Georgia Republic Basics

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The Basics


Time: Local time is GMT +4.

Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50 Hz. The "Type C" Europlug with two round pins is standard.

Money: The official currency is the Lari (GEL), which is divided into 100 tetri. Cash is the preferred method of payment in Georgia but major credit cards are accepted in established restaurants, hotels and shops in Tbilisi. Euros, Roubles or US Dollars can be exchanged at any of the widespread bureaux de change, but other currencies should generally be changed at the bank. ATM machines can be found in the major cities. Banking hours are Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm.

Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Georgian is the official language, but Russian and English are also spoken widely. In Abkhazia, a region in west Georgia, the Abkhazian language also has the status of an official language.

Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Georgia. No visa is required for a stay of up to a year.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens must have a passport that is valid for the intended period of stay in Georgia. For passports endorsed British Citizen or British Overseas Territories Citizen no visa is required for a stay of up to a year. Those with passports with any other endorsement should confirm entry requirements before travel.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Georgia. No visa is required for a stay of up to a year.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Georgia. No visa is required for a stay of up to a year.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Georgia. No visa is required for a stay of up to a year.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Georgia. No visa is required for a stay of up to a year.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Georgia. No visa is required for a stay of up to 1 year.

Passport/Visa Note: Travellers to Georgia require valid passports and may require proof of sufficient funds for their stay, proof of health insurance, and an onward ticket and documentation for the next leg of their journey. It is highly recommended that their passports have at least six months' validity remaining after their intended date of departure. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: Travel to Georgia is usually incident-free from a health point of view so long as visitors go prepared. Preventative health measures should be taken for malaria when travelling to Georgia; there is no risk in Tbilisi, but visitors to the southeastern areas should take malaria medication. There are no required vaccinations for Georgia but travellers should ask their doctors to recommend some or all of the following vaccinations, depending on what they are planning to do in the country: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, tetanus-diphtheria, and rabies. Visitors should avoid drinking untreated tap water; bottled water is widely available. Medical care in Georgia is limited, especially outside Tbilisi. Many doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash, regardless of whether visitors have travel health insurance. If travellers need prescription medications, it is best to take them along, as well as a copy of a doctor's letter explaining the medical condition in question, and what has been prescribed. That way, visitors can avoid having difficulties with customs.

Tipping: Tipping is generally expected in at cafes and restaurants, as well as for taxis. The tip is usually between 10 and 15 percent, but visitors should take note that a service charge is sometimes added to bills.

Safety Information: Holidays in Georgia are generally trouble-free, with the most common forms of crime against foreigners involving petty acts of theft and pickpocketing. That said, visitors can minimise risk even further by using hotel safes to store valuables, and by dividing cards, money and travel documents between various bags. They should also avoid flaunting their wealth and walking alone in quiet areas at night, and should remain vigilant when using public transport. Travellers should not visit the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as they clash sporadically with the national government. Another area of concern is Pankisi Gorge, where national armed forces have occasionally conducted operations against suspected international terrorists, Chechen fighters, and criminals who have taken refuge in the area.

Local Customs: Georgians are generally friendly, hospitable, and gregarious people. They're known to offer complete strangers drinks at bars or restaurants, and routinely invite foreigners into private homes for dinner. Tourists should wear suitable clothing if visiting churches. (Shorts are inappropriate and women should cover their heads.) Homosexuality is legal in Georgia, though not widely accepted.

Business: Suitable business attire for men is a suit, while dresses or suits are appropriate for women. Business cards are frequently exchanged. Georgians pride themselves on being good hosts, so meetings are often followed by a meal or drinks. If invited into a private home, a small gift of chocolates, flowers, or alcohol is appreciated. Business hours are usually 10am to 6pm, with a short break taken over lunch.

Communications: The international dialling code for Georgia is +995. The outgoing code is 8-10 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 8 1044 for the UK). Area codes exist, such as 32 for Tbilisi. Mobile phone coverage is good in the capital and in coastal regions, but signal strength is not as good in rural areas. Landlines are widely available and internet access is available in cities and at major hotels.

Duty Free: Travellers are allowed 400 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco, 4 litre of any alcohol, and a reasonable amount of perfume for personal use without incurring a customs duty.