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Georgia

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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Georgia. Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local conditions.
  • Do not travel to the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia due to the danger of unexploded ordnance and increased activities by security services in border regions. See Safety and security.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to the Pankisi Gorge north of Akhmeta because of the threat of terrorist and criminal activity. See Safety and security.
  • Terrorism is a threat. Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities. See Safety and security.
  • Political demonstrations take place in Georgia, especially in Tbilisi. Political tensions are high. Avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent. See Safety and security.
  • Australia doesn't have an Embassy or Consulate in Georgia. The Australian Embassy in Turkey provides consular assistance to Australians in Georgia.

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination's entry or exit requirements. 

Visas

Australian passport holders can visit Georgia without a visa for up to 12 months. For longer stays you'll need a visa.

More information:

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the Georgian Foreign Ministry or the Embassy or Consulate of Georgia for up-to-date information.

Other formalities

Children (under 18 years of age) travelling alone or with one parent may need to present a letter of consent from the non-travelling parent(s) and a copy of the child's birth certificate, in addition to the child's passport. Check requirements with the Embassy or Consulate of Georgia.

Some medicines that are legal in Australia are illegal in Georgia or are subject to import restrictions. If you intend to bring prescription or non-prescription medication into Georgia, first contact the Embassy or Consulate of Georgia to confirm your medicine is legal and to check on any quantity restrictions.

Always declare prescription medication to Georgian customs. Carry 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. If you fail to declare your medicines or if you exceed relevant quantity limits, you could face legal proceedings, even if you have a doctor's prescription or letter.

You must have valid travel insurance policy while in Georgia. You may be asked to show your travel insurance policy at check-in or while crossing the Georgian border. Check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia e-Visa Portal for up-to-date requirements.

Borders with Russia

Do not enter or exit Georgia via its land borders with Russia. We advise against all travel to the North Caucasus region of Russia due to the high threat of terrorist activity. See our travel advice for Russia.

It's illegal to enter Georgia via the regions of Abkhazia or South Ossetia as there is no official border control. 

Passport

Check your Australian passport’s expiry date before you travel. Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months from when you plan to leave that country.

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.

Be aware of attempts to get access to your passport by deception.  If you're forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The currency of Georgia is the Lari (GEL).

Declare on departure any foreign currency in excess of the equivalent of USD500. By law, all goods and services must be paid for in Georgian Lari.

Credit cards are widely used in Tbilisi, but less so in regional areas. ATMs are available in major towns. Travellers cheques aren't widely accepted.

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

Political demonstrations occur in Georgia, especially in Tbilisi.

  • Avoid political rallies, protests, demonstrations and large crowds as they could turn violent.
  • Monitor local media and other sources for advice of possible unrest and avoid those areas.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Unexploded landmines from recent armed conflicts, sporadic politically-motivated violence and periodic fighting between military and militia forces and criminal elements, including suspected international terrorists, make travel unsafe in certain regions. Some roads in the Abkhazia region may be mined. The Australian Government is unable to provide consular assistance to Australians in the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Crime

Violent crime, including robberies, carjackings, sexual assaults, home invasions and assaults, have occurred against foreigners throughout Georgia. 

Financial, import and export scams have increased in recent years.

  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
  • Be especially careful when walking after dark, including near hotels and in residential areas.
  • Be wary of drink-spiking: don't accept food or drinks from strangers and don't leave your food or drinks unattended.
  • Lock your car doors, including when the car is moving.
  • Keep your credit card in sight at all times.
  • Check for card skimming devices before using ATMs.
  • Be wary of friendly strangers, especially if business or trade ventures are mentioned.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world, including in Georgia.

Car bombings have occurred in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia since August 2008, when a military conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation ended. Attacks generally target military or security facilities, but civilians can be affected. In recent years, terrorists have also targeted markets, public transport, and commercial and public places where foreigners may be present.

  • In planning your activities, consider the kinds of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided.
  • Be alert in public places, such as shopping areas, places of worship, sporting venues, public transport, airports and other transport hubs, and places of mass gathering.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Keep an eye on the news for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there's an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it's safe to do so. 

More information:

Local travel

Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Do not travel to to the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia (and adjacent areas) because of the threat of terrorist and criminal activity and the presence of unexploded ordnance. The Australian Government is unable to provide consular assistance to Australians in these areas.

Mountaineering and other adventure activities

It can be difficult to get accurate information on mountain conditions. If you get into trouble while mountaineering or hiking, the level of emergency response may be limited. If you are considering trekking or mountaineering, contact Georgian companies with specialist guides.

If you plan to participate in adventure activities, contact your travel insurer to check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy and any restrictions that may apply.

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including for mountaineering and other adventure activities, aren't always met. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided, and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. Companies may not have liability insurance cover. Don't be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.

Road travel

From 1 March 2018, civil liability insurance is compulsory for vehicles registered outside Georgia. You can buy insurance from centers at most border crossings.

More information:

Driving in Georgia can be hazardous. Roads and vehicles are often poorly maintained. Roads often lack adequate lighting and signage. Drivers can be erratic. Traffic signals and rules are often ignored. Mountainous roads can be dangerous, particularly in winter.

Driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero is illegal.

  • Check your travel insurance will cover you before driving in Georgia.
  • Drive defensively, and to the weather and road conditions.
  • Don't drink and drive.

More information:

Driver's licence

You can drive in Georgia with an Australian driver's licence, but you may also need an International Driving Permit for travel and vehicle insurance purposes. Before you drive in Georgia, speak to your insurance and vehicle providers to confirm requirements.

Taxis

Only use registered taxis and authorised limousines, preferably those arranged through your hotel. Avoid flagging down taxis in the street. Consider sitting in the back seat rather than the front.

Public transport

Public transport, such as buses and trains, can be unsafe due to the road conditions. There have been reports of robberies and assaults on trains, as well as in and around the main station in Tbilisi.

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 Georgia.

More information:

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 include heavy fines and long prison sentences.

More information:

Restrictions apply to the import of some medicines. See Entry and exit.

Surrogacy

If you plan to enter into a commercial surrogacy arrangement in Georgia, consider all legal and other risks involved. Seek independent legal advice on Australian and Georgian laws. If you engage in surrogacy, you may need to spend significant time in Georgia, including after the birth of the child.

More information:

Other laws

Carry your passport, registered visa and/or migration card (or copies thereof) at all times.

The following activities are illegal in Georgia:

  • taking photographs near military installations or establishments of strategic importance, including airports
  • exporting certain artworks, antiques, jewels and items considered to be of national heritage without a licence issued by the Ministry of Culture's Department of Expertise and Evaluation.

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.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians can be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years' imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

More information:

Dual nationals

Georgia doesn't recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian-Georgia dual nationals who are arrested or detained.

Georgian citizens are compelled to undertake military service. If you're an Australian-Georgian dual national, seek advice from an Embassy or Consulate of Georgia before you travel.

More information:

Local customs

Homosexuality isn't illegal in Georgia, but it's not widely accepted.

 More information:

Health

Travel insurance

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:

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.

If you need counselling services while overseas, contact the Australian Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 and ask to speak to a Lifeline telephone counsellor.

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 prescription medicine so you remain in good health. Always carry a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you take and that it's for personal use only. There are legal limits on how much you can take into Georgia for some medications.

Before you leave Australia, contact an Embassy or Consulate of Georgia to check if your medication is legal and to get advice from an on any quantity restrictions that may apply.

More information:

Health risks

Mosquito-borne illnesses

Malaria is a risk in the south-eastern part of Georgia. 

Protect yourself against malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • consult your doctor about taking prophylaxis against malaria.

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne, and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, typhoid, hepatitis, brucellosis and rabies) occur, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. 

  • Boil drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid unpasteurised dairy products.
  • Avoid raw and undercooked food.
  • Seek medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

Medical care in Georgia, particularly outside Tbilisi, is limited. While international medical supplies are available, the quality of medical services and facilities is poor.

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

Natural disasters

Georgia is located in an active seismic zone. More information: Earthquakes

A large flood in Georgia's capital in June 2015 killed 20 people.

If there is a natural disaster or severe weather:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag)
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts
  • closely monitor the media, other local sources of information and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities. 

Where to get help

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

Emergency phone numbers

  • Firefighting and rescue services: 112
  • Medical emergencies: 112
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 112 or contact the nearest police station

English speaking operators are usually available. Always get 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 or Consulate in Georgia. For consular assistance, contact the Australian Embassy in Turkey.

Australian Embassy, Ankara

MNG Building, 7th floor
88 Uğur Mumcu Caddesi
Gaziosmanpaşa
Ankara TURKEY
Telephone: +90 312 459 9500
Facsimile: +90 312 446 4827
Website: turkey.embassy.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in Turkey
Twitter: @AusAmbTurkey

In an emergency, you can get limited consular assistance (not including notarial services or the issue of Australian passports) from the British Embassy in Tbilisi.

British Embassy, Tbilisi

51 Krtsanisi Street
Tbilisi, 0114
Telephone: +995 32 227 4747
Facsimile: +995 32 227 4792
Website: ukingeorgia.fco.gov.uk

If you're unable to contact these embassies 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 resources