Foreign travel advice

Georgia

Summary

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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 immediately adjacent to the Administrative Boundary Lines with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The British government does not recognise the unilateral declarations of independence made by the de facto authorities in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Consular support is not available in parts of Georgia where we advise against all travel.

Following the large scale demonstration in front of Parliament on the evening of 20 June, there are further planned demonstrations every evening outside Parliament on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi; there may also be demonstrations in the towns of Kutaisi and Batumi and potentially elsewhere.

You should check local media, stay away from large gatherings and demonstrations and follow the advice of local authorities.

Foreign nationals have been detained on arrival in Georgia for possession of medicines that would not normally be problematic in the UK or other countries.

Take care when driving and if possible avoid driving at night.

The political situation in Georgia is generally calm, but demonstrations and opposition rallies occasionally take place. Demonstrations are usually policed. Keep well away from all demonstrations.

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.

Terrorist attacks in Georgia can’t be ruled out.

You can contact the emergency services by calling 112.

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

Safety and security

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 some reports of sexual assaults by taxi drivers after dark, although these are not thought to be targeted specifically at foreigners.

Ethnic minorities and LGBT+ individuals may face discrimination. There have been some reports of racially and sexuality motivated harassment and assaults. Georgian authorities are working to tackle discrimination and the Georgian parliament recently passed new 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 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 FCO travel advice for Russia. The FCO currently advise against all travel to: Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and the districts of Budyonnovsky, Levokumsky, Neftekumsky, Stepnovsky and Kursky in Stavropol Krai. The FCO also advise against all but essential travel to North Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria (including the Elbrus area).

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.

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

You should avoid flagging down taxis in the street, and consider sitting in the back seat rather than the front depending on the availability of working seatbelts. Most taxis are not metered. Taxi apps, which offer a metered service, are available.

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.
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.

If you’re travelling by road from Tbilisi to Yerevan, be aware the route via Vanadzor-Alaverdi-Bagratashen on the Armenian side is expected to be closed for maintenance work until approximately July 2019.

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.

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 need an International Driving Permit (IDP). If you’re planning to hire a car, make sure to check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel. They may require you to have an IDP.

If an IDP is required, you should apply for a 1968 International Driving Permit. 1949 IDPs previously issued by the UK may no longer be accepted for use in Georgia after 28 March 2019. From 1 February 2019, you can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.

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.

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.

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 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

Terrorist attacks in Georgia can’t be ruled out. Attacks could happen anywhere and could affect western interests and places visited by foreigners.

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.

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

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

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.

Travel insurance

We recommend 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. Before travelling, check Georgia’s medication importation regulations on the Ministry of Health website

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

UK Emergency Travel Documents

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

Local laws and customs

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 and open displays of affection particularly in remote areas.

LGBT

Homosexuality is legal in Georgia, and the Georgian Parliament has adopted anti-discrimination legislation, but it is still not widely accepted in society. Annual LGBT events are protected by police but may be subject to harassment and counter protest. Open displays of affection may result in some discrimination and harassment. There have been some reports of sexuality motivated harassment and assaults.

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. However, very few public or private facilities are accessible. Most public transport offers no accommodation for persons with disabilities. There are few paths outside of Tbilisi or Batumi and where paths are present they are generally uneven.

Surrogacy

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 complex and lengthy process. 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.

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 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 the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, including possible restitution of the property to its original owners.

Health

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).

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.

Venomous snakes are 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.

Natural disasters

Georgia is situated in an area of seismic activity. The most recent significant earthquake took place in September 2009 when an earthquake measuring 6.2 struck 156km north-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.

Serious floods affected Tbilisi in 2015.

Lightning and wild fires are a potential risk in summer.

Money

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 not widely accepted. Ensure you have sufficient cash if travelling to rural or remote areas.

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 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. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.