Fire and rescue services
We haven't changed our level of advice:
Exercise normal safety precautions in Belarus.
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Large demonstrations and localised street disturbances occur in Minsk and other cities in Belarus.
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
Local authorities have little tolerance for opposition. They often make many arrests.
To protect yourself during periods of unrest:
Crimes against travellers include pick-pocketing and muggings and robberies. Take care on sleeper trains and in or near bars and hotels visited by foreigners.
Watch out for drink or food spiking. You're at higher risk of theft if you've been drugged.
People have reported harassment, mistreatment and extortion by police and other local officials.
While there have been no recent terrorist attacks in Belarus, they can still happen.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
People are injured or killed in snow-related accidents every winter from December to February.
Accidents include exposure to extreme cold, falls, traffic accidents, avalanches and snow falling from roofs.
Use common sense and take care in severe weather.
If there's a natural disaster, follow the advice of local authorities.
Register with the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System to receive alerts on major disasters.
You must have medical insurance to enter Belarus.
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many thousands of dollars up-front for medical care.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least eight weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Belarus. Take enough legal medication for your trip.
Carry a letter from your doctor stating:
Tick-borne encephalitis (World Health Organisation) and other tick-borne diseases are a risk, especially if you travel through forests.
Ticks are common in rural areas from spring to autumn, April to October.
Belarus has opened the exclusion zone immediately around the Chernobyl site, which includes the area close to the border with Ukraine in the southeast of Belarus.
Access to this part of the country may be limited and remains radioactive.
Tourists can visit the area with organised tour groups.
Tour groups are subject to regular security, passport and radiation checks.
If you visit Chernobyl:
Foodborne, waterborne and other diseases are common, including these listed by the World Health Organization:
To protect yourself from illness:
Get medical advice if you suspect food poisoning or if you have a fever or diarrhoea.
The standard of health care in Belarus is below that of Australia.
Doctors and hospitals will request insurance details or an up-front payment before treating you.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to get proper care. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties for drug offences are severe. They include long prison sentences.
Always carry your passport, original visa and migration card.
Authorities can ask for ID at any time. They can detain you if you don't have identification. They will not accept copies.
Belarus has the death penalty for serious crime, such as murder.
In Belarus, it's illegal to:
Other rules or fees can apply for taking photographs in public areas.
Same-sex relationships are legal, but aren't widely accepted.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Belarus doesn't recognise dual nationality.
Any child born to a Belarusian parent is a Belarusian citizen. This is regardless of their place of birth.
By law, dual nationals must enter and exit the country using their Belarusian passport. This limits the consular services we can give if you're arrested or detained.
If you enter Belarus with a Belarusian passport, you'll be treated as a Belarusian national by local authorities.
You can get a 30-day visa-free entry into Belarus. You can stay up to 90 days per calendar year. This is only valid for travelers who enter and exit through Minsk International Airport.
Visa-free entry does not apply to travellers coming from, or travelling to Russia.
Other entry conditions apply, such as compulsory medical insurance.
You'll need to get a Russian transit visa if you're travelling via Russia. Contact the nearest embassy of Russia for details.
Different rules apply if you're travelling on a diplomatic or official passport. Contact the State Border Committee of The Republic of Belarus for details.
Authorities don't permit foreigners to cross the land border between Belarus and Russia. Instead, you'll need to travel between Belarus and Russia by air. For details, contact either:
Authorities permit Australians to cross land borders for short visits to the areas of Augustov Canal, Belovezhskaya Pushcha and Brest (bordering Poland), and Grodno (bordering Poland and Lithuania).
Travel with a registered tour operator and enter through assigned border checkpoints. Check details about:
When you enter and exit Belarus, show the original issued visa to border authorities. They won't accept copies.
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. For details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules, contact:
When you enter Belarus or Russia, you need to complete a migration card. One card covers both countries.
If you don't get a card on your flight or train, ask the border control authorities for one.
Keep the stamped second half of the card. You'll need it when leaving the last country.
You must have medical insurance to enter Belarus.
If you arrive without proof of insurance, you'll need to purchase a standard policy on entry.
Contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus for details.
If you arrive with more than $US10,000 worth of currency and goods, you'll need to complete a declaration form.
Make sure your completed form is stamped by a customs officer when you arrive.
Carry it during your visit and show it when you leave the country.
Undeclared money may be confiscated when you leave Belarus. You can also be fined.
If you plan to stay for more than five days in Belarus, you must register with the local office of the Citizenship and Migration Department of the Ministry of Interior. This must be done within five working days of your arrival.
If you're staying in a hotel, registration is usually part of the check-in procedure. Confirm this with your hotel.
If you don't register in time, you can be fined. You might face difficulties when leaving the country.
Strict rules control the export of antiques, icons and items of historic significance.
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than six months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
If your passport is stolen, you'll also need:
You won't be allowed to leave Belarus without an original visa unless you're granted authorisation. This comes from the Citizenship and Migration Department of the Belarusian Ministry of Interior.
The local currency is the Belarus Ruble (BYN).
In July 2016, new BYN notes were introduced. The face value of old banknotes in circulating currency changed at a ratio of 1:10,000.
Crime and ATM fraud is a risk. Only use ATMs inside bank premises during business hours.
If you're a victim of an ATM scam, report it to local police.
Carry your passport, your original visa and migration card with you at all times. Local authorities won't accept copies.
Some border areas in Belarus have limited entry border zones. To enter these zones, you need a special permit issued in advance by the State Border Committee.
Limited entry zones are generally sign-posted and restricted by road barriers and border guard posts.
Don't enter limited entry zones without a valid permit.
To drive in Belarus, you'll need an International Driving Permit (IDP).
You must get your IDP before you leave Australia.
Some roads outside large cities may be impassable in winter due to ice and snow.
Drivers must have either:
If you drive a foreign vehicle in Belarus, you must pay a fee to use toll roads. You can be fined if you don't. Check payment, toll roads and maps on BelToll.
You must also have a 'green card' (proof of vehicle insurance) valid for Belarus. If not, you'll have to buy compulsory car insurance at the border.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Belarus' air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
For non-urgent criminal issues, contact the local police at the nearest police station.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
Australia doesn't have an embassy in Belarus. Contact the Australian Embassy in Russia for consular help.
Check the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
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