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Belarus – AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Avoid all travel to Belarus due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws and the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
The ability of the Embassy of Canada to Poland to provide consular services in Belarus is extremely limited. If you are in Belarus you should leave by commercial means.
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Safety and security
Armed conflict in Ukraine
In February 2022, Russia launched a military invasion of Ukraine. Russian forces are conducting military operations from Belarus.
Several countries, including Canada, have imposed sanctions on Belarus for its role in the conflict.
Certain international companies suspended their operations in the country.
This situation is disrupting certain essential services such as:
- banking services
- courier services
Flight options to leave Belarus are very limited. The situation in Belarus could deteriorate further.
The ability of the Embassy of Canada to Poland to provide consular services in Belarus is extremely limited. If you are in Belarus, you should leave by commercial means.
You should not depend on the Government of Canada to help you leave the country.
If you decide to remain in Belarus despite this advisory:
- monitor trustworthy news sources to stay informed on the evolving situation
- ensure that your passport and other travel documents are secure at all times
- review your personal security plans on a daily basis
- make sure you have an adequate supply of cash, essential items and medications
- be prepared to shelter in place
- expect transportation routes and essential services disruptions
- communicate your travel plans to family and friends
- register and update your contact information through the Registration of Canadians Abroad service and encourage other Canadian citizens in Belarus to do so
COVID-19 – Preventative measures and restrictions
COVID-19 preventative measures and restrictions are still in effect in some destinations.
These could include:
- curfews, movement restrictions, or lockdowns
- mandatory mask use
- required proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test result to access public and private services and spaces
Before travelling, verify if specific restrictions or requirements are still in effect.
Foreign Representatives in Canada
Large demonstrations against the government were held in the months following the presidential elections of August 2020. Local authorities responded with a violent crackdown on protesters, and tens of thousands of individuals were detained.
While the demonstrations are now less frequent, authorities are still actively targeting political opposition, journalists, and individuals perceived to be critical of the government, even for activities that took place outside of Belarus. Local authorities may enforce local laws in an arbitrary manner.
Journalists are particularly scrutinized. There are reports of intimidation, harassment and violence against local and foreign journalists, and some have been detained or have had their equipment confiscated.
On May 23, 2021, the Belarusian government forced the diversion of a commercial flight under false pretences to arrest a journalist. Since then, several countries, including Canada, advise their airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace due to serious safety and security concerns. As such, air transportation options to leave Belarus may be restricted.
The political situation remains fluid and unpredictable. Authorities could enforce security restrictions without notice.
If you are in Belarus:
- be vigilant at all times
- avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- expect a heightened security presence and security checks
- avoid expressions of dissent or making statements critical of or sensitive to the government
- monitor local media for the latest information
Security authorities may place foreigners under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones, fax machines and e-mail messages may be monitored. Personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Foreigners have been expelled from the country for working with Belarusian civil-society groups.
Petty crimes such as pickpocketing and purse snatching occur, particularly in the cities of:
Such crimes are especially common after dark in and around hotels and hostels frequented by foreigners.
Be vigilant when crossing the border with Poland at Brest due to the risk of mugging.
Theft of luxury cars is common. Park any vehicle in a secure location or guarded lot, and always keep valuables out of sight.
Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times.
Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash. Always be aware of your surroundings.
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. There is a potential for other violent incidents.
Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.
Demonstrations are frequent. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Debit- and credit-card fraud is common. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
More about overseas fraud
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as the items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Roads are generally in good condition; however, many may be impassable in winter.
Drivers generally have little regard for traffic regulations and do not follow safe-driving practices.
Horse-drawn carts are a common road hazard in rural areas.
Radar traps are widespread.
Use only officially marked taxis and do not share them with strangers. Fares vary greatly, and vehicles are often poorly maintained.
Buses and trolleys are poorly maintained and are usually crowded and unheated.
Exercise caution when travelling by train, especially on sleeper trains to Warsaw and Moscow. Store valuables in a safe place and do not leave your compartment unattended. Ensure that the door is secured from the inside.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
General safety information
Tourist facilities are limited and only available in the larger cities.
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Natural disasters and climate
Belarus is not prone to natural disasters.
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