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Belarus is a country in Central Eastern Europe with Minsk as the capital.
Getting there and away
One gets to Belarus as to any other country with no harbour towns by train, car, bus or plane. Unfortunately most border crossings are closed for pedestrians and bicycles. Two important towns, Minsk and Brest, are on the railway line Berlin-Moscow, so there are many trains one can take to get there.
When travelling by train from Berlin to Moscow Brest is the place where the gauge conversion takes place. Sometimes it is possible to use this break to leave the train and go for walk into the city. You have to talk to the sleeping car attendant to get to know whether you may leave and when and where to get back on the train. The "Brest Broadway", the ul. Sovetskaya is not far from the train station, after crossing the pedestrians bridge turn left and after some 50 meters right. The pedestrian zone starts after some 300 meters.
Travelling inside the country
Trains and buses are cheap, but slow and not very comfortable. It happens that there are no train tickets available and it's not possible to get on a train without a ticket. Therefore it is clever to buy tickets in advance.
Hitch-hiking is possible, but usually the driver would get a small amount of money. To avoid that and stupid situations at the end of the journey one should make clear when getting into the car that she or he is hitch hiking.
Most foreigners need a visa to come to Belarus. The exact conditions are to be found on the websites of the Belarusian embassies in the countries you are a citizen of. Travellers from the European Community do not need an invitation to get a visa (usually only for one entrance, multi-visas are hard to obtain) for a maximum of 30 days (costs 60 €). Usually one should get the visa within a week, if you pay more for a express visa it takes much less - in some cases only 5 minutes! One can't get the visa on the borders, neither can one on the airports!
In theory one has to register at every place one stays. In practice this is not necessary (nobody asks to proof how long one is in town) and hardly possible (the registration is made on the migration card where is place only for one entry - and it is made only for the one address given in the card).
When entering Belarus the traveller has to fill in a migration card. Here it is important to know the name and exact address of the place she or he will be living at! This is important for the next step, the
Foreigners have to register on the OVIR of the rayon they live in within five working days after arrival. To get that registration one needs:
- Passport with visa.
- Health insurance from Belgosstrakh (no others are excepted!). Offices of this company are to be found at many places, even in supermarkets.
- A registration application (usually the is a "mashinopisnyj byuro" (typewriting office) near the OVIR where they type the application with your data for you).
- A document that proofs that one has paid the registration fee. The nearest bank will know everything what is necessary, including the sum (some 2 $).
- Your host with passport and registration (!!!).
The registration is stamped on the migration card, when leaving the country it is taken away from the traveller.
The registration process is much easier when the traveller lives in a hotel, because all the paperwork is done by the hotel in this case.