Embassies & Consulates
Georgian diplomatic missions in other countries are listed on the Georgian Foreign Ministry website. Foreign representation in Georgia includes the following.
Emergency & Important Numbers
Entry & Exit Formalities
Over 90 nationalities need no visa for stays up to one year. Those who need visas can apply online and receive them by email.
- Citizens of more than 90 countries and territories, listed at www.geoconsul.gov.ge, can enter Georgia without a visa for stays of up to one year.
- Citizens of EU countries may enter Georgia with a national identity card instead of a passport; other nationalities must carry their passport.
- Non-visa-free nationalities must obtain a visa in advance. For 'short-term' visits (up to 30 days), this is easiest done through the e-Visa Portal (www.evisa.gov.ge), where you upload documents and pay US$20.40 online by Visa or MasterCard. You receive the visa by email within five working days.
- Short-term visas can also be – and longer-term visas must be – applied for at a Georgian consular office in your country of citizenship or residence. See www.geoconsul.gov.ge.
- Entering Abkhazia or South Ossetia from Russia is considered a crime under Georgian law, punishable by a heavy fine or possible imprisonment. If you do this, don’t try to continue into undisputed Georgia from either of the breakaway enclaves.
Visas for Onward Travel
Azerbaijan At the time of writing, the Tbilisi embassy is one of the most straightforward places to get an Azerbaijan visa, issuing 30-day visas within seven working days (often less). Take two photos, a passport photocopy and a hotel reservation (which can be an email from the hotel or a booking.com reservation). Fees are US$35 to US$60 for most EU nationalities, US$118 for UK citizens and US$160 for US citizens. Agencies near the embassy including Medea Travel will handle everything for you for about an additional US$50. The Batumi consulate is also well worth trying: its requirements and processing times fluctuate but travellers have obtained visas there without hotel reservations.
Iran The Iran visa situation was in flux at the time of writing. Thirty-day visas on arrival at all points of entry seemed likely to be made available to most nationalities. But UK, US and Canadian citizens still had not only to obtain a visa in advance but also to book a guided tour for their whole visit. This may well change. If you do need a visa, Tbilisi is a convenient place to collect it. You should apply several weeks ahead, through websites such as www.persianvoyages.com or http://caravanistan.com, for an Iranian foreign ministry authorisation code, costing around US$40. You nominate the Iranian embassy/consulate where you will collect the visa. Once you have the code, you go to the consulate, which in Tbilisi's case then sends you off to pay the visa fee at a bank (€30 to €200-plus for a 30-day tourist visa depending on your nationality) and return with proof of payment, your passport, two photos (women in headscarves), proof of insurance and your itinerary in Iran. Your visa should be ready the following working day.
Kazakhstan At the time of writing nationals of 36 countries need no visa for visits of varying periods (15 days for 10 EU states, the USA and Australia) – details at http://mfa.kz/index.php/en/kl-nlknlkna-lksn. Citizens of other EU countries, Canada, New Zealand and Israel can obtain 30-day tourist visas without a Letter of Invitation (LOI). The Tbilisi embassy normally issues these in three to five working days: get there at opening time as you'll have to spend about 45 minutes paying the fee at a bank.
Russia Travellers have obtained transit visas (normally for not more than three days for air travel or 10 days for land travel) at the Russian Interests Section of the Swiss embassy in Tbilisi, for US$60 with 10-day processing. You will need to talk to a consular official before applying, but required documents are likely to include proof of insurance and an onward visa. There is usually a knot of people crowding round the entrance to the building: push through and tell the guards you're a foreigner and need to ask for visa information. Thirty-day tourist visas may also be possible with an LOI, available via websites such as waytorussia.net.
Turkey Many nationalities don't need a visa for up to 30 or 90 days (see www.mfa.gov.tr/visa-information-for-foreigners.en.mfa). For others, e-visas are available rapidly online at www.evisa.gov.tr for between US$20 and US$80. Some nationalities can also obtain visas on arrival at Turkish airports or land borders; others can't. See www.evisa.gov.tr/en/info.
Valuable works of art or antiques require a licence from the Ministry of Culture & Monument Protection if you want to take them out of Georgia. Some galleries and shops will provide this, but private vendors are unlikely to. You may have to pay a heavy export duty.
- Georgia’s currency is the lari (GEL). It has been fairly stable since it was introduced in 1995. One lari is divided into 100 tetri.
- Banknotes come in denominations of one, two, five, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 lari; coins run from one tetri to two lari.
- ATMs, generally accepting MasterCard, Visa, Cirrus and Maestro cards, are plentiful in cities and towns.
- There are also plenty of banks and small money-exchange offices in most towns and cities, where you can exchange US dollars, euros and sometimes sterling and the currencies of Georgia's neighbouring countries.
- You can make purchases with credit cards at some hotels, restaurants and shops, though less frequently outside Tbilisi.
- Common tipping practice in restaurants is just to round up the bill to the next round number.
|Euro zone||€1||2.64 GEL|
Typical opening hours:
Banks 9.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday
Bars noon to 2am
Cafes 10am to 10pm
Shops Food 9am to 9pm, other shops 10am to 7pm Monday to Saturday
Restaurants 9am to 11pm
New Year 1 and 2 January
Orthodox Christmas Day 7 January
Epiphany 19 January
Mother’s Day 3 March
Women’s Day 8 March
Orthodox Easter Sunday April or May
National Unity Day 9 April
Victory Day 9 May
St Andria's Day 12 May
Independence Day 26 May
Mariamoba (Assumption) 28 August
Svetitskhovloba (Day of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Mtskheta) 14 October
Giorgoba (St George’s Day) 23 November
Georgia country code 995
International access code (calling from Georgia) 00
Landline numbers Seven digits in Tbilisi, six digits elsewhere; starting with 2.
Mobile phone numbers Nine digits, starting with 5.
How to Dial Georgian Numbers
From Other Countries
From Other Countries
* IAC: International access code
- Almost everyone in Georgia has a mobile phone and many businesses use them instead of landlines.
- The three main networks – Magti (www.magticom.ge), Geocell (http://geocell.ge) and Beeline (www.beeline.ge) – have shops in all sizeable towns.
- Magti is the overall best choice for coverage around the country.
- You can easily obtain a Georgian SIM card for 1 GEL or 2 GEL, sometimes free, from the main networks. Take your passport when you go to get a SIM. The networks have 24-hour booths at Tbilisi airport where you can get one on arrival.
- Call rates are low and there are bargain packages for international calls.
- Internet packages are cheap: around 7 GEL to 10 GEL for 4GB, for example.
- An easy way to top up your credit is with cash in orange 'Express Pay' machines or yellow-and-blue 'Pay Box' machines, widespread on the streets of all towns. Easy-to-follow instructions are available in English.
- Georgia has a good network of Tourism Information Centres in main destinations.
- The country’s official tourism website is http://georgia.travel.
- Fluency in English gives you a good chance of finding employment with NGOs, international organisations, some local companies or as a teacher. Ads for language teachers appear in the paper Sitqva da Sakme (www.saqme.ge).
- The government programme Teach and Learn with Georgia enlists native English-, French- and German-speakers to teach their languages to Georgian schoolchildren. Volunteers receive monthly salaries of 500 to 600 GEL (after tax) and can live with host families for 200 GEL monthly. Flights to and from Georgia are provided free. Commitment is one academic year.
- European Voluntary Service has a number of varied volunteer projects in Georgia.