Georgia

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Wednesday, 08 January 2014.   It contains new information under Local Travel: Mountaineering (check service providers carefully before participating in trekking or mountaineering activities) and editorial amendments. We continue to strongly advise you not to travel to the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and the Pankisi Gorge.

Georgia overall

South Ossetia and Abkhazia (including adjacent areas) and Pankisi Gorge north of Akhmeta

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Georgia.
  • Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia nor to the Pankisi Gorge north of Akhmeta because of the threat of terrorist and criminal activity, and due to the danger of unexploded ordnance remaining from the conflict in 2008. While military operations in Georgia have ceased, tensions remain.
  • There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
  • Political demonstrations take place in Georgia, especially in Tbilisi. You should avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Georgia. The Australian Embassy in Turkey provides consular assistance to Australians in Georgia.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
click on image to expand

Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) are the prerogative of the Georgian Government. These conditions may change regularly, and without notice. Visa information can be found on the website of the Georgian Foreign Ministry, and should be checked in advance of travel for the most up-to-date information.

Land and sea borders with Russia remain closed for tourists.

For children (under 18 years of age) travelling alone or with one parent, local immigration authorities, in addition to the child's passport, may require a letter of consent from the non-travelling parent(s) and a copy of the child's birth certificate. You should check these requirements with an Embassy or Consulate of Georgia.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.

Georgia was involved in a military conflict with the Russian Federation in 2008. Following the cessation of military hostilities in August of that year, car bombings have occurred in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

While attacks may target military/security facilities, it is possible that civilians may be affected.

Terrorists have in the past also targeted markets, public transport and commercial and public places where foreigners may be present.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Civil unrest/ Political tension

We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Georgia.

Political demonstrations occur in Georgia, especially in Tbilisi. You should avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent.

Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia (including adjacent areas): We strongly advise you not to travel to the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia (and adjacent areas) because of unexploded ordnance remaining from the conflict in 2008. While military operations in Georgia have ceased, tensions remain and there continue to be reports of violence, including fatalities, in and around these regions. Some roads in the Abkhazia region may be mined. It is currently illegal under Georgian law to enter Georgia from Russia via Abkhazia or South Ossetia.

Pankisi Gorge: We also strongly advise you not to travel to the area of the Pankisi Gorge to the north of Akhmeta. This region has, in recent years, been the scene of periodic fighting between Georgian forces and Chechen militia and criminal elements including suspected international terrorists.

Crime

The incidence of serious crime has decreased in Georgia, particularly in Tbilisi. However, instances of violent crime have occurred in the past against foreigners, including robberies, carjacking, sexual assault, home invasions and assaults throughout Georgia. Travellers should be vigilant when walking after dark, including near hotels and in residential areas. Financial, import and export scams have increased in recent years.

In case of an emergency, Georgian emergency services can be contacted on 112. This number provides access to fire, rescue, police and medical services.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money in Georgia, such as credit cards, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Georgia. Travellers' cheques are not commonly accepted. We advise you to use reputable money exchange counters attached to banks, and confirm all transactions are correct.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Australian Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Land and sea borders with Russia remain closed for tourists. The border crossing between Russia and Georgia at Verkhny Lars (North Ossetia) has reopened to citizens of Georgia and the CIS, but traffic is strictly regulated and limited. Neither Georgian nor Russian visas are available at the checkpoint.

It is illegal to enter Georgia via Abkhazia or South Ossetia as there is no official border control.

Driving in Georgia may be hazardous as roads and vehicles are often poorly maintained. Roads often lack adequate lighting and signage. Drivers should maintain caution as the standard of driving is erratic with traffic signals and rules often completely ignored. Mountainous roads can be dangerous particularly in winter. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Public transport on buses, trains and taxis can be unsafe due to the road conditions. There have also been reports of robberies and assaults on trains as well as in and around the main station in Tbilisi.

Direct flights between Georgia and Russia resumed in August 2010.

Mountaineering

It can be difficult to get accurate information on mountain conditions. If you are considering trekking or mountaineering you should contact Georgian companies with specialist guides.

If you get into trouble while mountaineering or hiking, the level of emergency response may be limited.

Companies providing extreme sports activities may have poor safety standards and may not have liability insurance cover.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Georgia, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Penalties for drug offences include heavy fines and long prison sentences.

There is a policy of zero tolerance for drink driving in Georgia (i.e. driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero is an offence).

Photography near military installations and establishments of strategic importance, including airports is prohibited.

You must carry with you your passport, registered visa and/or migration card (or copies thereof).

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Georgian law has no clear regulations or procedures relating to surrogacy. You should carefully consider the risks and potential consequences and seek legal advice before entering into any surrogacy arrangement.

Information for dual nationals

The level of consular assistance the Australian Government can provide to Australian/Georgian dual nationals who are arrested or detained and have travelled on their Georgian passport may be very limited.

Australian/Georgian dual nationals may be required to perform military service in Georgia. Australian/Georgian dual nationals should seek advice from the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Georgia well in advance of travel.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical care in Georgia, particularly outside Tbilisi, is limited. While medical supplies, both European and Russian, are available, the quality of medical services and facilities is poor. Medical evacuation, at considerable cost, may be necessary in the event of a serious illness or injury.

Malaria is a risk in the south-eastern part of the country. We recommend that you consider the need for prophylaxis against malaria, use insect repellent at all times, wear long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne, and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, typhoid, hepatitis, brucellosis and rabies) occur with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes, unpasteurised dairy products, and raw and undercooked food.

Where to get help

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Georgia. You can obtain consular assistance from the nearest Australian Embassy which is in Turkey:

Australian Embassy

MNG Building, 7th floor
88 Uğur Mumcu Caddesi
Gaziosmanpaşa
Ankara TURKEY
Telephone: (90 312) 459 9500
Facsimile: (90 312) 446 4827
Website: http://www.turkey.embassy.gov.au/

In an emergency, limited consular assistance, which does not include the issue of Australian passports, may be obtained from:

British Embassy

51 Krtsanisi Street
Tbilisi, 0114
Telephone: +995 32 227 4747
Facsimile: +995 32 227 4792
Website: www.ukingeorgia.fco.gov.uk

In case of an emergency, police can be contacted on 112 and ambulance services can be contacted on 113.

If you are travelling to Georgia, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Georgia is located in an active seismic zone. Information on natural disasters, including earthquakes and volcanic activity, can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.

If you are in an area affected by a natural disaster, you should monitor the media and follow the advice of local authorities.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.

Children travelling alone or with one parent/guardian will require a letter of consent for travel signed by both parents.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.