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The Kyrgyz Republic
Official Name:

The Kyrgyz Republic

Last Updated: December 20, 2016

Embassy Messages

Further Safety and Security Information

Travel Warnings: Issued when Protracted situations make a country dangerous or unstable. Defer or reconsider travel.

Travel Alerts: Issued when short-term conditions pose imminent threats. Defer or reconsider travel.

Embassy Messages: Issued when local security issues arise.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Bishkek

171 Prospect Mira
Bishkek 720016
Kyrgyz Republic

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Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

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Six Months from date of entry

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

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One full page

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

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Yes

VACCINATIONS:

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None required

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

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Up to the equivalent of 3,000 USD.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

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Up to the equivalent of 3,000 USD.

Country Map

U.S. Embassy Bishkek

171 Prospect Mira
Bishkek 720016
Kyrgyz Republic

Telephone: +(996)(312) 597-000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(996)(312) 597-733

Fax: +(996)(312) 597-744

The Kyrgyz Republic is a mountainous country of 6 million people. Tourism is not highly developed, despite spectacular natural beauty, and there is substantial rural poverty. Air and land travel internally and to neighboring countries is limited and can be subject to delays due to infrastructure shortcomings and winter weather. Rural and urban areas are subject to power, natural gas, and water outages. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet for information on U.S.-Kyrgyz relations.

Visas:

  • You are permitted to enter the country for tourism for up to 60 days without obtaining a Kyrgyz visa prior to arrival.
  • If you travel to the Kyrgyz Republic in any religious capacity, you must obtain a work visa and register with the Office of Religious Affairs.
  • Journalists traveling to the Kyrgyz Republic for work should obtain the appropriate visa at the nearest Kyrgyz Embassy prior to their arrival.  In addition to visas, journalists are also required to register their stay and receive Ministry of Justice approval in order to conduct press activities in country.
  • If traveling in the Kyrgyz Republic, you should consider obtaining visas for Russia, as commercial air travel out of the Kyrgyz Republic is limited. 
  • If you plan on using Kazakhstan as a transit point, you should review Kazakhstan Country Specific Information regarding Kazakh visa regulations before traveling.
  • For the most up-to-date visa information and information regarding entry/exit requirements, contact the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic.
  • The Kyrgyz Republic now requires all visitors staying longer than 60 days to register with the State Registration Service.  Additional information on the registration process can be found on the website for the Kyrgyz State Registration Service.

Some HIV/AIDS restrictions exist for visitors and residents in the Kyrgyz Republic. You must provide proof that you are HIV negative if requested by local authorities.  Refusal to do so could result in administrative charges.  Travelers applying for a work permit must submit to an HIV test as a part of the process.  However, a positive test result will not necessarily result in the refusal of the work permit.  Please verify current requirements with the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic 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.

Ethnic, political, and socio-economic tensions continue to exist in the Kyrgyz Republic, especially in the south. Supporters of terrorist groups and anti-Western, anti-Semitic extremist organizations have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. or Western interests in the region, including the Kyrgyz Republic.  On August 30, 2016 a vehicle-borne explosive device was detonated at the Chinese Embassy located less than 300 meters from the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek.  Kyrgyz police located and detonated several explosive devices near downtown Bishkek in September 2016 and have since made several terrorism-related arrests throughout the Kyrgyz Republic.

  • U.S. citizens should limit travel to the Batken province (Oblast); travel of U.S. government employees to Batken is highly regulated.
  • Land mines in Batken Oblast and near the Kyrgyz-Tajik border continue to be a concern.
  • Areas along the Kyrgyz-Uzbek and Kyrgyz-Tajik borders continue to have small, but sometimes violent and deadly, skirmishes between border guards on both sides, and often include civilians.
  • Organized crime and narcotics trafficking are widespread in the southern areas of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Protests and demonstrations can break out without advance notice. During times of political unrest, demonstrators often gather in front of the Presidential Administration building (White House), the Parliament, and on Alatoo Square in Bishkek’s city center. Avoid the vicinity of any protests, because even protests that are intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence.

Crime: The greatest threats to tourists and travelers in Bishkek are traffic accidents and street crime. There have been reports of violent muggings of foreigners in downtown Bishkek at night, as well as in more rural areas outside of Bishkek. Other common crimes include auto theft and pick-pocketing in crowded places such as markets, internet cafes, and on public transportation. U.S. citizens have been robbed by groups of young men who followed them back to their residences from hotels and bars. In addition, U.S. citizens have been victims of rape, assault, and kidnapping in the past. Attackers do not always avoid violent confrontation with their victims.

  • Exercise caution in urban areas.
  • After dark, you should avoid walking alone or using public transportation.
  • Be extremely cautious in or near hotels, bars, parks, and all Do not use unlicensed cabs.
  • If you are arriving at Manas International Airport, arrange your transportation from the airport in advance.

Harassment and extortion by people who purport to be Kyrgyz police officers take place occasionally.  Reports of these incidents are increasing, especially in the local markets and in areas frequented by Westerners.

  • Do not act upon requests by people, whether in civilian dress or in police uniform, if they have no official identification.  If  provided with identification, take note of the name of the official and the badge number. It is also advisable to ask at which police station the officers work, as many individuals report that often the officers are stopping foreigners in areas that are out of their normal jurisdiction (targets of opportunity).
  • Do not get into cars with anyone you do not know, even if the person claims to be a police officer.
  • Many people report that these individuals have taken money and other valuables while going through bags and wallets.  Always be aware of how much money you are carrying and ask for a receipt of some sort if forced to pay a fine.

Victims of Crime: If you are the victim of rape or another crime, you should first contact the U.S. Embassy and then local police.  The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in the Kyrgyz Republic is 102 for police, and 103 for emergency ambulance service.

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

More info: See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

Domestic Violence:  U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

 

Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for more information.

For further information:

 

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.
  • The U.S. Embassy cannot provide you with medical treatment or advice.
  • Doctors and hospitals often expect cash payment for health services prior to dispensing medication or providing treatment.
  • 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: Health care resources are limited and often below US standards. U.S. citizens often travel outside of the Kyrgyz Republic for medical treatment, including many routine procedures. Doctors and medical/hospital staff rarely speak English, and prices for treatment are not fixed.  It is advisable to utilize the services of a translator or Russian/Kyrgyz speaking friend or family member to assist with medical treatment.

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:   

The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek maintains a list of local clinics that have agreed to provide medical care to U.S. citizens. 

Carry a copy of your U.S. passport and Kyrgyz visa with you at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and citizenship are readily available.

You must obey all laws in the Kyrgyz Republic. 

  • If you violate them, even without knowing you did, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
  • You may be taken in for questioning if you do not have your passport with you. The U.S. Embassy can provide you with a certified copy of your passport, which may be used in lieu of a physical passport if stopped by law enforcement or security officials.  The cost of this service is $50.00.  Appointments are scheduled online via the Embassy’s website.
  • It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. Ask before taking pictures of anything of possible military or security interest, including government buildings, people in police or military uniforms, and food markets. 
  • The legal blood alcohol level for driving in the Kyrgyz Republic is zero. Driving under the influence may land you immediately in jail, no matter how little you consumed.
  • Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Kyrgyz Republic are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
  • 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.

Women Travelers: Please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Faith-Based Travelers:  It is illegal to practice a religion in groups or to proseltyze without being registered with the State Commission of Religious Affairs.   See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.

Students:  See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

LGBTI Travelers:

  • The Kyrgyz Republic does not recognize sexual orientation as a protected category within the context of discrimination and there are no laws that define hate crimes in the Kyrgyz Republic to include LGBTI individuals.
  • LGBTI individuals may be subject to discrimination in the application of current laws and many LGBTI individuals report that they are often threatened and harassed by law enforcement officials.For more detailed information about LGBTI rights in the Kyrgyz Republic you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
  • For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) travel, please read our LGBTI Travel Information page.

Persons with Mobility Issues: Public transportation, sidewalks and road crossings, hotels, and restaurants are rarely wheelchair accessible.

Hunting and Trekking Issues: 

  • It is illegal to hunt without a proper license.  You must get a permit from the Kyrgyz government prior to arrival in country in order to import or own firearms in the country.
  • Foreigners who do not have official permission to hunt or take trophies out of the country may face criminal and/or civil charges. 
  • Hunting and trekking infrastructure is underdeveloped with limited services, especially in the high mountainous regions.  Medical evacuations can take many hours or days depending on the weather and the availability of rescue service resources.

 

Driving Hazards:  Traffic accidents involving serious injury to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are common. Drunk driving and hit-and-run accidents are significant problems.

  • Many city roads are hazardous due to potholes, uncovered manholes, poor lighting, and pedestrians ignoring oncoming traffic.
  • Exercise particular caution and use defensive driving techniques, especially at night and on holidays and to avoid hazardous road conditions.
  • Drivers often speed on the newly upgraded roads that connect main cities and towns.
  • Many local drivers do not stop at red lights, pass vehicles when it is dangerous or prohibited to do so, drive into oncoming traffic, and do not stop for pedestrians.
  • There is no roadside assistance infrastructure.
  • Mountain roads in the Kyrgyz Republic are often narrow and treacherous, and may close without notice due to snow, ice, or rockslides. Guardrails and barriers are often missing.
  • The road between Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, is especially unsafe at night or during poor weather. Travel on this route after dark is restricted for U.S. Embassy personnel.
  • See our Road Safety page for more information.

Traffic Laws: You must obey all local traffic laws.

  • Traffic police have been known to demand payment of arbitrary "fines" for purported infractions. Payment of traffic fines should be made at local banks.  Some police vehicles now offer terminals for individuals with bank cards to pay their fines immediately.
  • Passengers must wear seat belts and motorcycle riders must wear helmets.
  • International driving permits are recognized in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Public Transportation:

  • Buses tend to be very crowded and can be unsafe and unreliable.
  • Avoid using "private taxis" and unmarked taxis, or entering a cab that already contains passengers.
  • Negotiate a fare prior to entering a cab. Cab drivers often try to charge foreigners a higher fare. Some official taxi services now have cabs equipped with meters but passengers should confirm that they are functional before entering the cab.
  • Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in the Kyrgyz Republic, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of the Kyrgyz Republic’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.

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