BasicsTime: Local time is GMT +3.
Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. European two-prong plugs with circular pins are in use. Schuko plugs are also in use.
Money: The currency is the Belarussian ruble (BYR), which is equal to 100 kapeks. As of 2016, coins have been introduced due to redonomination, the first in the country's history. Currency can be exchanged at banks and official bureaux de change in Minsk and the larger towns. US Dollars and Euros are preferred and some currencies may not be accepted. Mastercard and Visa are accepted at the larger hotels and tourist restaurants, but other cards, like American Express and Discovery, may not be accepted at all. ATMs are widely accessible in major towns and banking hours are weekdays from 9am to 5pm.
Currency Exchange Rates
Language: Russian and Belarusian are both official languages, with the majority speaking Russian.
Entry requirements for Americans: United States citizens need a passport and a visa to enter Belarus, although US nationals are visa exempt for a maximum of 30 days.
Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens need a passport and a visa to enter Belarus. However, British citizens are exempt from obtaining a visa for a maximum of 30 days.
Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens need a passport and a visa to enter Belarus. However, Canadian citizens are exempt from obtaining a visa for a maximum of 30 days.
Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens need a passport and a visa to enter Belarus. However, Australian citizens are exempt from obtaining a visa for a maximum of 30 days.
Entry requirements for South Africans: South African citizens need a passport and a visa to enter Belarus.
Entry requirements for New Zealand nationals: New Zealand citizens need a passport and a visa to enter Belarus. However, New Zealand citizens are exempt from obtaining a visa for a maximum of 30 days.
US tourist office:
Passport/Visa Note: Valid passports and visas are required to visit Belarus. We recommend that passports are valid for six months after departure from destination. Visitors from countries where there is no Belarussian consulate or embassy may obtain a tourist visa on arrival at Minsk Airport, but it is strongly recommended that an effort is made to obtain a visa prior to arrival. Visas are only issued on the basis of invitation from hotels, tour companies or Belarussian citizens. All visitors have to buy health insurance on arrival. Foreigners not staying at a hotel must register with the authorities on arrival and such registration must be entered on their visa. Hotels automatically register their guests.
Travel Health: No vaccinations are required for entry to Belarus. Visitors should not drink unpurified tap water. Medical care is limited and essential medications are not frequently available, while facilities lack modern equipment. The best equipped are private clinics, which are available in Minsk. Doctors and hospitals expect payment in cash. Travel insurance with air evacuation cover is highly recommended.
Tipping: Tipping in Belarus is not as common as in many other countries, but it is adequate to round up the bill or taxi fare, and a 10 percent tip for excellent service will not go amiss.
Climate: This humid, damp city has precipitation on most days of the year, with wet summers and snowy winters. The climate in Minsk is, however, moderate with an average January temperature of 21°F (-6°C) and an average July temperature of 64°F (18°C). Winters (December to February) are mild, with snow likely, while summers (June to August) are warm and usually damp; two thirds of the annual precipitation falls during the summer months. May to September is the warmest time of year, while fog is common during the autumn and spring.
Safety Information: Most visits to Belarus are trouble free. The crime rate is very low. However, precautions should be taken against mugging, pick-pocketing, and theft from vehicles or hotel rooms. There have been instances of theft from travellers on sleeper trains between Warsaw and Moscow.
Local Customs: While visiting Belarus, do not take photographs of government buildings, military installations, or uniformed officials. Be aware that jaywalkers are heavily fined. Whistling inside a building is considered bad luck.
Business: Business appointments in Belarus should be made well in advance through a local third party with a good reputation and connections. When meeting, address people with their surnames and a brief handshake. Meetings are usually formal, and negotiations can be protracted. A great deal of concessionary bargaining is expected. Bureaucracy and legal matters in Belarus are complicated so it is best to hire local professionals to assist. Dates in Belarus are written with the day first, then the month, and then the year.
Communications: The international dialling code for Belarus is +375. There are several mobile network operators in Belarus, at least two of which operate GSM networks. Coverage is good in the major towns and along the highways, but generally not available in rural areas. Mobile phones may be rented from local service providers.
Duty free: The duty free allowance for visitors entering Belarus is 3 litres of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco products, a reasonable quantity of perfume for personal use, and goods up to the value of US$1,500.