As you already probably know, Belarus is a quite peaceful country – we have enough police and low crime rate, our capital is among the world’s safest, and travelers and expats hardly feel threatened in Belarus.
However, there are a few local rules travelers need to mind to be safe.
Here are the 10 things that are prohibited in Belarus. Read and share with others!
1. No money at passport control
Okay, let’s start from the beginning, aka your entry to Belarus.
Belarus border authorities do a good job notifying travelers with signs that prohibit having money in a passport. However, we feel the need to highlight it again as we understand the excitement you might feel when getting into one of Europe’s less explored countries and just forgetting it all.
Make sure there is no cash, or credit card, or whatever may be considered a bribe in your passport as you hand it for passport control.
You don’t want to be refused entry before you even entered, right?
2. Don’t drink, smoke or swear in public
As much as we’d like to master the relaxed atmosphere of Berlin or Amsterdam, we are not yet there.
While spirits and cigarettes are available at supermarkets, drinking and smoking in public places like streets, parks, stadiums, etc are prohibited in Belarus.
Doing so in a place not intended for that purpose may result in a fine, and an administrative arrest if repeated.
Using foul language in public places in Belarus is regarded as disorderly conduct, and punished like the two violations mentioned above.
3. No crossing at the red light
Rules are meant to be broken, but not in Belarus and not when it comes to road traffic.
Green light and zebra are pedestrian’s best friends – in Minsk and other Belarusian cities and towns.
4. Leave your drone at home
Laws governing the use of drones in Belarus are relatively new and pretty complicated.
In short, their use is allowed except over a number of security zones. There are 256 drone-free zones (MAP) in Minsk, major cities and border areas.
Drones can not fly higher than 100 meters above ground and should remain within the owner’s sight. Drones weighing over 0.5 kg should have owner’s info on them. Aerial photography by drones with camera stabilizer isn’t allowed without permission from the military.
Naturally, drone owners should also observe the rules of moving them across the border and registering them.
Needless to say, the rules of drone use during the 2nd European Games in Minsk are pretty rigid, too. For example, drones and model aircraft cannot be used at sports venues and near the hotels. The equipment will be confiscated from the violators till the end of the Games.
If you’re still determined to bring yours to Minsk 2019, check where not to fly to avoid trouble.
5. No dangerous jokes
Belarusians are people with a good sense of humor, but only if appropriate. To be safe in Belarus, bad jokes better be avoided.
For example, passengers who joke about ‘carrying bombs’ at security checks in Minsk metro risk a fine or even imprisonment. The same holds true at other security checks, say, at the national airport.
6. Flashmobs, rallies, parades
You’ve probably heard of Belarusian order. Well, that’s when it manifests perfectly.
Any sort of large public event in Belarus can be held only if previously allowed by the authorities – or else organizers will face police and fines.
This also applies to participation in unauthorized events.
7. Take pictures but…
You’re probably rather sad by now and thinking Belarus is full of bans. Well, here’s something to cheer you up!
While taking pictures is generally not advised near the so-called “security facilities”, their list has significantly shortened in the past years.
For example, it is now permitted to take pictures in metro and railway stations (which was previously banned). Just make sure you aren’t loaded with pro equipment, flashes and observe common safety rules – otherwise metro and railway staff will ask questions.
The list of buildings not allowed for photographing in Belarus is not public. There is info about the KGB building and the President’s Administration being on this list – and, probably, other buildings and objects related to law enforcement.
What concerns taking pictures of police, no single opinion here. Most likely, if you ask for a picture, they will refuse; if you take a picture of police in a public place, it shouldn’t be a problem.
8. … not with THIS statue
This one statue in Minsk has caused a lot of stir in the media in the past months.
The monument to Minsk Gorodovoi (the title of police officers in the Russian Empire between 1862 and 1917 – note BelarusFeed) located opposite the Ministry of Internal Affairs caught attention when police made a teen, who slapped it, publicly apologize for his action.
Abashed by that, citizens responded with the most innocent acts of disobedience, they ‘attacked’ the statue with hugs and kisses, put a warm scarf on it and even took group selfies. There were also a lot of discussions online.
Several other unexplainable instances of people getting briefly detained for photos with the statue followed, but eventually turmoil calmed down.
However, we’d still recommend to only watch the statue. Better from the other side of the street.
9. Observe the registration deadline
While the term of visa-free stay for tourists expended significantly in the past years, the infamous registration for tourists didn’t move, not for a single day.
Foreigners coming to Belarus must register during 5 business days (except Sunday and public holidays). If you’re staying at a hotel or hostel, they’ll do it for you. If you’re renting a flat of staying at friend’s, the responsibility is all yours.
We recommend not to delay registration and do it at the beginning of your visit to Belarus. Here’s how you do it in person; also you can now register in Belarus online and avoid waiting in governmental offices.
10. No currency payments
Who doesn’t love dollars or euro, but at home, we prefer Belarusian ruble.
Payments by foreign cash aren’t allowed in Belarus – so you need to exchange money. It is near to impossible to find Belarusian rubles abroad, but no need to worry – you’ll find cash exchanges at the National Airport Minsk, and in many places around cities.
What is banned during the 2nd European Games
With the big event coming to Belarus capital, security measures are stepped up.
Selfie sticks, baby strollers, big banners, scooters, and alcohol won’t be allowed at the events.
The drones, as mentioned above, aren’t allowed over arenas and around hotels.
If you’re driving, watch out for lanes marked with the Games signs – they are reserved for special transport and not allowed for movement of other vehicles.
Find out about other bans here.
Images used for illustration only