Electricity

Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. European two-prong plugs with circular pins are in use. Schuko plugs are also in use.

Language

Russian and Belarusian are both official languages, with the majority speaking Russian.

Money

The currency is the Belarusian ruble (BYR), which is equal to 100 kapeks. Currency can be exchanged at banks and official bureaux de change in Minsk and the larger towns, US Dollars and Euros are preferred and some currencies may not be accepted. Mastercard and Visa are accepted at the larger hotels and tourist restaurants, but other cards, like American Express and Discovery, may not be accepted at all. ATMs are widely accessible in major towns and banking hours are weekdays from 9am to 5pm.

Tipping

Tipping in Belarus is not as common as in many other countries, but it's adequate to round up the bill or taxi fare, and a 10 percent tip for excellent service will not go amiss.

Health

No vaccinations are required for entry to Belarus. Visitors should not drink unpurified tap water. Medical care is limited and essential medications are not frequently available, while facilities lack modern equipment. The best equipped are private clinics, which are available in Minsk. Doctors and hospitals expect payment in cash. Travel insurance with air evacuation cover is highly recommended.

Safety

Most visits to Belarus are trouble free as the crime rate is very low. But precautions should be taken against mugging, pick-pocketing and theft from vehicles or hotel rooms. There have also been instances of theft from travellers on sleeper trains.

Local customs

While visiting Belarus, do not take photographs of government buildings, military installations or uniformed officials. Be aware that jaywalkers are heavily fined, and that whistling inside a building is considered bad luck.

Doing business

Business appointments in Belarus should be made well in advance through a local third party with a good reputation and connections. When meeting, address people with their surnames and a brief handshake. Meetings are usually formal and negotiations can be protracted.

A great deal of concessionary bargaining is expected. Bureaucracy and legal matters in Belarus are complicated so it's best to hire local professionals to assist. Dates in Belarus are written with the day first, then the month and then the year.

Duty free

The duty free allowance for visitors entering Belarus is 3 litres of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco products, a reasonable quantity of perfume for personal use, and goods up to the value of EUR 1,500.

Communications

The international dialling code for Belarus is +375. Coverage is good in the major towns and along the highways, but generally not readily available in rural areas.

Passport & Visa

Valid passports and visas are required to visit Belarus. We recommend that passports are valid for six months after departure from destination. Visitors from countries where there is no Belarussian consulate or embassy may obtain a tourist visa on arrival at Minsk Airport, but it is strongly recommended that an effort is made to obtain a visa prior to arrival. Visas are only issued on the basis of invitation from hotels, tour companies or Belarussian citizens. All visitors have to buy health insurance on arrival. Foreigners not staying at a hotel must register with the authorities on arrival and such registration must be entered on their visa. Hotels automatically register their guests.

Entry requirements

United States citizens need a passport and a visa to enter Belarus, although US nationals are visa exempt for a maximum of 30 days.

British citizens need a passport and a visa to enter Belarus. However, British citizens are exempt from obtaining a visa for a maximum of 30 days.

Canadian citizens need a passport and a visa to enter Belarus. However, Canadian citizens are exempt from obtaining a visa for a maximum of 30 days.

Australian citizens need a passport and a visa to enter Belarus. However, Australian citizens are exempt from obtaining a visa for a maximum of 30 days.

South African citizens need a passport and a visa to enter Belarus.

Irish citizens need a passport and a visa to enter Belarus. However, Irish citizens are exempt from obtaining a visa for a maximum of 30 days.

New Zealand citizens need a passport and a visa to enter Belarus. However, New Zealand citizens are exempt from obtaining a visa for a maximum of 30 days.

Useful contacts

Tourist Information: www.belarustourism.by

Emergencies: 103 (medical), 102 (police). Note that operators may not speak English.

Embassies / consulates in other countries

Embassy of Belarus, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 986 1606.

Embassy of Belarus, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 (0)20 7937 3288.

Embassy of Belarus, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 233 9994.

Embassy of Belarus, Yarralumla, Australia: +61 2 6156 5471

Embassy of Belarus, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 430 7709.

Embassies / consulates in Belarus

United States Embassy, Minsk: +375 17 210 1283.

British Embassy, Minsk: +375 17 229 8200.

Canadian Embassy, Moscow, Russia (also responsible for Belarus): + 7 (495) 925 6000.

Australian Embassy, Moscow, Russia (also responsible for Belarus): +7 495 956 6070.

South African Embassy, Moscow, Russia (also responsible for Belarus): +7 495 926 1177.

Irish Embassy, Vilnius, Lithuania (also responsible for Belarus): +370 5 262 9460.

New Zealand Embassy, Moscow, Russia (also responsible for Belarus): +7 495 956 3579.

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