Foreign travel advice

Georgia

Safety and security

Elections

The first round of Georgia’s parliamentary elections on 8 October 2016 were completed in a generally calm atmosphere, although a bomb exploded in the car of an MP in central Tbilisi, on 4 October 2016 injuring 4 people. There were some incidents of violence around polling stations in Marneuli and Zugdidi.

On 30 October 2016 the second round of parliamentary elections will be held in 50 districts across Georgia. In addition, on 22 October 2016 repeat voting will take place at one polling station in Marneuli and 3 polling stations in Zugdidi. You should take extra care on election days and avoid any political meetings or demonstrations during this period.

Crime

Crime targeting foreigners is not uncommon. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or wear eye-catching jewellery. In Tbilisi you should take care when visiting areas frequented by foreigners like Vake, Saburtalo and the bar area of Akhvlediani Street (formerly known as Perovskaya) near Republic Square.

There have been some reports of sexual assaults by taxi drivers after dark, although these are not thought to be targeted specifically at foreigners. You should avoid flagging down taxis in the street, and consider sitting in the back seat rather than the front. If possible, avoid travelling alone in unfamiliar areas. 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.

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

Local Travel

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.

Be vigilant when travelling or walking and take extra precautions after dark. You should travel by licensed taxi where possible.

While the electricity supply in Georgia has improved, power cuts can still occur. Consider carrying a torch.

Take care if you travel along the E60 road towards Senaki, particularly where it runs very close to South Ossetia between Stepantsminda/Gudauri turnoffs on the E117 (known as the Old Military Highway) and between Gori and Khashuri. These areas, and the Akhalgorii areas, are still at risk of criminal activity. Avoid these roads during the hours of darkness. Hire a professional guide if you’re hiking off the E117 to avoid inadvertently crossing the Administrative Boundary Line into South Ossetia.

There is some risk from unexploded ordinance in areas where fighting took place in August 2008, and in military installations where Russian troops were present.

It is illegal under Georgian law to enter Georgia from Russia via South Ossetia or Abkhazia as there is no official border control. If you enter Georgia in this way you may face criminal prosecution, which carries 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.

Don’t attempt to enter or leave Georgia via the land borders with the Russian Federation (Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia). The FCO advise against travel to these areas of Russia.

If you’re travelling by road from Tbilisi to Yerevan, be aware the route via Vanadzor-Alaverdi-Bagratashen on the Armenian side will also be closed for maintenance work for an estimated 32 months from September 2016.

Mountaineering and extreme sports

If you get into trouble while mountaineering or hiking,  the level of emergency response may be limited.

It can be difficult to get accurate information on mountain conditions. If you are considering trekking or mountaineering you should contact Georgian companies with specialist guides.

Companies providing extreme sports activities may have inadequate safety standards. Two bungee jumpers were killed in July 2012 in an accident in Tbilisi.

Road travel

You can drive in Georgia using a UK driving licence or an International Driving Permit.

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 is a zero tolerance policy towards drink driving.

If possible avoid driving at night. Many roads are badly lit and of poor quality. Stray livestock pose a hazard in many areas. Driving conditions are stressful. Road markings and the right of way can be very confusing. Most cars are poorly maintained, and the standard of driving is erratic.

It is compulsory to wear seat belts in Georgia. Children under 7 years of age must sit in child safety seats.

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

See the RAC guide on driving in Georgia.

Rail Travel

If you travel by train, don’t leave the compartment unattended. Lock the door from the inside.

Air Travel

A list of incidents and accidents in Georgia can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

In 2008 the International Civil Aviation Organisation audit of aviation safety oversight found that the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Georgia was below the global average.

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.