Belarus Driving Guide
Belarus is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit.
Landlocked by other European countries, Belarus is slowly attracting tourists, especially with more relaxed visa rules despite its political unrest. Belarus is home to some of the most beautiful and ancient castles, national parks, lakes, and rivers. If you are looking for exciting and glamorous events, you can visit the key cities of Belarus. If you prefer the quiet side of Belarus, you can always drive your way to the countryside.
Perhaps one word to describe Belarus is nature. Some call this European country “the lungs of Europe''. Belarus forests occupy 46% of its land area, and diverse national parks are significant parts of the forest's territory. Apart from its forest, Belarus has 20 000 rivers and 11,000 lakes. Not to mention the ancient and jaw-dropping castles and significant historical sites. Going on a road trip to Belarus is sure worth your time!
How Can This Guide Help You?
The best way to fully enjoy driving through Belarus is to have your transportation. If you are not bringing your car with you, you need to rent for your drive in Belarus. Read through further to explore more on Belarus, things you must and must not do when driving into Belarus, needed documents and other requirements to rent a car, and the top destinations in Belarus.
Home to thousands of lakes, misty forests, UNESCO World Heritage sites, dreamy ancient castles, and some destinations depicts its Soviet Union history. Belarus is a place to go for those who sought a quiet and eventful overseas trip. Belarusian also possess warmth, especially for visitors.
Belarus is one of the 16 landlocked countries in Europe. Located in the Eastern part of the continent, Belarus borders Russia to the north and east, Ukraine to the south, Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest, and Poland to the west. Most areas of Belarus consist of flat lowlands separated by low level-topped hills and uplands. Belarus might be known for its majestic castles; however, this is also home to one of the world’s oldest and most extensive forests.
Belarus has two official languages - Russian and Belarusian. Russian is widely spoken, with 72% of Belarus people who can understand and use it, mostly in Belarus’s cities. Meanwhile, Belarusian is spoken by approximately 11% of the population. The Belarusian language officially became an official language in 1990 that replaced Russia, widely used under Soviet rule.
Other languages spoken in Belarus are Ukrainian, Transianka, Polish and Eastern Yiddish. English is taught in schools, and some street signs in the cities also have English translations already but are not widely spoken in Belarus. You might as well learn some Russian and Belarusian words and phrases before visiting and driving through Belarus.
Belarus is Europe’s largest landlocked country, with an area of 207 600 square kilometers. It is covered with young glacial formations, mainly gravel and sand—vast, marshy land of Polesye to the south. Several larger rivers can also be seen from the southwest and northeast of Belarus. 42% of the land area of Belarus is used for agriculture. An estimated 8.2 hectares of land is cultivated for permanent crops and permanent meadows.
Different states at different times controlled the lands of Belarus. This includes Kievan Rus’, the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy Lithuania, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire. Belarus was part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) or the Soviet Union founded in 1922 and other 14 countries, a one-party state governed by the Communist party, with Moscow as its capital.
The Soviet Union has more than 100 distinct nationalities living within its borders. Belarus gained independence first on March 25, 1918. However, the country was retaken by Stalin’s Russia in 1944, which Nazi Germany occupied. It remained under Soviet control until declaring its sovereignty in 1990 and independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)on August 25, 1991.
Belarus has a presidential republic form of government. The president is the head of state in Belarus, and the government exercises the executive power. At its top is the prime minister, who the president appoints. As of August 2020, there are 30 members of the Council of Ministers, including the head of presidential administration and the State Committees’ chairmen.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization recorded close to 3.6 million people visited on vacation, leisure, or recreational purposes in 2019. Additional 5.39 million visitors arrived in the country for other personal purposes. The tourist arrivals for Belarus continue to increase each year, and it could reach much higher with the opening of visa-free programs to many countries.
International Driver’s Permit FAQs
International Driver’s Permit (IDP) translates your native driver’s license to 12 UN-recognized languages. This is essential when you are driving to Belarus, especially when renting a car. Checkpoints are common in Belarus borders, so it’s better to have your IDP when driving to Belarus. Read further to know more about the things you need to know in using your IDP in your Belarus travel.
What Countries Recognize IDP?
Your International Driving Permit is valid in over 150 countries worldwide. When driving a car in Belarus, your native driver’s license and IDP should go together and other documents that police might need, especially at checkpoints. There can be exemptions on having an IDP like those from the United Kingdom.
All drivers from the United Kingdom or the UK with a photocard licence can use it while driving a car in Belarus. For other UK licenses, drivers must secure an International Driver’s Permit. All other countries, aside from the UK, must secure an IDP before driving to Belarus to avoid authorities’ trouble. If you are from the United States and plan to visit Belarus, you also need to secure an IDP. You must have with you your IDP when driving in Belarus, with your US license.
How Can I Get an IDP Quickly?
You can secure an IDP online, and within two hours, you will receive a digital copy of your IDP sent to your email. The physical copy of our IDP will be shipped to your location. Before driving in Belarus, ensure to provide the zip code of your exact shipping address to avoid confusion during the shipment. An IDP costs $49, valid for a year, and you can always renew it once it expires. When renewing your IDP, follow the same steps as your first application.
Do I Need an IDP in Belarus?
If you plan on driving to Belarus, an IDP is not necessarily needed for those from the UK who hold a photocard license. However, most rental companies in Belarus require you to get an IDP to rent a car. You also need to have an IDP if you plan on driving from Belarus to Ukraine and other neighboring countries like Lithuania and Poland, to name a few. You can only drive with your IDP for three months; beyond that, you need to get a Belarusian driver’s license.
A foreign visitor who travels and drives to Belarus should have an IDP. Authorities might ask for your IDP, especially at checkpoints or if you break some driving laws in Belarus. One of the things you have to consider when driving a car in Belarus is a complete set of documents to drive in the country legally. You have to follow the driving laws in Belarus because once you are caught violating the rules, there’s a possibility that you have to pay the penalties for your violation.
Renting A Car in Belarus
Less traffic, especially in the countryside, along with picturesque landscapes while driving in Belarus. It's a good idea to rent a car instead of taking public transportation so you have more freedom in choosing your itinerary. These are some of the things you picture in your head before your trip. And the best way to fully experience the Belarusian destinations is to have your transportation. This way, you will have the freedom to manage your time. Read through the next chapters for more information on renting a car in Belarus.
Car Rental Companies
There are many car rental companies in Belarus where you can choose from. The most affordable and most popular is the Budget. Some travelers have found deals for as low as $31 per day in some locations. However, bear in mind that prices vary on your car rental needs.
Keddy by Europcar is another car rental company that has the most number of locations in Belarus. Currently, there are 19 car rental centers across the country. So you will not have any problems renting a car wherever you are in Belarus. In Minsk, for example, Keddy by Europcar has ten car rental centers.
There’s not much required when renting a car in Belarus. You need to have your driver’s license valid for a minimum of two years and a valid identification card. A valid passport will suffice. If your license is not in the language used in the country you are going to visit, be sure to have your International Driver’s Permit to go along with your native driver’s license.
Having a photocard UK driving license alone is granted by rental companies and allowed when driving in Belarus. It is critical to note that if your license is not a photocard type of driving license, you have to secure an International Driver’s Permit or IDP. Before getting an IDP and driving in Belarus, provide your zip code with your address, name, and email address must be upon application.
The compact is the most common and popular type of car rented by travelers in Belarus. If you are driving to Belarus with a group, some car rental companies offer 15-16 seater cars that usually fall in the category of minivans. The choice of a car depends on your travel needs. Are you traveling with a large group of people or are you on a business trip? You can have a larger car where passengers can travel without having to sacrifice luggage space.
Car Rental Cost
Primary car rental inclusion usually comprises unlimited mileage, third party insurance, local taxes, and other add-ons. That is why it is essential to check first on the inclusions first of your rental packages before. Additional charges will typically include car seats for kids, another driver, GPS, WIFI, and winter tires.
Remember that you can opt to include in the agreement with your car rental company the crossing of borders. Since Belarus is a landlocked country, it is bordered by several countries. There is an additional cost if you plan on driving from Belarus to its neighboring countries like Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, and Latvia. This is an add-on to your package as some car rentals will not allow tourists to cross borders with their rented cars.
The minimum driving age in Belarus is 18 years old for locals. Most car rentals require them to be at least 19 years old for tourists who wish to rent a car. However, for 19 until 24 years old, car rentals mostly add a young driver surcharge. Driving in Belarus below the age limit is just like driving without a license in the country, so don’t risk it and follow this basic traffic law.
Car Insurance Cost
A traveler should consider when they rent a car from a foreign land is insurance. A car with insurance is a must when you want to use a vehicle for your Belarusian trip. The basic car insurance when renting a car is the third party liability. It covers you for any claims from other parties involved for damages. You can check the degree of the cover of your insurance once you decide to rent a car.
Car Insurance Policy
The Collision/Loss Damage Waiver (CDW or LDW) covers the stolen or damaged vehicle. Other policies include supplementary loss protection and Personal Accident Insurance. You can also add Full Protection policy, covering everything from roadside assistance to accident-related fees and other damages. You can check the coverages of each insurance before including them in your package.
The Road Rules in Belarus
Visiting foreign countries is not just about knowing what to do and preparing the necessary documents. It is also about understanding and familiarizing the road rules, primarily if your plan drives around Belarus. Here are some essential road rules that you must know while driving in Belarus:
Rules of the road and traffic regulations must be followed not just but also by tourists. To legally drive in Belarus, one must be at least 18 years old for locals and 19 years old for tourists. Your important documents must be readily available while you are driving. Here are some essential rules you need to remember and tips for driving in Belarus.
Driving under the influence is illegal in Belarus. The zero tolerance for those who violate this law, tourists and locals alike. Authorities have the right to stop, test, and apprehend you if you are caught driving drunk. The alcohol content limit is 0.00% for all drivers driving in Belarus. You will be fined as much as €330 and suspension of your driver’s license.
Turning Signals at an Intersection
Traffic police are everywhere, so you must follow road rules to avoid penalties. Regardless of any authorities monitoring you, it is proper to give signals to other drivers. Either on intersections or when overtaking, you need to inform them by turning on your signal lights.
Parking meters are available in some areas in Belarus, where you will be ticketed and charged depending on the length of your parking. If your destination does not offer free parking, make sure to secure a parking space that is well-lit and not too far from your stopover. Open parking spaces are reserved for disabled motorists. It is usually signed with a blue sign with a white “P.”
Note that illegal parking in Belarus means the police can tow your car. It goes along with a corresponding fine, and it could double if you are caught doing it again. You cannot park at pedestrian crossings, on and under bridges, overpasses, railway crossings, tramways, and public transport stations.
Ensure you and your vehicle are in good condition before driving.
It is important to inspect your vehicle if it functions well from the engine to car doors, to windows, wipers, tires, and the physical look if they are in good condition. If you spot some scratches or bumps, make sure to report them immediately to the car rental company to avoid additional charges to your account. For sure, you do not want to pay extra for things you are not responsible for.
It is required by law to get headlamp beam deflectors, warning triangle, fire extinguisher, and first aid kit. Drivers of foreign vehicles should also have them in their vehicles. These are essential when on the road you meet an accident. On-the-spot fines will be issued to those who fail to carry these items. Before driving in Belarus, don’t forget to have with you your driving license, IDP, passport, and other documents needed. If you want smooth navigation and driving in Belarus, maps and mobile apps can help you.
Don’t Use Your Phone While Driving.
When you are driving in Belarus, you might see some drivers using handheld phones while driving. However, it is recommended that you don’t. If you are expecting a call, you can use the hands-free system. Using handheld phones while driving is not allowed in Belarus, to stay away from danger and huge fines from authorities. You can also park somewhere safe if there is an urgent need to use your phone.
General Standards of Driving
Belarusian authorities are very keen on the implementation of laws on the road. It is essential to follow these rules to avoid huge penalties and accidents while enjoying your trip to Belarus. Read further to some of the things you must note when driving in Belarus.
Speed limits in Belarus vary from place to place. In urban areas, you are not allowed to go over 60KPH on your car speed. Meanwhile, for rural areas, you can drive at a maximum speed of 90KPH and on motorways at 120KPH. If you are caught overspeeding with your rental car, authorities will let the rental agent know the penalty and administration fee to add to that.
Fixed speed cameras are in place, especially on major routes around the capital. Authorities are also on mobile speed traps and will have zero tolerance for overspeeding. There is no speed limit implemented for vehicles with spiked tires that are mostly used during the winter, but it has to have a sign at the back so that cars at the end can keep their distance.
It is mandatory to fasten seat belts when driving in Belarus. This applies not only to the driver but also to front seat and rear passengers. By Belarusian law, children below 12 years old must be seated at the car’s rear seat and have a suitable child restraint. Be mindful of this, as police checks are frequent in Belarus to avoid penalties.
Minsk, which is the capital of Belarus, draws quite many cars, especially during rush hour. However, if you go outside the big cities, you will find that driving through Belarusian roads is not the type that can cause some headaches. There are just some areas, especially in the countryside where roadworks are being done, hence potholes.
Do note that as you go along your trip to the countryside, horses and carriages can also cause danger on the road if you are not focused on driving. There are motorways in Belarus for faster travel from place to place with their corresponding tolls.
Traffic Road Signs
Significant road signs in Europe comply with the Vienna International Convention; thus, visitors who come to Belarus from the European Union should be familiar with such roads. Most road signs in Cyrillic script, but signs on the main transport are repeated in the Latin alphabet (English).
Here are some of the road signs that you might see while driving in Belarus:
- For warning road signs: slippery road surface, traffic signals ahead, steep descent, road hump, two-way traffic, crossing cattle, wild animals, pedestrian crossing, cyclists, etc.
- For priority road signs: stop, give way to oncoming traffic, give way, crossroads with priority to the right, priority road, etc.
- For mandatory road signs: turn right, cycle path, bridle path (a path used for horseback riding), keep left, turn left or right, etc.
Some signs may not be familiar to you, so it pays to have your 100 percent focus on driving. This is to avoid accidents while you are on a trip.
Right of Way
Pedestrians have the right of way in Belarus. So be sure to slow down when nearing a pedestrian lane since it is obligatory to yield to pedestrians. But take note that you will only let the pedestrians cross on its designated crossing. Vehicles driven by locals do generally not stop or slow down when it is not a pedestrian crossing, even with people opting to cross the street.
Legal Driving Age
A local Belarusian is allowed to drive when s/he is 18 years of age, given that you have your valid local driver’s license. Foreigners driving in Belarus with a driving license issued in their county are accepted to carry an IDP with them. You must remember that a valid license is of the primary documents authorities might ask from you in case of police checks.
Laws on Overtaking
There is no specific law in Belarus on overtaking. However, it is best to be familiar with how Belarusian drivers handle overtaking. You overtake on the left with care. Some drivers would want you to move to the far right so that they can overtake, especially on narrower roads in the countryside. It is unethical to use horns while driving in Belarus, so refrain from doing it to signal that you want to overtake.
You have to remember to drive on the right side of the road when driving in Belarus. An elementary road rule might be disregarded by some, especially in places where streets are not filled with cars. Belarus is one of the world’s countries that takes the right side of the road when driving. Your driving license can be seized as well to hinder you from driving in Belarus during your trip.
Driving Etiquette in Belarus
Unfortunate events might come your way while you drive in Belarus. From minor to major car problems and accidents involving another vehicle, or in the case of Belarus, you might get involved with animals crossing the countryside streets. You will also have to communicate with locals, so be courteous and friendly.
No matter how you prepare for your trip in terms of your vehicle’s readiness, it can’t be avoided that your car may break down in the middle of your journey. If your car breaks down while you are on the road, move your vehicle as far out as out of the road. Ask for assistance from the police or your car rental company immediately.
From the start of your trip, remember you brought warning devices with you. These are useful in these situations. You can place your warning triangle at the back of your car to signal oncoming vehicles of a broken-down car. During the night, use the beam deflectors so motorists moving towards your car can see the warning device.
If authorities signal you to pull over, it’s either they want to check your documents, or you violated road rules. Never speed away; instead, slow down and communicate properly. Listen first to the authorities’ query and if you have broken any law, confirm the severity of the violation.
Police in Belarus usually does on-the-spot fines for minor violations. You need to be ready with travel documents such as your driving license, International Driver’s Permit, and other identification. It’s common in Belarus for authorities to stop drivers and check their papers, especially if they have foreign license plates.
If you don’t have a GPS, one of the easiest ways to get directions is to reach out to locals aside from the road signs you also have to pay attention to. Belarusians are welcoming and friendly. Hospitality is part of their tradition. However, since most here speak the Belarusian and Russian languages, you might want to know some phrases to create a rapport when asking for directions.
Pronounced: “Dobry dzień!”
“Прыемна пазнаёміцца/ Da pabachjennja”
Pronounced: “Da pa-bach-jennja”
- Do you speak English?
“Вы кажаце па англіскі?”
Pronounced: “Tee ruzmauljaesh pa-angel’sku?”
- Sorry, could you help me?
“Извините, не могли бы Вы мне помочь?”
Pronounced: “Izvinite, ne mogli bi vi mne pomoch?”
- Excuse me, where is…?
“Не подскажете, как пройти до…?”
Pronounced: “Ne podskajite kak proiti do…?”
- Thank you!
Checkpoints are frequent on Belarusian roads. Don’t feel intimidated. Stay composed and calm. Never give them the impression that you are a threat to the country. Cooperate with what they have to stay but stay vigilant as they might ask you to do something that is not included in the inspection procedure at checkpoints. Talk nicely and be polite when conversing with the authorities.
Keep your travel documents available, as they might ask for them. Note that if you are in Belarus’s visa-free program, you can only stay for a maximum of thirty days. Thus, driving in Belarus with an expired visa is illegal, and the police might apprehend you. Even if you have a valid passport and driving license, it will not replace your expired visa to drive in Belarus legally. Never jeopardize your trip with lacking and expired travel documents.
Take note of some driving in Belarus tips in cases like crossing borders or getting involved in accidents. Read more below.
In Case of Accidents
Never leave and speed away from the scene. You can do so if you feel like your safety is at risk. Immediately call the police (102) or emergency responder (101). While waiting for authorities to respond, secure the area, pull out your early warning devices to signal motorists of an accident ahead. You may also call your car rental company to assist you with possible damage claims that the other parties might ask from your side.
Also, make sure to assess the situation if there are injured people involved in the accident. You can’t leave the location of the accident unless you need urgent medication due to the accident. Police or responders will surely ask both parties questions about what happened and the possibilities of parties asking for possible car damages claims.
Driving in Belarus now, most car rental companies allow you to cross country borders, but they might charge you an additional fee for that. There are also specifications as to what countries you are only allowed to cross. When crossing borders from driving in Belarus, another visa might be a requirement to cross countries successfully. Be sure to confirm other specifications if you plan to cross countries, such as insurance coverages, mileage, drop-off, and pick-up services.
Driving Situations and Conditions
There are not many accidents in Belarus. Thanks to its strict implementation of the rules and regulations on the road. And locals and foreign drivers alike following religiously with its laws. That is why it is essential to be on the lookout while driving to avoid possible accidents.
The data from the World Health Organization in 2018, there were 1 186 deaths in Belarus or 1.06% of total deaths in the country. Belarus is ranked 121st in the world for the most number of deaths due to road accidents. Accidents on roads ranked 13th on the Top %0 causes of death in Belarus. While there are not many fatal road accidents in Belarus like most countries, it is still safe to be vigilant when driving in Belarus. It pays to drive defensively while on foreign roads.
There are approximately 3.6 million car owners in Belarus out of the country’s more than nine million people. It already includes buses and trucks that pass through rural and big cities in Belarus. Most Belarusian drive compact cars. However, there is a small percentage of those driving luxury cars. And even tourists who travel to Belarus can opt to drive luxury cars.
There are several toll roads in Belarus. Most of them start at the country’s capital, Minsk going to the regions of Vitebsk, Grodno, and Gomel, and some cities and districts healing to the borders of the Russian Federation, Republic of Poland, and Lithuania. The rates for tolls depend on the maximum laden weight of a vehicle and the number of axles. Belarus uses the BelToll technology that enables road users to pay a toll without making a stop at toll plazas.
Rates start at € 0.040 per kilometer for motor vehicles with a maximum laden weight of 3.5 tons and less. It is important to equip your vehicle with an on-board unit (OBU), available from the BelToll customer service points. When cars pass a toll station, the electronic toll collection system will automatically draw money from your OBU. It serves as your prepaid card while passing through toll roads in Belarus. Every OBU is available with a €20 deposit.
Roads vary from congested roads in the big cities to light traffic in the countryside. Streets in Belarus, for example, in Minsk, is a challenge in itself. Driving in Belarus back in July 2020 was a handful due to people lining up outside the national elections commission for different political protests. July is also a busy day for the country as it celebrates its Independence Day. Plan your trip when driving in Belarus as last July 2020 they just had their independence day celebration.
Driving in Belarus is typically not that hard, especially if you are already familiar with the road signs and road conditions going to your destinations. Roads are also paved, except for some that are under construction. You can’t count out some local drivers violating some streets, especially in areas with no traffic officers.
Belarus has strict implementations with the road rules resulting in locals following these regulations. Authorities have zero tolerance for those who violate the law. They even have police manning the streetside to ensure the rules are never broken. You can pay hefty fines if you are caught not following road rules. Belarusian people are serious about abiding by the laws, and it is evident with the road accidents recorded yearly compared to those of other countries.
Road signs in Belarus also indicate different speed limits on particular areas. It is essential to identify them correctly with the numbers and the corresponding unit used. Read more below about speed limits and night driving in Belarus.
What is the Unit to Measure Speed in Belarus?
There are two units used to measure speed. First is the MPH (mile per hour) and KPH (kilometers per hour) used by different countries. The speed limit in Belarus is in kilometers per hour (KPH). Currently, there are 9% of countries around the world that use MPH as a unit to measure speed. The US and 16 others are among the 9%. Speed limits in Belarus must be strictly followed.
How Safe Is It to Drive in Belarus at Night?
All major streets, especially in key cities, are generally wide and well lit when it's dark, so you will not have any problem driving at night. However, some rural roads in Belarus have potholes that may not be very visible during the night. Many unlit streets and pedestrians walk on dark streets, so you must pay extra attention when driving at night. Remember that motorists tend to pedestrians most of the time. Be mindful as well of pedestrian road signs ahead.
Things To Do in Belarus
There may have been political demonstrations here and there in Belarus as of now, but the country is slowly opening to more visitors from other parts of the world. A testament to that is the visa-free program they are offering to close to 80 countries worldwide. Belarus offers quiet, exciting, and interesting landmarks that you would not want to miss.
Drive as A Tourist
You can always drive as a tourist in Belarus. Possession of a driving licence is a legal requirement in Belarus. It is not required to have an International Driver’s Permit for those who own a photocard type of the UK driving license to drive in Belarus. For other UK licenses and other countries, car rental agencies and authorities will ask for your IDP. Your passport and other travel documents can also come in handy to prevent getting into trouble while on our Belarusian trip.
You are still required to secure an International Driver’s Permit when driving in Belarus with a US license; only the UK driving license holder with a photocard is allowed to drive in Belarus without an IDP. It is fast and easy to secure an IDP online if you plan on driving in Belarus now but does not have an IDP yet. You will receive the digital copy of your IDP in just two hours, and the physical copy will be shipped to your desired location.
Work As a Driver
There is a high demand for blue-collar and skilled workers in Belarus. For foreigners arriving in the country for employment, a driving job is one of their options. It could be a bus driver, taxi driver, or truck driver. The average yearly salary for a driver in Belarus is BYN 6 078, with 1-3 years of experience. It depends on the company you are about to apply to.
Foreigners to legally work in Belarus must secure a work visa. You can stay in Belarus for up to 90 days and work with a temporary registration or a Type C visa. Type D visas are for long term stays in Belarus. To apply for visas, you need to provide the following:
- Identification document; it could be your passport.
- Employment record book from your employer-issued in your country
- Certification of your education of studies
- Insurance certificate
- Medical certificate
- Mandatory health insurance contract
- Other documents related to your job
Work as a Travel Guide
The tourism industry in Belarus has produced employment for job seekers. When working in the tourism industry in a foreign country, a travel guide would require you to know about Belarus and its destinations. There are accreditations that you have to secure from the National Tourism Agency of the Republic of Belarus. This way, you can assure tourists that you can give and present facts about a specific place in the country.
Apply for Residency
Those who have lived in Belarus for five years with their temporary residence permit can apply for a residency. Below are the categories to qualify for Belarusian residency:
- Family reunion and marriage registration
- Study and training
- Investment in the Belarusian economy
- Outstanding personalities
- Refugee status
- Sedentary travel
Application for a residency in Belarus will take about one to six months, depending on the purpose of securing one. You can either apply and secure necessary forms from the Citizenship and Migration Department of the Department of Internal Affairs of the Minsk District Executive Committee.
The residency permit is valid for two years and can be extended to five years. If you want to apply for citizenship in Belarus, you need to be a resident for at least seven years. A visitor who has reached the age of eighteen can apply for Belarusian citizenship.
Other Things To Do
If you plan to stay longer in Belarus and drive, you need to secure a license in Belarus. Read more below on the process and the documents you need to submit.
Can A Foreigner Obtain a Belarusian License?
Make sure to secure a Belarusian driving license within three months from your permanent residency. Ninety days after receiving a passport as a citizen of Belarus, you cannot drive around the country using a foreign license. You have to successfully pass the theoretical exam as one of the requirements in getting a Belarusian license. This is in the Russian language so you must learn the language as well. Belarusian driving license is valid for ten years.
Additional documents that you need to provide are the following:
- Foreign driver’s license and photocopy of it
- Medical certificate
- Passport or other document indicating the place of residence
- Receipts of payments for processing a Belarusian driver’s license
300Br for a driver’s license and a coupon
18Br for computer services and filing an application
The Top Destinations in Belarus
From ancient castles to UNESCO World Heritage Sites to biodiversity to thousands of lakes and rivers, Belarus has it. With an estimated 20 000 rivers and 11 000 lakes, you would want to miss some of these picturesque destinations while you are in the country. When driving in Belarus, maps or even mobile apps such as Waze or Google Maps can help you navigate throughout the country.
You could say that the country’s capital, Minsk is a mix of a modern and historic city. The architecture of the city was affected by the Second World War. The city became the site of one of the largest Nazi-run ghetto, temporarily housing over 100,000 Jews. Minsk was built from scratch after the war, with wide streets and Stalin style buildings. You can still see traces of the Soviet rule from museums and other significant areas in the city.
- From Minsk National Airport, head northeast
- Toll road
- Continue onto М2
- Toll road
- Take the exit toward М2.
- Continue onto М2
- Continue onto Independence Avenue
- At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit and stay on Independence Avenue.
Things To Do
Whether you want to discover more about history, shop, or enjoy the bustling city, Minsk has all of them for you. Read more below for things you can do in the capital.
- Walk along the Independence Square
This is 7 hectares wide and is considered one of the largest public squares in Europe. You can have your evening stroll here with pretty water fountains and dancing lights. With its large area, here lies Independence Avenue as well, where you can enjoy cafes, restaurants, clubs, music events, and shopping opportunities.
2. Take colorful photos at Oktyabrskaya street
These were previously buildings of a former yeast factory, metalworking plant, and tannery, but now it boasts giant graffiti on its walls. In 2014, a group of street artists, architects, and designers from Brazil and Belarus turned this street into a center of attraction for creative youth and a cultural hub. There’s a collage here of endangered species in Belarus, including deer and bison, covering more than 3000 square meters.
3. Visit Sts. Simon and Helena Church
The church is also known as the “Red Church” because of its red brick walls. The church’s official name is rare, and probably no other church uses it since the church’s name was to commemorate the death of two children, Simon and Helena Wojnilowicz. They were members of a Belarusian aristocratic family. The church is now the center for religious, cultural, and social life in Minsk after reopening in 1990.
4. Watch world-class ballet performances at the Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater of Belarus.
The theater was designed by architect Iosif Lanbgard and officially opened in 1939. The theater became popular after staging Belarusian operas and ballets like the Forests of Polesie opera by A. Bogatyrev. However, the building suffered from bombing during the Second World War. The reconstruction started in 1947 and finished in 2009. Now it stages world-famous and alternative international opera and ballet performances.
5. Feed Squirrels at Yanka Kupala Park
The park can be very picturesque during the Autumn season. Minsk is known to be a very green city with a lot of parks. This one in Yanka Kupala Park is just adjacent to Bolshoi theater, where you can find squirrels also strolling along the park. You can relax with them and even feed them if you have food. There are many of them here so that you can spot them immediately.
Braslav is a small town in the district of Vitebsk in the north-east of Belarus. The town and its outskirts boast picturesque lakes and ancient buildings for you to explore. This ancient town is one of the most-visited summer resorts in Belarus due to its beautiful lakes, untouched nature, and warm people.
- From Vitebsk Vostochny Airport, head northwest on М-8 Vitebsk airport toward M8/Е95
- Follow Vitebsk bypass, Р20, and P14/Р14 to Sloboda street in Braslav.
- Drive to Lenin Street
- Turn right onto Sloboda street.
- Turn left onto Lenin Street.
- Destination will be on the right.
Things To Do
Besides exploring the five beautiful lakes in town, there are several historical sites around that can be your side trip before leaving Braslav. Read more below.
- Explore the Braslav Lakes National Park
If you want to know what was left of the ancient glacier, then the lakes in the town of Braslav in Belarus will be your destination. Here your eyes will be treated by 74 lakes with different sizes, depth, composition, water transparency, flora, and fauna. The lakes are popularly called “the blue necklace” of Belarus because of their azure waters. Tourists can see wild animals in open-air cages; most of them are common fauna representatives of the Belarusian Lake Area.
2. Have a bird’s-eye view of the lakes and the city at the Braslav Castle Hill
During the middle ages, the hill housed a wooden castle, and the first fortifications stood here during the 8th to 9th centuries, where settlers leveled the top, poured shafts for defense, and built walls. History says, on this hill, Braslav was born. At the center of the hill are wooden sculptures, made in honor of the heroes about the foundation of Braslav. Visitors frequent here to rest after exploring the town and enjoy a nice view from the hill.
3. Learn more about local artisans at the Museum of Traditional Culture
Inside the museum is a combination of locals crafts presentations and workshops. It hosts cultural events, such as craft classes from September to May, to develop technology and traditional crafts production. It holds workshops on displaying birds of straw, whistles, the weaving of belts on the board, and pottery during the holidays. You can even score some traditional crafts from local artisans as souvenirs.
4. Visit the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary
This church usually stands out to visitors because of its unique exterior. Its architecture is of Romanesque style with a unique technique of masonry walls with stones. The space between the stones filled with colorful stones, making it look like a mosaic. The church was a stone church in 1824 before it became what it is now. Its facade has a three-tiered bell tower while the arch-shaped windows channel the sunlight to its interior.
5. Check out a water mill and a hospital made of bricks and stones.
There is a massive water mill built in the early 20th century from bricks and stones and now serves as a museum. Meanwhile, in 1906, talented doctor Stanislav Narbutt built a hospital in Braslav that met all European medicine requirements. Inside the exquisite brick decor of walls, he conducted complex operations and saved both adults’ and children’s lives. The hospital now houses an Orthodox monastery.
Brest is one of the ancient cities in Belarus. Local legends revealed a temple built in the city educated to the pagan Veles, and later in its place, a fortress was built. It is home to several historical sites like churches, streets, national parks, and museums. Going to Brest from Minsk could take you long hours drives, but as tourists say, never leave Belarus without visiting Brest.
- From Brest Airport, head northeast
- Keep left at the fork and merge onto E30/M1.
- Keep left
- Continue onto Moscow Street
Things To Do
While you are in Brest, expect the best from historic churches, ancient national park, and picturesque fortress. Read below for more destinations you should visit while in the city.
- Watch the wildlife in Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park.
The Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park is what’s left of the primeval forest. In 1992, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park’s main attraction is the large population of bison, with 1,200 to 4,500 bison inside, housing the second largest bison population in the world. The park, located within Brest and Grodno Regions, is home to more than 900 plants and 250 animals and bird species; some are endangered already.
2. Visit the Residence of Father Frost
The residence of Father Frost is a 15-hectare property inside Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park. This is a good fairytale destination after watching the wildlife. Houses here have hand-carved wooden fretwork and sculptures or fairytale characters as decorations. There are games, contests, and Belarusian cuisine offered in Father Frost’s hut. Unique fairytale gifts such as traditional amulet dolls are here as souvenirs.
3. Explore the Soviet Era at the Brest Fortress
The Brest fortress is the symbol of Soviet resistance during the Second World War. This became the shrine to the terrible and heroic events that took place during the war. Inside the large complex are original ruins of the fortress, ramparts, and modern art installations. A 33.5 meter-high giant sculpture called “Courage” is made of stone that tells the heroic defense of the fortress through a series of carvings.
4. See century-old artifacts at the Berestye Archaeological Museum.
In 1968, archeologists from the Belarusian Academy of Sciences discovered an artisan’s neighborhood on the site, from four meters underground. The neighborhood had dozens of wooden buildings, pavements, wooden fences, and over 1,400 artifacts dating back to the 10th and 14th centuries. The site is now preserved, giving visitors a glimpse of the ancient Slavonic town, the arts and trades, and residents’ daily lives.
5. Ride on some of the trains at the Brest Railway Museum
The museum has a huge open-air section that exhibits more than 50 locomotives from steam, diesel, and electric engines. If you are curious about the railway system during the Soviet era, then you should visit here. There will be a guide who will explain about the trains. You can climb and enter the trains and check out what’s inside. The site also has a small interior museum with miniatures, memorabilia, and postcards for souvenirs.
Mir is a charming small town in Grodno Region that resembles rural Belarusian life. The town was founded in 1345 and became a tourist destination because of its late medieval castle. Because of its urban-style settlement, Mir became one of Belarus’s destinations where tourists found peace and break from their trip.
- From Minsk National Airport, head northeast
- Toll road
- Continue onto М2
- Toll road
- Get on E30/M1
- Follow E30/M1 to Р64. Exit from E30/M1
- Follow Р64 to Krasnoarmeyskaya Street/Р11 in Мір
Things To Do
Slow-paced exploration is what you can expect from this town in Belarus. However, you can guarantee that your stop in Mir will be worth it. Read more below to find out what this small town has to offer.
1. Explore Mir Castle
Dated back in the 16th century, the Mir castle’s architectural beauty is built in Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance styles and is heavily surrounded by fortification walls. During the Napoleonic wars, it received canon fires and was severely damaged. However, restoration began in 1891, and in December 2000, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is not only a historic landmark; the castle also hosts conferences.
2. Stroll along the stunning gardens in Mir Castle
Apart from the jaw-dropping architecture, you can also experience walking through stunning flower gardens in Italian style and vast artificial lakes. The Mir castle’s grounds also have a chapel with the Sviatopolk-Mirsky Princes’ burial and a Mir ghetto memorial. You can visit the castle early to avoid large crowds.
3. Visit the Church of St. Nicholas
The church is another Belarusian landmark built during the 16th and 17th centuries affected during the Soviet period. The church is from a stone, three-nave basilica with three towers. Roman Catholics frequently pray, and tourists frequent this place to appreciate the structure and interior. Warm people will welcome you when you arrive at the church.
4. Take a side trip to the Holy Trinity Church.
It is an Orthodox church located just near Mir Castle. Most tourists, after exploring the castle, would go here to check the place. The church’s construction started in 1533 to 1550, and if you would take a lot at its structure, it resembles a cross. The structure is well-preserved and still holds worship services during the holidays. It is also an excellent place to relax and calm down after hours of exploring the town.
5. Head your way to the Market Square
The Market Square used to be the center of trading and handicraft during the first half of the 17th century; now, it houses the synagogue court buildings: synagogue, yeshiva, and heder. Inside the Market Square are the churches of the Holy Trinity and St. Nicholas. For locals, it is still called the Market Square, but it’s presently called the 17th September Square.
Grodno lies on Belarus’s western side, just 15 kilometers from the Polish border and 30 kilometers away from Lithuania. The city is the final frontier between the European Union and what was once the former Soviet Union. Considered to be a hidden pearl, the city of Grodno has one of the largest concentrations of Roman Catholics and the center of Polish culture.
- From Grodno Airport, continue to M6.
- Head west toward Р-148
- Turn right onto Р-148.
- Keep left to stay on Р-148.
- Merge onto M6
- Continue on Kliatsko Avenue. Take Yanka Kupala Avenue to Soviet Border Guards Sts.
- Turn left onto праспект Кляцкова/просп. Клецкова
- Take the ramp
- Turn right toward Yanka Kupala Avenue.
- Slight right onto Yanka Kupala Avenue
- Merge onto Victory Street
- Continue onto Soviet Border Guards Sts.
Things To Do
Famous for being the country’s largest ensemble of historical buildings, including castles, you can expect a lot from this city. Below are some main things you should not miss in Grodno.
1. Stroll along Sovetskaya Street
The street is a haven for pedestrians as you stroll along the street, spot some charming merchant houses on both sides. You might be lucky and enjoy some street concerts, fairs and other performances here. You can visit Grodno to witness the unique multinational procession to the Festival of National cultures featuring various diasporas who demonstrate authentic traditions, national dishes, folk songs, and dances.
2. Check out the oldest wooden building.
The Lehmhaus is the oldest wooden building in Belarus. This 400-year old building sits on the premises of the Bridgettine Convent. What impresses tourists is the building’s architectural design of late Baroque with laced arcs and a two-stories gallery. The wooden building also served as an auxiliary building and accommodation for nuns.
3. Explore natural scents at the Museum of Scents
This is one of the unique museums in the city. It is not your typical perfume since it houses 70 different scents from herbs, roots, and fruits that grow in Belarusian soils. These are mostly collected by workers of Grodno Ecology and Biology Center. Never miss smelling the’ aroma, including peony, immortelle, oregano, dill, lavender, and garlic.
4. Watch the sunset from Sts. Boris and Gleb Church
The church is already a catch as it is one of the oldest active churches in Belarus. This 12th-century Orthodox church is famous for its acoustics and patterns in the stone walls. The church sits high up on the Neman river, making it an excellent spot for its beautiful view and chasing sunsets. And while you are in the area, you can check out the church’s interiors while for the sunset.
5. Visit the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral
The cathedral is one of the landmarks that will tell you that you are already in Grodno. This is an architectural gem in the city with its ornamentation: a 21-meter high carved altar decorated with figures and one of the oldest working clocks in Western Europe. The main Roman Catholic church in Grodno stands out already from afar with its light blue domes accent on its exterior.
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