Rebecca recently relocated to Tbilisi, Georgia to take advantage of the 'Remotely from Georgia' initiative.
My partner and I arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia on 28th September 2020. During our preparations, it felt as though we were flying blind, so in this article, I will aim to provide as much helpful information as I can based on my recent experience to aid other travellers wishing to take advantage of the 'Remotely from Georgia' initiative.
I will cover:
- The application process
- Getting to Georgia
- Arrival in Georgia
- Quarantine and PCR testing
As the guidelines are constantly changing, I will include useful links to help you find the most up-to-date information.
The Application Process
We applied via the online form found on Agenda.ge which also has information about the initiative.
The form itself is very straightforward; it is the supporting documents that can be a little more tricky. In order to be accepted, you must provide evidence that you can support yourself financially and health insurance that covers COVID.
For the financial documentation, we included bank statements and a letter proving my income as a freelancer.
For health insurance, we used Ardi, a Georgian company who provide Georgia-only coverage for very reasonable rates (7GEL per day, about $2).
We received an email within 3 days asking us for further information. We resubmitted the same information in a slightly different format. I suspect this is a measure to determine serious applicants.
We received our acceptance email 2 days after supplying the requested information. At this point, we were required to book and pay for a hotel in which to quarantine. The list of approved hotels is included in the acceptance email. We stayed at the Royal Inn as this was the cheapest option. Choose somewhere you think will be comfortable, but don't worry about location, you won't be able to leave! More on that later...
Getting to Georgia
At the time of writing, flights into Georgia are seriously limited. Some flights are only operating to allow Georgian nationals to exit the country and entry is only permitted via certain airports. It may be possible to purchase a flight which you are then not able to board. We actually did this but were able to spot our mistake and rectify it before disaster struck! The website of the Georgian Civil Aviation Authority publishes comprehensive flight schedules which will allow you to see which flights are available.
We flew via Schiphol Amsterdam with Georgian Airways. Prior to our flight, we emailed the Georgian Airways desk in Amsterdam to check we could board the flight. They asked for a copy of our acceptance letter which they said they would forward to their representative at the airport. When we tried to check in, we were advised to go to the ticket desk so that someone could check our paperwork. We presented our acceptance letter which, in our case, was sufficient. we were then able to get our boarding pass and board the plane without a problem.
Arriving in Georgia
When we landed in Tbilisi, all passengers underwent thermal scanning as they walked through the terminal. In our case, we did not receive a PCR test. When we reached a checkpoint, our passports were checked and we were taken straight through passport control. We collected our luggage and went outside to the taxi rank which is patrolled by security. Your transfer should be handled by your hotel. It's a good idea to get a contact number for your hotel in case your transport doesn't turn up on time (like ours).
We were driven to the hotel where we were met by our host dressed in full PPE. He took our details, explained the rules and showed us to our room.
Once we were in our hotel room, that was it for eight days! We had a WhatsApp contact for the host so that we could request fresh towels, toiletries, etc., but other than that, we had no contact with anyone.
Meals were delivered to our door at 10.00, 15.00 and 19.00. Unfortunately, sustainability has to take a back seat here, polystyrene trays, plastic cutlery and bottled water is the order of the day. Breakfast generally consisted of sausages, eggs, bread and sometimes crepes and yoghurt. Lunch was always soup, bread and cucumber and tomato salad. Dinner was a bit more varied, but generally some kind of meat in sauce with a starchy carbohydrate and yet more bread. If you have dietary requirements I strongly suggest you contact the hotel and make sure they can accommodate you.
On day eight, a doctor came to perform a PCR test. This involved a swab to the back of the throat and up the nose. The next day we called hotel reception and were told we could leave as we were negative. In our case, communication was a bit lacking but we remedied this by asking until they let us go! We ordered a Bolt (Georgian Uber) and went on our merry way!
As is the case with most things during these COVID-stricken times, the guidelines and requirements for entry to Georgia are ever-changing. I would advise keeping an eye on Agenda.ge for any changes, as well as checking your flight regularly on the GCAA website. We contacted the Georgian Embassy in London to ask about quarantine requirements and also received advice from the hotel. There is an Expats in Tbilisi Facebook group which we also found helpful.
Overall, it's best to be as flexible as you can, utilise every source of information you can find and overall remember what the end goal is!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 R L Blackmore