Kyrgyzstan Traveler Information - Travel Advice
Travel Advice with a Travel Advisory overview from the US State Department. Here we cover Visa, Safety & Security, local Laws and Insurance in our Kyrgyzstan Traveler Information guide.
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Note: Always check that your destination country is one approved for travel by your travel insurance provider.
PASSPORT VALIDITY: Six months from date of entry.
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: One full page.
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: Yes, for stays longer than 60 days.
VACCINATIONS: None required.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY: Up to the equivalent of 3,000 USD.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT: Up to the equivalent of 3,000 USD.
Embassies and Consulates
171 Prospect Mira
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, both international and domestic, can be subject to delays due to inadequate infrastructure, delays at border crossings, 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.
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
- You are permitted to enter the country for tourism for up to 60 days without a visa.
- It is not possible to get a visa in the Kyrgyz Republic if you originally entered the country without a visa. If you think you may spend more than 60 days in the Kyrgyz Republic, you should get a visa from the Kyrgyz Embassy to the United States before you travel, or on arrival at the airport in Bishkek. The visa for a 30-day stay is available for purchase at the airport for short-term visitors and business travelers. This visa can be extended while you are in country at the Consular Department of the Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs, located at 10 Togolok Moldo Street in Bishkek.
- A five-year, multi-entry visa is available at any Kyrgyz embassy abroad. The visa cost is $160 plus a $45 issuance fee (if approved) and is non-refundable. This visa allows visitors to stay for up to six months for tourism or business travel. This visa cannot be extended in country. If you seek to work, you must have a work permit and work visa. You can alternately obtain an e-visa which will grant you the same benefits as the above visas. You can apply at https://www.evisa.e-gov.kg/
- If you travel to the Kyrgyz Republic in any religious capacity, you must register with the State Commission on Religious Affairs and obtain a visa prior to arrival if planning to stay longer than 60 days.
- 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 Foreign Affairs approval in order to conduct press activities in country.
- If traveling in the Kyrgyz Republic and transiting through Russia, you may need a Russian visa to transit through Russia. 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.
- Travelers who have overstayed the 60-day visa-free period must pay an administrative fine of 10,000 and receive an exit visa prior to departure. Fines should be paid at designated banks and the receipt should be submitted to a police station at the district of traveler’s residence. The police station issues the traveler a letter addressed to the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a request to issue an exit visa to the traveler. Please note this process may be time consuming, and it may take up to 10 business days to get an exit visa. The process cannot be completed at the airport at the time of departure.
Some HIV/AIDS restrictions exist for visitors and residents in the Kyrgyz Republic. An HIV test is required to apply for a work visa. 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.
Safety and Security
Ethnic, political, and socio-economic tensions continue to simmer in the Kyrgyz Republic. The U.S. Embassy reviews travel of Embassy employees to Batken Oblast because ill-defined and porous borders allow for the relatively free movement of people and illicit goods, rendering the region vulnerable to transnational threats. Rugged terrain and a lack of resources prevent authorities from adequately controlling the borders.
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.
- Areas along the Kyrgyz-Tajik border continue to have small but sometimes violent skirmishes between border guards on both sides, which have affected civilians. These skirmishes often result from land use disputes.
- Organized crime related to smuggling and narcotics trafficking are widespread in the southern corridors 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 Ala Too 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 to violence.
Crime: The greatest threats to tourists and travelers in Bishkek are traffic accidents and street crime. There have been reports of 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, especially Bishkek’s Osh Bazaar, 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, sexual harassment and kidnapping. 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 places that attract foreigners.
- Alcohol related crimes against foreigners are common as they are perceived to be wealthy.
- Do not leave drinks unattended and dispose of them if you feel they have not been under your control.
- Do not use unlicensed cabs.
- If you are arriving at Manas International Airport, arrange your transportation from the airport in advance or arrange transport through the official kiosk located inside the baggage claim area.
Harassment and extortion by people who purport to be Kyrgyz police officers happen occasionally. These incidents tend to take place in local markets, especially in Osh Bazaar, and in areas frequented by Westerners. While you should always comply with the requests of legitimate police officers:
- Do not act upon requests by people, whether in civilian dress or in police uniform, if they have no official identification. Many individuals wear clothes that appear similar to military uniforms but are not active duty military. 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. Operators and medical professionals have little to no English language ability and mostly speak Russian or Kyrgyz.
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.
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 202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department's travel website for Worldwide Caution andTravel Advisories.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See our travel checklist for useful travel tips.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
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 must carry your passport or a certified copy with you at all times. If you are stopped by local officials, they may request proof of identity, citizenship, and permission to be in the Kyrgyz Republic (visa or entry stamp).
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 proselytize without being registered with the State Commission of Religious Affairs. See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.
- 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, see our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report.
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 animals 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.
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:
Travel and Transportation
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.
- Travel on all intercity roads after dark is restricted for U.S. Embassy personnel.
- 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 and all intercity roads 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.
- Buses tend to be very crowded and can be unsafe and unreliable.
- U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from utilizing public transportation due to the potential for crime and sexual harassment and assault.
- Avoid using "private taxis" and unmarked taxis or entering a cab that already contains passengers.
- Taxis ordered by telephone typically charge based on set rates; the driver’s cellular phone operates as the meter.
- If hailing a taxi on the street, negotiate a fare prior to entering a cab. Cab drivers often try to charge foreigners a higher fare. Many 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.
However, ICAO inspectors have identified serious and persistent lapses in the safety oversight of commercial air service on some Kyrgyzstan-registered airlines. U.S. government personnel use only Air Manas for domestic flights within the Kyrgyz Republic. This policy will continue to be reevaluated as future technical reviews determine that other Kyrgyz carriers more substantially comply with acceptable international safety standards.
For additional travel 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, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all 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 the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
International Parental Child Abduction
Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Kyrgyzstan. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.
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