COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Since becoming an independent republic in 1991, Uzbekistan has been undergoing significant economic and social change. Much of the country, particularly areas outside of Tashkent and the major tourist destinations of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, is remote and difficult to access. Tourist facilities in these areas are typically below international standards, and many goods and services remain difficult to find on a regular basis. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Uzbekistan for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Uzbekistan, please take the time to inform our Embassy about your trip before or upon arrival. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
#3, Moyqorghon Street
5th Block, Yunusobod District
Republic of Uzbekistan
Contact the American Citizens Services section by email at email@example.com
If you are a U.S. citizen with an after-hours emergency, please call our hotline at: (99871) 120-5450
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: A passport and visa are required. Although official invitation letters are not required for U.S. citizens applying for tourist visas, they are required for those planning to visit an individual residing in Uzbekistan. Tourist visas cannot be extended in Uzbekistan and require the holders to reside at hotels rather than private residences during their stay in the country. Visas are issued by Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad. Visitors coming from countries where Uzbekistan does not have diplomatic or consular representation should obtain visas in a third country. Visas are not available upon arrival at Uzbek airports. U.S. citizens seeking visas are encouraged to apply for their visas well in advance of their travel. The application process differs for tourist and private visitor visas. To obtain a private visitor visa, the applicant must arrange for an inviting party to file an official invitation letter in Uzbekistan via Office of Entry, Exit and Citizenship under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, obtain approval, and then send the approved letter to the U.S. Citizen. This approved invitation letter then must be included with the application for a visa to Uzbekistan to indicate the applicant’s intent to travel as a private visitor, rather than as a tourist. See the webpage of the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the United States for more information.
It is important to note that Uzbek visas not only indicate the validity of the visa, but also the period of time a person is allowed to stay in Uzbekistan on a given trip. A visitor will have to leave the country before the number of days indicated as the duration of stay on the visa expires. Therefore, it is important to indicate your intended period of stay when applying for your Uzbek visa. All travelers, even those simply transiting Uzbekistan, must obtain an Uzbek visa before traveling to Uzbekistan.
Many of Uzbekistan’s land border crossings are restricted to use by nationals of the two bordering states. Land crossings by U.S. citizens and other third country nationals are often restricted to specific border posts. U.S. citizen travelers planning an overland border crossing are advised to ensure that they will be crossing at an authorized point. Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan for the most updated information.
Foreigners must complete a customs declaration in duplicate upon entering Uzbekistan through an airport or overland crossing. Customs officials will review and stamp both copies. One will be retained by the Customs Authority; the other is to be kept by the traveler and presented at the time of departure from Uzbekistan. The amount of cash taken out of Uzbekistan should not exceed the amount indicated on the customs declaration as having been brought in. In order to export more cash than was imported, one must obtain special permission from the National Bank of Uzbekistan. Those who understate the amount of currency on their declaration form upon departure from Uzbekistan face fines and confiscation of their unreported money.
The Uzbek government tightly controls all official border crossings. Travel within Uzbekistan by rail or land sometimes requires brief exit into neighboring countries. Travelers therefore should consider obtaining multiple-entry Uzbek visas as well as proper visas for the neighboring countries.
All travelers present in Uzbekistan for more than three business days must register with the Office of Entry, Exit, and Citizenship, commonly known as “OVIR,” of the district or city in which they are staying. All foreigners are required to obtain valid registration by their third day in Uzbekistan (excluding Sundays and national holidays). Therefore, it is important to apply for this registration as early as possible upon arrival in the country. Registration fees vary depending on length of stay, ranging from $20 for a one month stay to $200 for a stay of up to a year. Visitors without proper registration are subject to fines, imprisonment, and deportation. The fines range from US $1,000 to $12,000.
Visitors may apply for two types of visa:
Tourists: Visitors who intend to stay at hotels should apply for Tourist (“T”) visas. Such visitors are required to stay at hotels and may not legally stay at private residences. Hotels are responsible for registering their “T” guests with OVIR and will ask guests to turn over their passports, often until checkout, so hotel staff can perform this task.
Private Visitors: Visitors who intend to stay at private residences (e.g. with friends) should apply for Private Visitor (“PV”) visas. Such visitors are responsible for registering themselves at OVIR offices, as noted above, within three days of arrival in country. “PV” visa holders who stay at multiple residences are responsible for re-registering each time they move to another private residence. “PV” visa holders, once initially registered with OVIR, are permitted also to stay at hotels, which will complete registration for the hotel stay as described above. This typically occurs if a foreign visitor wishes to combine a homestay with friends or relatives with excursions to tourist destinations.
Visit the Embassy of Uzbekistan website for the most current visa information.
Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Uzbekistan. Visitors staying more than 15 days must be tested. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Uzbekistan before you travel.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: The Department of State advises U.S. citizens that the potential for a terrorist attack or localized civil disturbance still exists in Uzbekistan. Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qaida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement are active in the Central Asian region. Members of these groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and have attacked U.S. government interests in the past. They may attempt to target U.S. government or private U.S. citizen interests in Uzbekistan. In the past, these groups have conducted kidnappings, assassinations, and suicide bombings.
Uzbek authorities maintain a high level of alert and aggressive security measures to thwart terrorist attacks. High security at official facilities may lead terrorists and their sympathizers to seek softer targets. These may include facilities where U.S. citizens and other foreigners congregate or visit, such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, outdoor recreation events, and resorts. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent continues to employ heightened security precautions. U.S. citizens should report any unusual activity to local authorities and then inform the Embassy.
Depending upon security conditions, travelers may experience restricted personal movement, including the closing of roads to traffic in addition to frequent document, vehicle, and personal identification checks. The Uzbek government has intermittently restricted travel to certain parts of the country in response to security concerns.
Stay up to date by:
CRIME: Uzbekistan’s rate of violent crime, including against foreigners, has increased in recent years. In urban areas, travelers are urged to take the same precautions against crime that they would take in a large U.S. city. If you are traveling at night, try to stay in well-lighted areas, please travel in groups, maintain a low profile, and do not display large amounts of cash. Beware of pickpockets in public places, such as tourist destinations and local markets.
Although using private cars as taxicabs is a common practice in Uzbekistan, U.S. citizens, especially women, should not consider this a safe practice. U.S. citizens are encouraged to use clearly marked taxicabs, such as those at hotels and should avoid riding in taxis alone.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are they illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in most areas of Uzbekistan is 01 for fire; 02 for police; 03 for an ambulance; and 050 for the Ministry of Emergency Situations. Please note that in Tashkent city these numbers are 101, 102, 103 and 1050 respectively.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Uzbekistan, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Uzbekistan, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going. Persons violating Uzbekistan laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Uzbekistan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained in Uzbekistan.
Taking photographs of military or security installations or other locations of strategic significance (ministries, border and other checkpoints, bridges, tunnels, reservoirs, mountain passes, subway system, etc.) is prohibited in Uzbekistan. Uzbek authorities enforce these regulations quite strictly. Obey all signs restricting photography and be mindful that the absence of such a sign may not mean that you can take a picture.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Travelers to Uzbekistan are subject to frequent document inspections. Therefore, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to carry their U.S. passports with their Uzbek visas, or certified copies, with them at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available.
Dual nationality: Diplomatic missions of Uzbekistan refuse to issue visas to U.S. citizen children if at least one of the U.S. citizen’s parents is a citizen of Uzbekistan. In these cases, the Embassy of Uzbekistan or the Consulate General of Uzbekistan will either issue an Uzbek birth certificate or enroll the child in the Uzbek citizen parent’s passport. To travel back to the United States such a dual national child must obtain Uzbek travel documents, either by enrolling in the parent’s exit permit or by obtaining a new biometric passport. The U.S. Embassy’s experience indicates that the border authorities of Uzbekistan will allow the child to depart Uzbekistan for the United States if the child possesses an Uzbek biometric passport (or is enrolled in the parent’s exit permit) and a U.S. passport.
The most direct routes in certain areas of the Fergana Valley are along roads that may temporarily cross poorly demarcated/ not yet agreed upon borders. These so-called transit roads are used daily by locals without incident. However, U.S. citizens traveling in the region are advised that crossing the border in such a manner, even inadvertently, may be considered an immigration violation. Pay careful attention when planning overland routes, and obtain proper visas if a border will be crossed. In addition, all travelers are reminded that taking photos or filming in border areas is prohibited and doing so may result in detainment and questioning by border guards.
Uzbek customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import to or export from Uzbekistan of items such as armaments and ammunition, space technology, encryption devices, x-ray and isotope equipment, nuclear materials, poisons, drugs, precious and semi-precious metals, nullified securities, pieces of art, and antiques of historical value. Contact the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Washington, D.C., or the Consulate of Uzbekistan in New York for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Most transactions are conducted on a cash-only, local currency (soum) basis. Many merchants will accept dollars for larger tourist handicraft purchases. Credit cards are accepted only at the main hotels and a few shops and restaurants; travelers’ checks can be cashed into dollars at the National Bank of Uzbekistan. The commission fee is two percent. Old U.S. dollar bills (prior to 1990) and/or those in poor condition (with tears, writing, or stamps) are not acceptable forms of currency in Uzbekistan. Although payment in U.S. dollars is required for certain hotel charges, airline tickets, and visa fees, other dollar transactions, as well as black market currency exchanges, are prohibited.
In Uzbekistan, religious congregation is only allowed by registered religious communities. The registration process for religious organizations and groups is strict and complex. Activities such as proselytizing, importing and disseminating religious literature and offering private religious instruction are subject to criminal penalties and/or deportation.
Uzbekistan is an earthquake-prone country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Accessibility: While in Uzbekistan, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what they find in the United States. Local public transportation and majority of buildings in Uzbekistan are not easily accessible for individuals with disabilities.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical care in Uzbekistan is below Western standards, with severe shortages of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics. A large percentage of medication sold in local pharmacies is known to be counterfeit. Elderly travelers and those with pre-existing health problems may be at particular risk due to inadequate medical facilities. Most resident U.S. citizens travel to North America or Western Europe for their medical needs. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy maintains a Medical Contacts List on the Embassy website. Travelers are advised to drink only boiled water, peel all fruits and vegetables, and avoid undercooked meat. Due to inadequate sanitation conditions, travelers should avoid eating unpasteurized dairy products and most food sold in the streets.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Uzbekistan. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Uzbekistan has a developed but inconsistently maintained traffic infrastructure. Although main roads in central Tashkent are relatively well maintained, many secondary roads inside and outside Tashkent, and particularly those in the Tien Shan Mountains, are in poor condition and may be passable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles. Driving at night can be quite dangerous because only the main roads in Tashkent and a few other major cities have streetlights; rural roads and highways generally are not lit. Visitors are strongly urged to avoid driving at night outside Tashkent. The gasoline supply can be sporadic; therefore, travelers should expect occasional difficulty finding gasoline, particularly outside Tashkent.
Livestock, as well as farm equipment and carts drawn by animals that lack lights or reflectors, are found on both urban and rural roads at any hour. Local drivers are not familiar with safe driving techniques. Pedestrians in cities and rural areas cross streets unexpectedly and often without looking for oncoming traffic. Uzbekistan has a large road police force, which frequently stops drivers for minor infractions or simple document checks. There have been reports of harassment of foreign drivers by the road police, with reported minor police corruption in the form of solicitation of bribes.
Uzbekistan has a “zero tolerance” policy for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Uzbekistan’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Uzbekistan’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
* * *
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Uzbekistan dated June 11, 2012 to update the sections on Entry/Exit Requirements for U.S. Citizens and Special Circumstances.