independence Restoration Day 28 March, Easter, International Labour Day 1 May, Mother’s Day on the first Sunday in May, Joninės 24 June, State Day (Crowning of Mindaugas) 6 July, Žolinė 15 August, All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day 1 November, Christmas 25-26 December.
Lithuanian news: www.lrytas.lt , www.delfi.lt
Mobile phone operators:
„Omnitel“ - www.omnitel.lt
„Tele 2“ - www.tele2.lt
„Bitė“ - www.bite.lt
The educational system
In the Republic of Lithuania, it is possible to gain primary, main, secondary, further and higher education qualifications. Educational institutions are State-run and private.
Depending on the preference of their parents or guardians, pre-school children attend nurseries, day nurseries and school-nurseries. Diagnostic, methodological and consultative aid is available from educational and healthcare institutions for families raising pre-school children at home.
Primary education is provided from seven years of age or earlier, if parents so wish, and if the child has reached certain level of maturity. The completion of the programme that takes four years provides pupils with primary education.
Basic education takes six years to complete. It is provided by basic, secondary, youth, vocational schools and gymnasiums. Compulsory education is until 16 years of age. It normally lasts until the tenth grade. Basic education may be followed by further studies in secondary or vocational schools. It is also possible to follow secondary education programme in conjunction with the vocational training program aimed at acquisition of the first qualification.
Higher education in Lithuania is optional. Usually it takes two years (11-12th grades in secondary schools and 3-4th grades in gymnasiums). Students follow individual education plans. The programme may include vocational training modules. The secondary education programme may be followed in secondary, vocational schools and gymnasiums. Secondary education completes in matura examinations.
A vocational education is gained and furthered in vocational training institutes: vocational schools, vocational training centres, on courses and in specialised vocational training institutions and companies. Vocational training is linked to general education. Vocational schools are usually attended by pupils who have gained a main or general secondary education.
Specialists with further education qualifications are prepared by schools of further education. To enrol in a school of further education, you must have a general secondary education. Studies in these schools take between two and four years.
The Lithuanian Higher Education Act legalises the binary system of higher education, i.e. universities and colleges. Main studies at universities take four years, at non-university institutions at least three years. The Baccalaureate is a degree obtained upon completion of the first stage of consecutive university studies. On completion of the Baccalaureate, it is possible to proceed with specialised vocational or Masters studies. A Masters is the second stage of university studies to enhance a vocational or academic qualification. A Masters takes at least one and a half years, but no longer than two years. Residency is a second stage of university studies, to prepare students who have completed their medical studies for medical practice. Specialised vocational studies take at least one year and no more than two. Doctorate studies, which prepare academics, are a third stage of university studies, with academic research and the preparation of a thesis. For those who have completed their Masters, a Doctorate takes a maximum of three years, while for those who have completed special vocational or condensed university studies, it takes a maximum of four years. Post-graduate Art is a third stage of university studies to train lecturers in the arts for work in schools of higher education and to allow artists to specialise. Post-graduate Art takes no more than two years.
For further information on Lithuania’s education system, contact the Ministry of Education and Science of Lithuania www.smm.lt
Private life (birth, marriage, deaths)
A person’s birth, death, marriage, divorce, adoption, recognition and establishment of paternity and maternity, change of Christian name, surname and nationality and change of sex are all registered by civil registry institutions. Consular institutions of the Republic of Lithuania can also register the birth, marriage and death of citizens of the Republic of Lithuania.
In towns where there are no civil registration institutions and parishes, with the exception of parishes in council centres, parish elders have the right to register a person’s death. The birth of a child must be announced and must be registered within three months of the birth date, and, if the child was stillborn, within three days of the time of birth. An application for the registration of the birth of a child that has been found must be submitted no later than three days after the child was found. If a child was stillborn in a hospital institution, then the administration of that hospital is obliged to inform a civil registry institution. The following documents should be submitted when registering a birth: a medical birth certificate from the maternity hospital, the parents’ passports, or the mother’s passport if she is not married, and a marriage certificate. The birth is registered and a birth certificate issued on the day of application.
Anyone wishing to marry must submit a written application in person. In Lithuania, adults of different sexes are allowed marry. Those wishing to marry should submit their birth certificates and passports or permits to live in the Republic of Lithuania, together with their application to register the marriage. A divorced person should also submit their divorce certificate, while a widowed person should submit their spouse’s death certificate. When a citizen of a foreign State makes an application to register a marriage, they must also submit a document issued by a competent institution in their State confirming that there are no impediments to the marriage. This document must be translated into Lithuanian. Those wishing to marry must make a written application to register the marriage and submit their birth certificates, passports and marriage or death certificates (if this is not the first marriage). Once a court has granted a marriage annulment, the annulment is registered in the local civil registry institution, which enters the marriage annulment in its records, issues divorce certificates and makes a note of this in the divorcees’ passports. A marriage is annulled once the decision of the court comes into force and the following documents have been submitted: application, passport, copy of the court’s decision and a receipt for the State fee.
A death is registered at the civil registry office at the deceased’s place of residence or death, or in a parish, with the exception of parishes in council centres, or at a consular institution of the Republic of Lithuania, based on a medical death certificate. A death is registered by entering the death in the records and issuing a death certificate. When the death of a permanent resident of the Republic of Lithuania is registered, a certificate is also issued to receive an allowance for burial. It is necessary to present the passport of the deceased and a medical death certificate.
The health system
The vast majority of personal healthcare institutions are non-profit public institutions. They are run by councils, counties or the Ministry of Health. The main healthcare institutions are financed by the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund. Health insurance is compulsory and voluntary. Compulsory health insurance is organised by the following institutions: the Compulsory Health Insurance Agency, the State Patient Fund at the Ministry of Health and the Territorial Patient Fund.
Those covered by compulsory health insurance are citizens of the Republic of Lithuania and citizens of other States and non-citizens whose permanent place of residence is the Republic of Lithuania, as well as citizens of other States and non-citizens living temporarily in the Republic of Lithuania, if they are working legally in the Republic of Lithuania, and minors in their families.
The following healthcare services are paid for out of the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund budget: preventative medical aid, medical aid, medical rehabilitation, nursing, social services and services for personal healthcare and personal health examination.
Further information on Lithuania’s national health system can be obtained from the Lithuanian Health Ministry and the State Social Insurance Fund Board www.sam.lt, www.sodra.lt
Various means of transport can be used to travel to Lithuania. Thanks to its geographical location, Lithuania is one of the transit countries between Western Europe and the CIS countries and part of the future North-South transport corridor. Today, the passenger and air-freight service infrastructure at Vilnius International Airport is excellent. Lithuania is a rail transit country, especially for citizens of CIS countries. Cars are the dominant and most widespread form of transport used in tourism: there are 50 roads connecting Lithuania with other European countries.
Lithuania’s geographical location means it is crossed by two Trans-European transport corridors: corridor I Tallinn-Riga-Kaunas-Warsaw from North to South and its branch I A Šiauliai-Kaliningrad-Gdansk; and corridor IX B Kiev-Minsk-Vilnius-Kaunas-Klaipėda and IX D Kaunas-Kaliningrad, branches of corridor IX from East to West.
The bus network in Lithuania’s main towns is well developed, with trolleybuses in Vilnius and Kaunas. Public transport in urban areas runs from approximately 5.00 a.m. to 12.00 p.m. Bus and trolleybus tickets can be bought at all newspaper kiosks or on the bus itself. Monthly passes are also available for buses and trolleybuses.
Lithuania’s waterways include the all-purpose warm-water sea port of Klaipėda, the River Nemunas from Kaunas to Klaipėda and the Curonian Lagoon.
Lithuania has four international airports: Vilnius, Kaunas, Palanga and Šiauliai. The following airlines operate in Lithuania: AY - Finnair, BT – Air Baltic, DLH - Lufthansa, LO – LOT Polish Airlines, OS – Austrian Airlines, OV - Estonian Air, SK - SAS, SU - Aeroflot. For further information on transport in Lithuania, see the website of the Ministry of Communications of the Republic of Lithuania http://www.transp.lt/