Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.
The development of personal rapport is an important part of business relationships in Georgia. Business meetings tend to be relatively relaxed affairs. Although tardiness does not necessarily reflect a lack of respect, foreign visitors should be punctual. Business lunches are less common than in the United States and Europe. Elaborate dinners -‐ known as “supras” -‐ are generally long affairs, at which numerous, informal, and impromptu toasts are often required of both the host and honored guests. Wine is an important part of Georgian culture and is a part of any dinner. Georgians take great pride in their reputation as gracious hosts.
Visa requirements: A passport is required with a minimum three months of validity for entry into Georgia. U.S. citizens visiting for 365 days or less do not need a visa. Armenian and Azerbaijani visas are no longer valid for transit through Georgia. For further information on visas, please contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.
U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should go to the State Department Visa Website for information on the application process.
The official currency is the Georgian Lari. Credit cards are accepted at almost all hotels, restaurants, and stores in Tbilisi, but some small stores or establishments still do not accept them. ATMs are available throughout Tbilisi and in other cities.
Georgia enjoys direct‐dial long distance service for international calls. The capacity and quality of landlines is limited but infrastructure is being improved continuously. Cellular phones are ubiquitous and relatively inexpensive. BlackBerry service is available. Internet access is available at hotels, restaurants and cafes, and in parks in Tbilisi and some other towns. Subscriber Internet service is available through several local providers and is also moderately priced by regional standards. Fixed broadband internet and mobile internet are growing steadily.
The standard voltage in Georgia is 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. Accordingly, a voltage convertor is required for electric appliances that are used in the United States (120 V). As for plug types, there are two associated plug types, types C and F used in Georgia.
The condition of most main roads in the country is good or average but remains poor in rural areas. Within the capital there are many new and inexpensive buses, taxis, and “marshrutka” minibuses. There is also a functioning subway system in Tbilisi. A cab ride from the airport to the center of Tbilisi should cost approximately $15-20.
Note: All flights were suspended due to the global COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. However, as of August 2021, many airlines had resumed operations. The Georgian Civil Aviation Agency provides updated information on flight resumption or restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tbilisi International Airport is Georgia’s principal international airport handling 1,000‐1,200 passengers per hour (3.7 million passengers in 2019), and is served by Georgian flag carrier Georgian Airways (formerly Airzena), Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, FlyDubai, Czech Airlines, Lot Polish Airlines, Aegean Airlines, Alitalia, Qatar Airways, China Southern Airlines, Azerbaijani Airlines, AirBaltic, Belavia, Ukrainian International Airlines, Aircompany SCAT, Siberian Airlines, Air Arabia, Air Astana, Atlas Jet, Air France, and Pegasus Airlines, among others. A major rehabilitation and expansion of the Tbilisi and Batumi airports was carried out in 2016. Charter flights to destinations in Russia are operated by Russian and Georgian carriers.
Newly rehabilitated Kutaisi International Airport in western Georgia (up to 3 hours’ drive from Tbilisi) offers cheap flights by Wizz Air to Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the UK. A new airfield was constructed in Mestia (in the mountainous Svaneti region). Other air carriers serving Kutaisi Airport include Ukraine International Airlines (to Kiev), Vanilla Sky (domestic flights to Mestia), SCAT Airlines (to Actau), and others. A recent addition to the pool of Georgian airports is Telavi Airport in Kakheti (eastern Georgia), which in the initial stages will serve domestic flights only, with further plans for diversification.
Batumi Airport offers international connections to Baku, Istanbul, Kiev, Minsk, Moscow (charter flights), and Kharkov (summer only), but flights are also subject to COVID-19 related restrictions by the government or individual carriers. In July 2019, Russia banned Georgian Airways, Russian Aeroflot, Ural Airlines, Pobeda, and S7 flights to Russia. Georgia’s railroad system has improved substantially for passenger trains in recent years but remains relatively slow. The Tbilisi-Batumi passenger train has become a preferred mode of transportation for travelers to western Georgia, given the 4-hour travel time and comfortable wagons. Currently, about 90 percent of freight traffic travels on the main Trans‐Caucasus route from the Black Sea ports of Poti and Batumi through Tbilisi to Yerevan (Armenia) and Baku (Azerbaijan).
The official language is Georgian and the most widely spoken language across the country. English and Russian are also used. Interpreters are widely available and are relatively inexpensive.
Elderly travelers, travelers with chronic medical conditions, and travelers with young children are advised to purchase overseas medevac insurance and bring an adequate amount of medication for the duration of their stay. Some medication may not be registered in Georgia and thus will not be available even with a valid prescription.
Medical services in Georgia are in a state of transition with many positive changes over the past year. Small private, well-equipped hospitals like MediClub in Tbilisi and Medina in Batumi are fully operational. These facilities have well-trained staff, practicing evidence-based medicine. Medical corporations EVEX and Geo-Hospitals have a network of hospitals and out-patient clinics in Tbilisi and other regions. Many state hospitals remain in poor repair but have the capability to stabilize and transfer patients to a higher level of medical care in Georgia and on to western European destination. Several facilities like New Hospital are inviting foreign specialists for consultation.
Tricare health insurance for active duty and retired U.S. military is accepted at some facilities. Cigna International is also accepted at some private clinics and hospitals. Travelers should check with their health insurance company to inquire about overseas coverage.
Although Georgia has a pediatric immunization program schedule of vaccinations, it differs from the one in the United States. Some American vaccines are not included in the Georgian vaccination plan (and vice versa). In addition, local vaccines are not FDA approved. Travelers are advised to check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the latest vaccine recommendations for travel to Georgia. Prevalent diseases include Hepatitis A and Rabies.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of English‐speaking physicians. Travelers may obtain further information on health matters from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s International Travelers’ Hotline at (404) 332‐4559.
Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays
Standard time zone for Georgia is: UTC/GMT + 3 hours during summer time and UTC/GMT + 4 during wintertime. Georgia does not observe daylight savings time. Although the business day runs from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the best contact time is 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Business leaders and senior government officials tend to start work around 10:00 a.m., work into the night, and often break for a late working dinner.
Georgia has 14 national holidays – 2021 Holiday Calendar:
January 1 New Year’s Day
January 7 Christmas (Orthodox Church)
January 19 Epiphany (Orthodox Church)
March 3 Mother’s Day
March 8 International Women’s Day
April 9 Independence Restoration Day
April 30 Orthodox Good Friday
May 3 Orthodox Easter Monday (Recollection of Deceased)
May 9 Victory Day
May 12 St. Andrew’s Day
May 26 Independence Day
August 28 Assumption of the Virgin (Orthodox Church)
October 14 Svetiskovloba (Day of the Saint)
November 23 St. George’s Day
Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings
Travelers to Georgia must fill out a customs declaration upon arrival and present it to customs officials upon departure. Travelers must declare on the customs form all items of value, including currency; failure to do so may result in fines or other penalties. If your customs form is lost or stolen, please report the loss to the police to obtain a certificate to show to customs officials upon departure.
Georgia’s customs authorities may enforce strict regulations on the temporary importation into or export from Georgia of items such as alcohol, tobacco, jewelry, religious materials, art or artifacts, antiquities, and business equipment. Only personal medications with a doctor’s prescription can be imported without the permission of the Georgian Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Affairs Department of Healthcare.
U.S. citizens may not import firearms into Georgia; however, hunting weapons may be brought into the country for a two‐week period based on valid Georgian hunting licenses. While there is no limit to the amount of currency that can be imported, travelers bringing more than 30,000 GEL (approximately $10,000) in cash are required to make a declaration. If more money is exported than was declared at the time of entry, the traveler is obligated to prove it was legally obtained. There are limits on the amount of exported Georgian currency.
The Department of Expertise and Evaluation under the Ministry of Culture and Sports must license any valuables being taken out of Georgia such as artwork, antiques, jewelry, paintings, etc. This license describes the object, assesses its value, and provides permission to export it from Georgia. The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia can provide more specific information on quantities of items that can be imported duty free, as well as duties for specific items. It is also advisable to contact the Embassy of Georgia in Washington, D.C. for specific information regarding customs requirements.