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Georgia travel guide

About Georgia

It’s extremely easy to love Georgia. Formerly famed as the holiday haunt of the privileged elite of the Soviet Union, today’s country is an often overlooked but deeply rewarding travel destination.

A location at the historical crossroads of Europe, Asia, Russia and the Middle East means it still draws influences from all four, and the end result is a heady one. From its mountain-perched monasteries to its valley-floor vineyards, and from its Turkish-style food to its remarkable capacity for hospitality to strangers, Georgia represents a very special slice of the Caucasus.

Capital city Tbilisi, spread along the banks of the Mktvari River, is an enjoyable but sometimes jumbled mix of old and new. Incense-fogged churches and traditional bathhouses share the city with broad avenues and gleaming new towers, while crowning the skyline is a huge statue of “Mother Georgia” – holding a sword in one hand to ward off enemies, and a goblet of wine in the other to welcome friends.

It’s a sign of how tumultuous the country’s history has been, although it’s also worth pointing out that travellers and visitors fall firmly into the “friends” camp. Georgia, incidentally, claims to be the birthplace of wine – viticulture has been practiced here for more than 6,000 years.

Elsewhere in the country, highlights include the remote uplands of Svaneti, the relaxed Black Sea resort of Batumi, the spectacular hiking and horse-trekking trails of Tusheti and the tangled historical web of second city Kutaisi. Talking of tangled, the Georgian alphabet at times resembles a thicket of twisted fish-hooks, and its presence on everything from street placards to the endless marshrutkas (minibuses) that ply the roads adds an extra sense of foreignness to travel here.

Georgia is an endlessly absorbing destination, a beautiful and beguiling nation made all the more rewarding by its bottomless hospitality and friendly inhabitants.

Key facts

Area:

69,700 sq km (26,911 sq miles).

Population:

3,971,368 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

70.7 per sq km.

Capital:

Tbilisi.

Government:

Parliamentary republic.

Head of state:

President Salome Zurabishvili since 2018.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili since February 2021.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Georgia on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

There are commercial flights to and from Georgia but no direct flights from the UK. Land and sea borders are open with the exception of the Azerbaijan land border, which at this time requires special permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan to cross. The cross-border train service between Armenia and Georgia is operating but the Georgian – Azerbaijan train service is not running currently.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Georgia.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Georgia

Inter-city and municipal public transport and taxis are operating normally.

Accommodation

Hotels and rental accommodation are open.

Public spaces and services

Almost all COVID restrictions have now been lifted but it is still mandatory to wear masks in hospitals.

You can find full details of the latest restrictions from the Government of Georgia.

Healthcare in Georgia

A number of medical facilities are allocated specifically for coronavirus patients, with further facilities in reserve.

If you think you might have symptoms of coronavirus you should call the Georgian Emergency number 112 or 1505. See the list of facilities that carry out PCR testing (in English).

If you test positive in Georgia before returning to the UK, you should self-isolate and follow the instructions of the doctor assigned to your case. You will not be able to leave the country until the self-isolation period has ended.

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Georgia.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

You may also wish to consult the English-language pages of the Georgian authorities’ website or media outlet.

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Political situation

The political situation in Georgia is generally calm, but demonstrations and opposition rallies can occur, in particular around Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi, as well as in other large towns. Demonstrations are usually policed but tensions can escalate without warning. You should check local media, stay away from any large gatherings and demonstrations and follow the advice of local authorities.

Crime

Crime levels are low. However, you should exercise particular caution in areas frequented by tourists. There have been incidents of pick pocketing and burglary involving foreign nationals.

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.

There have been reports of sexual assaults by taxi drivers after dark.

Although Georgian legislation protects all people’s human rights and equality, ethnic minorities and LGBT individuals may face discrimination. There have been reports of harassment and assaults based on race and sexuality. Georgian authorities are working to tackle discrimination and the Georgian parliament has passed anti-discrimination laws.

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

Local travel

The Administrative Boundary Lines with the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are generally unmarked away from roads. Take care not to cross the lines inadvertently as you risk arrest. You may wish to hire a professional guide if you plan to hike close to the Administrative Boundary Lines.

It is illegal under Georgian law to enter Georgia from Russia via South Ossetia or Abkhazia. If you enter Georgia in this way you may face criminal prosecution, which carries the penalty of potentially heavy fines and/or 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.

If you’re considering travelling to Russia via the land borders with the Russian Federation, consult FCDO travel advice for Russia. The FCDO currently advises against all travel to Russia.

There is some risk from unexploded ordnance in areas along the Administrative Boundary Lines with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and near the border with Azerbaijan (Red Bridge area in particular). Areas where unexploded ordnance might be present are not always marked.

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 and disputed.

Take extra precautions after dark in unfamiliar areas as you would at home.

Taxi provision and safety has improved significantly but you should avoid flagging down unmarked taxis in the street, and check that the vehicle has working seatbelts. Unmarked taxis are not metered. Taxi apps, which offer a metered service, are available in the cities.

Street lighting away from main roads can be poor and pavements uneven. There may be occasional short power cuts and you may wish to be prepared by carrying a torch.

Mountaineering and extreme sports

Take appropriate precautions when skiing and ensure you have valid insurance for skiing/winter sports in Georgia.

If you get into trouble while hiking, skiing, or participating in adventure and/or extreme sports, the level of emergency response may be limited.

It can be difficult to get accurate information on mountain conditions, including avalanche risks when off-piste skiing. If you are considering trekking, mountaineering, climbing, off-piste skiing or other extreme sports you might consider contacting companies who can provide specialist guides.

As Georgia’s winter and adventure sports industry develops, the Georgian authorities are working hard to ensure proper safety standards are maintained. However, be aware that, in some instances, safety standards may not be adequately observed. For example, several people were injured when a ski lift at Gudauri malfunctioned in March 2018 and a tourist helicopter crashed near Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) in spring 2019.

Road travel

You can drive in Georgia with a valid UK driving licence for up to one year from your last entry into the country. Beyond this, you will either need an International Driving Permit (IDP), or to apply for a Georgian licence. This is a straightforward process through an application to the Service Agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Holders of a valid UK driving licence do not need to sit a driving exam as part of the application.

If you’re planning to hire a car in Georgia, make sure to check the requirements of the car hire company before you travel. They may require you to have an IDP.

In the UK, International Driving Permits (IDP) are an over the counter service from Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel. Both 1949 and 1968 versions of the permit are acceptable in Georgia.

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’s a zero tolerance policy towards drink driving.

Take care when driving especially at night. Many roads outside central Tbilisi, and other city centres, are badly lit and of poor quality. Stray livestock pose a hazard in many areas. Road markings and the right of way can be confusing. Many cars are poorly maintained and the standard of driving is erratic.

It’s compulsory to wear seat belts in the front seats in Georgia. Children under 12 years of age must sit in the back of the car. Children under 7 years of age must sit in child safety seats.

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

See the RAC guide on driving in Georgia.

Rail travel

Exercise normal caution with your personal safety and belongings when travelling by train. Locks for compartments are usually available on sleeper trains. The cross-border train service between Georgia and Armenia re-opened in June 2021, but the Georgia - Azerbaijan train service is not currently operating.

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.

The FCDO 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.

Terrorist attacks in Georgia can’t be ruled out. Attacks could happen anywhere and could affect western interests and places visited by foreigners, such as tourist sites and cultural events.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

There’s 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.

This page has information on travelling to Georgia.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Georgia set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Georgia’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.

All travellers

The Foreign Ministry website is regularly updated with details of the latest entry requirements. As of 15 June 2022, foreign citizens no longer need to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test result to enter Georgia.

If you’re fully vaccinated

Entry requirements for Georgia are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

Proof of vaccination status

You don’t need to provide proof of your vaccination status for entry to Georgia.

If you’re not fully vaccinated

Entry requirements for Georgia are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

Children and young people

The lifting of entry requirements for all foreign citizens applies to children also.

If you’re transiting Georgia

There are no separate rules for transiting Georgia.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

Passport validity

If you are visiting Georgia, your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required by Georgian legislation. However, you should take into consideration the requirements of any countries you are transiting.

The agreement by the Georgian Government to recognise as valid for residence and visa purposes UK passports of British residents in Georgia that expired after 6 January 2020 or had less than six months’ validity when presented, has now expired.

If you are in Georgia, and your passport has expired, you should apply for a new full validity UK passport. Please use this guidance to complete the application form and submit it at the Visa Application Centre in Tbilisi. If your passport has expired and you need to travel urgently you may be eligible for an Emergency Travel Document. Please follow the passport guidance linked above for more information.

Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

British nationals do not need a visa to enter Georgia for visits of up to one year. If you wish to stay for longer, you would need to apply for a longer term visa category. Contact the Embassy of Georgia in London or visit the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more details on entry requirements.

If you are in Georgia for more than 183 days and take up any form of paid employment, you are automatically liable for income tax and must inform the Revenue Service of your employment, whether you are on a visitor’s permit or officially resident. Non-compliance will be fined.

Travel insurance

Make sure you have a valid travel insurance policy as you may be asked to provide evidence of this by your airline at check-in or by the immigration authorities upon arrival in Georgia. You may face difficulties if you cannot provide evidence of valid travel insurance.

Travelling with medicines

Georgia has a very strict anti-drugs policy, which can also cover prescription and non-prescription drugs or medicines, otherwise commonly available in the UK and the European Union. For example, non-prescription medicines containing codeine are illegal in Georgia. This can cause serious problems for travellers and in some cases lead to administrative and criminal proceedings. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, please contact your nearest Embassy of Georgia.

If you intend to travel with prescription medicine, you must carry a doctor’s prescription and ideally the original packaging. See Health.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

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

Illegal drug use of any kind carries stiff administrative and criminal penalties, including heavy fines and long prison terms. The penalty for smuggling even a very small amount of 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.

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. When travelling outside of the cities be aware of cultural sensitivities around modest dress, particularly when visiting places of worship, and open displays of affection.

LGBT

Homosexuality is legal in Georgia, and the Georgian Parliament has adopted anti-discrimination legislation, but it is still not widely accepted in society. Open displays of affection may result in some discrimination and harassment. There have been some reports of sexuality-motivated harassment and assaults. Discreet annual LGBT events have been protected by police but Pride marches in 2019 and 2021 had to be called off because the police did not guarantee security.

See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Accessibility

Accessibility standards in Georgia are different to those in the UK and EU. Very few public or private facilities are accessible. Most public transport offers no accommodation for persons with disabilities. There are few pavements outside of main cities and where pavements are present they are generally uneven.

Surrogacy

If you’re considering international surrogacy, you should read our ‘Surrogacy guidance for intended parents’.

If you’re visiting Georgia for the purpose of commissioning surrogacy arrangements, you should consider the potential risks and challenges involved in pursuing international surrogacy and seek specialist legal advice on Georgian and UK laws prior to making any arrangements.

Surrogacy is a complex and lengthy process which the British Embassy does not have authority to be involved in.  Commissioning a surrogacy does not mean the child will automatically be entitled to British citizenship. The FCDO and Home Office have produced guidance on this.

Research prospective surrogacy clinics and hospitals thoroughly to ensure you’re dealing with a safe and reputable organisation. The British Embassy cannot recommend specific hospitals or clinics.

From 1 September 2020, Georgian law requires you to provide evidence of marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation of at least a year, before a surrogacy contract can be entered into. You will need to provide evidence that a surrogacy contract was signed before the IVF process began in order to get a birth certificate.

To bring children born through surrogacy to the UK you must apply for a full validity British passport. You will need a Georgian birth certificate for this. You should check the Public Service Hall website, Service Development Agency or Community Centres and research the requirements to leave the country with children (some legal details are in Georgian only).

You should consider the time you will spend in Georgia and plan appropriately. The maximum period of continuous visa-free stay allowed by the Georgian authorities is one year. For more information see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia website.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia

The Government of Georgia does not recognise the unilateral declarations of independence by the breakaway regions of 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 almost all other states, recognises 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 the conflicts after the collapse of the USSR. 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 Europe. A future settlement to these territorial disputes could have consequences for property purchased in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, including possible restitution of the property to its original owners.

If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.

See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For more information on travelling with medicines to Georgia, see Entry requirements. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the Georgian Embassy.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Local medical care

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

The UK does not have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Georgia.

Medical facilities in Tbilisi are available but can be expensive. Outside Tbilisi, medical facilities are limited.

Other health risks

Venomous snakes (vipers) are fairly common, particularly in early summer. Few medical facilities outside of major towns and cities have anti-venom.

Water quality is variable across Georgia. Bottled water is widely available.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

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

Georgia is situated in an area of seismic activity. The most recent significant earthquake took place in February 2022 when an earthquake measuring 6.2 struck 104km south-west of Tbilisi. Small earthquakes are frequent. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see this advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Lightning and wild fires are a potential risk in summer, particularly in the mountains.

The currency in Georgia is the Georgian Lari.

Although prices are occasionally quoted in US dollars and euros, Georgian law requires that all goods and services are paid for in local currency.

Credit and debit cards are widely used in Tbilisi, but less so in the regions. ATMs can be found in major towns. Travellers’ cheques are rarely accepted. Make sure you have sufficient cash in local currency if travelling to rural or remote areas.

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, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (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 FCDO 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 FCDO 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 FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team 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, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.’

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