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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Belarus. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources of information for changes to local conditions.
  • Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities in recent years. Further attacks are possible, including in Belarus. See Safety and security.
  • Large demonstrations occur periodically in Minsk and other cities in Belarus, sometimes with little warning. Avoid demonstrations, rallies and street disturbances, as they may turn violent. See Safety and security.
  • Foreigners aren't permitted to cross the land border between Belarus and Russia. Don't enter or exit Belarus by the land border with Russia. Travel between Belarus and Russia by air. See Local travel.
  • From 12 February 2017, Australians are eligible for a five day visa-free entry into Belarus. The five day visa-free regime is valid for people entering Belarus through Minsk International Airport. Visa-free entry isn't available to travellers arriving from, or intending to travel to, Russia. If you're travelling to Belarus through Russia, you'll need to get a Russian transit visa in addition to your visa for Belarus. See Entry and exit.
  • If you plan to stay for longer than five days in Belarus, you need to register with the local office of the Citizenship and Migration department within five working days of arrival. If you don't, you can be fined and could face difficulties when departing. See Entry and exit.
  • Australia doesn't have an Embassy or Consulate in Belarus. The Australian Embassy in Russia provides consular assistance to Australians in Belarus. See Where to get help.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

From 12 February 2017, Australians are eligible for a five day visa-free entry into Belarus. The five day visa-free regime is valid for people entering through Minsk International Airport. Other entry and exit conditions, such as compulsory medical insurance, still apply. Visa-free entry doesn't apply to travellers arriving from, or travelling to, Russia. If you're travelling to Belarus through Russia, you'll need to get a Russian transit visa in addition to your visa for Belarus. For information on Russian visas, contact the nearest Embassy of Russia. The five day visa-free arrangement isn't available if you're travelling on a diplomatic or official passport. More information: State Border Committee of The Republic of Belarus.

Visa validity dates and other visa restrictions are strictly enforced. Make sure you get the appropriate visa for your visit. It's illegal in Belarus to participate in activities that aren't consistent with the visa type issued to you. Check the validity dates of your visa and other visa restrictions before travelling.

For entry into, or departure, from Belarus border authorities require presentation of the original issued visa - a photocopy isn't sufficient.

Foreigners aren't permitted to cross the land border between Belarus and Russia. Don't enter or exit Belarus by the land border with Russia. Travel between Belarus and Russia by air. Contact the Embassy of Belarus and the Embassy of Russia for up-to-date information.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. For up-to-date information, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Belarus.

More information:

Australian Embassies can't assist with visas for other countries.

Other formalities

Migration card

When you enter Belarus or Russia, you'll be required to complete a Migration Card. A single Migration Card covers both Belarus and Russia. As the Migration Card may not be automatically distributed to incoming passengers on flights or trains, request a card from border control authorities. Retain the stamped second half of this card as you will need to present it when exiting the last of the two countries visited.

Medical insurance

Medical insurance is compulsory for entry to Belarus. You must provide proof of medical insurance that covers the dates of your stay and is recognised in Belarus when you apply for your visa. If you arrive without proof of your insurance, you will need to purchase a standard policy upon entry. This policy isn't comprehensive medical insurance: it simply compensates local medical institutions for the cost of treating visitors. Contact the Embassy of Belarus for more information.

Currency and goods declaration

If you arrive with more than USD10,000 worth of currency and/or goods, you'll need to complete a currency and goods declaration form on entry. Make sure your completed form is stamped by a customs officer on arrival. You must keep it for the duration of your visit, and present it on your departure. Undeclared money may be confiscated on departure from Belarus and you can be fined.

Local registration

If you plan to stay for more than five days in Belarus, you must register with the local office of the Citizenship and Migration Department of the Ministry of Interior within five working days of arrival. If you're staying in a hotel, registration is usually part of the check-in procedure. Confirm with your hotel. If you don't register in time, you can be fined and might face difficulties when departing.

Exit

Customs regulations apply to the export of antiques, icons and items of historic significance. More information: State Customs Authorities of Belarus.

Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

By law, you must as soon as possible report a lost or stolen passport:

If your passport is lost or stolen, you need to obtain an official police report, a new Australian passport from the Australian Embassy in Moscow and a new exit visa from Belarusian authorities. You won't be allowed to leave Belarus without an original visa unless you're granted authorisation from the Citizenship and Migration Department of the Belarusian Ministry of Interior.

Money

The local currency is the Belarus Ruble (BYN). In July 2016, new BYN notes were introduced, replacing old notes following redenomination at a ratio of 1:10,000. Coins were introduced for the first time. Old currency can be exchanged for new BYN at Belarusian banks.

Only use ATMs inside bank premises and during business hours due to the risk of crime and ATM fraud. If you're a victim of an ATM scam, report it to the local police. Always obtain an official police report for insurance purposes.

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

Large demonstrations occur periodically in Minsk and other cities in Belarus. Past demonstrations have involved violence, including by Belarusian authorities, and large numbers of arrests. Demonstrations and localised street disturbances can occur with little warning.

  • Avoid demonstrations, rallies and street disturbances, especially political ones, as they may turn violent.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Crime

Travellers are potential targets for robbery, mugging and pick pocketing, especially in the cities of Minsk, Grodno, Brest, Gomel, Mogilev and Vitebsk, and on sleeper trains. Crime levels are higher at night, and in or near bars and hotels catering for foreigners. Drink spiking, followed by theft when the victim is incapacitated, has also been reported.

There have been reports of harassment, mistreatment and extortion by police and other local officials.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world, including in Europe.  In recent years, there have been several terrorist attacks in European cities. Terrorist attacks have occurred in Belarus and more are possible in the future.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Carry your passport, your original visa and migration card with you at all times. Photocopies aren't acceptable.

Limited entry border zones are enforced in a number of border areas in Belarus. To enter these zones, you need a special permit issued in advance of entry by the State Border Guards Committee. Limited entry zones are generally sign-posted, and restricted by road barriers and border guard posts. Don't enter limited entry zones without a valid permit.

Road travel

The standard of driving in Belarus varies considerably. Some roads outside large cities may be impassable in winter due to ice and snow.

Drivers must be able to produce either an original ownership certificate for their vehicle, rental contract or power of attorney from the owner of the vehicle.

If you drive a foreign vehicle in Belarus, you must pay a fee to use toll roads. You can be fined for non-compliance. Information about the system of toll roads, including a map of toll roads and guidance on payment can be found at http://beltoll.by/index.php/en/.

You must also produce a "green card" (proof of vehicle insurance) valid for Belarus, or you will have to purchase compulsory car insurance at the border.

More information: Road safety and driving

Driver's licence

Foreign drivers must have an International Driving Permit.

Air travel

The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Belarus.

More information: Air travel

Laws

Local laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy prison sentences.

More information:  Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

Carry your passport, your original visa and migration card with you at all times. Authorities can request to see identification at any time. Failure to produce identification can result in being detained.

Serious crimes, such as murder, can attract the death penalty.

The following activities are illegal in Belarus:

  • driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero
  • taking photographs of military installations, government buildings, monuments or uniformed officials. Other restrictions or fees to take photographs in public areas can apply
  • some religious activities, such as preaching, distributing religious literature and associating with unregistered religious groups
  • engaging in unauthorised worship. Under Belarusian law, all religious groups and organisations must register with Belarusian authorities.

Same-sex relationships are legal in Belarus, but are not widely accepted by society. More information: LGBTI travellers

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Belarus doesn't recognise dual nationality. Belarusian law requires citizens to enter Belarus on a Belarusian passport. Under Belarusian law, children born to at least one Belarusian parent, whether they were born overseas or in Belarus, are considered Belarusian citizens until they are 14 years of age.

Australian citizens entering Belarus with a Belarusian passport will be treated as Belarusian citizens by local authorities. This may limit the Australian government's ability to provide consular assistance to Australian-Belarusian dual nationals.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Medical insurance is compulsory for entry to Belarus. See Entry and exit.

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. 

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered under your policy
  • that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take sufficient prescription medicines so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Tick-borne diseases

Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis and other tick-borne diseases. Ticks are very common in country areas from spring to autumn.

Radiation

In regions of Belarus contaminated by radiation from the Chernobyl accident, avoid eating dairy products, wild fowl and game, and fruits and vegetables unless they are imported.

Other diseases and health issues

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria, hepatitis and rabies) are prevalent.

  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.
  • Avoid unpasteurised dairy products.

Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

The standard of health care is below that of Australia.

Physicians and hospitals will request either insurance details or an up-front payment before commencing treatment.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you would need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive. 

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer, or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergencies-Firefighting and rescue services: 101

  • Medical emergencies: 103
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 102 

For non-urgent criminal issues, contact the local police at the nearest police station. Always obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

Australia doesn't have an Embassy in Belarus. Contact the Australian Government at the Australian Embassy in Russia for consular assistance.

Australian Embassy, Moscow

10a/2 Podkolokolny Pereulok
Moscow, Russia
Telephone +7 (495) 956-6070
Facsimile +7 (495) 956-6170
Website russia.embassy.gov.au

Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you're unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 (or 1300 555 135 within Australia).

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Every year during winter, a number of people are injured or killed in snow-related accidents. These include falls, traffic accidents, avalanches, snow falling from roofs and prolonged exposure to extreme cold.

Use common sense and take precautions against severe conditions. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

More information: Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.

Additional Resources