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I am a German citizen currently living in Russia on a multi-entry study visa. Is it possible to travel from Adler to Abkhazia by car (border crossing would be Adler/Psou and proceed to Georgia (at Zugdidi)?

What exactly are the legal problems with traveling to this region? From what I gathered it seems that when I leave Abkhazia and cross into Georgia, I should already have an entrance stamp for Georgia, since they see Abkhazia as part of their territory.

If this direction isn't possible, how about the other way around (traveling from Georgia to Abkhazia through Zugdidi and leaving Georgia/Abkhazia at the Psou/Adler border crossing)?

Additionally, how would the situation look for a Russian citizen? They have visa-free travel into both Abkhazia and Georgia, but how is the problem with border crossings resolved?

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    Transit through Abkhazia to either country is illegal! – Neusser Apr 5 '17 at 9:41
  • Travel from Georgia through Abkhazia to Russia has been done (drehscheibe-online.de/foren/read.php?30,7077381), though I'm not sure whether you can go back to Georgia after that. Many people advise against the other direction. Also note that the border crossing at Zugidi is AFAIK only a pedestrian crossing. – martin.koeberl Apr 5 '17 at 17:45
  • That's a bit broad, maybe you could split the question up? – mts Apr 5 '17 at 18:52
  • The issue was discussed million times. See my answer. You can travel to Abkhazia from Russia, but you won't be able to travel to Georgia anymore, because of violating the law. Simple as a pie! – Suncatcher Apr 6 '17 at 10:55
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Your first problem would be entering the territory of Abkhazia. It is recognized as a country by Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru. Other countries recognize Abkhazia as part of Georgia, so from the perspective of Germany, you'd be travelling to Georgia.

As you say, Russian citizens can enter Abkhazia without a visa, and can also enter the rest of Georgia without a visa. From a Russian perspective, there's no problem, that's travel to two different countries. From a Georgian perspective, there's a problem, and Georgian authorities will deny entry to people with Abkhazian entry stamps. Georgia has a law titled "The Law of Georgia on Occupied Territories", and a visit to Abkhazia from Russia is a violation of said law. That is the basis on which people who have been to Abkhazia would get denied entry by Georgian border guards, and possibly face arrest.

You asked how Russian citizens resolve the problem. The easiest option for them is to use different passports - Russia has "internal" and "foreign" passports, and Russian citizens can use the former to enter Abkhazia and thus avoid a stamp in their foreign passport used to enter Georgia proper.

Now that's not relevant for you as a German citizen. To enter Abkhazia, you would need a visa (the same in German) that you apply for by email, note that the visa application is also for a specific border crossing. Entering with this visa will result in an Abkhazian stamp that will then prevent a trip to Georgia proper.

If you travel to Georgia first, you'll probably be able to cross the Inguri river into Abkhazia, but anecdotal descriptions I can find do not make the process sound pleasant. Of particular note is that the border (on Abkhazian side) is manned by Russians and is quite heavily fortified. It also seems to provide the only opportunity to legally complete the entire trip. Enter Abkhazia through that crossing, and then come back through it before heading back to Russia. The Georgian authorities will note that you entered Abkhazia, so unless you return through the same crossing, they will assume you later entered Russia from Abkhazia, which is illegal according to Georgian law.

  • German citizens can get multiple passports, would that resolve some of the caveats here, i.e. one passport for Georgia, one for Abkhazia? +1 – mts Apr 5 '17 at 21:06
  • @mts I suppose it might, but it would depend on whether Georgia obtains information on people who get Abkhazian visas. When Russian citizens enter Abkhazia, there's no trace except a stamp. An Abkhazian visa entails the email application and an obligatory visit to a consulate to pick up the actual visa, so it's not impossible (although unlikely) that Georgian authorities would find out. – DUman Apr 5 '17 at 21:17
  • @DUman I don't think it's reasonable to think the Georgians know about the visas. However they will know you've left for Abkhazia and never came back. – JonathanReez Apr 5 '17 at 21:42
  • @mts you still can't cross from Russia to Georgia through Abkhazia - the Georgians at the border crossing will know you've been to Russia even if there's no stamp. – JonathanReez Apr 5 '17 at 21:43
  • @JonathanReez Yes, entering Abkhazia from Georgia and not returning is a no-go, but with two passports, the option is Russia - Georgia - Russia - Abkhazia - Russia. – DUman Apr 5 '17 at 21:58
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I traveled to both Abkhazia and Georgia this month on a U.S. passport, and wanted to share my experience in case it's useful to andynitrox or anyone else.

I crossed into Abkhazia from Russia at Psou, spent a few days in Sukhumi and Gagra, then crossed back to Russia at Psou. To do that, I needed a double-entry Russian visa. At the Psou border, I asked the Russian border guards NOT to stamp my passport when I exited Russia to Abkhazia and when I entered Russia from Abkhazia; they complied. When I entered Russia from Abkhazia, they put a small piece of paper in my passport with a stamp for my second Russian entry. The Abkhazia visa, which I obtained at the border in exchange for my invitation letter and a few rubles, was on paper as well, so it was very easy to remove from my passport.

Once I left Abkhazia via Psou, I arrived in Adler. On my way out of Russia, Russian immigration took the paper with the stamp for my second Russian entry. I flew to Tbilisi from Sochi/Adler. I entered and then exited Georgia without a problem.

Overall, I found this route to be very safe and do-able.

  • +1, reports from people actually going there are worth a lot; please stick around – martin.koeberl Jul 21 '17 at 19:44
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What exactly are the legal problems with traveling to this region?

Georgia considers Abkhazia Georgian, so when entering Abkhazia from Russia, because of not being checked by Georgian authorities, in their eyes you're entering Georgia illegally.

So if you're stopped by the Georgians at the Abkhaz-Georgian border (which may not happen) and they see you entered Abkhazia from Russia, you'll be heavily fined (400 lari last time I checked - basically 150 euros).

Even if you aren't checked, I recently discovered the Georgians systematically records entries and exits of foreigners (when exiting by bus for Turkey, they even knew I had entered by air from Italy), so if there's no entry record, they may well suspect you of having entered Abkhazia from Russia, or at least entered Georgia illegally. Thus, even if you use your ID card (thus no stamps), you could well be in trouble.

Furthermore, you'll be refused entry to Georgia in the future if presenting a passport with an Abkhaz stamp from Psou. However, if using your German ID card and not your passport at Georgian border control in the future, they obviously won't see you crossed the Russian-Abkhaz border (but see the previous paragraph)

If this direction isn't possible, how about the other way around (traveling from Georgia to Abkhazia through Zugdidi and leaving Georgia/Abkhazia at the Psou/Adler border crossing)?

Georgia always records your entries and exits through its official border crossings, so if you're unlucky they'll instantly suspect you exited Georgia illegally. Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests it's rarely a problem in practice in this direction

In any case, to be on the safe side, go to Georgia through the ordinary crossing point at Verkhniy Lars, then to Abkhazia through Zugdidi and then back to Russia the same way (i.e. not crossing at Psou)

If you must cross at Psou, do so going from Abkhazia to Russia and not the other way round, and if your passport is stamped either by the Abkhaz or the Russians at Psou, use your ID card for any further travel to Georgia

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