Customs regulations and required documents
Personal effects import regulations
Illegal drug use of any kind carries stiff administrative and criminal penalties, including heavy fines and long prison terms. The penalty for smuggling even a very small amount of drugs carries a prison term of between 5 to 25 years and/or heavy fines.
You should carry a copy of your passport at all times and keep the original in a safe place.
Don’t photograph sensitive sites like military bases and power installations. Be aware of cultural sensitivities when photographing churches and other religious sites. Some visitors have been prevented from photographing the Presidential Palace in Tbilisi. Always seek permission if in doubt.
Tbilisi is a cosmopolitan city, but more conservative attitudes exist in rural areas. When travelling outside of the cities be aware of cultural sensitivities around modest dress, particularly when visiting places of worship, and open displays of affection.
Homosexuality is legal in Georgia, and the Georgian Parliament has adopted anti-discrimination legislation, but it is still not widely accepted in society. Discreet annual LGBT events have been protected by police but this was not extended to Tbilisi’s first anticipated Pride event in 2019, which was subjected to threats by those opposed to LGBTI+ rights. Open displays of affection may result in some discrimination and harassment. There have been some reports of sexuality motivated harassment and assaults.
See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Accessibility standards in Georgia are different to those in the UK and EU. Very few public or private facilities are accessible. Most public transport offers no accommodation for persons with disabilities. There are few pavements outside of main cities and where pavements are present they are generally uneven.
If you’re visiting Georgia for the purpose of commissioning surrogacy arrangements, you should consider the potential risks and challenges involved in pursuing international surrogacy and seek specialist legal advice on Georgian and UK laws prior to making any arrangements. Surrogacy is a complex and lengthy process. The British Embassy doesn’t have authority to be involved in surrogacy arrangements. The FCDO and Home Office have produced guidance to help inform you on the issues you may face when embarking on a surrogacy arrangement. Commissioning a surrogacy won’t automatically mean that the child holds British citizenship.
Make sure you’re fully aware of the facts and are well prepared before starting the process. Research prospective surrogacy clinics and hospitals thoroughly to ensure you’re dealing with a safe and reputable organisation. From 1 September 2020 Georgian law requires you to provide evidence of marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation of at least a year, before a surrogacy contact can be entered into. Additionally, it is currently not possible for couples where one or both partner is a non-Georgian national, to enter into a legal agreement for IVF treatment. The British Embassy can’t recommend specific hospitals or clinics.
If you wish to bring children born via surrogacy from Georgia to the UK you must apply for a full validity British passport, for which a Georgian birth certificate will be needed. You should check the Public Service Hall website and research the requirements which must be met to have a Georgian birth certificate issued and to leave the country with your child. For example, the Georgian authorities recently changed their process for obtaining a birth certificate, strictly enforcing the requirements for a surrogacy contract to be signed before birth. The maximum period of visa-free stay allowed by the Georgian authorities is one year. Extensions of stay are unlikely to be granted.
For further detailed information about visa issues in Georgia, see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia website.
The government of Georgia does not recognise the unilateral declarations of independence by the breakaway regions of South Ossetia or Abkhazia and, in accordance with international law, continues to claim the right to exercise sovereignty in the two territories. The UK government, along with almost all other states, recognises Georgia’s right to do so.
The government of Georgia has implemented legislation which requires those trading with Abkhazia and South Ossetia to hold a licence issued by the Georgian government. This includes buying and selling property and most financial transactions. Those who trade without licences may be open to penalties under Georgian civil and criminal law.
The ownership of many properties is disputed across both regions with many thousands of claims to ownership of properties from people displaced following the conflicts after the collapse of the USSR. Purchase of these properties could have serious financial and legal implications, including legal proceedings in the courts of Georgia, as well as attempts to enforce judgements from these courts elsewhere in Europe. A future settlement to these territorial disputes could have consequences for property purchased in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, including possible restitution of the property to its original owners.
At a minimum, imports require a declaration, an invoice, and transport documentation. The Customs Code of Georgia does not require financial guarantees from importers to Georgia prior to the customs clearance, except for the temporary entry of goods.
An incomplete or missing detailed inventory list will result in an intensive inspection and evaluation of every item in a shipment; this process will result in delays in Customs clearance, resulting in fees and VAT.
All animals being imported into the country will require a veterinarian health certificate
Rates of duty on imported goods fall into three bands: 0 percent, 5 percent, and 12 percent. Nearly 90 percent of goods benefit from a zero rate of duty. Import of agricultural goods, food products, clothes, construction materials, wood and wood products, plastics, wire and cable, iron, steel, soap, organic surface‐active agents, and washing preparations which are produced in Georgia in whole or in part, are major areas of goods taxed at higher rates. A combined rate of customs tariffs is applied to alcoholic beverages. A fee of €5 ($5.6) is charged per customs declaration for goods valued below 3000 GEL ($1,079) and €60 ($67) for goods valued above GEL 3000. As of January 1, 2015, the customs tariff on passenger cars will remain 0.05 GEL ($0.018) per cubic centimeter of the engine capacity plus 5 percent of the amount of the customs tariff per each year of the use of a vehicle.
An 18 percent VAT applies to most imported goods. Fixed excise tax rates apply to certain goods such as alcoholic drinks, ethyl alcohol, ethyl petrol for cars, and cigarettes. The customs value of goods for customs clearance is defined based on the customs declaration. Export, transit, and re-export of goods are exempt from customs duties and fees. Chapter 39(1) of the Georgian Tax Code defines the amount of the customs tariffs and exemptions.
Once every 30-day period, individuals are allowed to import the following goods free of customs duties, VAT, and excise duties within the following limits:
Import of vegetables, fruit (including dried), tea, coffee, macaroni, baked goods, sugar, confections (with the exception of chocolate), sausage, milk and other dairy products that have a maximum total weight of 30 kg, and a total value of less than 500 GEL ($180).
Import of 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigarillos, or 50 cigars, or 250 grams of tobacco product or any combination of these for personal use is permitted but must not exceed 250 grams in total weight.
Animals must be accompanied by the veterinary health certificate for entry.
Cats and dogs must be accompanied by a pet passport and veterinarian health certificate. If shipped as cargo, invoice must be presented.
Baggage is cleared at the first airport of entry in Georgia.
Currency Import regulations:
Local currency (Georgian Lari-GEL) and foreign currencies: no restrictions.
Currency Export regulations:
Local currency (Georgian Lari-GEL) no restrictions. Foreign currencies: up to USD 500.-
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No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Foreign citizens from a limited number of countries, including the UK, are now allowed to enter Georgia by air under the following conditions:
(1) Unrestricted entry for citizens of any country, including the UK, who have documentary proof of having received a full course of COVID vaccination.
(2) Other UK citizens can enter Georgia dependent on submitting a travel history in advance and holding a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours. You must take a further PCR test at your own expense on your third day in Georgia.
(3) Of particular relevance to UK citizens – following discovery of a new strain of coronavirus in the UK, the Georgian Government announced that anyone entering Georgia who has been in the UK within the previous 14 days must undergo mandatory 12-day quarantine. This requirement applies to all nationalities and all entry or visa routes. Full details are on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
For foreign citizens who were legally in Georgia before 14 March 2020, the Georgian Government has extended the period that their entry permits remain valid until 1 July 2021, provided the overstay was caused by one of the following circumstances, which must be documented:
If you were legally in Georgia by 14 March and wish to renew your stay without applying for a residence card, you will need to book an appointment at Public Service Hall. You should attend your appointment with a Georgian-speaker as you will need to make your renewal application and be interviewed in Georgian. Your application must include the reason why you could not renew your visa in time. The fee is 50 lari (approx. £13). Public Service Hall will review the case and make a decision within three days on whether, and if so, for how long to renew your visa.
If during your visit to Georgia up to March 2020 you were driving using your UK driving license, and you have not been able to leave Georgia since due to Covid restrictions, you can continue to drive using the UK licence (provided it remains valid) for the remainder of your current visit to Georgia.
If you are working or studying in Georgia and meet the requirements for a Georgian Residence Permit, you should apply for this through Public Service Hall. You should not remain on a visitor’s entry permit indefinitely.
If you are in Georgia for more than 183 days and take up any form of paid employment, you are automatically liable for income tax and must inform the Revenue Service of your employment, whether you are on a visitor’s permit or officially resident. Non-compliance will be fined.
In consideration of the difficulty of renewing UK passports during coronavirus, the Georgian authorities currently recognise as valid for residence and visa purposes, UK passports that have expired since 6 January 2020 or have less than six months’ validity when presented. These passports are considered to be expiring on 31 December 2021.
This applies to the following passports – British Citizen, British National (Overseas), British Protected Person, British Overseas Citizen and British Subject.
This provision is founded on the UK Government recognising holders of such passports as British under international law, and will remain in place until 31 December 2021 unless the UK Government withdraws the recognition sooner.
The extended expiry relates only to where you need a valid passport to reside in Georgia. It does not mean that your passport is valid as a travel document.
If you are in Georgia, your passport has expired and you need a passport to travel elsewhere in the near future, you should apply for a new full validity UK passport. Please use this guidance to complete the application form and submit it at the Visa Application Centre in Tbilisi.
If your passport has expired and you need to travel urgently you may be eligible for an Emergency Travel Document. Please follow the passport guidance linked above for more information.
Prior to the current COVID-19 restrictions, British nationals did not need a visa to enter Georgia for visits of up to one year. If you wished to stay for longer, you would need to apply for a longer term visa category. Contact the Embassy of Georgia in London or visit the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more details on entry requirements.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.
Make sure you have a valid travel insurance policy as you may be asked to provide evidence of this by your airline at check-in or by the immigration authorities upon arrival in Georgia. You may face difficulties if you cannot provide evidence of valid travel insurance.
Georgia has a very strict anti-drugs policy, which can also cover prescription and non-prescription drugs or medicines, otherwise commonly available in the UK and the European Union. For example, non-prescription medicines containing codeine are illegal in Georgia. This can cause serious problems for travellers and in some cases lead to administrative and criminal proceedings. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, please contact your nearest Embassy of Georgia.
If you intend to travel with prescription medicine, you must carry a doctor’s prescription and ideally the original packaging. See Health
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Georgia.
The political situation in Georgia is generally calm, but political tensions are currently high, increasing the likelihood of demonstrations and opposition rallies, particularly outside Parliament on Rustaveli Avenue and Freedom Square in Tbilisi, as well as in other large towns. These can escalate without warning. You should check local media, stay away from any large gatherings and demonstrations and follow the advice of local authorities.
Crime levels are low. However, you should exercise particular caution in areas frequented by tourists. There have been incidents of pick pocketing and burglary involving foreign nationals.
Take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security, remain aware of your surroundings and keep your mobile phone charged and with you at all times.
There have been reports of sexual assaults by taxi drivers after dark.
Although Georgian legislation protects all people’s human rights and equality, ethnic minorities and LGBT+ individuals may face discrimination. There have been reports of racially and sexuality motivated harassment and assaults. Georgian authorities are working to tackle discrimination and the Georgian parliament has passed anti-discrimination laws.
If you’re the victim of an attempted assault or feel threatened, contact the local police emergency number by dialling 112.
The Administrative Boundary Lines with Abkhazia and South Ossetia are generally unmarked away from roads. Take care not to cross the lines inadvertently as you risk arrest. You may wish to hire a professional guide if you plan to hike close to the Administrative Boundary Lines.
It is illegal under Georgian law to enter Georgia from Russia via South Ossetia or Abkhazia. If you enter Georgia in this way you may face criminal prosecution, which carries the penalty of potentially heavy fines and/or a prison sentence of up to 4 years. If your passport has entry/exit stamps from the separatist authorities the Georgian authorities may consider this as illegal entry via an unrecognised border crossing.
If you’re considering travelling to Russia via the land borders with the Russian Federation, consult FCDO travel advice for Russia. The FCDO currently advise against all travel to: Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and the districts of Budyonnovsky, Levokumsky, Neftekumsky, Stepnovsky and Kursky in Stavropol Krai. The FCDO also advise against all but essential travel to North Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria (including the Elbrus area).
There is some risk from unexploded ordnance in areas along the Administrative Boundary Lines with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and near the border with Azerbaijan (Red Bridge area in particular). Areas where unexploded ordnance might be present are not always marked.
If you visit the Udabno caves at the Davit Gareja monastery site, take care not to cross the Georgia-Azerbaijan border, which is unmarked in this area and disputed.
Take extra precautions after dark in unfamiliar areas as you would at home.
Taxi provision and safety has improved significantly but you should avoid flagging down unmarked taxis in the street, and check that the vehicle has working seatbelts. Unmarked taxis are not metered. Taxi apps, which offer a metered service, are available in the cities. Covid restrictions mean you must sit in the rear seat (maximum of two passengers) and wear a face mask.
Street lighting away from main roads can be poor and pavements uneven. There may be occasional short power cuts and you may wish to be prepared by carrying a torch.
Take appropriate precautions when skiing and ensure you have valid insurance for skiing/winter sports in Georgia. Ski resorts will re-open on 8 March.
If you get into trouble while hiking, skiing, or participating in adventure and/or extreme sports, the level of emergency response may be limited.
It can be difficult to get accurate information on mountain conditions, including avalanche risks when off-piste skiing. If you are considering trekking, mountaineering, climbing off-piste skiing or other extreme sports you might consider contacting companies who can provide specialist guides.
As Georgia’s winter and adventure sports industry develops, the Georgian authorities are working hard to ensure proper safety standards are maintained. However, be aware that, in some instances, safety standards may not be adequately observed. For example, several people were injured when a ski lift at Gudauri malfunctioned in March 2018 and a tourist helicopter crashed near Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) in spring 2019.
You can drive in Georgia with a valid UK driving licence for up to one year from your last entry into the country. Beyond this, you will either need an International Driving Permit (IDP), or apply for a Georgian licence. This is a straightforward process through an application to the Service Agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Holders of a valid UK driving licence do not need to sit a driving exam as part of the application.
If you’re planning to hire a car in Georgia, make sure to check the requirements of the car hire company before you travel. They may require you to have an IDP.
In the UK, International Driving Permits (IDP) are an over the counter service from Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel Both 1949 and 1968 versions of the permit are acceptable in Georgia.
Driving is on the right. The speed limit is 60 km/h in towns and cities. In other areas it’s 80 km/h unless indicated.
There’s a zero tolerance policy towards drink driving.
Take care when driving especially at night. Many roads outside central Tbilisi, and other city centres, are badly lit and of poor quality. Stray livestock pose a hazard in many areas. Road markings and the right of way can be confusing. Many cars are poorly maintained and the standard of driving is erratic.
It’s compulsory to wear seat belts in the front seats in Georgia. Children under 12 years of age must sit in the back of the car. Children under 7 years of age must sit in child safety seats.
Heavy rain, flooding and snow at higher altitudes can affect roads and bridges making travel difficult or impossible (particularly in remote areas). Landslides are also common. If you’re travelling outside of Tbilisi, particularly in remote areas, make sure your vehicle is suitably equipped and check locally on current conditions.
See the RAC guide on driving in Georgia.
Exercise normal caution with your personal safety and belongings when travelling by train. Locks for compartments are usually available on sleeper trains.
There are international airports in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi.
A list of incidents and accidents in Georgia can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
The FCDO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.