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Country Guides for Europe

Belarus

Belarus

Situated between Russia and Poland, and one of the few remaining totalitarian regimes in the area, Belarus is often overlooked by tourists. This flat country, covered in forest, marshland, lakes, rivers and verdant fields supports a variety of wildlife, including European bison, wolves, beavers, bears and other mammals, tiny villages, and lively cities. From the busy city of Minsk, where more than three quarters of the buildings were destroyed in WWII and were subsequently rebuilt by the Soviet Union, making it one of the world's best examples of Soviet city planning and architecture, to the Khatyn memorial site where 618 villages destroyed during the Nazi occupation are remembered, from the relatively untouched architecture of Hrodna and the impressive Brest Fortress to the natural beauty of the Belavezhskaja Pushcha Nature Reserve, there is much to interest the traveler.

Language: Belarusian, Russian, other

Major International Airport:

City

Airport
Airport
Code
Distance
From City
MinskMinsk AirportMSQ26 miles W

Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. Travelers’ diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout Eastern Europe and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal. Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. All travelers to malaria-risk areas in Eastern Europe, including infants, children, and former residents of Eastern Europe, are at risk for malaria. Parts of the countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have malaria risk.. Travelers to malaria-risk areas in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan should take the antimalarial drug chloroquine to prevent malaria. For additional information on malaria risk and prevention, see Malaria Information for Travelers to Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (NIS).

In Uzbekistan, the risk of malaria is low and varies along its border with Tajikistan; travelers to Uzbekistan or their health care provider should contact CDC (Malaria Hotline, 770-488-7788) for risk and prevention advice.

An outbreak of diphtheria is occurring in all the states of the former Soviet Union. Travelers to these areas should be sure that their diphtheria immunization is up to date.

Tickborne encephalitis, a viral infection of the central nervous system occurs chiefly in Central and Western Europe. Travelers are at risk who visit or work in forested areas during the summer months and who consume unpasteurized dairy products. Vaccine for this disease is not available in the United States at this time. To prevent tickborne encephalitis, as well as Lyme disease, travelers should take precautions to prevent tick bites.

Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid nighttime travel if possible and always use seat belts.

There is no risk for yellow fever in Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (NIS). A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.

CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):

See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
  • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
  • Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for 11– to 12-year-olds who did not receive the series as infants.

To stay healthy, do...

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an “absolute 1-micron or less” filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. “Absolute 1-micron filters” are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
  • If you are going to visit risk areas for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
    • Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
    • Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
    • Read and follow the directions and precautions on the product label.
    • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
    • Do not put repellent on wounds or broken skin.
    • Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product, apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands and rubbing the product carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
    • Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin. Or, spray the bed net with one of these insecticides if you are unable to find a pretreated bed net.
    • DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
    • Children under 10 years old should not apply insect repellent themselves. Do not apply to young children’s hands or around eyes and mouth.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
  • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Those traveling to Antigua & Barbuda are at risk from dengue fever transmitted by mosquito bites. Travelers should use topical insect repellent and wear insecticide-treated clothing.

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

The municipal water supplies in urban areas of Antigua & Barbuda are generally safe, but a moderate risk of parasitic contamination exists elsewhere. Travelers to rural areas are advised to treat water before drinking.

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities. These sites are not always clearly marked and application of these restrictions is subject to interpretation.

Organized and spontaneous demonstrations can and do occur. Localized street disturbances relating to political events may occur most frequently in Minsk or larger cities. Authorities may use force in those instances, and bystanders, including foreign nationals, may face the possibility of arrest, beating, or detention. We also wish to remind American citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can sometimes become confrontational and escalate into violence. Therefore, we urge American citizens to avoid demonstrations and protest gatherings and to exercise caution when near such gatherings.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

CRIME: Belarus has a moderate rate of crime; common street crime occurs especially at night and in or near hotels frequented by foreigners. Foreigners, and particularly foreign cars, tend to be targets of crime. Travelers should keep a copy of their passport in a separate location from their original.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.



Source: U.S. Department of State

The climate of Antigua & Barbuda is tropical, with warm conditions throughout the year. The heaviest rainfall is typically experienced between August and November, and at the higher elevations, although precipitation can be expected year round. The tropical storm/hurricane season is from May through October.


City
Annual
Precip. Days
Annual
Precip. Totals
St John's12841.5"

Belarus's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.

To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. A visa must be obtained before entering Belarus. Travelers who do not have a visa cannot register at hotels. U.S. citizens residing in Belarus are required to register with the local Office of Visas and Registration (OVIR) within 72 hours of arrival. Failure to do so can result in fines and visits from local law enforcement authorities. U.S. citizens staying in hotels are automatically registered at check-in. Visa validity dates are strictly enforced; travelers should request sufficient time to allow for delays in arrival and departure.

Travelers entering Belarus by air with more than 50 kilos of luggage will be charged $2 per kilo in excess of that limit. The fee must be paid in dollars.

Foreign missionaries may not engage in religious activities outside the institutions that invited them unless they have a religious worker visa. One-year validity, multiple-entry, "spiritual activities" visas, which are required of foreign missionaries, can be difficult to get, even for faiths that are registered with the government and have a long history in the country. Approval often involves a difficult bureaucratic process.

Anyone entering the country planning to be involved in religious activities should be aware of a new law on religion, signed in October 2002, which has significantly affected religious life in Belarus. This law requires all religious groups and organizations, including recognized "traditional" religions such as Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Orthodox Judaism, Sunni Islam and the Lutheran Church, to re-register. Those not re-registered may not legally worship although most groups continue to meet, leaving them vulnerable to selective implementation of the law by authorities. The law also stipulates that only Belarusian citizens can head religious organizations in Belarus. Within the past year, authorities have harassed, warned, fined, and jailed members of several unregistered and so-called "non-traditional" faiths for engaging in unsanctioned worship. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that any U.S. citizen who chooses to attend a religious service of an unregistered religious group do so only after consulting with members of the group about the risk of harassment or arrest by local law enforcement authorities. U.S. citizens are also urged to contact the U.S. Embassy should they encounter any problems with authorities due to their participation in such services or events.

Belarus requires all foreign nationals (other than accredited diplomats) entering the country to purchase medical insurance at the port-of-entry regardless of any other insurance one might have. Costs for this insurance will vary according to the length of stay (Subject to change, current information puts costs at $1.00 for a one-day stay; $15.00 for a stay of 60 days, up to a maximum of $85.00 for a stay of one year.)

U.S. citizens traveling through Belarus to other countries are strongly reminded that there is a transit visa requirement for entering and leaving Belarus. Transit visas should be obtained prior to any journey that requires travel through Belarus. Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Russian visas are no substitute for this transit visa. Most travel agencies, including those in Russia and CIS countries as well as train ticket sales personnel, are often not aware of this visa requirement and may not seek a transit visa for a traveler unless instructed by the traveler to do so. U.S. citizens traveling to Belarus via Russia are reminded that they must possess a Russian transit visa in addition to their Belarusian visa.

U.S. citizens attempting to transit Belarus without a valid Belarusian transit visa have been denied entry into the country and forcibly removed from trains. There have also been numerous situations involving American citizens traveling through Belarus by train without transit visas who have been required to disembark while in transit. In some instances local border and train authorities have threatened passengers with jail or extorted "fines" when it was learned that they did not possess a valid transit visa. In some cases, American citizens have been subjected to rude and threatening treatment including body and baggage searches. American citizens are advised not to pay any border or train officials for transit visas as these officials are not authorized to issue such visas. Nor should Americans pay "transit visa fines." Americans finding themselves in Belarus without transit visas should, if confronted by border or train personnel, demand to be put in contact with consular officials at the U.S. Embassy in Minsk.

In addition to the above, the Belarusian government sometimes enforces a requirement for special permits to travel in "protected border zones." The Government of Belarus has not provided information defining the parameters of those zones. Travelers should be alert for warning signs, road barriers, and/or border guard posts, and are advised not to cross into such areas without permission.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Children born to Belarusian parent(s) after August 15, 2002, even if born in the United States and in possession of a U.S. passport, will not be issued a Belarusian visa for travel to Belarus. The Belarusian government considers these children to be Belarusian citizens until age 16, when they may choose to accept or reject that claim to citizenship. Instead, a "certificate of return" is issued that will allow the child to enter Belarus. It is imperative that parents of such children understand that, in order to leave, the child will be required to have a Belarusian passport if he/she does not already have one. The time frame on the issuance of Belarusian passports is often unpredictable.

For more information concerning entry requirements, travelers should contact the Belarus Embassy located at 1619 New Hampshire Ave, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20009, tel. (202) 986-1606; Internet: http://www.belarusembassy.org or the Belarus Consulate in New York at 708 Third Avenue, 21st floor, New York, NY, 10017, tel. (212) 682-5392.



Source: U.S. Department of State

The time zone for Belarus is 2 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Belarus would be 7:00 pm

The unit of currency in Belarus is the Belarusian ruble (BYB/BYR).

Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter

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Other Travelers' Experiences in Belarus

"I am the director of a dance company that has toured Belarus on three occassions, each time visiting 4-5 cities. We found the most important item to pack was toilet paper. Paper is in short supply there. We removed the cardboard roll from the center of the folls for easier packing. Then, we kept toilet paper in our neck packs (where we kept our passports on our bodies at all times). Belarus is a fabulous place actually... even though 80% of it was destroyed in WWII, it is a remarkable living history. The money is tricky to convert because of the large numbers (approx 2000 to $1) -you end up with huge wads of cash to carry so take along a suitable wallet."