These FAQs cover all the essential questions expats ask in facebook groups all the time. Get the answers ahead of time so you know what to expect.

If you are looking for our guide & FAQs on how and why to move your taxes to Georgia (Hint: 1% Tax rates, really) read the full guide here.

Georgia Expat Guide eBook – Free Download

For a more comprehensive introduction to expat life in Georgia, our free ebook covers all the most important topics.

Our 100 page guide includes:

  • Accommodation
  • Visas & residency
  • Business, banking & tax
  • Everyday life: from social life to transport, internet, restaurants and much more.

Download your free copy of our ebook:

Before You Take Off

Tbilisi, Kutaisi or Batumi?

One could write an essay on this, but as with everything on this site, I’ll try to keep it short and simple.

Firstly, most cities (and, indeed, the countryside) in Georgia have a lot to offer. Which option is the “best” depends a lot on who you are. But to give you a very basic (but obviously biased and subjective) idea of the 3 main cities:

  • Tbilisi: The capital and the largest city. Most expats live here. Tbilisi is arguably also the only city where you’ll find most “western-style” amenities without issues. It’s definitely the most convenient place to move to, the old town and Vake have charm, other suburbs are a little more urban. Traffic and air pollution are also major issues here. Regardless of this, it’s still a great place to live if you like city life.
  • Kutaisi: While one would assume the capital would have the best air connections, in many cases, the opposite is true in Georgia. If you like low-cost airlines like RyanAir, WizzAir, and others, most of these only fly to Kutaisi.
    Other than that, it’s a small-ish city of around 150,000 people. You’ll certainly find the cost of living to be far less than that of Tbilisi or Batumi, the city will have a more authentic feel to it, but you may miss some of the comforts you’re used to and will definitely find it difficult to get by without knowing any Georgian or Russian.
  • Batumi: Batumi is a holiday resort, and that pretty much sums up the place. It has a long shoreline and it’s very busy with lots of nightlife and other tourist-oriented activities going on during the summer. But in the winter, it’s more or less dead. Not the kind of dead that places like Ayia Napa in Cyprus or Sunny Beach in Bulgaria are, as it’s still home to nearly 150,000 people, but you won’t have a whole lot to do in the winter.
    Fun fact: Batumi is, apparently, also the rainiest city in both Georgia and the entire Caucasus region, with nearly 2,500mm in annual rainfall!
What’s the weather like in Georgia?

Pleasant, in general.

While Georgia has many different climates due to being quite mountainous, most places that aren’t at too high of an elevation have hot, long summers and mild winters.

In Tbilisi, it isn’t unusual to see temperatures as high as 35 degrees Celsius during the summer months (June to September) and during the winter, the temperature rarely falls below freezing.

Springs and autumns are also quite nice and pleasant, and the average yearly rainfall in Tbilisi is just 500mm, making it a fairly dry place (compared to Batumi, which gets nearly 5 times as much rain!)

You can read more about it from our article: Georgia’s Weather

Will I be able to find a job?

Unless you speak Georgian or at the very least good Russian, it won’t be easy.

And even if you do find a local job, the salary is very likely not going to be enough to sustain “Western” living standards. As an example, the average salary in Georgia in 2019 was just 1,069 GEL (or around $398 / €362), and while the cost of living is relatively cheap too, it will still be a struggle. If you can get one of the rare expat wage level jobs, then you can expect at least 3 times that standard wage. As an expat with rent to pay, living off less than 2,000 GEL a month would not be enjoyable, even on a very slim budget.

Most of the locals that you see living a decent life here either have a second income, work remotely for a foreign company or live with their families (which is incredibly common here, even well into someone’s 30s) and therefore save on costs.

What kind of lifestyle will I find?

Georgia is a laid-back, relaxed, easy-going, somewhat unorganized and chaotic, technologically innovative, family-oriented melting pot of Europe, Asia, and the former Soviet Union.

It’s perhaps the most divided place that I’ve seen, in that you’ll find incredible bureaucracy and chaos right next to top-notch technological solutions. You’ll find half the people living in huts that barely stay in one piece and the other half in brand new highrises (but nothing in-between, seemingly!) You get my point.

All in all, as Georgia is such a melting pot of different cultures, odds are that you’ll be able to build the kind of lifestyle that you’re after, based on where you live, who you hang out with, and the places you frequent. The no-rules attitude (well, all rules flaunted attitude) means that lifestyle is… flexible.

Don’t expect to find a sunny, cheaper version of a Western European or American city, though, or you’ll be disappointed. Take Georgia for what it is and accept that some things may be unusual or a little dated. It’s still a developing country after all, which is why it’s such a great time to be here!

How to find short or medium-term accommodation in Tbilisi?

The usual options – Airbnb, booking.com, etc.

I know many people who have booked an Airbnb for a few weeks to a month and then negotiated a continued deal privately with the landlord. Most landlords will be happy to give you a decent discount if you’re planning to stay for a couple of months until you familiarise yourself with the city and find more permanent accommodation.

The prices of short-term accommodation are also very reasonable, even during the tourist season. It’s not unusual to find nice, new apartments in a decent area for as little as $20-30 a night.

See the below section on a place to live for more info on long-term accommodation.

How can I get my personal items shipped to Georgia?

If you’re someone who’s got more than a few suitcases worth of stuff, this is likely going to be the first major disappointment that you’ll encounter.

Simply put (and no, I’m not making this up), the Georgian government charges import tariffs (30% composed of 12% import duty and 18% VAT) on every shipment that’s valued above 300 GEL (roughly $100), even if it’s your used personal items. Crazy, right?

It gets crazier. Let’s assume that you’re happy to pay the exorbitant fee, then what?

Then, you’ll have to compose a detailed inventory list, listing every single item that you’re shipping, along with its value. How do you determine the value of a pair of old socks? No-one knows. Seriously. I’ve heard from people who have called embassies, spoken to the Georgian Revenue Service, etc., and no one seems to have a concise answer. So, wing it, I guess?

All in all, good luck! You’ll need it. Read our article on getting belongings shipped.

After You Land

How do I get a SIM card with some data?

Regardless of whether you land in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, or Batumi, you’ll find kiosks selling SIM cards right after you walk out from the baggage claim. Some places even offer SIM cards for free, believe it or not.

The three main mobile operators are Geocell (Silknet), Magti, and Beeline, and while most people seem to use the first two, all three are supposedly pretty equally good… at least if you don’t plan on spending a lot of time outside of the major cities.

Prices are dirt cheap. While all operators have several packages, you can expect to pay no more than $5 for unlimited local calls and about a gigabyte of data. Personally, I pay 35 GEL (around $11) a month and get unlimited calls and texts and 7GB of data. But I’m sure even better deals can be found.

For a comparison between the main providers read our SIM card comparison article.

How do I get from the airport to my accommodation?

Whatever you do, do not take a random taxi from in front of the airport. You will get ripped off. The Internet is full of stories of people being charged upwards of 120 GEL for the trip. At around $40 for half an hour’s ride, it may not seem like much, but as the normal price is usually around the 25-30 GEL range, it’s several times what you should be paying. And to top it off, a lot of these taxis are worn-out vehicles too.

Instead, use one of the Uber-like ride-sharing apps, Bolt or Yandex (I prefer the former, but the latter is, apparently, a little cheaper). Grab yourself a SIM card (or connect to the free airport WiFi), install the app, and off you go. Both apps also let you pay in cash if you want to skip punching in your card details.

Most of their cars are decent, with the “standard” size mostly consisting of Priuses and “premium” mostly Toyota Camrys. (I haven’t tried the cheapest “lite” option, personally.)

We’ve reviewed all the options here: From TBS to Tbilisi

Where/how can I learn Georgian?

Generally speaking, you have three options:

  • Learn on your own: This is what my wife is doing, and while she’s making good progress, it’s tough. And when I say tough, I mean really tough. Not only are English-based study materials scarce, but due to the unique pronunciation of the language, you’ll need to supplement written materials with a lot of recordings and videos to get the full grasp. And even then, you’d ideally need a native to tell you whether what you think is the right pronunciation actually sounds right. It’s doable, though. Feel free to shoot us an email if you’d like Elora to send you a list of the study materials that she uses. Oh, and no, Georgian isn’t on Duolingo or any of the other popular apps 🙁
  • Get a private teacher: All it takes is a quick post on Facebook and you’ll have dozens of people sending you PMs offering their teaching services one a 1-on-1 basis at affordable prices. The problem? Most of those people are not language teachers and many only have a very basic command of English. So you’ll likely end up spending a lot of time learning inefficiently. However, if your goal isn’t to become fluent, but rather to learn a few hundred basic words and to get by at the grocery store, then this may be a good option for you.
  • Go to a language school: There are plenty of language schools in Tbilisi, offering different kinds of courses at a variety of rates and intensities. Personally, I’ve heard lots of good things about the American Language Center, which might not be the cheapest option, but at $10 an hour for personal classes (and much less for group ones), I’d say it’s pretty reasonable. There are plenty of other options as well, such as the International Center for Georgian Language and even Tbilisi State University’s own Language Centre.

A Place To Live – Areas, Estate Agents, Buy or Rent

Which area of Tbilisi is the best for expats?

This is one of the questions that seems to trigger a huge divide in opinion every time it’s asked (which is about every day), so I’ll say again that anything you read here is strictly my personal opinion, and others may or may not agree with it. With that out of the way, here’s my non-comprehensive, subjective, and biased understanding of the main areas expats tend to live:

  • Saburtalo is where most foreigners tend to base themselves. It’s a huge “sleeper district” that is a melting pot of soviet-style blockhouses (Khrushchyovkas) and newly built high-rises. While Saburtalo offers good value for money, as it’s on the cheaper end of the spectrum and has good transport links (there’s a metro line that runs along the center of Saburtalo), people who live there tend to report fewer options in terms of entertainment, going out, etc. You’ll also struggle if you prefer driving or taking the taxi to using the metro, as this means lengthy drives to the center of Tbilisi, especially during rush hours.
  • Vake used to be the district for Tbilisi’s “elite”, so to speak, and it has largely retained the reputation of being a more “upscale” neighbourhood. Situated basically between the Old Town and Saburtalo, the location is quite decent. However, there’s no metro, so you’re stuck with driving. Traffic is usually OK, except during peak hours, when it can get very clogged. You’ll find a nice combination of old and new buildings in Vake, and a lot of modern, nicely done flats. Prices are noticeably higher than in some other neighbourhoods, though. Oh, and Upper Vake is, apparently, among places with the cleanest air in Tbilisi, as it sits on top of a hill. Otherwise, Vake is pretty flat, which makes things a bit easier for pedestrians compared to the super-hilly Old Town. Entertainment options are plentiful, with a lot of the city’s nicest (non-tourist-oriented) bars and restaurants. We live in Vake and are happy with everything it has to offer so far.
  • Rustaveli & the Old Town are definitely at the top of the list when it comes to the overall quantity of amenities and options, but as these are highly tourist-oriented areas, not necessarily overall quality. While the old town looks beautiful, you’ll find that for the most part of the year it’s rather crowded with visitors, and unless you look like you might be from the region, you’ll be constantly mistaken for one by the various restaurateurs, tour providers, beggars, and others. The old town is also rather hilly, making getting around on foot difficult at times. You also won’t find a lot of newer buildings in the city center or the old town, making issues with utilities a little more common than what you’d experience in Vake or Saburtalo.
  • Marjanishvili is an up-and-coming neighbourhood across the river. It features the popular entertainment complex called Fabrika, which is frequented mostly by younger or, dare I say, “hipster-esque” crowds. While historically not an area that would attract large amounts of foreigners, the presence and popularity of Fabrika and the largely renovated Davit Aghmashenebeli Avenue, with its numerous coffee shops, bars, and restaurants, certainly attracts a lot of attention – mainly focusing on the Arabic & Muslim market. Real estate prices and rents here come at a fraction of what you’d find in the old town or in Vake. Transportation connections are also decent, with the city center not too far away and the Marjanishvili metro station located centrally.
Can a foreigner buy property in Georgia?

Yes. There are no limitations on residential property, the purchase process is extremely quick and simple, and there are no stamp duties to pay. The only exception is agricultural land, the purchase of which is restricted. And, because of zoning laws, a lot of land in villages and small towns is still considered agricultural.

How much rent should I pay in Tbilisi?

This really depends on what your standards are and where you’re looking. I’ve heard first-hand stories from people who pay under $300 per month, as well as those who pay upwards of $2,000 a month.

Your best bet would be to check out sites like MyHome.ge and SS.ge (both have English versions) and take a first-hand look.

What I’d recommend against is asking this question from a bunch of random people on Facebook or elsewhere, as different people have vastly different ideas of what constitutes a good living standard, what’s an “acceptable” budget (be ready to be flamed if you’re willing to pay above the average!), and so forth.

Where can I find a trustworthy / English speaking estate agent?

Ask this question on any of the expat-oriented Facebook groups and you’ll get bombarded with estate agents of all kinds – some better, others worse. Some will approach you directly, others will have their friends “recommend” them.

In reality, the way the industry works in Georgia is that 99% of all real estate listings in Tbilisi are posted on the same two sites that I mentioned above – MyHome.ge and SS.ge.

With this in mind, there’s virtually no reason to go with any one estate agent, as all you’re doing is limiting your options, as well as potentially opening yourself up for exploitation or the so-called “foreigner tax”.

Also, bear in mind that if you come from the UK or the US, you’ll find the role of an estate agent here vastly different than what you might be used to back home.

Georgia employs the Eastern European standard, whereby an estate agent is not much more than a glorified data entry person with (often quite basic) photography skills. No agent has exclusivity over any one property (so you’ll often find dozens of agents “representing” the same property), the majority of their leads come from the aforementioned sites, and in most cases, the agent tends to offer very little to no added value, as even the viewings are conducted with the property owner present.

Oh, and if an agent asks you for money, run! In Georgia, the norm is for the landlord/owner to pay any and all agent fees.

Settling In – Banks, Water, Internet and more

How can I open a Georgian bank account?

Assuming you intend to open a personal (not business) bank account, you’re in for a treat, as in 2020, Georgia remains one of the easiest countries for a non-citizen (or even a non-resident) to open an account – though they are slowly tightening up restrictions.

All you need to do is show up at one of the banks (Bank of Georgia and TBC are the two main institutions) with your passport in hand, and in about 20-30 minutes, you’ll walk out with a fully functioning multi-currency account (GEL, USD, EUR). Go back in a couple of days and pick up your debit card. That’s it! No proof of address or reference letter needed.

A word of warning, though: be prepared to provide many more documents and start answering questions if or when you start receiving large amounts (by Georgian standards) into your account, especially from abroad. Banks in Georgia are increasingly tight on KYC and anti-money laundering, and therefore, they tend to get quite nosey (and rightly so) the moment they spot anything irregular.

If you want to move a large amount of money, for the purpose of something like buying property, it’s best to get some professional advice first. Contact info@expathub.ge and we can refer you to an expert.

Do I even need a Georgian bank account?

While you’ll find that plenty of expats spend years in Georgia without having a local account, and opt to just use their existing one and withdraw cash, or use an online bank like Revolut, transferwise, N26, etc., I’d say your life becomes a whole lot easier if you do have a local account.

Take bills, for example. Would you really want to go to an ATM every month to withdraw cash, only to then proceed to the “bill payment terminal” to re-insert the same banknotes you just took out? Or would you rather spend 5 seconds doing it via Internet Banking? (Actually, you don’t even need to do that… just set up a recurring payment and forget about it.)

Peoples’ preferences differ, and for some reason that is beyond me, some people seem to genuinely prefer the former option; however, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find it’s not worth your time.

How do I pay my bills?

As I mentioned previously when talking about Georgian bank accounts, the easiest option by far is to use Internet Banking. All it takes is a couple of clicks and you’re done.

If you don’t have a local bank account or just prefer not to use it, you can do what a large portion of the local population does and use the conveniently located bill payment machines or “pay boxes”.

These are the typically blue or orange touch screen terminals that you’ll see everywhere throughout the city. They’re on street corners, next to shops, inside shops… literally everywhere. There must be over 1,000 of these machines in Tbilisi alone, so it’s impossible to miss them.

They’re quite easy to use. Choose your language, tap on what you want to pay, insert the cash (or a card… but only local cards are taken as far as I know), and you’re sorted.

Daily Life

What are the best grocery stores and supermarkets in Tbilisi?

As with all questions of this type, “best” is highly subjective, and what some might consider great is the exact opposite for others.

Many people do most of their shopping outside of big supermarkets. It’s very easy to get your fruit and veg from the local vendor, your meat from the butcher, and your khachapuri from the hole-in-the-wall bakery. You’ll support the local economy, get fresh quality products, and won’t pay through your teeth either.

As far as Western-style supermarkets are concerned, you’ve got a few options:

  • Carrefour stores can be found all around, they’re pretty sizeable and you’ll find both local and import products.
  • AgroHub is another supermarket chain similar to Carrefour, but arguably a little bit nicer and better-organized, although a tad more expensive.
  • Europroduct, Smart, Spar, and Nikora are chains of mostly smaller shops that you’ll find scattered everywhere throughout the city. If you’re from the UK, you could compare these to your Sainsbury’s Local or Tesco Express, though Europroduct has quite a few additional foreign imports from Europe.
  • Goodwill a slightly more expensive version of Carrefour (because the product selection and quality is similar, just with higher prices). It’s fine but you might as well go to Carrefour in most cases.
I lost my water. When is it coming back & what should I do?

The first step is to check the Supply Interruptions section of the GWP Website and see if your address is listed there. While the site has an English version, this section is in Georgian so you’ll need to use Google Translate. If your address is listed, then you’ll also see the estimated time you’ll have your water back.

If that’s not the case, then the problem is likely with your house or apartment. Give it half an hour in case someone’s cut the water supply to get temporary work done, then call your landlord if you rent, or speak to the building manager if it’s your own place.

Oh, and make sure you’ve paid your bills! Many electricity, internet, and water cuts here are due to unpaid bills, as the utility companies are very trigger-happy and tend to cut off the service in as little as a week or two (or within a couple of days in the case of the internet), without sending you any reminder letters.

You should always have large containers of tap water for toilet flushing stored in your home. Water and electric cuts occur about once a month (for 6 hours or more at a time depending on the work being done) but cuts can also happen spontaneously so it’s best to be prepared for the unexpected.

How does the postal system work?

If you’re from a Western country, then prepare to experience something entirely different from what you’re used to.

The first thing you’ll notice is that most apartment buildings in Georgia lack mailboxes. So how does mail get delivered, you ask? Well, it’s complicated.

First of all, sending domestic mail is extremely rare in Georgia. In many cases, service providers don’t even send out utility bills. Instead, you’d either check them online or through the little automated bill payment machines scattered around the city. If a utility bill does get sent, it’s usually given to your doorman (if your building has one) or just slipped under your door.

While it’s technically possible to also send and receive letters and parcels, this is an affair that usually requires showing up at the post office and waiting in the queue.

For this reason- and the overall consensus that the public postal system is fairly unreliable- most Georgians tend to use private services like USA2Georgia, Kiwipost, etc., for foreign parcels, and one of the many local courier services for anything local.

Does Amazon deliver to Georgia?

Yes and no.

While it will be tough to find Amazon listings that offer delivery to Georgia, most people tend to use a service called USA2Georgia for this (or “Kiwi post” for packages from the UK & some other countries). In short, they give you a local address in the US that you can order your Amazon packages to, and then forward anything received to a “locker” in Tbilisi where you can pick it up. It costs something like $8 per kilo and takes around a week per parcel. It’s pretty nice and convenient, at least for lighter things.

Considering the above and the inefficiencies of the public postal system discussed above, it’s not hard to understand why this has become the go-to route for Amazon shopping.

Oh, remember that if your order totals 300 GEL (around $100) per day, you’ll be charged an import duty of around 30%. Note that this applies per day, so it doesn’t matter whether you have 1 package of $104 or 4 packages of $26 each… if you’re over $100, you’ll pay the tax.

Also bear in mind that packages posted on weekends may be lumped together, so if you’re already close to the limit, try to order mid-week or leave a day’s gap between two orders to avoid a potentially nasty surprise.

Once a consignment is trapped at customs, you have to register with the Revenue Service here and get on the tax system to pay the import tax.

What are some good taxi apps/companies?

There are two main ones in Tbilisi – Bolt (formerly Taxify) and YandexTaxi.

Personally, I tend to use Bolt and haven’t had any major issues with them, apart from the sometimes annoying time estimation algorithm that they have (it’s not unusual to be quoted 5 minutes and to then wait around 15-20 minutes. Especially during rush hours).

Yandex, people say, is marginally cheaper, but with taxi prices already being as cheap as they are (I rarely pay more than 6-7 GEL for any trip in the city and I tend to use the “Premium” option), I’d rather pay a few cents more for what seems to be a little better quality.

What are some good cafes for remote work in Tbilisi?

There are plenty of cafes all over the city, and most have fast internet as the whole inner city has fiber-optic (20mb/20mb or more).

One coffee chain that’s notably reliable here is called Entree. You’ll find these cafes all over the city, their coffee & pastries are decent, and most of their locations have good wifi & decent seating options.

Are there co-working spaces in Tbilisi?

Yes, plenty!

I’d recommend you to check out Coworker.com to get a better overview, as the coworking places vary WIDELY.

On one end of the spectrum you have places like Terminal in Vake, which looks fantastic, offers great amenities, and is perfectly situated (if you live in Vake), but charges something like 450 GEL per month just for co-working, which doesn’t even include coffee and tea, which you’ll have to buy from the cafeteria.

On the opposite end, you have places like UG Startup Factory in Saburtalo that charges less than a third of that (120 GEL a month).

HELP – I received an SMS in Georgian, but written in Latin letters, so Google Translate doesn’t recognize it.

It’s common practice for some businesses here to send text messages that are in Georgian, but typed in Latin letters. That’s also done by the Revenue Service, as well as some mobile operators.

For foreigners, it’s extremely annoying, as Google Translate doesn’t recognize it as Georgian, and fails to translate it.

Luckily, there’s a (somewhat annoying) solution:

Head over to https://ge.translit.cc/, paste in your text, and hit the button that says “–> Georgian”. Boom! You now have Georgian text that you can put into Google Translate.

Money & Taxes

Do I need to apply for a Residence Permit?

It…. depends.

If you’re a citizen of one of the 95 countries and territories that can travel to Georgia visa-free, then you can spend up to 1 full year in Georgia, including working in Georgia without needing any additional permits. Yes, you read that right. Georgia is, to my knowledge, the only country in the world with an immigration policy this relaxed.

That said, many people still like to get a residence permit, either to safeguard themselves against possible future changes in the law, to gain an additional safety net when traveling (technically, it’s the border guard’s decision whether to let you enter the country or not, unless you have a residence permit), or to prove their residency for tax reasons.

If you do spend 183 days or more in Georgia in any rolling 12 month period, you will automatically become a tax resident. This can be a bit of a shock to people who arrived on a tourist visa.

The best outcome is normally to sort out your tax liabilities and options before you even arrive, so that you can minimize your taxes rather than get a surprise. You can read about the 6 month tax residency law and your options here.

What are the requirements for a Residence Permit?

The majority of people tend to apply for the permit on the basis of having a workplace in Georgia, and for this, you need to, well, have a workplace. However, it’s no longer as simple as registering a company, hiring yourself, and marching straight into the Public Hall to pick up your residency papers. You’ll need to demonstrate the legitimacy of your workplace and this means that you’ll need to remain employed for a certain time (often quoted as 6 months) and, if it’s your own business, you’ll need to show a yearly turnover of at least 50k GEL.

In order to fast-track the permit, one can always revert to the residency-through-investment channel, which requires you to purchase immovable property in Georgia, valued at 300,000 GEL or more (roughly $100,000). This amount buys you a decent apartment in an OK area that can then be used as a rental property. Once you’ve bought the property, you’ll automatically qualify for the residence permit, along with any family members.

Other avenues are also available, such as permits for students or family reunification.

Check our article on Residency Permits for more info.

Georgian Tax Residency – you may already be a tax resident.

Firstly, you should speak to a qualified tax adviser and have them assist you and validate your tax situation. This is one area where you want to avoid any mistakes, as they can turn out to be very costly.

Tax residency in Georgia is automatic after 183 days in any rolling 12 month period, so if you’ve already been here that long, you are already a tax resident and required to file by March 31st of the year following when you became a tax resident. Even if you are on a tourist visa, you are a tax resident.

The best way to minimize your tax bill is to take advantage of the Georgian tax system asap, rather than wait until you have to file and then discover that you could have paid less if you registered earlier. The difference can be many thousands of dollars.

The best time to sort out your taxes is before you arrive in Georgia, or immediately after arriving.

If you have questions about your tax situation and the best way to minimize liability, get a free consultation with one of our expert English speaking Tax advisers.

If you are not already a tax resident and want to become one ASAP to avoid taxation elsewhere, a separate set of rules apply, rather than the 183 days, if you’re looking for the “High Net Worth Individual” (HNWI) tax residency program. This HNWI residency doesn’t come with any physical residency requirements, but does require you to show assets in excess of 3,000,000 GEL ($1,000,000) and/or income of over 200,000 GEL ($66,600) for the last 3 years.

Starting a Business

How can I register a company in Georgia?

Find information on opening an LLC (Limited Liability Company).

For Individual Entrepreneurs, check out how to qualify for the 1% tax rate.

We can help you open your business in Georgia and bypass all the language barriers. Check out our pricing and services here.

What are the banking options for my Georgian company?

Your options depend on what sort of business you have.

While Georgian banks used to be extremely liberal when it came to opening accounts (and still remain largely so for personal accounts), this has changed and it’s increasingly difficult to open a corporate account with any of the local banks, unless you can demonstrate actual ties to Georgia, beyond just the fact that you reside here.

Basically, what all of the banks are looking for is physical infrastructure (an office, employees, etc.) in Georgia, as well as evidence of income or marketing activities taking place in Georgia. If you can show this, then you shouldn’t have an issue opening an account with any of the larger banks – Bank of Georgia & TBC being the top two preferred options.

But if you’re expecting a lot of foreign income, especially in USD, and aren’t able to demonstrate a whole lot of “substance”, you’ll almost certainly struggle with opening an account.

We have a lot of experience with the quirks of opening a business account, so if you need help with this, please book a free consultation.

You do, of course, still have the alternatives of Revolut, Transferwise, and other online banks, many of which make it extremely easy to open an account.

Where do I find a good English-speaking tax lawyer to help me?

One of the main reasons we started ExpatHub was because we were dissatisfied with the level of service and accuracy we’d experienced when trying to find local tax advice.

We’ve made it our mission to provide tax advice and accountancy services that meet western expectations. We only hire people who speak excellent English and work to our high standards of fact-checking and precision.

If you get a consultation with us, we will not only answer your questions, but also show you the evidence directly from the tax code and government legislation, that proves what we are saying is accurate.

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How can I hire people in Georgia?

I’ve used Jobs.ge with a lot of success.

This site, along with its sister site CV.ge, appears to be the largest job portal in Georgia.

The first time I used them, about a year ago, I was looking for a personal assistant and received just shy of 80 applications, which was very decent for the 75 GEL or so that I paid to place the ad.

How do I get from Tbilisi to ….

Kutaisi

Kutaisi

Bus is the most common option. There are two main providers, GeorgianBus and Omnibus and both have several departures daily. The ticket costs around 20 GEL one-way, and to make things nice for those arriving in the middle of the night (which is when most flights to and from Georgia tend to be), the buses are actually aligned with flight times. The ride takes around 4 hours.

Train is a somewhat cheaper option (9 GEL) and is also a bit more comfortable, but it also takes a bit longer – around 5 hours – and it doesn’t take you straight to Kutaisi airport. There’s also just one train per day.

Rental car is always an option for return trips, but if you haven’t driven in Georgia before, you may want to allow some time to get used to the somewhat creative approach to traffic that’s common here before getting behind the wheel.

Minibus, or a “Marshrutka” as they’re called, costs about the same as the train (10 GEL) and gets you to Kutaisi in roughly 3.5 to 4 hours. Just show up at the bus station, look around for a vehicle with a “Kutaisi” sign, and approach the driver. While not the most comfortable of rides, the minibuses depart often and are both cost-effective & quick.

Taxi remains an option if you’re after speed and convenience, and also don’t mind paying a little extra. One might expect a 3.5-hour drive to cost an arm and a leg, but in reality, at roughly 130 GEL or $45, it’s not that bad at all, especially when splitting the total cost among multiple people.

Batumi

Batumi

Train is almost definitely your best option. The trains are modern and comfortable double-deckers with 2 or 3 travel classes depending on the departure. With 2-3 departures per day, a 5-hour travel time, and a ticket price of 25-61 GEL (depending on travel class) it’s a great option.

Bus is, apparently, also a viable option, but I’m not personally aware of any large providers like the ones you’ll find for the Kutaisi route. You probably also don’t want to spend nearly 7 hours in a stuffy bus.

Flying can’t be dismissed as a valid option. But while the flight itself is only 40 minutes and quite inexpensive (starting from around $55) you also need to take into account the time you’ll spend getting to and from the airport, having to arrive early, and dealing with luggage. With all of this combined, the time difference between a flight and taking the train won’t appear that significant.

You always have other options, such as taking a marshrutka or driving, the latter of which might be good if you’re planning to do some sightseeing on the way (and there’s certainly a lot to see!)

Baku

Baku (Azerbaijan)

While there are some creative ways of getting from Tbilisi to Baku, such as a 10-hour bus ride or trying your luck at the border with a rented car, most people opt for either a flight or an overnight train, both of which have their pros and cons.

The overnight train (which we recently took and I’ll soon write a whole article about) is… fun! We opted for this option not because of the price (although you can’t go wrong with $30 for a First Class ticket) and more because of the convenient times (it leaves Tbilisi at 8pm and gets to Baku at 9am… and vice versa on the way back) and because of the novelty factor. And we weren’t disappointed!

The trains are nice and relatively modern (at least in 1st class). You get your own sleeper cabin that sleeps 2 (4 in second class, more in 3rd) and it has everything that you need for a comfortable 12-13-hour ride. Except for food. Bring your own food! And coffee. Hot water is provided, though.

The only slight inconvenience is that you have to physically show up at the train station to buy the ticket. There are no online tickets as they need to physically check your passport, and you’ll have to repeat the process on the Baku side (although for that direction, you can “reserve” your ticket and pay for it online, you just need to pick it up in person).

The Tbilisi-Baku flight is a far less adventurous but arguably more convenient option. There are 3 flights a day – 2 by Buta Airways, and 1 by Azerbaijan Airlines- and the tickets are cheap (around $50-60 one way). The one thing that isn’t great is the flight times, as either your departure or arrival will almost certainly be either late at night or early in the morning.

If you have questions that are not answered here, why not email us info@expathub.ge


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Janar K
Janar K

Managing Partner at ExpatHub.GE. With more than 15 years experience in planning business tax structures in countries around the world, Janar is our top expert on watertight structures with the minimum tax leakage.