Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. European
two-prong plugs with circular pins are in use. Schuko plugs are
also in use.
Russian and Belarussian are both official languages, with
the majority speaking Russian.
Tipping in Belarus is not as common as in many other countries,
but it is adequate to round up the bill or taxi fare, and a 10% tip
for excellent service will not go amiss.
Most visits to Belarus are trouble free. The crime rate is very
low, however precautions should be taken against mugging,
pick-pocketing and theft from vehicles or hotel rooms. There have
been instances of theft from travellers on sleeper trains between
Warsaw and Moscow.
While visiting in Belarus, do not take photographs of government
buildings, military installations or uniformed officials. Be aware
that jaywalkers are heavily fined. Whistling inside a building is
considered bad luck.
Business appointments in Belarus should be made well in advance
through a local third party with a good reputation and connections.
When meeting, address people with their surnames and a brief
handshake. Meetings are usually formal, and negotiations can be
protracted. A great deal of concessionary bargaining is expected.
Bureaucracy and legal matters in Belarus are very complicated so it
is best to hire local professionals to assist. Dates in Belarus are
written with the day first, then the month and then the year.
The international dialling code for Belarus is +375. To dial out
on an international call dial 8, wait for the tone, then dial 10
followed by the country code, area code and number you are calling
(e.g. 8-10 44 for the UK). Payphones are widely available but most
cannot be used to call internationally. Payphones operate only on
special cards, sold at post offices and newspaper kiosks. There are
four mobile network operators in Belarus, two of which operate GSM
networks. Coverage is good in the major towns and along the
highways, but not available in rural areas. Mobile phones may be
rented from local service providers. The Internet can be accessed
from a network of state run (Beltelecom) cybercafés, and some
private cafes, in the major towns.
The duty free allowance for visitors entering Belarus is 1.5
litres of spirits, 2l of wine, 1000 cigarettes or 1000g of tobacco
products, a reasonable quantity of perfume for personal use and
goods up to the value of US$1,000.