Safety and security
There is little crime in Belarus but, you should be alert at all times to the possibility of mugging, pickpocketing and theft from vehicles or hotel rooms. Take extra care when travelling by train; there have been instances of theft from travellers, especially on sleeper trains to Warsaw and Moscow.
You must have a valid International Driving Permit to drive legally in Belarus. You must be able to produce ownership documents or a letter of ‘power of attorney’ at border crossings. Only originals of these documents are accepted. You must have third party car insurance or you may get an on-the-spot fine. You can only buy this when entering Belarus. Ask at Customs’ border offices for further information.
Buses may require permits for picking up passengers in Belarus, or for transiting. These permits are free. Find out when a permit is required and how to get one.
Don’t overstay the temporary import terms for your vehicle. Violation of the exit deadline may result in confiscation of your vehicle at the Belarusian border or if stopped at an in-country police checkpoint.
There may be long queues at borders. Customs and immigration can be lengthy and bureaucratic. You should ignore any private facilitators who offer to help you pass through checkpoints and border crossings.
Drivers with foreign licence plates must pay a fee to use toll roads, via an electronic toll collection system. Information can be found on the BelToll website. The website includes toll road maps and guidance on registration, purchase of the required on-board unit, and payment. There are fines for non-compliance, so follow the installation instructions carefully to make sure your vehicle is successfully identified at checkpoints.
The quality of driving in Belarus is unpredictable. A-class highways are in reasonable condition. The condition of B-class roads varies considerably and some are impassable for periods in winter. Road works and potholes are usually poorly marked. Horse and carriage combinations are a specific hazard for drivers in rural unlit areas.
You should observe the speed limit at all times. The standard speed limit is 60 km/h (37 mph) in built up areas; 90 km/h (55 mph) outside built up areas; and up to 120 km/h (74 mph) on motorways (Brest-Moscow). Visiting motorists who have held a driving licence for under 2 years must not exceed 70 km/h (43 mph).
There is a zero-tolerance policy towards drink-driving.
There are police checkpoints on routes throughout the country. You should stop when instructed and have vehicle documentation to hand. You should only make official payments.
There are no internal flights currently available in Belarus.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation has carried out an audit of the implementation level of critical elements of safety oversight in Belarus.
Belarus is governed by a strong Presidential system with the police and security services loyal to it. The authorities show little tolerance for their opposition counterparts. You should maintain a high level of security awareness, particularly in public places and avoid demonstrations.