Doing Business In Belarus

  1. Belarus is ranked 58th out of 185 economies in Doing Business 2013. Its overall score increased by 2 points compared to last year, reflecting a 29 point increase in the Paying Taxes indicator and a 12 point increase in the Dealing with Construction Permits indicator.
  2. According to the most recent Enterprise Surveys (2008), the top 3 obstacles to running a business in Belarus include Tax Rates, Business Licenses and Permits, and an Inadequately Educated Workforce. Senior mangement spend 13.5% of its time dealing with government regulations compated to 10.6% for the region.
  3. According to the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators (2010), Belarus ranks below the 10th percentile for both the Voice and Accountability and Regulatory Quality indicators.
  4. Belarus’s economic freedom score is 49, making its economy the 153rd freest in the 2012 Index. Its overall score is 1.1 points better than last year due to score improvements in six of the 10 economic freedoms, including government spending and monetary freedom. Belarus is ranked 42nd among the 43 countries in the Europe region.

Source: World Bank


Visa Information

Belarusian visa regulations change frequently, so check with your embassy first. The Belarusian US embassy website, at, stays pretty up to date.
Who needs one
All Western visitors need a visa, and arranging one before you arrive is essential. Point-of-entry visas are only issued at the Minsk-2 international airport, but you still need to get an invitation in advance. (People do it this way, usually without trouble, but if the authorities decide to deny your application, what then? Better to do it in advance.)
Citizens of 13 countries, including UK, Canada and South Africa, do not need an invitation to receive a tourist visa; they merely need to complete an application and submit a photo at a Belarusian embassy or consulate (visit for more details).
To get a visa, you will need a photograph, an invitation from a private person or a business, or a confirmation of reservation from a hotel, and your passport. There are three main types of visas: tourist, issued if you have a tourist invitation or hotel reservation voucher; visitor (guest), if your invitation comes from an individual; and business, if your invitation is from a business. There are also transit visas, if you are passing through and won’t be in the country for more than 48 hours. Visitor and tourist visas are issued for 30 days (tourist visas can be multi-entry); business visas are for 90 days and can also be multi-entry.
By far the simplest – although the most expensive – way to get a visa is to apply through a travel agency. Alternatively, you can take a faxed confirmation from your hotel to the nearest Belarusian embassy and apply for one yourself.
Tallinn, RÄ«ga and Vilnius have numerous travel agencies specialising in Belarusian visas. In Vilnius, the most convenient point to jump off, try Viliota (370 5-265 2238;, in Lithuanian; Basanaviciaus gatvÄ— 15), where you can get a visa hassle-free with a photo of yourself and between US$50 and US$100.
Getting an invitation from an individual can be a long, complex process. Your friend in Belarus needs a zaprashenne (official invitation) form from their local passport and visa office and should then send it to you. With this, you apply at the nearest Belarusian embassy.
Visa costs vary depending on the embassy you apply at and your citizenship. Americans pay more, but typically single-entry visas cost about US$50 for five working-days service and US$90 for next-day service; double-entry visas usually cost double that. Business visas are more expensive than tourist visas. Transit visas typically cost from US$20 to US$35.
If you are staying in the country for more than 72 hours, you must have your visa officially registered. Hotels do this automatically, sometimes for a small fee. They’ll give you small pieces of paper with stamps on them, which you keep to show to customs agents upon departure if asked. In theory you’ll be fined if you don’t provide proof of registration for every day of your stay; in practice, proof of one day is good enough.
If you’ve received a personal invitation, you’ll need to find the nearest passportno-vizovoye upravleniye (passport and visa department; PVU, formerly OVIR) or try to convince hotel staff to register your visa for the cost of one night’s stay. The PVU main office (017-231 9174; vulitsa Nezalezhnastsi 8) is in Minsk.
Transit visas
All persons passing through Belarusian territory are required to possess a transit visa, which can be obtained at any Belarusian consulate upon presentation of travel tickets clearly showing the final destination as being outside of Belarus. The possession of a valid Russian visa is not enough to serve as a transit visa. Transit visas are not available at the border.

Business Etiquette

General Business Hours

Lunch is usually for an hour and anytime between noon and 2pm. Offices are generally open 9am to 6pm during the work week, with banks closing at 5pm. Shops are open from about 9am or 10am to about 9pm Monday to Saturday, closing on Sunday around 6pm (if they’re open at all that day). Restaurants and bars usually open around 10am and, with unfortunately few exceptions, close between 10pm and midnight.