Entry & Exit Formalities

Visas

The first step to visiting Abkhazia is to obtain a clearance letter to enter it. Instructions are on the website of the Abkhazia Foreign Ministry: you fill in a form and email it to the foreign ministry's consular service along with a copy of your passport's personal data page. Within seven working days you should receive your clearance letter (in Russian) by email: check it carefully as mistakes are sometimes made.

Having entered Abkhazia with your clearance letter, you must then go within three working days to the consular service office, in central Sukhumi, to obtain your visa. Abkhazia visas are single pieces of paper, not stuck into your passport. A 10-day single-entry visa costs the rouble equivalent of US$11.

Georgia permits foreigners to enter Abkhazia by the Enguri Bridge boundary near Zugdidi, but treats entry to Abkhazia from Russia by the Psou River border as illegal entry into Georgia, punishable by a heavy fine or imprisonment under Georgian law. If you enter Abkhazia from Russia, don’t try to continue across Abkhazia’s southern boundary into undisputed Georgia. You'll need at least a double-entry Russian visa in advance, so that you can return to Russia.

Money

Abkhazia’s currency is the Russian rouble (worth around 1.5 US cents at mid-2015 rates). You can obtain roubles from ATMs in Sukhumi and Gagra and pay with international credit cards at some hotels and restaurants, and exchange cash US dollars, and often euros, at banks and moneychangers. Bring some roubles to keep you going on arrival.

Telephone

Abkhazia uses the Russian country code, 7. Numbers starting 940 are mobile numbers. At research time it was not possible to call from Georgia to Abkhazia except for the southern Gali district, which is within reach of Georgian mobile networks. It's easy to obtain a local SIM card: look for 'sim-karty' signs at kiosks and shops.

Time

Abkhazia is on Moscow time (GMT plus three hours), so put your clock back one hour if you enter by the Enguri boundary. There's no daylight saving time.

Dangers & Annoyances

The area around the southern town of Gali, including the Abkhazian side of the Enguri River boundary, has a reputation for lawlessness. It's best to travel through this area by early afternoon, and avoid taking any transport in the area with no other passengers. The UK Foreign Office and US State Department, among others, advise against travel to Abkhazia.