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Latest travel advice for Georgia including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2017-03-15T17:12:05.500+00:00: Latest update: Summary - removal of information and advice about violent clashes between police and protestors in the city of Batumi on 11 March

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and against all but essential travel to areas near the Administrative Boundary Lines with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. See Local travel.

The British government doesn’t recognise the unilateral declarations of independence made by the de facto authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. There is no UK diplomatic representation available in either location.

Foreign nationals have been detained on arrival for possession of medicines that would not normally be problematic in other countries. See Entry requirements

Take care when driving and if possible avoid driving at night. See Road travel.

There is some risk from unexploded ordnance in areas where fighting took place in August 2008 and in military installations where Russian troops were present. See Local travel.

There is an underlying threat from terrorism. See Terrorism.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Safety and security

Crime

Crime targeting foreigners is not uncommon. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or wear eye-catching jewellery. In Tbilisi you should take care when visiting areas frequented by foreigners like Vake, Saburtalo and the bar area of Akhvlediani Street (formerly known as Perovskaya) near Republic Square.

There have been some reports of sexual assaults by taxi drivers after dark, although these are not thought to be targeted specifically at foreigners. You should avoid flagging down taxis in the street, and consider sitting in the back seat rather than the front. If possible, avoid travelling alone in unfamiliar areas. Take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security, remain aware of your surroundings and keep your mobile phone charged and with you at all times.

If you’re the victim of an attempted assault or feel threatened, contact the local police emergency number by dialling 112.

Local Travel

If you visit the Udabno caves at the Davit Gareja monastery site, take care not to cross the Georgia-Azerbaijan border, which is unmarked in this area.

Be vigilant when travelling or walking and take extra precautions after dark. You should travel by licensed taxi where possible.

While the electricity supply in Georgia has improved, power cuts can still occur. Consider carrying a torch.

Take care if you travel along the E60 road towards Senaki, particularly where it runs very close to South Ossetia between Stepantsminda/Gudauri turnoffs on the E117 (known as the Old Military Highway) and between Gori and Khashuri. These areas, and the Akhalgorii areas, are still at risk of criminal activity. Avoid these roads during the hours of darkness. Hire a professional guide if you’re hiking off the E117 to avoid inadvertently crossing the Administrative Boundary Line into South Ossetia.

There is some risk from unexploded ordinance in areas where fighting took place in August 2008, and in military installations where Russian troops were present.

It is illegal under Georgian law to enter Georgia from Russia via South Ossetia or Abkhazia as there is no official border control. If you enter Georgia in this way you may face criminal prosecution, which carries a prison sentence of up to 4 years. If your passport has entry/exit stamps from the separatist authorities the Georgian authorities may consider this as illegal entry via an unrecognised border crossing.

Don’t attempt to enter or leave Georgia via the land borders with the Russian Federation (Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia). The FCO advise against travel to these areas of Russia.

If you’re travelling by road from Tbilisi to Yerevan, be aware the route via Vanadzor-Alaverdi-Bagratashen on the Armenian side will also be closed for maintenance work for an estimated 32 months from September 2016.

Mountaineering and extreme sports

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

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.

Companies providing extreme sports activities may have inadequate safety standards. Two bungee jumpers were killed in July 2012 in an accident in Tbilisi.

Road travel

You can drive in Georgia using a UK driving licence or an International Driving Permit.

Driving is on the right. The speed limit is 60 km/h in towns and cities. In other areas it’s 80 km/h unless indicated.

There is a zero tolerance policy towards drink driving.

If possible avoid driving at night. Many roads are badly lit and of poor quality. Stray livestock pose a hazard in many areas. Driving conditions are stressful. Road markings and the right of way can be very confusing. Most cars are poorly maintained, and the standard of driving is erratic.

It is compulsory to wear seat belts in Georgia. Children under 7 years of age must sit in child safety seats.

Heavy rain, flooding and snow at higher altitudes often affect roads and bridges making travel difficult or impossible (particularly in remote areas). Landslides are also common. If you are travelling outside of Tbilisi, make sure your vehicle is suitably equipped.

See the RAC guide on driving in Georgia.

Rail Travel

If you travel by train, don’t leave the compartment unattended. Lock the door from the inside.

Air Travel

There are international airports in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi.

A list of incidents and accidents in Georgia can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

In 2008 the International Civil Aviation Organisation audit of aviation safety oversight found that the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Georgia was below the global average.

The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

Terrorism

There is an underlying threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Illegal drug use of any kind carries stiff administrative and criminal penalties, including fines and long prison terms. The penalty for smuggling drugs carries a prison term of between 5 to 25 years and/or heavy fines.

You should carry a copy of your passport at all times and keep the original in a safe place.

Homosexuality is legal in Georgia, but not widely accepted in society. On 17 May 2013, a rally to mark the International Day Against Homophobia was interrupted by a large crowd of protestors in Tbilisi. Supporters of the Georgian Orthodox Church both physically and verbally attacked those present, and a number of people were injured. 

Don’t photograph sensitive sites like military bases and power installations. Be aware of cultural sensitivities when photographing churches and other religious sites. Some visitors have been prevented from photographing the Presidential Palace in Tbilisi. Always seek permission if in doubt.

Tbilisi is a cosmopolitan city, but more conservative attitudes exist in rural areas. You should dress and behave modestly in these areas and avoid open displays of affection

The government of Georgia does not recognise the unilateral declarations of independence by either South Ossetia or Abkhazia and, in accordance with international law, continues to claim the right to exercise sovereignty in the two territories. The UK government, along with those of all EU member states and the United States, recognise Georgia’s right to do so.

The government of Georgia has implemented legislation which requires those trading with Abkhazia and South Ossetia to hold a licence issued by the Georgian government. This includes buying and selling property and most financial transactions. Those who trade without licences may be open to penalties under Georgian civil and criminal law.

The ownership of many properties is disputed across both regions with many thousands of claims to ownership of properties from people displaced following recent conflicts. Purchase of these properties could have serious financial and legal implications, including legal proceedings in the courts of Georgia, as well as attempts to enforce judgements from these courts elsewhere in the EU. A future settlement to these territorial disputes could have consequences for property purchased in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, including possible restitution of the property to its original owners.

If you’re considering surrogacy in Georgia you should think carefully about the risks and potential consequences, and seek legal advice from someone familiar with both Georgian and UK law before entering into any arrangement. The British Embassy doesn’t have authority to be involved in surrogacy arrangements. The FCO and Home Office have produced guidance to help inform you on the issues you may face when embarking on a surrogacy arrangement. Commissioning a surrogacy won’t automatically mean that the child holds British citizenship.

Make sure you’re fully aware of the facts and are well prepared before starting the process. Research prospective surrogacy clinics and hospitals thoroughly to ensure you’re dealing with a safe and reputable organisation. The British Embassy can’t recommend specific hospitals or clinics.

If you wish to bring children born via surrogacy from Georgia to the UK you must apply for a full validity British passport, for which a Georgian birth certificate will be needed. You should check the Public Service Hall website and research the requirements which must be met to have a Georgian birth certificate issued and to leave the country with your child. The maximum period of visa-free stay allowed by the Georgian authorities is one year. Extensions of stay are unlikely to be granted.

For further detailed information about visa issues in Georgia, see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia website.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

Georgian visa rules changed with effect from June 2015. British nationals don’t need a visa to enter Georgia. You can visit for up to a year, visa-free. Contact the Embassy of Georgia in London or visit the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more details on entry requirements and how the new rules might affect you.

If you wish to stay for longer than 1 year, you’ll need to apply for a long term visa. If you’re living in Georgia you should contact the Justice House or Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia for advice.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.

Travelling with medicines

Georgia has a very strict anti-drugs policy, which can also cover prescription and non-prescription drugs or medicines, otherwise available in Europe. This can cause serious problems for travellers and in some cases lead to administrative and criminal proceedings.

You should carry a doctor’s prescription if you intend to travel with prescription medicine and declare the items on arrival, by filling in a customs declaration form. You can also check Georgia’s medication importation regulations on the Ministry of Health website.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Georgia.

Travelling with children

If you are travelling with a child other than your own, you must be able to be able to demonstrate that you have the consent of the child’s parents or guardians.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

The reciprocal healthcare agreement between the UK and Georgia terminated on 1 January 2016.

Medical facilities in Tbilisi are available but can be expensive. Outside Tbilisi, medical facilities are limited. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Venomous snakes are common, particularly in early summer.

Don’t drink tap water. Bottled water is widely available.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 033 from a landline or 112 from a mobile and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Natural disasters

Georgia is situated in an area of seismic activity. In September 2009, an earthquake measuring 6.2 struck 156km north-west of Tbilisi. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see this advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Money

Although prices are often quoted in US dollars and Euros, according to Georgian law all goods and services should be paid for in local currency (Georgian Lari).

Credit cards are widely used in Tbilisi, but less so in the regions. ATMs can be found in major towns. Travellers’ cheques are not widely accepted.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

See also

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  • British Embassy Tbilisi

    Title:British Embassy Tbilisi
    Email:British.Embassy.Tbilisi@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    51 Krtsanisi Street
    Tbilisi
    0114
    Georgia

    Contact: Telephone: +995 (32) 227 47 47
    Fax: +995 (32) 227 47 92
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The latest news, travel advice, and information for Georgia, updated regularly for all British travellers by the UK Foreign Office. Including British consulate and embassy addresses in Georgia (Tbilisi).

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