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Latest updates: The Safety and security tab was updated - removal of U.S. Travel Alert for the holiday season.
Belarus - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Belarus. Exercise normal security precautions.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Petty crimes such as pickpocketing and purse snatching occur, particularly in the cities of Brest, Gomel, Grodno, Minsk, Mogilev and 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 your vehicle in a secure location or guarded lot and always keep valuables out of sight.
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities and there is a potential for other violent incidents, which could target areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Continue to exercise normal security precautions.
Demonstrations are frequent and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings. Follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Debit- and credit-card fraud is common. Use these cards only at automated banking machines (ABMs) located inside major banks. If you use a credit card for payment, pay careful attention when it is handled by others during payment processing and check your statement frequently for fraudulent use.
See Overseas fraud 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 the items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery. Many adult clubs are managed by organized crime.
Traffic is much lighter in Belarus than in most other countries in Europe.
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.
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.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
General safety information
Ensure that your personal belongings, including 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.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Belarusian authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus for up-to-date information.
If staying in Belarus for more than five working days, you must register—no later than three working days after arriving in Belarus—with the Citizenship and Migration Department of the Ministry of Interior (formerly OVIR) office in the district in which you are staying. 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.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Belarus, which must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives 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.
You must present proof of valid medical insurance to enter Belarus. In addition, you will be required to purchase a mandatory state insurance at the port of entry. If you are transiting through Belarus as a tourist with a transit visa, medical insurance is not required.
Tourist visa: Required (no extension permitted)
Visitor visa (private visit): Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Transit visa: Required
You should obtain a visa from the Embassy of Belarus in Ottawa prior to departure. A visa may be issued upon arrival, but only if arriving at the Minsk National Airport (also known as Minsk-2) and only under the following conditions:
You arrive from a country or territory where there is no official Belarusian office
Supporting documents were submitted to the Foreign Admissions Division of the Consular Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus by the person or organization that invited you to Belarus no later than two business days before the expected date of your arrival.
Canadians require a transit visa if travelling through Belarus to another country. Prior to travel, you must obtain the appropriate transit visa for the number of transits you are planning through Belarus. 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.
For additional information, including exceptions to entry and exit regulations, contact the Embassy of Belarus or consult the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus.
When entering Belarus by private vehicle, you are required to 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.
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 Belarus in Canada for further details.
See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks (e.g., those participating in outdoor activities in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
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.
|* 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.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Eastern Europe, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Eastern Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- 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.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in Eastern Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
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 provider.
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
Medical care is limited and not up to Canadian 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. Make sure you have travel insurance that covers all medical expenses, including hospitalization abroad and medical evacuation, in case of illness or injury.
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.
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.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
A serious violation may lead to a jail or death sentence. The sentence will be served in local prisons.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Belarus. If local authorities consider you a Belarusian citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Belarusian passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Naturalized Canadians do not automatically lose their Belarusian citizenship and are subject to Belarusian laws regarding citizenship and military service.
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.
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.
Homosexuality is legal, but is not widely accepted in Belarusian society.
An International Driving Permit is required.
Checkpoints are common on roads and border crossings in Belarus.
Traffic safety in the 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 shows you a red retro-reflector at you, you must pull over and be ready to present driving and insurance documents.
Drivers of foreign vehicles must pay a fee to use Belarusian highways. As of August 1, 2013, Belarus uses a digital road toll system, BelToll, to collect tolls along motorways.
Vehicles must have their lights on at all times from November 1 to March 31.
The use of hand-held devices while driving is prohibited.
The alcohol limit for drivers is 0.00.
The speed limit in urban areas is 60 km/h, unless specified otherwise, outside urban areas it 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.
The currency is the Belarusian ruble (BYB/BYR).
Credit cards are accepted by many hotels, restaurants and stores, especially in Minsk. However, beware of credit-card fraud. Automated banking machines 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 on your person. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU country sites, visit the European Commission’s website on cash controls.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Belarus is not prone to natural disasters.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 102
- medical assistance: 103
- firefighters: 101
There is no resident Canadian government office in Belarus. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the Embassy of Canada to Poland in Warsaw.
Warsaw - Embassy of Canada
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.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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