Armenia

Summary

We advise against all but essential travel near the border with Azerbaijan due to the unresolved dispute over Nagorno Karabakh. This particularly covers the border areas of Tavush and Gegharkunic regions, where there is sporadic gunfire. In Tavush Marz we specifically advise against travel on the road from Ijevan to Noyemberyan, which passes close to the border and military emplacements, and on the roads beyond Berd.

There is a low threat from terrorism. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Presidential elections in February 2008 were followed by street protests ending in violence on 1 March 2008, followed by a 20-day State of Emergency.

We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Local Travel 
  
We advise against all but essential travel near the border of Azerbaijan, particularly the border areas of Tavush and Gegharkunic regions, where there have been reports of sporadic gunfire. We specifically advise against all travel on the road from Ijevan to Noyemberyan, which passes close to the border and military emplacements, where there have also been some recent reports of sporadic gunfire. If travelling between Armenia and Georgia we advise you to use one of the routes further west, or through the Lori region.
 
The land border with Turkey is also closed, but there are now direct flights four times a week from Yerevan to Istanbul with Armavia and Fly Air. Travelling within the South Caucasus can be difficult and needs careful planning.
 
Road Travel 
 
You are permitted to drive in Armenia on an International driving licence. The local standard of driving is poor. If you plan to drive in Armenia, you should be prepared for drivers who drive recklessly and flout traffic laws. The roads are also in a poor state, particularly in the coldest months (November to February). If you are walking, you should be careful when crossing roads and use subways where available.
 
Rail Travel 
  
Public transport is often overcrowded and poorly maintained. If you have to travel by train, secure your valuables, do not leave the compartment unattended, and lock the door from the inside.
 
If your are travelling by rail from Tbilisi you should ensure that you have a valid visa for Armenia before you board the train.
 
Air Travel 

Evidence suggests that some airlines serving Armenia do not always comply with international safety standards in respect of maintenance procedures. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff have therefore been advised to avoid flying with non-scheduled or non-international airlines from Armenia if an acceptable alternative means of travel exists.

Western airlines currently serving Armenia are BMI, Czech Airlines, Lufthansa, Air France and Austrian Airlines.

A Canadian-built CRJ-100, operated by the Belarussian state airline Belavia, crashed shortly after taking off from Yerevan airport on 14 February 2008. There were no fatalities. The causes are currently being investigated. Initial findings suggest poor aircraft maintenance was to blame.

Local laws and customs

Armenia is a Christian country and women can usually dress in normal western-style clothing. Outside the capital people are more conservative and inappropriate dress will attract attention.

You should carry a photocopy of your passport as identification at all times.
 
The use of illegal drugs carries stiff administrative and criminal penalties, including fines and long prison terms. The penalty for smuggling drugs carries a prison term of between four to ten years.
 
Homosexuality was decriminalised in August 2003 but is still an unacceptable lifestyle for the majority of Armenians. We advise gay or lesbian travellers to exercise discretion on visits to Armenia. Although you will see men (and women) holding hands and kissing in public, this is not necessarily an indicator of sexual orientation.
 
You should refrain from photographing sites such as military bases, equipment and installations in whatever condition. These are considered sensitive areas and visitors have been detained and questioned while attempting to photograph them.

Entry requirements

Visas 
  
All visitors to Armenia require a visa. It is possible to get one on arrival at the airport or the main land border crossings of Bagratashen (coming from Georgia) and Meghri (coming from Iran). You can also apply for an e-visa via the Internet on website: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Armenia.
 
If you are arriving by rail from Tbilisi you should ensure that you have a valid visa for Armenia before boarding.
  
Passport validity 
  
Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the end of your intended stay.
  
Travelling with children 
  
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country, or in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.

General

Insurance 
  
You are advised to obtain comprehensive medical as well as travel insurance before travelling. This should include cover for medical air evacuation in the event of serious injury or illness.

Registration 
 
Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.

Telephone communications 

Communication by telephone and e-mail can sometimes be difficult especially in the regions. You should ensure that family/friends who expect regular contact are aware of this to avoid unnecessary worry.
 
Money

Major credit cards and debit cards displaying the Maestro and/or Cirrus sign are accepted at major stores in Yerevan but far less acceptable outside of the city. Prices for goods and services are often quoted in US Dollars. But by law, payment must be made in Armenian Dram. There are many bank cash dispensers in Yerevan, including several operated by HSBC. The ATMs accept major credit cards and debit cards with the Maestro and/or Cirrus sign displayed on the card and ATM.

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