Road Conditions and Safety: Roads in Kazakhstan are in poor repair, especially in rural areas. Signage and lighting on roadways is poor.
- Potholes are common, and are often dangerously deep.
- Drivers often disregard traffic signals, ignore lane markings, drive after excessive alcohol consumption (despite official ?zero tolerance?), drive into oncoming lanes of traffic, and move at excessive speed ? including during adverse weather. 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.
- Roads outside urban areas are often closed in winter months due to high winds and drifting snow.
- 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. The U.S. Mission highly discourages hailing unlicensed private vehicles on the street and negotiating a fee with the driver on the spot. Ridesharing applications such as Uber are available.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of Kazakhstan?s national tourist office.
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.
The U.S. Embassy has been alerted to serious safety gaps with certain airlines in Kazakhstan. As a result, without prior approval, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to travel on any Kazakhstani airline operating regularly scheduled flights except for Air Astana and FlyArystan. This policy only applies to the official travel of U.S. government personnel and will be reevaluated as reforms are undertaken and future technical reviews, such as aviation safety audits, determine that Kazakhstan?s civil aviation operations more substantially comply with acceptable international safety standards.
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 difficult.
See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Medical Care: Options are limited and well below U.S. standards. U.S. citizens often depart Kazakhstan for medical treatment, including many routine procedures. Although we 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:
Local laws and 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 or other sensitive infrastructure.
- Kazakhstan has a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol. You can be detained immediately if you are 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 Embassy or Consulate immediately. Your passport does not protect you from arrest or prosecution. See our webpage for further information.
- Most prominent retailers, hotels, vendors, and restaurants in major cities accept debit and credit cards.
- Smaller vendors and businesses in rural areas rely on cash payments.
- To exchange U.S. dollars, all denominations of U.S. currency, except $1 bills, must be new series (large portraits), 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. Be aware that ATM skimming is increasing.
- 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 the 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 Embassy and the Consulate 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 the Almaty region as 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: Please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Visitors to Kazakhstan engaging in missionary work or other religious activities must register with the Local Executive Authority office (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. Kazakhstan also imposes restrictions on the importation of religious literature.
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 are widespread, and local LGBTI persons are sometimes subject to physical and verbal abuse, as well as unwanted attention from police. See our LGBTI travel information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Many buildings, public walkways, and public transportation remain inaccessible to persons with disabilities.
Safety and Security
Foreigners are required to carry a valid passport while in Kazakhstan. U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to have a certified copy of their U.S. passport made at the Consular Section at the Embassy in Nur-Sultan or at the Consulate 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 general threat from terrorism. 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 Nur-Sultan or Consulate General in Almaty.
There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against U.S. interests, as well as U.S. citizens, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. 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 and may attempt to target U.S. government or private interests in the region, including in Kazakhstan. 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 encountered by foreign visitors are purse snatching, pickpocketing, assaults, and robberies. Be vigilant and do not carry large sums of money on the street. Financial fraud, such as ATM skimming, is more and more prevalent.
The police sometimes conduct identification checks on streets and in other public areas. Police are not required to demonstrate probable cause to stop, question, or detain individuals. Upon request, you must produce either a passport or an Embassy or Consulate-certified copy of it.
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 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.
Do not use unmarked taxis. Passengers have been the victims of robbery and assault. There have been reports of passengers of unmarked taxis being found unconscious after accepting laced cigarettes. 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 bars and nightclubs.
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 Embassy or Consulate. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime. United States law enforcement agencies do not have jurisdiction for investigating crimes against U.S. citizens that occur in Kazakhstan.
To report a crime locally, call 102 for police. You can ask to speak with an English-speaking operator.
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 United States
- 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 or Consulate for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
- Visa-free travel is temporarily suspended.
- Travelers who enter Kazakhstan on the visa-free program may not stay longer than 30 days on each visit, and not more than a cumulative 90 days within a six-month period.
- Individuals seeking a longer period of stay may apply for a 10-year Kazakhstani visa, with a maximum stay of 60 days for business and 30 days for tourism.
- Kazakhstan will issue five-year, multiple-entry visas to applicants qualifying for diplomatic, official, or media travel.
- 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.
- 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.
- We recommend 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.
You must receive permission from the Kazakhstani government before traveling to certain areas bordering China and cities in close proximity to military installations. Please check the Ministry of the Interior website for the list of closed areas or contact the Kazakhstan Embassy for further information.
- Registration is not required for travelers to Kazakhstan.
- It is the responsibility of the Kazakhstani host or inviting party (hotel, landlord, employer, school, individual, etc.) to report foreigners? arrival within three working days. Notification can be done online or in person at a local migration police office. If foreigners substantially change their location within one jurisdiction or by traveling and staying in a different city, their host should report the new location to the local Migration Police.
- Some HIV/AIDS-related 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.
Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Kazakhstan for additional information on U.S.- Kazakhstan relations.
Travel Embassy and Consulate
Telephone: +(7) (7172) 70-21-00
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(7) (7172) 70-21-00 (or 011-7-717-270-21-00 from the U.S.)
Fax: +(7) (7172) 70-22-80
*Note that the City of Astana changed its name to Nur-Sultan in March 2019.*
U.S. Consulate General Almaty
Zholdasbekov Street 97
Almaty, Kazakhstan 050051
Telephone: +(7) (727) 250-49-01
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +7 727-250-76-12 (or 011-7-727-250-76-12 from the U.S.)
Fax: +(7) (727) 250-48-84