Special Travel Circumstances in Belarus

Currency: Traveler's checks are normally not accepted in Belarus as a means of payment, but can be exchanged for cash at any bank. Most hotels, restaurants, and stores accept major credit cards. All Belarusian banks provide cash from major credit cards. All payments in Belarus are made in Belarusian rubles. Authorized currency exchange centers are widely available throughout major cities. Black-market currency exchange or payment in U.S. dollars to firms or individuals without a special license is a criminal offense in Belarus. Only a few large firms (such as gas stations and large travel agencies) are licensed to accept U.S. dollars. You may be offered "an unofficial" exchange rate at what seems a good rate, but the U.S. Embassy in Minsk advises to use widely available licensed exchange locations.

Credit Card and ATM Card Use: ATMs are also available for use, and it has become easier to use credit cards and debit cards in Belarus, especially in Minsk; however, this does not mean that it is safer to do so. There have been instances in which U.S. citizens have had their card numbers “skimmed” and the money in their accounts stolen, or their credit cards fraudulently charged. (“Skimming” is the theft of credit card information by an employee of a legitimate merchant or bank, manually copying down numbers or using a magnetic stripe reader.) In addition to skimming, the risk of physical theft of credit or debit cards also exists. To prevent such theft, the U.S. Embassy Minsk recommends that you keep close track of personal belongings and only carry what is needed when out. If you choose to use credit cards, you should regularly check your account status to ensure its integrity. You should avoid using credit and debit cards, except at ATMs located inside major banks.

Identification: As a foreigner, you are expected to carry your passport on you at all times. Failure to prove your identity with an internationally recognizable ID, if stopped by the police for a registration (visa) spot check, may result in detention by the police until your identity is established.

Accessibility: While in Belarus, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is found in the United States. Many existing buildings as well as public transportation systems are less adapted to individuals with disabilities. You should check ahead with your hotel/destination to learn more about options to accommodate disabled traveler needs before visiting Belarus.

Radiation: The 1986 release of nuclear material from the Chernobyl nuclear station in Ukraine affected Belarus. The city of Minsk was mostly spared, but other areas of Belarus were badly contaminated. Several years of monitoring have shown that radiation levels in Minsk have not exceeded internationally acceptable standards, and periodic testing of foodstuffs from various locations in Belarus has not revealed a level of radiation that would be considered harmful.

Marriage: If you plan to marry in Belarus, you should consult the information located on the U.S. Embassy Minsk website. Please note that only marriages performed at a registrar's office (ZAGS – Office for Matrimonial Acts Registration) are legally valid in Belarus.

Disclaimer

You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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