KazakhstanOfficial Name: Republic of Kazakhstan
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Those staying longer than 15 days or engaging in employment or missionary activities require a visa.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
Ak Bulak 4, Str. 23-22,
Telephone: +(7) (7172) 702-100
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (8-717) 270-2200 or +(7) (7172) 702-200 (from the U.S.)
Fax: +(7) (7172) 702-280
U.S. Consulate General Almaty
97 Zholdasbekov Street
Almaty, Kazakhstan 050059
Telephone: +(7) (7272) 504-901
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (8-7172 ) 702-200 or +(7) (7172) 702-200 from the U.S.)
Fax: +(7) (7272) 504-884
Kazakhstan is a constitutional republic with a strong presidency and a market economy. The availability of goods and services is better than in neighboring countries, but generally are not up to the standards found in North America and Western Europe. Infrastructure shortcomings and severe winter weather can delay travel. Read the Department of State's Fact Sheet on Kazakhstan for additional information on U.S.- Kazakhstan relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
- U.S. citizens can visit Kazakhstan without a visa for up to fifteen days for all purposes of travel except employment and missionary work.
- Kazakhstan issues five-year multiple-entry visas to qualified applicants traveling for business, tourism, or for diplomatic, official, and media purposes.
- Violating the authorized period of stay in Kazakhstan or engaging in activities inconsistent with your visa category may result in fines, imprisonment, and/or delays upon exit.
- Please see the Kazakhstan Embassy’s visa page for the most current visa information.
Permanent Residents: If you wish to apply for a Permanent Residency Permit in Kazakhstan, you must provide the Kazakhstani Migration Police with a background check performed by law enforcement in the United States.
- This background check must be authenticated (i.e., affixed with an apostille) by the state authorities in which the investigation was conducted. For information on official authentication, please see the Department of State website.
- It is recommended that you obtain the background check before your travel to Kazakhstan, as it may be difficult to have fingerprints taken in Kazakhstan. The U.S. Mission in Kazakhstan does not fingerprint U.S. citizens.
- For more information about U.S. background checks, please refer to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s website.
Closed Areas: Travel to certain areas bordering China and cities in close proximity to military installations require prior permission from the Kazakhstani government. The town of Baykonur and surrounding areas in Kyzylorda Oblast, and the town of Gvardeysk near Almaty are also closed to foreigners.
Most of the popular tourist areas in Kazakhstan – Medeu, Shymbulak, Big Almaty Lake, Charyn Canyon, Alakol Lake, Monakhov Gorge, and other locations within 25 kilometers of a border – now fall in so called “closed” zones. While visitors to popular tourist sites within these zones are not required to obtain special permission from immigration authorities, visitors to these sites should bring personal identification in the event they are requested to present it to local authorities. Those wishing to visit other areas within these zones should check with local authorities to ensure that no prior permission is required.
- When entering Kazakhstan, you will be asked to complete a white registration card and present it to the border officers, who will stamp and return it to you with your passport. You must retain this card during your stay and present it when departing Kazakhstan. If the card has two stamps, you are registered with the Migration Police for up to 90 days. If the card contains only one stamp, you must register with the Migration Police within five calendar days. Certain hotels throughout Kazakhstan are also able to register foreign guests.
- While Kazakhstani authorities may register a traveler for up to three months, this does not mean that the traveler can be physically present in Kazakhstan for three months. The duration of stay is dictated by the specific visa category.
- If you stay longer than three months, you must extend your registration period with the nearest Migration Police office in Kazakhstan.
- Foreigners must inform the Migration Police of changes of address.
- Penalties for violating registration rules, including failing to produce a white registration card with proof of registration on departure, may include delayed and/or denial of boarding, fines, imprisonment, and deportation.
Adoptions: All children adopted in Kazakhstan after May 2003 must obtain exit stamps from both the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before departing the country.
HIV/AIDS: Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Kazakhstan.
- Visitors applying for a work or residency permit, which is required for U.S. citizens who wish to spend more than six months in Kazakhstan, must submit negative HIV test results with their application to the Migration Police in the city where they intend to work or reside. The results must be less than three months old.
- The city HIV clinic in the place of registration can conduct the test or may certify test results performed abroad.
- If the original test results are in a language other than Russian or Kazakh, they must be accompanied by an official, notarized translation.
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.
Safety and Security
Foreigners are required to carry a valid passport while in Kazakhstan. U.S. citizens are strongly urged to have a certified copy of their U.S. passport made at either of the U.S. Embassy's Consular Sections at the Embassy in Astana or the Consulate General in Almaty. The certified copy satisfies the requirement.
Kazakhstani security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched.
There is a global threat from terrorism to U.S. citizens and interests; including from groups or individuals motivated by the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. Be alert to any security-related announcements by the Kazakhstani authorities. If in any doubt, keep in touch with the Embassy in Astana or Consulate General in Almaty.
In addition, supporters of extremist groups such as the Islamic Jihad Union, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and al-Qaida have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments. Because of increased security at official U.S. facilities, terrorists may also target "soft" civilian targets such as commercial or residential areas, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, hotels, schools, outdoor recreation events, resorts, beaches, maritime facilities, and aircraft.
- The most common crimes foreign visitors encounter are purse snatching, pickpocketing, assaults and robberies. Be vigilant and do not carry large sums of money on the street.
- The police sometimes conduct identification checks on streets and in other public areas. Police are not required to demonstrate probable cause. Upon request, you must produce either a passport or an Embassy-certified copy of a passport.
- Harassment and extortion by imposters, genuine law enforcement, and other officials does occur. Never voluntarily give your wallet to anybody. If pressured by a police officer, tell the officer that you will report his behavior to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General and to the officer’s supervisors. Try to obtain the officer's name, badge number, and license plate number, and note where the incident happened.
- We do not recommend using unlicensed cabs in Kazakhstan. At the airport, do not leave with anyone who does not show pre-arranged identification, even if the person is holding a sign with your name.
- Leave restaurants or bars if fights break out and be aware of your surroundings at all times. The U.S. Mission in Kazakhstan is aware of isolated incidents when foreigners have been drugged, robbed, and physically assaulted at popular bars and nightclubs in Almaty and Astana.
- Street criminals show a clear preference to threaten but not use force. We advise you to comply with all demands in order to avoid violence.
Victims of Crime: Victims of crime should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime. To report a crime locally, call 102 for police.
The U.S. Embassy can:
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police, but only local authorities can investigate and prosecute crimes
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department's travel website for Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
You must obey all laws in Kazakhstan.
- If you violate them, even without knowing you did, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
- Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Kazakhstan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
- You may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you or if you take pictures of certain buildings.
- Kazakhstan has a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol.
- Some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
Arrest: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
- Most prominent retailers, hotels, vendors, and restaurants in major cities accept debit and credit cards.
- Smaller vendors and rural areas only accept cash payments. To exchange U.S. dollars, all denominations of U.S. currency, except $1 bills, must be new series (large portraits) and have been issued after 2000 and be in good condition.
- In most cities, ATMs are plentiful and can generally be found in shopping malls or near local banks.
- Kazakhstani customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the export of items such as antiques.
- Foreigners importing and exporting any currency valued at $10,000 USD or more are required to complete a customs declaration. In addition, people exporting currency should provide evidence of the origin of the funds.
- Please see our Customs Information page for more information.
Document Authentications: The majority of local authorities in Kazakhstan, including public notaries, do not recognize foreign documents without an apostille (authentication) stamp. The U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Consulate General in Almaty do not provide apostille services. If you wish to use your vital record documents (marriage, birth, or divorce certificates), education documents, or U.S. police records in Kazakhstan, you should authenticate your documents in the state where the original document was issued.
Earthquakes: Kazakhstan is an earthquake-prone country. The U.S. Department of State has ranked the earthquake threat level within Almaty as a Level 4 (the highest level assigned). Building practices within Kazakhstan do not generally meet U.S. seismic standards. Local authorities do not have sufficient resources to respond to a large-scale disaster.
Women Travelers: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
- Visitors to Kazakhstan engaging in missionary work or other religious activities must register with the Ministry of Justice office in the region (Akimat) where the activities will take place. This applies even if the religious activities are not the primary purpose of the visit. Attendance at a religious service does not require registration, but participation in the delivery of the service does.
- You may be fined and deported from Kazakhstan for addressing a congregation, leading prayers, and performing religious music without proper religious worker registration. Representatives of faith-based non-governmental organizations are considered subject to the registration requirement even if their activities are not religious in nature.
- Contact the Ministry of Justice office responsible for the area of Kazakhstan where you intend to engage in religious activities and request a written decision. Religious worker registration is only valid for the locality where it is granted.
- See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.
LGBTI Travelers: There are no specific legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) events in Kazakhstan. Negative social attitudes towards LGBTI persons exist, and local LGBTI persons are sometimes subject to physical and verbal abuse, as well as unwanted attention from police. For more detailed information about LGBTI rights in Kazakhstan, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on LGBTI travel, please read our LGBTI Travel Information page.
Persons with Mobility Issues: Many buildings, public walkways, and public transportation are inaccessible to persons with disabilities.
Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan covers you when you are outside of the United States.
- We cannot pay your medical bills.
- U.S. Medicare does not pay overseas.
- Doctors and hospitals often expect cash payment for health services.
- We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation, since medical transport out of the country can be prohibitively expensive or logistically impossible.
- See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Medical care is limited and well below U.S. standards. U.S. citizens often depart Kazakhstan for medical treatment, including many routine procedures. Although the Embassy cannot provide medical advice or provide medical services to the public, U.S. Mission Kazakhstan maintains a list of English-speaking physicians.
Call the Rescue Service by dialing “112.” Other provider numbers are: 101 for Fire, 102 for Police, 103 for Emergency Medical Assistance, and 104 in the event of a gas leak.
Prescriptions: Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all recommended vaccinations, per CDC’s information.
Further Health Information:
Travel & Transportation
Road Conditions and Safety:
- Roads in Kazakhstan are in poor repair, especially in rural areas. Signage and lighting on roadways are poor.
- Potholes are common, and are often dangerously deep.
- Drivers often ignore lane markings. Pedestrians frequently dart out in front of cars.
- Visitors should drive defensively at all times, as many local drivers do not follow traffic laws. Road rage can be a problem, and we recommend a non-confrontational response to such behavior.
- Accidents involving severe injury and/or death are common.
- Traffic police have reportedly stopped cars to extort bribes on main city streets and at periodic checkpoints on major highways.
- The mountainous road between Almaty and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, should be avoided at night or during poor weather.
- Buses can be very crowded and unsafe.
- Due to the danger of theft or assault, be selective regarding which taxi you use, and always avoid entering a cab that already contains persons other than the driver.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Kazakhstan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Kazakhstan’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, a specialized agency of the United Nations) inspectors, however, have identified serious and persistent lapses in the safety oversight of commercial air service on Kazakhstan-registered airlines. As a result, at this time, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to undertake official travel on any Kazakhstani airline operating regularly scheduled flights except for Air Astana. This policy will be reevaluated as reforms are undertaken and future technical reviews, such as audits by ICAO, determine that Kazakhstan’s civil aviation operations more substantially comply with acceptable international safety standards.