Five Weird Laws In Belarus

Don’t stay in the country for more than five days without registration

If you stay at a hotel for more than five days, the reception desk will do this for you. But if you rent an apartment or stay at your relatives’ place, then you’ll need to go register yourself on your own. Otherwise, you will likely be fined when leaving the country.

Don’t say “Belorussia” or comment, “It’s very clean here!” 

“Belorussia” is the soviet name of the country — much like “Moldavia” (today’s Moldova) and Kirgizia (today’s Kyrgyzstan). The right way to say it is “Belarus.” That’s the official name, and that’s how it’s written in UN documents. No, you won’t be beaten up for saying “Belorussia.” But people will relate to you better if you call the country by its proper name.

Also, please don’t comment on the clean streets. That’s the only thing many tourists see in Belarus, and, often, they connect it to the government. This frustrates many Belarusians. We think we have much more to see than litter- and pothole-free asphalt.

Don’t pay with Russian rubles or other currencies

In Belarus, you can only pay in Belarusian rubles or with a debit or credit card. Russian rubles, US dollars, euros, Kyrgyz som, and Angolan kwanza are not accepted. Lucky for you, it’s not difficult to find a currency exchange spot. You can easily convert most major world currencies in any bank without risking a bad exchange rate — the rate is the same in most places, there’s no commission, and you get a receipt.

Don’t drive to Russia through Belarus 

Foreigners can only enter Russia only through international checkpoints. But they don’t exist on the border between Belarus and Russia. Because the two countries are technically a “union state,” there isn’t actually a border between them, although they do check passports. Ukrainians and Poles get sent to the closest international checkpoints in Ukraine, Latvia, or at the Minsk airport.

Don’t drink alcohol outside

In Belarus, it is illegal to consume alcohol — even beer — outdoors. And, unlike some of its neighbors, Belarus takes this law seriously. Don’t even try it on the balcony of your home or hotel. The only outdoor places where you can drink are special sidewalk cafes.

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