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"Belarus" is in Eastern Europe. It has borders with Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.


Originally part of Kievan Rus, Belarus was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until the Polish Partitions in the 18th century. After over a hundred years of Russian rule followed by seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR, Belarus attained its independence in 1991. However, under authoritarian rule, it has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than any of the other former Soviet republics. Belarus and Russia signed a treaty on a two-state union on 8 December, 1999, envisioning greater political and economic integration. Although Belarus agreed to a framework to carry out the accord, serious steps towards implementation have seen limited success. The economy is completely dependent on Russia, and the Belarusian government has taken vitriolic, anti-Western stance. Poverty is widespread, and the country has not seen much structural reform in the past few years. Religious, political and journalistic activity is tightly controlled. Even though the country was the most developed republic (excluding the three Baltic states) in the former USSR, the country remains as one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in Europe.


* Minsk - the capital
* Brest - regional capital on the Western border with Poland with impressive architectural sights.
* Gomel - also spelled Homel
* Grodno - also often spelled Hrodna
* Nesvizh
* Sharkovshchina
* Vitebsk
* Mogilev

Other destinations

* Bobruisk
* Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park - on the border with Poland, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
* Mir Castle Complex — another UNESCO World Heritage site


Get in
Visa requirements, basic information

The following countries do not need a visa.
Armenia, Cuba, Georgia, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela.

While most CIS nationals do not require visa, most other visitors to Belarus will need a visa. For a list of those exempt see here: .

Belarusian visas at the National Airport “Minsk” (MSQ) are issued to the nationals of the countries with no consular offices of the Republic of Belarus at EUR 90. However, the prices for the nationals WITH a Belarusian consulate in their passport country are rather high - EUR 180 when they apply AT MSQ Airport on arrival. Standard documents like a letter of invitation has to be provided, too - a hotel booking is not enough, at least for a tourist visa, but not other entry points. See the

To the nationals of other countries (Austria, Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, China, Estonia, Egypt, France, Hungary, Germany, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Republic of South Africa, Slovak Republic, Serbia, Montenegro, Switzerland, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA) visa may be issued upon arrival on an exceptional basis only.

You can apply the visa from Belarusian Consulate or Embassy. The list can be found from Embassy & consulate list & on Foreign Affairs Ministry web-site. Quick visa is more expensive, but you will get it within half a day.

Visa fees and processing changes so make sure that you check with the local embassy or consulate before you plan your travel. A visa will take a full page of your passport so make sure you have at least 1 page free.

The easiest way to obtain a visa is doing it on arrival to the National airport Minsk 2 at the Consular office (contact phone + 375 17 279 20 58) at a fee of:
in case no consulate or embassy of Belarus is established in the country of residence:
*private or business visa - US$100
*tourist visa - US$45
*transit visa - US$30

in case consulate or embassy of Belarus is established in the country of residence:
*private or business visa - US$140
*tourist visa - US$60 (for US citizens, 5 day processing: US$131 single, US$232 double, US$333 multiple)
*transit visa - US$50 (for US citizens, 5 day processing: US$100 single, US$177 double, US$350 multiple)

There is now a trend to spare the transit tourists from a need to apply for a transit visa at MSQ Airport. There is no document with guidelines available to public, but if you come from a migration secure country and travel with Belavia via Minsk to the third destination it is highly unlikely that you will need a transit visa. ALWAYS check with the Minsk Airport Consulate.

There is no possibility to get a Belarusian entry visa on the border (except for the Minsk National Airport)

Latest prices and procedures are available from the Embassy Sites . Pre-issued visas save a lot of time on entry.

Belarusian visa is issued in 5 working days, there is also a possibility to get it urgently (in 48 hours) by paying double fee.

Normal fee for Belarusian private or business single visa can vary from US$40 to US$80.
Visas for children under 16 are issued free of charge, visa processing fee can be levied in this case by certain Belarusian embassies or consulates.

In order to get a visa you will also need a passport and an invitation, other papers depending on the type of visa you apply for.
There is a compulsory state "medical insurance" for visitors to Belarus if you do have a policy valid in Belarus. The fee for this insurance is US$0.50 per day rounded up to the nearest US$ (i.e. 1-2 days: US$1; 3-4 days: US$2; etc.). The citizens of the UK are the only nation exempt from this procedure.

To get a Belarusian "business visa" a foreigner has to present an invitation of any Belarusian legal entity officially registered in the Republic of Belarus. The invitation is to be written on letterhead paper and should contain name, personal and passport details as well as purpose and duration of visit. The invitation is to be signed and bear official seal of the inviting organization. Embassies or consulates (with the exception of Consular office at the National airport) can often except invitations received by fax. Multiple business visa is obtainable against payment of US$300 from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Consular department upon presentation of all required documents (contact phone + 375 17 222 26 61).

To get a "short-term visa for private purposes" (visiting Belarusian relatives, friends, other private matters) with a validity of 30 days, maximum for 1-, 2- or multiple entries for citizens of the EU as well as nationals of several other countries, such as Australia, Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Chili, Island, Israel, Norway, Swiss Confederation, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Uruguay, Republic of South Africa and Japan, "no visa support documents shall be required" (letter of invitation etc. documents). Short term visas are available from Minsk airport, consulates and embassies.

To get a "visa for private purposes" a foreigner who is planning to stay in the country for more than 30 days has to present the invitation issued for a Belarusian resident by his citizenship and migration office. The original invitation should be handed over to the embassy/consulate or Consular office at the National airport in this case, any fax or photocopy is excluded. Multiple private visa is issued upon presentation of the original invitation to foreigners, visiting their close relatives. Very often Belarusian consulates grant private visas to the nationals of migration secure countries without any invitation papers.

Visas can be valid for one, two, three or multiple entries. They are to be used within the period indicated therein.

Foreigners visiting Belarus must register within a period of 5 business days with local Migration and Citizenship Department and have registration put in their migration card. If you are staying in a hotel, this will be arranged by the hotel. A police registration form can be found here.

If needed, private or business visas can be extended up to 90 days when staying in Belarus. It will be done by Minsk city citizenship and migration office (contact phone + 375 17 231 38 09) or Regional citizenship and migration office in Hrodna, Brest, Minsk, Mahilyou, Homel upon presentation of all required documents.

Exit permits required for all foreigners intending to leave the country with expired visas. They are issued by Minsk city passport and visa office or Regional passport and visa offices in Hrodna, Brest, Minsk, Mogilev, Homel.

It is only in Consulate in Vilnius that you can submit your documents applying DIRECTLY for a visa to Belarus. They issue all visas on the same day - if it is urgent you pay twice as much, get the visa on the same day and it is valid from tomorrow (for example), if not, you pay a normal fee, still collect it on the same day, but travel only within one week (for example).

It is very unlikely for the visa regime to become any softer for EU citizens in the near future. First attempts for visa free traveling are made in the Polish and Lithuanian border areas where people (who reside there permanently) will be able to travel visa free in the 50 km border area.

By plane=

If you do go through Moscow via Sheremetyevo airport, there are two terminals and you will need transportation from terminal 2 (the international terminal) to terminal 1 (the domestic terminal). There is a free shuttle that runs between the two terminals every 30 minutes. You can catch the Aeroexpress shuttle bus on the ground floor of the recently completed airport train station. Taxi fares between the two terminals can be high, but you can easily negotiate lower fares with individual drivers.

Several European airlines have flights to Minsk (operating at National airport Minsk situated approximately 40 km from capital Minsk). Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Lot Polish airlines, Air Baltic, Czech Airlines, and some other carriers offer this destination.
The only national airlines - Belavia and Gomelavia - could be competitive due to attractive ticket prices. If you opt to land in Minsk National Airport, you should be aware of certain that might keep you slow when going through the airport procedures.

Flying directly to Belarus is expensive if you do not book tickets early in advance. For example, Estonian Air sells tickets for €92 if you make reservations 4 months in advance. If you buy the same ticket a week before the trip, the price is much higher.

If you have time and want to save some money, fly to Vilnius or Kaunas, (both in Lithuania) and take a train to Minsk. The train ride from Vilnius is only four hours and generally trains leave twice per day. You will save a great deal of money compared to a short notice direct flight. Visas are, of course, still required.

By train

Some of the entry/exit points along the Poland/Belarus border include:

You can take a local train between the two corresponding border towns.

Timetable information are available on sites like:
Deutsche Bahn (DB) ,
Polish trains PKP (english) (polish) ,
Commonwealth of independent states (CIS) trains (and others) ,
Latvia trains 1 ,
Latvia trains 2
Lithuania train timetables
trains and bus timetables at Baltic countries
Belarussian railway timetables:

Estonia train timetables 1:

Estonia train & bus timetables 2:

"N.B." There is no direct train from Estonia, but via track Tallin-Tartu- Valga/Valka (Valga/Valka is city at the Estonian/Latvian border. There are a few trains that go to Riga. The name of the train station in Valka is Lugazi. There are plans that direct trains will start in 2010, removing the need for changing in Valka/ Valga, from Estonia, Tallin to Latvia, Riga.

Passport, customs controls

Passport controls happen in the train itself. In the "get in" to Belarus direction, they happen typically even before the train leaves the station in Poland.

Customs controls happen in a room of the train station in the Belarus train station. As of 2005, you are most likely to have a short chat with a customs officer - the system of green (nothing to declare) and red (something to declare) streams and random checks of suspicious looking people in the green stream - everyone is presumed to be suspicious. In practice, the rules seem to be fairly standard - declare expensive goods, you can import/export a small quantity of alcohol, cigarettes, computer equipment for personal use. However, the formal content of the customs form asks whether you are carrying any "publications". So if you have, e.g. a US passport and are carrying a whole bunch of "do-it-yourself-color-revolution" materials and you have that subversive look about you, then you will probably be giving the customs people have a "legal" reason to detain you and/or deport you.

"Warning: the customs room in the train station" where you exit Belarus "may be difficult to find" (especially if you walk around the station rather casually and your Cyrillic is weak) and "it closes a long time before the train leaves; if you arrive only 10 minutes before the train leaves, you will be refused customs control and access to the train". Customs may also be carried out at the border while on the train. It adds over an hour to the trip, but other than that, the officials are efficient and friendly.

On a local train between two border towns, chances are high that you will be accompanied/befriended by women trading underpants, soap powder, strawberries, cigarettes etc across the border. They may be friendly and casual or (leaving Belarus) they might put pressure on you to help them in their trade by carrying cigarettes over the border for them - the idea is that you buy it cheap in Belarus and that you resell it to them once you"re in Poland. Chances are also good that their friendly mafia boss is with them and you"ll all travel together in the same train carriage, so chances of you getting away and reselling the cigarettes independently are probably weak. Instead, just smile, use your common sense and probably best not to provoke them. If you take their cigarettes, make sure not to take more than a legal allowance and return them to the women in Poland. Don"t expect to be paid for it. Don"t look to the border guards for help. They know the women traders and seem to have some informal deal with them (e.g. not being strict about visas, etc) - the Belarus border guards are worried only about political subversives; they have higher priorities than defending you against women trading underpants and cigarettes.

By car

At the Terespol/Brest crossing, there are about six different controls.
As of August 2009, the Polish side seems to work quite slowly. Being on the outer border of the European Union, they check whether one isn"t exporting a stolen car, isn"t wanted by European authorities etc.

After crossing the bridge over river Bug and getting on the Belarusian side, one has to show passports and gets a piece of paper with the car"s registration mark on it. Then one goes to either green or red channel depending on whether a customs control is needed. In the green channel one has to complete two checks, the completion of each check is recorded on the paper received on entering the Belarusian side.

First passport/visa/migration card checks are done by an officer who comes towards your car. They also check medical insurance and it is quite likely you will be forced to purchase the state compulsory medical insurance at the border. The cost for two weeks was about 5 euros.

Second is the transport/car check, for which one needs to go to a special window towards the end of the customs area. You will be required to produce a "green card" (proof of insurance) valid for Belarus, or will have to purchase a compulsory car insurance at the border. In August 2009, the insurance for 14 days was 17 euros (just over 20$), and there was no problem buying it at the Terespol/Brest crossing. You will also get another piece of paper with your car registration mark. You will need to show this one on the way back.

With the stamped paper, one can go forward towards the last barrier. The officer there just takes the paper, checks that you have completed the controls, and lets you into Belarus.

It would be nice to believe that there"s a geiger counter to check for stuff which is radioactive from the Chernobyl accident, but it"s unclear if this is used in practice - it"s not done in any obvious way.

On leaving Belarus, one has to pay a special "environmental" tax before being allowed to enter the border control area. It costs 1 euro, and in Brest is sold in a large building just before the border on the right.

By bus

Taking a bus from any border of the country of Belarus is easy.
From all the Baltic countries there is a lot of bus traffic to Belarus here are some samples:

From Estonia, Tallin there are direct buses to Minsk and

From Baltic countries:
Olimp ,
Nordeka ,

Taking the bus from Vilnius to Minsk is a quick (4 hours) and fairly comfortable ride, as long as you stick to western international carriers such as Eurolines. From Kaunas you may travel to Minsk by Kaunas based Kautra company. It"s advisable and cheaper to book tickets in advance by internet . Journey takes about 5,5 hours. Buy your ticket in advance. Before beginning travel to Belarus remember to check that all your papers are in order meaning you have valid visa & Belarus state travel insurance for your trip. For example quick, easy and comfortable way to begin trip is to begin trip from one of the Baltic cities that have Belarussian embassy or consulate.

By boat
Belarus shares many rivers with its neigbouring countries, so it"s no big surprise that in Belarus each major city has a riverport and possibilities for river cruises. The easiest way to check departure times, routes and availability is to call "Belarussian River Steamship Company" and/or "Belarusian tourist companies" . PLEASE NOTE! Cruice inquiries are recommended to do with phone. If you cannot reach one number it is good to call other numbers that same company have (Phone numbers and e-mail addresses change in rapid phase in Belarus)

Belarusian border crossing cruises are such as from Belarus, Polotsk into Latvia"s Daugavpilis and Poland"s Augustow chanel. Augustow chanal cruises departure from Belarusian city called Grodno and the route is via Neman river.

By a canoe
paddeling, rowing and canoeing are popular hobbies in Belarus.

In some cases with special pre-planning and preparations with the autorities and tourist agents one can cross the border also by canoeing.

By foot

If you"re at one of the double town crossings, e.g.
* Kuźnica-Białostocka/Hrodna
* Terespol/Brest
there may be "some" places where you can cross by foot - e.g. because you"re on the last day of your Belarus visa and you want to be sure not to overstay - but more likely you"ll have to befriend some people in a car who will "adopt" you for a few hours and will (implicitly) pretend that you"re travelling with them. The border guards have no problem with this. Remember that the people in the car are taking a risk as well as you - as far as they know you might be a National Endowment for Democracy agent who will be discovered by the Belarus border guard and get "them" into a heap of trouble. So if they are Belarusians and they ask for a fee of US$5 consider it fair. See the section "By car" above for what happens in your adopted car.

Get around
Traveling by car will get you far, since the infrastructure in Belarus was well developed after World War II. Gas is relatively cheap by European standards. 1L is


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the Tyzengauza Square view"Hrodna" or "Grodno" (, ; , ; ; , , ), is a city in Belarus. It is located on the Neman River (Нёман), close to the borders of Poland and Lithuania (about 20 km and 30 km away respectively). It has 325,164
the Tyzengauza Square view"Hrodna" or "Grodno" (, ; , ; ; , , ), is a city in Belarus. It is located on the Neman River (Нёман), close to the borders of Poland and Lithuania (about 20 km and 30 km away respectively). It has 325,164
the Tyzengauza Square view"Hrodna" or "Grodno" (, ; , ; ; , , ), is a city in Belarus. It is located on the Neman River (Нёман), close to the borders of Poland and Lithuania (about 20 km and 30 km away respectively). It has 325,164
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