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Belarus - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Belarus. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to political tension and civil unrest, and the prevalence of petty crimes.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Petty crimes such as pickpocketing, purse snatching and mugging occur, particularly in the cities of Minsk, Grodno, Brest, Gomel, Mogilev, and Vitebsk. Such crimes are especially common after dark in and around hotels and hostels frequented by foreigners.
Theft is common on trains, particularly on sleeper trains. Be vigilant when crossing the border with Poland at Brest due to the risk of mugging.
Theft of luxury cars is common. Park your vehicle in a secure location or guarded lot and always keep valuables out of sight.
Demonstrations periodically occur in the capital, Minsk, and other major cities in Belarus, following the presidential elections held in December 2010. Clashes with police occur and hundreds of people, including passers-by, have been detained, fined or sentenced to jail terms. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings as they have the potential to suddenly turn violent. Follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
On April 11, 2011, an explosion took place in a Minsk subway station, killing 14 and injuring more than 200 people. You are advised to use extreme caution when using the public transportation system.
Automated banking machine (ABM) card and credit-card fraud is common. Use these cards only at ABMs located inside major banks. If you use a credit card for payment, pay careful attention when it is being handled by others during payment processing and check your statement frequently for fraudulent use.
See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum, or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery. Many adult clubs are managed by organized crime.
Roads are generally in good condition; however, many may be impassable in winter. Drivers generally have little regard for traffic regulations and do not follow safe-driving practices. Horse-drawn carts are a common road hazard in rural areas. Radar traps are widespread.
The Belarusian government may enforce a requirement for special permits to travel in “protected border zones.” Information defining the parameters of those zones has not been provided. Be alert for warning signs, road barriers or border-guard posts. Do not cross into such areas without permission.
Use only officially marked taxis and do not share them with strangers. Fares vary greatly and vehicles are often poorly maintained.
Buses and trolleys are poorly maintained and are usually crowded and unheated.
Exercise caution when travelling by train, especially on sleeper trains to Warsaw and Moscow. Store valuables in a safe place and do not leave your compartment unattended. Ensure that the door is secured from the inside.
Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
General safety information
Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash. Always be aware of your surroundings.
Tourist facilities are limited and only available in the larger cities.
Security authorities may place foreigners under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones, fax machines and e-mail messages may be monitored. Personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Foreigners have been expelled from the country for working with Belarusian civil-society groups.
Dial 101 to reach fire fighters, 102 for the police and 103 for an ambulance.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Belarusian authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Belarus, which must be valid for at least 90 days beyond the expiry date of the visa. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
You must also present proof of valid medical insurance. In addition, to be eligible for emergency medical care in Belarus, foreign citizens are required to have a medical insurance agreement with a Belarusian insurance company or an authorized foreign insurance company. You may purchase such medical insurance at the port of entry.
If you go to Belarus on a private visit, you must register with the local Office of Visa and Registration (OVIR) within three business days of arrival. There are fines for late registrations. If you are staying at a hotel, the hotel staff will register you. If you are staying in private accommodations, your registration must be organized by your host.
Tourist visa: Required (no extension permitted)
Visitor visa (private visit): Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Transit visa: Required
You are advised to obtain a visa from the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus prior to departure. Visas may be issued upon arrival, but only at the consular office of the Minsk-2 International Airport, provided that an original letter of invitation is presented.
Travellers without a transit visa have been denied entry and forcibly removed from trains. Border or train officials do not have the authority to issue transit visas.
It is strongly recommended that you confirm entry and exit requirements with the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Ottawa before travelling to Belarus. Information is also available at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus website.
Dual citizenship may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times.
Canadians with dual citizenship should always confirm entry and exit requirements before travelling to Belarus with the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Ottawa.
Consult our Laws and culture tab and our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.
Children and travel
Children born to a Belarusian parent may be considered Belarusian citizens even if they were born in Canada and have a Canadian passport. To enter Belarus, the child may be issued a certificate of return rather than a visa. The child may also need to present a Belarusian passport in order to leave the country. Contact the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Canada for further details.
Please consult our Children page for more information.
Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination before allowing entry. Consult the World Health Organization’s country list to obtain information on this country’s requirements.
The Agency strongly recommends that you consult with a travel medicine clinic or health care provider preferably six weeks before departure.
The Agency publishes travel health advice for Belarus.
Many parts of Belarus were contaminated by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, particularly the south valley of the Prypeć River and the vicinity of Gomel and Mogilev in the east. Avoid dairy products and locally grown fruit and vegetables as they may carry high levels of radiation.
Drink only boiled or bottled water, and avoid ice cubes. Peel all fruits and vegetables, and avoid undercooked food and unpasteurized dairy products.
Medical care is limited and not up to Western standards. Private medical and dental offices can be found in the larger cities. In the event of a serious accident or illness, medical evacuation will be necessary. Carry a sufficient supply of medications, as shortages of basic medical supplies are common.
Laws & Culture
Laws & Culture
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention FAQ for more information.
A serious violation may lead to a jail or death sentence. The sentence will be served in local prisons.
Naturalized Canadians do not automatically lose their Belarusian citizenship and are subject to Belarusian laws regarding citizenship and military service.
Always carry your passport, visa and migration card as you may be asked to prove your identity and date of entry into the country. Failure to provide internationally recognized identification could result in detention.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences.
Photography of military installations, public buildings and monuments may result in a penalty. Seek permission from local authorities before taking photographs.
Homosexual activity is legal but is not widely accepted in Belarusian society.
An International Driving Permit is required.
When travelling by private vehicle, you are required to show ownership documents or a “power of attorney” letter at border crossings. These documents must be translated into Belarusian and certified at a Belarusian embassy. Third-party car insurance is mandatory and can only be purchased upon entry into Belarus.
Drivers of foreign vehicles must pay a fee to use Belarusian highways. Payments are collected at border checkpoints and vary according to the length of stay. Tolls are collected on major highways and payment is required in a foreign currency (euro, U.S. dollar, or Russian ruble).
Vehicles must have their lights on at all times from November 1 to March 31.
There is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol.
The currency is the Belarusian ruble (BYB/BYR).
Credit cards are accepted by many hotels and stores, especially in Minsk. However, beware of credit-card fraud. Automated banking machines (ABMs) are available in major cities to withdraw rubles. Traveller’s cheques are not accepted for payment but can be exchanged at a bank for rubles.
You must pay for goods and services in Belarusian rubles. The use of foreign currency in cash transactions is prohibited; you can face arrest if you attempt to buy an item with currency other than Belarusian rubles. Exchange foreign currency at government-licensed booths only. A valid passport must be presented to purchase foreign currency.
When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the web page of the European Commission on cash controls.
Natural Disasters & Climate
Natural Disasters & Climate
This destination is not prone to natural disasters.
There is no resident Canadian government office in Belarus. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the Embassy of Canada in Warsaw, Poland.
Warsaw - Embassy of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Warsaw and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.