is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Georgia.
For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s country-specific page
for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some
of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication
assesses Georgia at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal
precautions. Do not travel to the Russian-occupied regions of South Ossetia and
Abkhazia due to risk of crime, civil unrest, and landmines. Review
OSAC’s report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Tbilisi as being a MEDIUM-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official
U.S. government interests. Crime in Tbilisi is comparable to a moderate sized U.S.
city. Georgian police maintain a visible presence throughout the city and other
major urban areas. According to official statistics, there was a 14.6% overall
increase in crime in 2019 compared to 2018 based on January through September 2019
reporting by the Georgian Internal Affairs Ministry (MoIA). In 2018, there was
an approximate 58% increase in crime events, which the MoIA attributed to
increased reporting and trust in law enforcement institutions. Georgia experienced
a slight increase in violent crimes in 2019, primarily occurring between
Georgians. Drug-related offenses and property crimes, including petty theft and
other crimes of opportunity, remain a concern, as well as a reported increase
in crimes against human rights and freedoms.
nationals and other Westerners have been victims of crime in Georgia. The
number of crimes involving U.S. nationals in 2019 was similar to the number in 2018,
and included reports of aggravated assault, sexual assault, credit card fraud,
invitations from strangers to come into bars or nightclubs. These ploys lure
individuals into small bars, where hustlers extort travelers for large amounts
of cash; they threaten physical harm if they refuse to pay for exorbitantly
priced drinks. Review OSAC’s Report Shaken:
The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad.
continue to be reports of street children begging from, hassling, and behaving
aggressively toward foreigners. The Embassy is aware of incidents where groups
of street children approach and distract unsuspecting U.S. national travelers.
Organized crime remains an issue; high-profile arrests of Georgian nationals
involved with transnational criminal groups continue to occur throughout
Europe. Street gangs and drug dealers are common in Tbilisi and other urban
areas of Georgia. These groups do not specifically target foreigners.
of armed robberies have decreased in 2019 compared to 2018, based on MoIA
statistics. Georgian authorities have seized illegal weapons caches to include
handguns, rifles, and hand grenades. Georgia is a post-conflict nation with
weapons remaining in the country relating to the fall of the Soviet Union as
well as two internal conflicts (involving the Russian-occupied Georgian
territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia). There is no indication of a correlation
between the seized caches and crime.
crimes in the form of credit card fraud against individuals and larger targeted
attacks against banks and other financial institutions are not uncommon.
Georgian law enforcement agencies continue to put substantial resources into
combatting financial crimes and continue to make arrests in this area. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s
Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit.
According to MoIA official crime statistics for 2019 between
January and September, there was a nearly 100% increase in cybercrime in
Georgia. Georgia remains a location for cryptocurrency mining, and criminal
actors continue to exploit the current environment in country to perpetrate
cybercrime. In October 2019, Georgia experienced a large-scale cyberattack,
where cybercriminals took down homepages of several thousand websites, replacing
them with a politically divisive image. Avoid using publicly available internet
terminals, as they may be compromised. Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics,
Best Practices for
Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones:
Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and Road Conditions
has the highest per-capita accident rate of any country in Europe;
correspondingly, the leading cause of death in Georgia is traffic accidents.
Two U.S. Embassy employees have died in motor vehicle accidents since early
2018. Local drivers pay little attention to speed limits or lane discipline,
and regularly encroach into oncoming traffic. Intoxicated drivers are a
problem, especially in the evenings and on holidays. Anyone operating a motor
vehicle should maintain an acute level of situational awareness, drive
defensively, and wear seatbelts. Georgian law requires use of seat belts in the
to poor lighting and dangerous driving conditions, avoid traveling at night
outside cities except in emergencies. There is also a heightened vulnerability
to crime during vehicle malfunctions or stops at night.
livestock on the roads may pose a danger to drivers.
is little access to emergency medical services outside of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, and
Batumi. The effectiveness of emergency response to traffic accidents depends on
resources, or lack thereof, and the level of training among medical personnel
varies. Review OSAC’s reports, Road
Safety Abroad, Driving
Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive
Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
caution while using the underground Metro, marshrutka
mini-buses, and any other form of public transportation.
2019, the Georgian government implemented new regulations for the taxicab
industry, which include, but are not limited to, vehicle inspections, mandatory
registration of taxis, standardized color (white) for all cabs, and a
requirement that all taxis maintain and use a visible sign on the roof to
indicate occupied/vacant. In the past, most taxi drivers were private
individuals who use their personal vehicles as unofficial cabs as a source of
income. Despite the increased oversight, the Embassy continues to advise its
staff to use official taxicab companies whenever possible, especially companies
offering an online booking platform, and to negotiate a fare before using a
local taxi. Established taxi companies employ dispatchers, often with English
language abilities; their vehicles use fare meters and have permanent painted
exteriors listing the company name and number. Many major hotels in Tbilisi and
Batumi offer their own private cab services or can refer guests to a trusted
service provider. Passengers should instruct taxi drivers to slow down if they
do not feel comfortable with the operating speed. Only patronize taxicabs with
OSAC’s report, Security
In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Tbilisi as being a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests. Georgia’s proximity to Iran, Turkey,
Azerbaijan, and the Russian North Caucasus region (all of which have
experienced some measure of recent terrorist-related activity) continues to be
of concern. While Georgia has made strides with respect to border control and
integrity, its geographic location makes it a natural transit area for individuals
from these regions. Foreign fighters from Georgia, or who transited Georgia,
have joined ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.
substantially updated and expanded its counterterrorism legislation in 2015. In
2018, authorities detained, prosecuted, and sentenced several Georgian
nationals affiliated with Chechen ISIS member Akhmet Chataev, following his
death in a 2017 State Security Service of Georgia (SSSG)-led counterterrorism
operation. Operations in Tbilisi and Pankisi led to the detention and
conviction of eight individuals on terrorism charges. In 2019, MoIA reported 11
acts of terrorism.
country faces two separate and distinct streams of anti-U.S. sentiment:
U.S.-Russian relations, and anti-U.S. rhetoric that originates within small
Islamist groups. There have been no direct cases of violence solely attributed
to anti-U.S./anti-Western sentiment.
sizeable minority prefer alignment with Russia. Georgia also continues to deal
with the geopolitical effects of the 2008 war with the Russian Federation.
population is 10% Muslim, concentrated in several areas adjacent to predominantly
Muslim countries or territories (i.e. Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russia’s Chechen
Republic). While there have been no direct threats against U.S. interests by
Georgian-based Islamist groups, some members of these groups have traveled to
Syria and Iraq to fight on behalf of ISIS.
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Tbilisi as being a HIGH-threat location for political violence directed at or
affecting official U.S. government interests. There is no known threat of
political violence directed specifically against U.S. nationals.
2008, an exchange of gunfire/artillery between Georgian and separatist forces
in South Ossetia escalated into a full-blown war between Georgia and Russia.
Since 2008, Russia has stationed forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This
includes the Akhalgori region of South Ossetia, which was not previously part
of the conflict zone and occupied only starting in 2008, and the Kodori Gorge
area of Abkhazia, which Georgia controlled before the war. Russian forces
withdrew from Perevi, near the administrative boundary line with South Ossetia,
the 2016 Parliamentary Elections, there was an assassination attempt against a
prominent political leader. In addition, a car bomb exploded in front of the
United National Movement (UNM) political party’s office on Kolmeurne Square,
near Rustaveli Avenue and Freedom Square. The suspected target of the attack
was a senior UNM official.
2019, large demonstrations occurred in downtown Tbilisi, some of which resulted
in violence and property damage. In June 2019, following the appearance of a
Russian Duma member in the Chair of Georgian Parliament, a large demonstration
occurred outside of Parliament along Rustaveli Avenue. Clashes between police
and demonstrators resulted in approximately 240 injuries and started an ongoing
series of protests by opposition groups which formed after the event. Protest
activity continues to ebb and flow with events in Georgia. Two protesters lost
eyes and sustained other injuries due to the police’s use of less than lethal
riot control measures, including rubber bullets.
in Tbilisi have the potential to draw large crowds in a short amount of time,
which significantly affects traffic and pedestrian movement. Large rallies can
cause substantial logistical difficulties for businesses in the area, including
western brand chain hotels along Rustaveli Avenue near Parliament. To date,
there has not been any protest-related acts of major violence reported against
U.S. nationals in Tbilisi.
Tbilisi continues to warn its personnel and all U.S. nationals to avoid areas
of demonstrations and to exercise caution near large public gatherings when
possible, as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn
confrontational and escalate into violence. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
rare, violence or threatening behavior motivated by religious or ethnic differences
occurs occasionally. The Prime Minister and other leaders have stated the
government would not tolerate religious or ethnic prejudices, and have
condemned such acts in the past.
is in a seismic zone. Numerous earthquakes registering less than 5.0 on the
Richter scale occurred in 2019 throughout Georgia, some of which shook Tbilisi.
Seismologists stress that Georgia’s fault lines are extremely active, and could
result in a more significant earthquake causing significant structural damage
if it occurred in a populated area.
in the mountains of Georgia can change quickly, even in the summer months, with
low overnight temperatures and unexpected snowstorms. There have been reports
of lost hikers in the mountains in snowy/stormy weather, and there have been
fatal accidents. Flash floods in spring or summer can be hazardous or deadly,
and often wash out sections of road in remote areas.
known venomous snake species are endemic to Georgia; you are more likely to
encounter them between March and October.
For more information, review OSAC’s Report When
law requires new construction to meet seismic standards, but enforcement is
uneven. Many buildings, new and old, have inadequate anti-seismic construction.
Gas leaks and explosions have occurred in old and new buildings alike, causing
injuries and death, especially during the winter.
due diligence activities is difficult. Fraudulent bank documents, employment
records, and fake seals and stamps are common. Government offices easily
identify fraudulent civil documents, but such documents are readily available
and still encountered. The government is working to arrest and prosecute
document vendors, but the investigation and prosecution process can be lengthy,
and criminal penalties minimal.
should safeguard sensitive information. Pirated software, music, and films are
widely available on the black market.
Personal Identity Concerns
continue to be periodic reports of violence and intimidation against foreigners
in bars, nightclubs, and similar venues, especially against members of the LGBTI+
community. Events or issues involving the LGBTI+ community in Georgia remain a
potential source of conflict, as demonstrated during the lead-up to Tbilisi’s
planned Pride Week in June 2019, as well as the release of the film “And Then
We Danced” in November 2019. Both periods resulted an aggressive anti-LGBTI+
media campaign via numerous anti-LGBTI+ groups. Of note, anti-LGBTI+ groups
often allege that the United States and other Western nations promote or
organize LGBTI+-related events. Review the State Department’s webpage on
security for LGBTI+
and accommodations in Georgia are different from those in the United States.
Georgian administrative code mandates access to buildings for persons with
disabilities; however, in practice very few public or private facilities are
accessible. Public transportation offers no accommodation for persons with
disabilities. There are few sidewalks outside of Tbilisi or Batumi. Review the
State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
is a transit point and an end-use destination for various illicit drugs. In
2018, Georgia’s Constitutional Court abolished the mandatory prison sentence
and administrative fines for marijuana use and possession (up to 70 grams).
Harsh penalties remain in effect for marijuana distribution and for all other
illegal narcotics use, possession, and distribution. In 2019, MoIA crime
statistics reported a 29% increase in drug-related criminal activity.
continues efforts to increase border security with the support of the U.S.
government, the European Union, and international donors. Georgian police have
a special emphasis on counter-narcotics work, with a special division to combat
international narcotics trafficking.
threat to U.S. nationals of kidnapping exists, particularly in the
Russian-occupied Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. There was
one report of a parental abduction in Georgia involving a U.S. minor, which authorities investigated. Review
OSAC’s report, Kidnapping:
Department of State strongly warns U.S. nationals against travel to the
Russian-occupied Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. These regions
are not under the administrative control of the Georgian government. Tensions
remain high between the de facto authorities in these regions and the Georgian
government. Russian troops and border guards continue to occupy both regions.
Entering the occupied regions without proper documentation can lead to arrest,
imprisonment, and/or fines. Russian forces or de facto officials may also
detain and/or fine travelers who do not obtain “visas” or other documents from
the de facto authorities. The U.S. Embassy restricts its personnel from travel
to Abkhazia or South Ossetia, even in the case of emergencies involving U.S. nationals.
an added precaution, U.S. Embassy personnel may not travel within five
kilometers of the administrative
boundary lines (ABLs) dividing
Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Tbilisi-administered territory unless
on approved official business and by means of a fully armored vehicle. The
Embassy allows personal travel on major highways that cross within the
five-kilometer border zone.
Georgian law, it is illegal to
undertake any type of economic activity in Abkhazia or South Ossetia, if such
activities require permits, licenses, or registration with the de facto
authorities. Georgian laws also ban mineral exploration, money transfers, and
international transit via Abkhazia or South Ossetia. The Government of Georgia
considers the sale of property (land and houses) in the occupied regions of
Abkhazia and South Ossetia illegal. Its original owners could reclaim the
property in the future.
Department of State cautions U.S. nationals against travel to the Pankisi Gorge
region (north of the villages of Matani and Khorbalo, to the border with
Russia, including the city of Duisi) because of the current security
environment and the potential for civil unrest. There are also restrictions on U.S. Embassy personnel traveling to this
region. Terrorist recruiting has occurred in Pankisi in the past, and
some known terrorists have confirmed ties to the Pankisi Gorge region.
customs authorities enforce regulations concerning the temporary import/export
of items such as alcohol, tobacco, jewelry, religious materials, art or
artifacts, antiquities, and business equipment. Read the State Department’s
webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you cannot take into or out
of other countries.
emergency line for the police in Georgia is 112.
Emergency services will respond to the best of their ability, but terrain,
road, and weather conditions, as well as limited resources, could severely
affect response times. In general, police are attentive and responsive to
requests/calls for assistance from foreigners and U.S. nationals. However,
their effectiveness is contingent on resources, or lack thereof, and the level
of training among officers varies. Police response in Tbilisi can range from
several minutes to more than one hour. Police response outside of Tbilisi can
be considerably longer. For local first responders, refer to the Embassy’s Emergency Assistance page.
there has been much progress in the government's efforts to reform the police
organizations and improve overall professionalism, work to effectively deter
criminal activity and conduct effective post-incident investigations remains.
most visible police presence is that of the Patrol Police, who patrol in marked
vehicles throughout the country; they increase their visibility by patrolling
with their emergency lights on. The Protection Police are a visible presence
throughout the larger cities of Georgia near government buildings and crowded
all general emergencies, call 112. Consider
downloading the 112
Georgia app, which has an emergency text and location identification
feature. Western-standard medical care is limited, but healthcare continues to
improve. There is a shortage of medical supplies and capabilities outside
Tbilisi and Batumi. Elderly travelers and those with pre-existing health
problems may be at risk due to inadequate medical facilities. Find contact
information for available medical services and available air ambulance services
on the U.S.
services in Abkhazia and South Ossetia are extremely limited. Hospitals have
little to no infectious disease control capabilities and may lack medicine.
There are no commercial airports in either region, making air ambulance evacuations
(medevac) for medical emergencies impossible.
medicines legal in the U.S. are controlled/illegal in Georgia. There has been a
notable recent increase in enforcement (and related detentions) of U.S. nationals
related to the possession and importation of controlled substances. Travel with
a doctor’s statement and no more than a personal supply of any prescription
medication. Review OSAC’s Report, Traveling
and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment before rendering medical
services. Hospitals do not accept credit cards or medical insurance. The
Embassy highly recommends both short- and long-term travelers purchase overseas
medical insurance and medevac insurance. Review the State Departments webpage
Embassy strongly recommends travelers who visit for at least two weeks get the
Hepatitis A vaccine and the pre-exposure rabies vaccine series. There has been a
recent measles outbreak, and tuberculosis is a serious health concern. Bring
medicine to treat diarrhea, which regularly afflicts newcomers. Take care to
cook food thoroughly to reduce the risk of food-borne illness.
has a high rate of Hepatitis C. Exercise caution if you plan to get a tattoo,
piercing, dental work, or other procedure with potential for blood exposure.
Ensure the provider uses proper sterilization procedures.
is available for some species of snakes in a small number of facilities. Treat
all snakes as potentially venomous.
levels of lead appear in some
spices made in Georgia.
Consider purchasing spices only from recognized U.S. or international
CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Georgia.
Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, I’m Drinking What in My Water?, Health 101: How to Prepare
for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council
Country Council in Tbilisi is active, meeting quarterly. Contact OSAC’s Europe team for more information or to join.
U.S. Embassy Contact
11 George Balanchine Street, Didi
Dighomi, Tbilisi 0131
Regular hours: 0900 – 1800, Monday
Embassy 24/7 Main & Emergency
Number: +995 (32) 227-70-00.
you travel, consider the following resources:
Department Traveler’s Checklist
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)