Belarus travel advice

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Belarus - AVOID ALL TRAVEL

Avoid all travel to Belarus due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws and the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The ability of the Embassy of Canada to Poland to provide consular services in Belarus is extremely limited. If you are in Belarus you should leave by commercial means.

 

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Safety and security

Armed conflict in Ukraine

In February 2022, Russia launched a military invasion of Ukraine. Russian forces are conducting military operations from Belarus.

Several countries, including Canada, have imposed sanctions on Belarus for its role in the conflict.

Certain international companies suspended their operations in the country.

Projectiles from the armed conflict in Ukraine have landed in the Brest region near the Ukrainian border. Be aware of your surroundings.

This situation is disrupting certain essential services such as:

  • banking services
  • transportation
  • courier services

Flight options to leave Belarus are very limited. The situation in Belarus could deteriorate further.

The ability of the Embassy of Canada to Poland to provide consular services in Belarus is extremely limited. If you are in Belarus, you should leave by commercial means.
You should not depend on the Government of Canada to help you leave the country.

If you decide to remain in Belarus despite this advisory:

  • monitor trustworthy news sources to stay informed on the evolving situation
  • ensure that your passport and other travel documents are secure at all times
  • review your personal security plans on a daily basis
  • make sure you have an adequate supply of cash, essential items and medications
  • be prepared to shelter in place
  • expect transportation routes and essential services disruptions
  • communicate your travel plans to family and friends
  • register and update your contact information through the Registration of Canadians Abroad service and encourage other Canadian citizens in Belarus to do so

Political situation

Large demonstrations against the government were held in the months following the presidential elections of August 2020. Local authorities responded with a violent crackdown on protesters, and tens of thousands of individuals were detained.

While the demonstrations are now less frequent, authorities are still actively targeting political opposition, journalists, and individuals perceived to be critical of the government, even for activities that took place outside of Belarus. Local authorities may enforce local laws in an arbitrary manner.

Journalists are particularly scrutinized. There are reports of intimidation, harassment and violence against local and foreign journalists, and some have been detained or have had their equipment confiscated.

On May 23, 2021, the Belarusian government forced the diversion of a commercial flight under false pretences to arrest a journalist. Since then, several countries, including Canada, advise their airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace due to serious safety and security concerns. As such, air transportation options to leave Belarus may be restricted.

The political situation remains fluid and unpredictable. Authorities could enforce security restrictions without notice.

If you are in Belarus:

  • be vigilant at all times
  • avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • expect a heightened security presence and security checks
  • avoid expressions of dissent or making statements critical of or sensitive to the government
  • monitor local media for the latest information

Surveillance

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.

Crime

Petty crimes such as pickpocketing and purse snatching occur, particularly in the cities of:

  • Brest
  • Gomel
  • Grodno
  • Minsk
  • Mogilev
  • Vitebsk

Such crimes are especially common after dark in and around hotels and hostels frequented by foreigners.

Be vigilant when crossing the border with Poland at Brest due to the risk of mugging.

Theft of luxury cars is common. Park any vehicle in a secure location or guarded lot, and always keep valuables out of sight.

Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport 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.

Terrorism

There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. There is a potential for other violent incidents.

Targets could include:

  • government buildings, including schools
  • places of worship
  • airports and other transportation hubs and networks
  • public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners

Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations are frequent. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Fraud

Debit- and credit-card fraud is common. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:

  • pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
  • use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
  • avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
  • cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
  • check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements

Overseas fraud

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 the items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

Tourist facilities

Tourist facilities are limited and only available in the larger cities.

Road safety

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.

Public transportation

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.

Air travel

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

Information about foreign domestic airlines

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Entry and exit requirements

Border closures

Starting in February 2023, local authorities in Poland and Lithuania have shut down certain border crossings with Belarus due to security concerns. The Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian governments have stated that further border crossing closures are possible.

If you plan to cross from Belarus into Poland or Lithuania, only the following border crossings remain open to cars and buses:

  • Poland:
    • Brest/Terespol
  • Lithuania:
    • Raigaras/Privalka
    • Medininkai/Kamienny
    • Lavoriškės /Kotlova
    • Šalčininkai /Beniakoni

Travelling by land from Belarus into these countries is increasingly difficult. More closures or changes to restrictions could happen with little or no warning.

If you are near the border or travelling through a border crossing:

  • be aware of your surroundings
  • avoid large crowds and gatherings
  • follow the instructions of local authorities

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

We have obtained the information on this page from the Belarusian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.

Passport

Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.

Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

Regular Canadian passport

Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you expect to leave from Belarus.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Other travel documents

Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Useful links

Visas

Since October 2020, it has been reported that an increasing number of foreigners are being denied entry to the Republic of Belarus. You may be denied entry to Belarus if your travel is considered non-essential, even if you meet the regular entry requirements.

Before you travel:

  • confirm the entry and exit requirements with the regional migration office
  • confirm the status of the border checkpoints
  • monitor the media for the latest information

Useful links

Tourist visa: not required for stays of up to 30 days
Private visa: not required for stays of up to 30 days
Business visa: not required for stays of up to 30 days
Student visa: required
Transit visa: not required

You can enter Belarus without a visa for a period of up to 30 days, which cannot be extended, at the following conditions:

  • You must arrive at Minsk National Airport
  • You must  have a regular passport valid for at least 90 days beyond the date you expect to leave Belarus
  • You must  show a proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay in Belarus (Br 49,000 (approx. CAD$30) for each day of stay)
  • You must  have a medical insurance coverage of at least €10,000

Those conditions don’t apply if you are flying in from or to Russia as these flights are considered internal flights with no border control.

Useful links

Land border with Poland

If you intend to travel to Poland by land from Belarus, you must apply for a humanitarian reasons permit at the border crossing.

Useful links

Polish Border Guards (in Polish)

Entering Belarus by car

When entering Belarus by private vehicle, you must fill out a customs card and show proof of ownership documents or a power of attorney letter at the border crossing.

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.

Registration

If staying in Belarus for more than 10 business days, you must register with the Citizenship and Migration Department of the Ministry of Interior (formerly OVIR) office in the district in which you are staying. Registration must be done no later than 3 working days after arriving in Belarus.

Registration will normally be arranged by your hotel. If you are not staying in a hotel, registration must be organized by your host.

Failure to register can result in fines and difficulties when departing.

Health insurance

You must present proof of valid medical insurance translated into Belarussian or Russian to enter Belarus. In addition, you will be required to purchase mandatory state insurance at the port of entry.

Children and travel

Learn more about travelling with children.

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

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Health

Relevant Travel Health Notices

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Routine vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccinations, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date before travelling, regardless of your destination.

Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements

Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

Risk

  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.

Recommendation

  • Vaccination is not recommended.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada

Hepatitis A

There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.

 

Practise safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.

Tick-borne encephalitis

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a risk in some areas of this destination. It is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). It is spread to humans by the bite of infected ticks or occasionally when unpasteurized milk products are consumed.

Travellers to areas where TBE is found may be at higher risk  during April to November, and the risk is highest for people who hike or camp in forested areas.

Protect yourself from tick bites. The vaccine is not available in Canada. It may be available in the destination you are travelling to.

Hepatitis B

 Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus.  Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.

Measles

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.

COVID-19

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Influenza

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 The flu occurs worldwide. 

  •  In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to   April.
  •  In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and   October.
  •  In the tropics, there is flu activity year round. 

The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.

The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Rabies


In this destination, rabies is carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions, including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. Rabies treatment is often available in this destination. 

Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals). 

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

Travellers' diarrhea

Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.

The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •  washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.  

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.

Medical services and facilities

Access to medical care is limited and medical standards are not up to those you might expect in Canada. There are private medical and dental offices in the larger cities.

In the event of a serious accident or illness, medical evacuation will be necessary.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

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Laws and culture

You must abide by local laws.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.

A serious violation may lead to a jail or death sentence. The sentence will be served in local prisons.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Belarus.

If local authorities consider you a citizen of Belarus, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.

Travellers with dual citizenship

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. The convention applies between Canada and Belarus.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Belarus, and if the applicable conditions are met, you may apply for the return of your child to the Belarusian court.

If you are in this situation:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • contact the Central Authority for your province or territory of residence for information on starting an application under The Hague Convention
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Belarus to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.

Useful links

Identification

Always carry originals of 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.

Drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences.

Drugs, alcohol and travel

Photography

Photography of military installations, public buildings and monuments may result in a penalty. Seek permission from local authorities before taking photographs.

2SLGBTQI+ travellers

Belarusian law does not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Homosexuality, however, is not widely accepted in Belarus.

Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics

Driving

You must carry an international driving permit.

Checkpoints are common on roads and border crossings in Belarus.

Traffic safety in Belarus is controlled by uniformed police officers known as DAI in Belarusian and GAI in Russian. If a traffic police officer waves a striped wand or points a red retro-reflector at you, you must pull over and stop, and be ready to present driving and insurance documents.

Drivers of foreign vehicles must pay a fee to use Belarusian highways.

There is a digital road toll system, BelToll, to collect tolls along motorways.

You must drive with the vehicle lights on at all times from November 1 to March 31.

The use of hand-held devices while driving is prohibited.

Drivers may not have any alcohol in their blood system: the alcohol limit for drivers is 0.00%.

The speed limit in urban areas is 60 km/h, unless specified otherwise. Outside urban areas the speed limit is 90 km/h and on highways, 110 km/h. Speed limits are strictly enforced.

Most traffic signs are in Cyrillic script only (not Latin).

The Belarusian government may enforce a requirement for special permits to travel in “protected border zones.” Be alert for warning signs, road barriers or border-guard posts. Do not cross into such areas without permission. For more information, contact the embassy of Belarus.

Money

The currency is the Belarusian ruble (BYR).

Credit cards are accepted by many hotels, restaurants and stores, especially in Minsk. ATMs 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.

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Natural disasters and climate

Belarus is not prone to natural disasters.

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Need help?

Local services

Emergency services

In case of emergency, dial:

  • police: 102
  • medical assistance: 103
  • firefighters: 101

Consular assistance

There is no Canadian government office in Belarus. You can obtain consular assistance from the Embassy of Canada to Poland in Warsaw.

Warsaw - Embassy of Canada
Street Addressul. Jana Matejki 1/5, 00-481, Warsaw, PolandTelephone48 (22) 584-3100Fax48 (22) 584-3192Emailwsaw-cs@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.Canada.ca/Canada-And-PolandTwitter@CanadaPolandConsular district

Belarus

Appointment Book your appointment online

For emergency consular assistance, call the embassy of Canada in Warsaw and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

Disclaimer

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services.

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