Belarus Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Belarus
How safe is Belarus?
Threat level: Low-Medium
There is currently an underlying terror threat in Belarus, relating to the recent increase of terrorist activity across Europe. Tourists should be particularly cautious at all times during travel. Attacks could be indiscriminate and possible targets are most likely to be places frequently visited by expatriates and foreign tourists. Sensible security precautions should be taken during travel to ensure a safe, risk-free trip.
April 2011, Belarus witnessed the bombing of the Minsk Metro. The attacks resulted in the deaths of 20 people, carried out by one man thought to be under Islamic influence. Although, this was an isolated incident and the attackers' incentives are not clear, Islamic terror networks are present in Belarus. It is also thought that Belarusian born ISIS militants were behind the more recent bombings in Brussels.
In October 2016, at a shopping centre in the capital city of Minsk, a man wielding a chainsaw attacked shoppers. One person was left dead and many others injured. The motive behind this attack is still unknown, however is thought to be a one-off isolated incident.
There is a fairly low crime rate in Belarus, but it is important to take basic security precautions because criminals do target tourists, as they are seen to be vulnerable targets. Be alert at all times to the threat of muggings, pick-pocketing and theft from vehicles.
It is advised to be extremely cautious when travelling by train to Warsaw or Moscow, as tourists have reported having important valuables like passports stolen, more frequently in recent years.
Belarus's International Relations
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Belarus gained its independence. The country then became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Bilateral trade between Belarus and Russia is very strong and keeps good diplomatic ties between the two countries. During 2008, Belarus recalled its ambassador from Washington and insisted that the U.S ambassador must leave Minsk, since then Belarus’s relationship with the United States has been hostile.
Travelling around Belarus
To drive legally in Belarus a valid international driving licence is required, as well as a minimum of a third-party insurance. Drivers of foreign vehicles must pay a fee to use toll roads and if not complied with, you may be liable to pay a fine.
There are regular police checkpoints on routes throughout the whole of Belarus. You should stop when told to do so and have vehicle documentation ready to hand whenever you are driving.
A-class highways are in reasonable condition but be wary of other road users as the quality of driving in Belarus is known to be quite erratic.
Emergency services in Belarus
Police emergency: 102
Fire emergency: 101 and 112
Medical emergency: 103
Gas leak emergency: 104
Religion: Christianity (Orthodox)
Currency: Belarusian ruble (BYR)
Time now in Minsk:
Consular information for Belarus
U.S. Embassy Minsk
46 Starovilenskaya St.,
Telephone: +375 17 210 1283
Telephone: +375 29 676 0134 (Out of hours)
British Embassy Minsk
37, Karl Marx Street,
Telephone: +375 17 229 8200
Visa requirements for Belarus
All US and EU Passport holders must obtain an entry Visa before entering Belarus or they may face a fine of up to USD$300 and face possible deportation. Passports should be valid for a minimum period of 3 months and Visa requests will not be considered without a valid health insurance.
Anyone staying in Belarus for more than 3 working days must register with the local Belarusian police office (OVIR) in the district where you are staying. Registration will normally be arranged by your hotel. If you are not staying in a hotel, registration must be organised by your host. There are fines for not registering in time. If you arrive at the weekend, the earliest you will be able to register is Monday (but offices are only open until 1pm).
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Belarus are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers get Tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccinations. You may also want to consider vaccinations for Hepatitis B, Tick-borne Encephalitis and Rabies as Rabies has been reported in some domestic and wild animals in Belarus. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
Medical care in Belarus is not to a good standard, especially when comparing to other Western countries. With this in mind, make sure to have the necessary medication that you require before travelling to Belarus and essential travel insurance in order to cover all costs overseas. Visitors must also pay a mandatory state insurance of 0.50 US Dollars each day, at the port of entry.
The water in Belarus is not suitable drinking water, as it is highly contaminated and therefore only drink bottled water.