The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan because of continued instability and threats by terrorist organizations against U.S. citizens. This replaces the Travel Warning issued October 5, 2016.
Travel to all areas of Afghanistan remains unsafe due to the ongoing risk of kidnapping, hostage taking, military combat operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry between political and tribal groups, militant attacks, direct and indirect fire, suicide bombings, and insurgent attacks, including attacks using vehicle-borne or other improvised explosive devices (IED). Attacks may also target official Afghan and U.S. government convoys and compounds, foreign embassies, military installations, commercial entities, non-governmental organization (NGO) offices, restaurants, hotels, airports, and educational centers.
Extremists associated with various Taliban networks, ISIS, and members of other armed opposition groups are active throughout the country. ISIS has demonstrated its operational capability, having attacked both Afghan and foreign government facilities. These terrorist groups routinely attack Afghan, Coalition, and U.S. targets with little regard for or the express intent to cause civilian casualties. On January 12, 2017, the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham-Khorosan (ISIS-K) carried out a suicide bomb attack on a mosque, killing 30 and wounding 70. On February 7, 2017, the Afghan Supreme Court was attacked by an insurgent who detonated a suicide vest, killing more than 20 people. On March 1, 2017, Taliban insurgents conducted a complex attack on two separate Afghan police stations in the Kabul area, killing seven and wounding 24. On March 8, 2017, ISIS-K conducted a complex attack on the Afghan National Army Hospital in Kabul City killing more than 50 and wounding more than 90.
Two professors, one American and one Australian, from the American University in Afghanistan were reported kidnapped in Kabul in August 2016. One Australian and one Spanish NGO worker were kidnapped in November and December 2016. A U.S citizen journalist working for National Public Radio and his Afghan assistant were killed when they came under attack in Helmand Province in June 2016, and in August 2016, insurgents fired a rocket at a bus carrying EU and U.S. citizen tourists in Herat Province, wounding six people.
Due to security concerns, unofficial travel to Afghanistan by U.S. government employees and their family members is restricted and requires prior approval from the Department of State. Furthermore, U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from traveling to all locations in Kabul except the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. government facilities unless there is a compelling U.S. government interest in permitting such travel that outweighs the risk.
Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Afghanistan, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) and/or a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR). For further background information regarding FAA flight advisories and prohibitions for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.
The U.S. Embassy's ability to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is severely limited, particularly outside of Kabul. U.S. citizens are encouraged to defer non-essential travel within Afghanistan and note that evacuation options from Afghanistan are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and other security concerns.
For further information:
Afghanistan has made significant progress since the Taliban was deposed in 2001, but still faces daunting challenges, including fighting an insurgency, disrupting terrorist organizations, recovering from three decades of civil strife, and rebuilding a shattered infrastructure.
Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Afghanistan for additional information.
Passport and Visas:
Dual Nationals/Afghan Heritage:
Visit the website of the Embassy of Afghanistan for the most current visa information.
The latest Travel Warning for Afghanistan warns U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan. The security situation is extremely unstable and the threat to all U.S. citizens remains critical. No province in Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence, and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against U.S. and other foreign nationals at any time. Insurgent and terrorist elements, including the Haqqani Network, the Taliban, and Da’esh, remain violently opposed to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and foreign entities in Afghanistan. The risk of kidnapping and hostage taking throughout Afghanistan, particularly against Westerners, has reached perhaps its most critical state in recent years. Information regarding demonstrations in Afghanistan can be found on the U.S. Embassy Kabul website.
Terrorist Attacks: Militant attacks throughout the country continue to occur. Three deadly terrorist attacks occurred on January 10, 2017 with two suicide bombings near the Parliament in Kabul, an explosion at the Kandahar province government compound and suicide bombing in Helmand province. These strikes left dozens of people dead and injured, including U.S. citizens. Taliban militants attacked the German Consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif on November 10, 2016 killing six Afghan civilians and wounding over 120. The next day a Taliban suicide bomber detonated a bomb at Bagram Airfield, killing and wounding a number of service members. On the evening of August 24-25, the American University in Afghanistan campus was attacked by Taliban militants, killing 13 Afghan civilians and wounding over 36. In early August, Taliban fighters ambushed a bus containing a group of European and American tourists in Herat province. In addition to these attacks, militants have also attacked Afghan Government Ministry buildings (such as the September 5 suicide bomb attack which killed at least 30 and wounded more than 90 near the Afghan Ministry of Defense), guesthouses catering to foreigners (most recently the August 1 detonation of a vehicle-borne explosive device at the Northgate Hotel in Kabul), western NGO compounds, and other non-military targets during the past year. Da’esh was responsible for six attacks in Kabul since June; the attack on July 23 at a demonstration in Kabul was the biggest mass-casualty attack in Kabul in recent history killing over 80 and wounding 230 more. The same risk for terrorist attacks also exists in all other major cities in Afghanistan.
Kidnapping: In 2016 the threat of kidnapping to Westerners in Afghanistan rose to its highest level since 2001. In a four-month period in late 2016, four Westerners were kidnapped by militants and/or criminal groups. These victims include two American University of Afghanistan foreign professors kidnapped at gunpoint, and an Australian NGO worker abducted in November.
Demonstrations and Riots: Riots, sometimes violent, have occurred in response to various political and social tensions. U.S. citizens should avoid rallies and demonstrations; even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence with little warning. Peaceful demonstrations have been the targets of terrorist attacks. Crime, including violent crime, remains a significant problem. U.S. citizens could be targeted or placed at risk by unpredictable events. There is also a real danger from the presence of millions of unexploded land mines and other ordnance. Private U.S. citizens should not travel to Afghanistan unless they have made arrangements in advance to address security concerns, including contracting for medical evacuation, personnel recovery, and insurance services.
Explosives: Kabul remains at high risk for militant attacks, including vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks, direct and indirect fire, and suicide bombings. The same risk for terrorist attacks also exist in all other areas in Afghanistan.
Property: The absence of property ownership records and differing laws and competing legal regimes from the numerous political changes that have gripped Afghanistan in the past three decades have left the issue of property rights in disarray. Afghan-Americans returning to Afghanistan to recover property have become involved in complicated real estate disputes and have faced threats of retaliatory action, including kidnapping and assassinations. Similarly, U.S. citizens involved in business disputes -- a common legal problem in Afghanistan -- have reported that adversaries in the disputes have threatened detention, arrest, and imprisonment, and at times have successfully carried out the threats using extralegal means. Property and/or personnel may be seized and used as collateral pending the resolution of such disputes. U.S. citizens who find themselves in such situations should not assume that either local law enforcement or the U.S. Embassy will be able to assist them in resolving such disputes.
Communications: Large parts of Afghanistan are extremely isolated. The few roads that exist are mostly in poor condition. Landline telephone communications remain extremely limited. Cell phone service, while significantly improved from a decade ago, still suffers from irregular and weak signals, sometimes due to insurgents attacking cell phone towers or coercing operators into turning off the towers, or from intentional jamming by Coalition and Afghan forces. U.S. citizens traveling in or outside of Kabul who find themselves in trouble may be unable to call for assistance and should always carry backup communication, such as satellite phones or handheld radios. In addition, a vehicle/personnel tracking device should be utilized if substantial ground movement to remote areas is planned.
CRIME: Afghanistan is considered a critical threat environment for crime. Criminal organizations, such as weapons and narcotics traffickers, undermine peace and stability throughout the country. These groups exploit weak laws and law enforcement in Afghanistan and do not hesitate to use violence to achieve their aims. Common petty or street crime exists, primarily in cities, and was on the rise in 2016 due to the worsening economic situation and increase in refugees. Leaving valuables, expensive electronics, and cash in plain view increases the chance of being targeted by criminals. Burglaries and home invasions are rare, but violence against expatriates has risen in recent years in large part due to increased insurgent activity, civil unrest, and current economic conditions.
Many Afghans are under or unemployed and have moved to urban areas in search of work. Transient populations and internally displaced peoples throughout Afghanistan may directly contribute to crime and lawlessness. Any U.S. citizen who enters Afghanistan should remain vigilant and be aware of sudden and unanticipated violent events.
Travelers should not rely on significant assistance from local or national authorities in Afghanistan in resolving legal disputes. This is especially true of U.S.-based companies and their employees that are seeking local protection from extralegal efforts to resolve contract disputes. Property and/or personnel may be seized and used as collateral pending the resolution of such disputes.
Do not buy counterfeit or pirated goods, even if they are widely available. The participation of U.S. citizens in the unauthorized reproduction and sale of copyrighted works is in violation of U.S. law outside of the United States.
VICTIMS OF CRIME:
The local equivalent to the U.S. “911” emergency line is “119” in Afghanistan. Please note that local operators do not speak English and that emergency services are restricted to the major cities. At times, the number may not be answered and response times may be much longer than in the United States. U.S. citizens who find themselves in a truly exigent emergency in Afghanistan can reach the U.S. Embassy at any time by calling 0700-10-8001.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
If you are a victim of a crime, we can:
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
Criminal Penalties: While you are traveling in Afghanistan, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own and may not afford the same protections available to you under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. In addition, U.S. citizens are still subject to U.S. federal laws while traveling or living abroad. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.
If you break local laws in Afghanistan, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution and may result in heightened attention by police and prosecutors, some of whom may seek to exploit your status as a U.S. citizen for financial or political gain. It is very important to know what constitutes legal and illegal actions in the area where you are traveling. Persons violating Afghan laws, even unknowingly, may be fined, arrested, imprisoned, or possibly executed.
In some areas of Afghanistan, you could be detained for questioning if you do not have your passport with you. Taking pictures of military installations or personnel may result in your questioning or detention.
Possession of alcohol and driving under the influence is potentially punishable by a sentence of several months.
Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Afghanistan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
In addition to being subject to all Afghan laws, Afghan-Americans may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Afghan citizens.
We encourage U.S. citizens to carry a copy of their U.S. passport with them at all times, so that if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. Due to security and travel limitations, consular assistance for U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is limited, particularly for those persons outside the capital.
If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Religion and Islam:
Although the Constitution of Afghanistan allows for the free exercise of religion, proselytizing may be deemed contrary to Islam and harmful to society.
Producing or distributing material deemed blasphemous or critical of Islam may also be punishable in Afghanistan.
Apostasy may carry a maximum penalty of death for Muslims who denounce Islam or convert to another religion. Allegations of conversion of Afghan citizens are taken particularly seriously.
Sexual relations between unmarried couples are generally forbidden. Visitors to Afghanistan should be discreet in this regard.
Islam provides the foundation for Afghan customs, laws, and practices.
Foreign visitors -- men and women -- are expected to remain sensitive to the Islamic culture and not dress in a revealing or provocative manner, including the wearing of sleeveless shirts and blouses, halter-tops, and shorts.
U.S. citizens have also been arrested in cases involving financial debts to Afghans or contract disputes.
In Afghanistan, debt and contract disputes are not exclusively civil matters as they are in the United States.
The Ministries of Commerce and Interior, the Afghan Investment Support Agency, the Afghan National Police, and the Afghan courts have all facilitated the criminalization of commercial disputes involving U.S. citizens in recent years.
If involved in a commercial dispute, hiring an Afghan attorney early can be beneficial. See Lawyers in Afghanistan on the Embassy’s website. The Embassy does not endorse any attorney listed and the list is not comprehensive.
Women, especially when traveling outside Kabul, should ensure their shirts cover their arms, collarbone, and waistband, and their pants/skirts cover their ankles.
Almost all women in Afghanistan cover their hair in public; women should carry scarves for this purpose.
Female visitors to Afghanistan should be aware of the risk of sexual assault and take appropriate precautions to avoid becoming a victim.
If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Students: See the Department of State Students Abroad page.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
LGBTI Rights: While homosexuality is not explicitly illegal under Afghan law, individuals may be prosecuted under laws forbidding sodomy. LGBTI individuals face discrimination, violence, and persecution in Afghan society. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While in Afghanistan, individuals with disabilities will find accessibility and accommodation very different from the United States. The Constitution of Afghanistan requires the state to assist and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, including the rights to health care and financial protection, but does not mandate access to buildings and transportation. Most buildings, public transportation, communication, and road crossings are inaccessible to persons with physical limitations.
Banking: Because of the poor infrastructure in Afghanistan, access to banking facilities is limited and unreliable. Most of Afghanistan's economy operates on a cash-only basis, though the use of credit cards has become more common in the major cities. International wire transfers are limited. ATMs offered by the Afghan International Bank (AIB) participate in the U.S. clearinghouses, including MasterCard and Visa. U.S. banks may deny the transaction, however, and travelers are advised to notify their U.S. bank in advance of their travel plans.
Communication: International communication is difficult, though it has improved remarkably in recent years with the advent of 3G services in all the major cities of Afghanistan. Cellular phone service is available locally in most parts of the country, with service more reliable in Kabul and other large cities. Outside of these cities, injured or distressed travelers could face delays before being able to request the assistance of the U.S. Embassy, family, or friends. Internet access is primarily offered over existing cell phone networks at slower speeds than travelers may be accustomed to in the United States, though several telecommunication companies are currently preparing to lay fiber optic cable in the major cities.
Customs: Afghan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the import or export of items such as alcoholic beverages, religious materials, antiquities, medications, and printed materials. U.S. citizen travelers have faced fines and/or confiscation of items considered antiquities upon exiting Afghanistan. Anyone interested in traveling with such items should first contact the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington or the Ministry of Interior Affairs in Afghanistan for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Firearms: Contractors and U.S. military personnel traveling to Afghanistan should fully consider restrictions on the movement of firearms into or out of Afghanistan, including antique or display models. If you plan to take firearms or ammunition to another country, you should contact officials at the destination country's embassy and for those countries you will be transiting to learn about any firearms regulations and to fully comply with those regulations before traveling. Please consult the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for more information on traveling with firearms to or from the United States.
Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan covers you when you are outside of the United States.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul 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. You should first confirm with the insurance provider that such assistance is available in Afghanistan and obtain a list of clinics and hospitals that may be used as a medical evacuation point. It is advisable to make advance arrangements with an employer or medical evacuation company operating in Afghanistan.
See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Medical Care: It is limited and well below U.S. standards.
Well-equipped medical facilities are rare in Afghanistan, particularly outside of the major cities.
Western-manufactured pharmaceuticals are available in limited quantities and may be expensive and difficult to find. There is a shortage of basic medical supplies. Generic medicines manufactured in Iran, Pakistan, China, and India are available but may be counterfeit or lack pharmacologic efficacy.
Public hospitals in Afghanistan should be avoided.
There are a number of western-style private clinics in Kabul that offer a variety of basic emergency and routine preventative-type care, but are not always open and may not be suitable for the management of complex trauma cases or severe medical emergencies. See Medical Clinics in Afghanistan on the Embassy’s website.
Individuals without licenses or medical degrees often operate private clinics, and there is no public agency that monitors their operations.
You will generally not be able to find Western-trained medical personnel outside Kabul. For any medical treatment, payment is required in advance. Commercial medical evacuation from Afghanistan is often limited to an evacuation from the major cities and could take days to arrange.
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:
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, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in Afghanistan, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Afghanistan is provided for general reference only and may not be accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
All drivers face the potential danger of encountering land mines that may have been planted on or near roadways. An estimated five to seven million land mines and large quantities of unexploded ordnance exist throughout the countryside and alongside roads, posing a danger to travelers. Robbery and crime, particularly kidnappings, are also prevalent on highways outside Kabul.
The transportation system in Afghanistan is marginal, though the international community continues to pave or harden existing roads. Many urban streets have large potholes and are not well lit. Rural roads are frequently not paved. There have also been recent reports of the Ring Road, i.e., the Kabul-Kandahar-Herat-Mazar highway, experiencing critical failures due to cave-ins and erosion from inadequate maintenance. Vehicles are often poorly maintained and overloaded, and traffic laws are often not enforced. Roadside assistance is non-existent. Vehicular traffic is chaotic and must contend with numerous pedestrians, bicyclists, and animals.
In 2011, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior convened a committee for the purpose of bringing better security, traffic movements, and functionality to the streets of Kabul. This committee has implemented several restrictions, including outlawing tinted windows of vehicles operating in Kabul. Owners of vehicles with tinted windows can be arrested if they fail to eliminate tinting or replace such windows.
With congested roads, non-standard traffic rules, and abundant pedestrian traffic, vehicle accidents are a serious concern and can escalate into violent confrontations when involving foreigners. All drivers are urged to drive defensively, drive only in the daylight, and pay close attention to their surroundings. Please see the Department of State’s additional information on Road Safety.
Aviation Safety and Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Afghanistan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Afghanistan’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.
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY AND MAY NOT BE TOTALLY ACCURATE IN A SPECIFIC CASE. QUESTIONS INVOLVING INTERPRETATION OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN LAWS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO THE APPROPRIATE FOREIGN AUTHORITIES OR FOREIGN COUNSEL.
While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent. Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:
The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.
To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.
For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney.
Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.
For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.
Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction.
Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.
Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.
Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).
Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.
Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.
Protracted wartime conditions and the intermittent absence of an established central authority have made document availability and reliability very uncertain. Because of this, most documents are produced at the request of the applicant. The applicant usually produces his own witnesses to attest to the information the applicant wishes to be memorialized in an official document. Based on statements by the applicant and their witnesses, the document is issued.
Availability and veracity varies widely. Some hospitals in major cities have recently started to provide birth records. Each hospital will issue a different type of birth certificate. If a birth certificate is not obtained immediately after a child's birth, it is difficult to acquire later. It is not unusual for the child's mother not to be listed on birth records or the tazkera; usually only the father is listed. The process of issuing birth certificates has not yet been standardized across Afghanistan.
The national identity card, or tazkera, should be accepted in place of a birth certificate as described below under Identity Card.
Death certificates are provided by the Ministry of Interior’s Public Registration Office, Hospitals/Ministry of Public Health, or Afghan courts.
Marriage certificates are now widely available from the family courts, where applicants register their marriages with the authorities. Prior to 1966, marriages were seldom recorded, and even now are often only recorded when proof of marriage is required for such purposes as immigration. One common form of marriage certificate is the green booklet ("Nekah"), which can generally only be obtained after the marriage is registered and before the couple has children. Once the couple produces offspring, a "Waseeka," printed on white paper will be provided, which includes basic biographical data about their children. Old versions of the Nekah may be white or yellow booklets. Outside of major cities, a married woman might not be permitted to register her own marriage, might lack information about marriage certificates, or be unable to identify the witnesses.
NOTE: During the war years, many Afghan marriages took place in Pakistan, specifically Peshawar.
Divorce certificates are also widely available from the family courts. Divorces that are sanctioned by courts are recorded, but the availability of older records is uncertain. Divorce certificates are provided by the Family Court in Kabul or the Civil Divisions of Primary Courts in provinces where there are no family courts.
As of 2016, Balkh, Nangarhar, Herat, and Kunduz also have special family courts.
Like marriage certificates, individuals frequently only obtain an official divorce certificate when required for such purposes as immigration. Divorce in Afghanistan is rare, and according to the most recently available statistics, only one percent of the Afghan population seeks divorce.
The "tazkera" is the most common national identity document and is produced by the Ministry of Interior (MOI). Applicants in Afghanistan apply for it at an MOI office, such as the central or district police headquarters. (Applicants outside of Afghanistan should contact their nearest Afghan Embassy or Consulate.) The original tazkera must be authenticated by the MOI in order to obtain a certified translation of the tazkera. When presented, the tazkera should bear stamps indicating it was issued by the MOI. An English translation of a tazkera should be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
Afghans usually apply for a tazkera when a child reaches school age, but it can also be obtained and/or modified throughout adulthood. The document traces its holder’s roots through the father to a physical place of origin or place of longtime residence. Information on the tazkera includes the holder’s name, date and place of birth, basic physical description, and photo. The tazkera lists the holder’s age in the year it was issued, but the holder’s age is usually estimated by the issuing official as birth records are seldom accurate. The place of birth is customarily the father’s place of origin, not the actual place of birth. Thus, an applicant may be born in Pakistan, but show an Afghan place of birth. For the same reason, the place of birth field on an Afghan passport might not always indicate the holder’s physical place of birth, but rather the family’s traditional residence. The tazkera also lists the holder’s military service, religion, marital status, and profession/employment type. (If the holder is unemployed, this field may be left blank or may state “unemployed.”) The tazkera is hand-written, and there have been multiple variants of the document since 1976 as issued by subsequent governments.
Afghans are given a form and instructed to have identity confirmed by the Population and Registration office in their home town or district. All Afghans, at some point in time, should have their identity recorded in hand-written ledgers maintained by local Population and Registration offices. Family information is recorded on specific pages, books, and volumes of the ledgers. When an individual needs to have his or her identity recorded or confirmed, he or she goes to the Population and Registration office and must provide two things: (1) a family member’s tazkera to locate family information in the ledgers and (2) two government officials who can corroborate the applicant’s identity. If a person is unable to meet those requirements, then village elders, family members, or religious officials can serve as substitute witnesses if needed. Since many births are not immediately registered and decades of war have destroyed many of the local registers, witnesses are vital to having one’s identity verified. After identity is confirmed or recorded by the Population and Registration office, applicants can resume applying for the tazkera with the MOI.
Unavailable. Military records kept by previous governments have reportedly been destroyed.
The Ministry of Interior’s (MOI) Passport Directorate in Kabul now issues machine-readable passports, all of which begin with the letter “O.” The outside cover of a tourist passport is green-grey. Applicants in Afghanistan may apply in a number of provinces, but all passports are printed at the Passport Directorate in Kabul. (Applicants outside of Afghanistan should contact their nearest Afghan Embassy or Consulate.) Applicants are required to provide a given name, surname, and accurate date of birth converted to the Gregorian, or Western, calendar, along with fingerprints. The applicant must also have his or her national identity document, the “tazkera,” authenticated by the Ministry of Interior. A child must be issued his or her own machine-readable passport. Biographic information in machine-readable passports frequently does not match biographic information contained in previous handwritten passports. Handwritten passports are no longer issued, except in the event of an emergency.
Machine-readable diplomatic and service passports for public servants are issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The outside cover of a diplomatic passport is dark blue and the passport number is preceded by “D.” The outside cover of a service passport is red and the passport number is preceded by “S.”
Beginning in November 2017, handwritten passports will no longer be considered valid for travel by the Afghan government and the International Civil Aviation Organization. All Afghans wishing to travel on or after this date will be required to obtain a new machine-readable passport.
Hand-written passports are still considered valid for U.S. visa issuance, although they are no longer routinely issued. Hand-written tourist passport numbers start with OA or OR, diplomatic passports start with D, and student and service passports start with S. A child may be listed in his or her mother’s passport and, as such, a visa for a child may be issued into the mother’s passport. While issuance of hand-written diplomatic passports was tightly controlled, issuance of service passports was less so. Page two of handwritten passports shows the name of the passport holder in Dari and English. There is no standardization of the transliteration of the name. Misspelling of basic information is therefore not unusual. It is also not unusual for an Afghan to use an alias entirely different from the name in the passport. While Afghanistan issues “student” passports, a “student” passport is not required to issue student visas. A father’s name may also appear, but is no longer used in visa issuance. Page three contains the photo and other biodata of the passport holder and is covered by a simple laminate. The following pages show validity dates, list physical characteristics of the passport holder, and have space for a wife and children. Security features include microprinting, the passport number punched through interior pages, and a UV feature that reads “Republic of Afghanistan” in Dari and English along with a seal on each page. Trade and student passports were phased out in 2011, but may still be in circulation. The passport booklets themselves date from the time of the Soviet occupation.
Visas may be issued in valid Afghan passports that were issued prior to September 1996 and after October 2001. Afghan passports issued by the Taliban or Mujahadeen governments are no longer valid even if unexpired. Passports issued by other Afghan embassies and consulates under the direction of the Northern Alliance before and during that 1996-2001 time period are considered valid, though are likely to be expired.
Kabul, Afghanistan (Embassy)
All non-immigrant visa applications for nationals of Afghanistan are now processed by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, to include petition-based visas. As of May 1, 2011, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul also processes immigrant visa applications for nationals of Afghanistan.
Applications already assigned for interview, or waiting for processing based on an interview already conducted at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan or other Embassies for Afghan citizens will continue to be processed there.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul is located at Great Masood Road between Radio Afghanistan and the Ministry of Public Health. The road is also known as Bebe Mahro (Airport) Road. The U.S. Embassy provides routine American Citizen Services, including passports, notarial services, and CRBAs. Security considerations limit Consular officers' mobility and ability to provide emergency consular services, and Afghan authorities can provide only limited assistance to U.S. citizens facing difficulties.