- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Kyrgyz Republic due to the potential for civil unrest, the threat of terrorism and high levels of crime. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
- You should avoid demonstrations, street rallies and public gatherings as they may turn violent.
- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the Kyrgyz-Uzbek and Kyrgyz-Tajik border areas (in the south and south-west) and the Ferghana Valley. The security situation in these areas is volatile and there are frequent incidents of violent crime, civil unrest and reports of terrorist activity. The affected area includes the cities of Osh, Jalalabad and Batken. Landmines are also a risk in uncontrolled border areas.
- Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in the Kyrgyz Republic. The Australian Embassy in Russia provides consular assistance to Australians in the Kyrgyz Republic.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
- register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued.
- follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Entry and exit
As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, you should contact the nearest Embassy or consulate of the Kyrgyz Republic for the most up to date information or visit Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic.
Australian tourists do not require a visa to the Kyrgyz Republic for a short stay of up to 60 days. Australians planning to visit the Kyrgyz Republic for purposes other than tourism, or for more than 60 days, should contact the nearest Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic for information on visa and registration requirements.
The borders of the Kyrgyz Republic with neighbouring countries may be subject to closure without notice. Check with local authorities in advance, which border crossings are open and if they are available for Australian nationals to pass through. Some border crossings may only open for local residents. Strict border controls apply on the road between Bishkek and Almaty(Kazakhstan).
If arriving from a country known to have a prevalence of yellow fever, you will be required to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate to be allowed entry into the Kyrgyz Republic.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.
Safety and security
There is a high incidence of crime, including violent crime, and foreigners can be targeted. Kidnapping, robbery, mugging and pickpocketing have occurred, including near hotels, public transport and in other crowded places, especially where expatriates are known to gather. The risk of crime increases at night.
There is potential for foreigners to get caught up in violent clashes between criminal groups.
Thieves posing as off duty police, uniformed police or unsolicited 'meet and greet' drivers at airports are known to target travellers.
Avoid hailing taxis on the street and where possible book official taxis through a telephone dispatch service. Avoid getting in a taxi if there are other passengers beside the driver. Negotiate the price before the trip.
Women travelling alone and after dark should take extra care for their own security as kidnapping local women for marriage is an ongoing occurrence in the Kyrgyz Republic, and foreigners could mistakenly fall victim to such kidnappings. See our Kidnapping threat bulletin.
Be aware of the risk of drink spiking in the Kyrgyz Republic. Never accept drinks from strangers or leave your drink unattended. If you’re unsure if a drink is safe, leave it. Alcoholic drinks can be mixed with harmful substances which can cause sudden loss of consciousness, serious illness, blindness, brain injury or death.
There is a threat of terrorist attack in the Kyrgyz Republic. Terrorist attacks could be indiscriminate including in places frequented by foreigners.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.
Civil unrest/Political tension
Unplanned demonstrations can occur in Bishkek and in other parts of the country. You should avoid demonstrations, street rallies and public gatherings as such events may turn violent. Australians could be caught up in violence directed at others. Monitor the media and other local sources of information about possible new safety or security risks.
Border regions with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and the Ferghana Valley: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the Kyrgyz-Uzbek and Kyrgyz-Tajik border areas (in the south and south-west) and the Ferghana Valley due to the volatile and unpredictable security situation.
The security environment is volatile in the south and south-west, including in the cities of Osh, Jalalabad and Batken, where there have been clashes between security forces and militant and criminal groups. If you are considering travel to the south, you are advised to read this advice in conjunction with the travel advice for Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
If you are considering travel to the border regions with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and the Ferghana Valley, you are advised to read this advice in conjunction with the travel advice for Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Security forces from all three countries monitor the border region. They randomly but frequently conduct operations in the border regions.
Money and valuables
The Kyrgyz economy is primarily cash-based and US dollars are widely used. Traveller’s cheques and credit cards are only accepted in some major hotels.
Be vigilant when using ATMs as there have been cases of unauthorised withdrawals after using electronic banking facilities in the Kyrgyz republic. Where possible, use ATMs in controlled areas, such as within banks or large hotels. Keep your credit card in sight at all times when making purchases.
Import and export of currency up to the same amount is allowed, but customs declarations must be completed on arrival and departure.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Never surrender your passport to strangers. When hotel staff request your passport to photocopy, ensure sure it is returned promptly. Losing your passport in the Kyrgyz Republic might involve considerable costs and delays to your travel plans associated with getting an exit visa and a replacement passport.
You should be vigilant when inviting guests to your place of residence.
Road conditions and driving standards are poor. Roads can be particularly hazardous in winter and at night. For further advice, see our road travel page.
The road between Bishkek and Almaty (Kazakhstan) is especially treacherous due to heavy traffic loads and a dangerous mountain pass. A significant number of traffic accidents have been reported on this road. Avoid travelling on this road after dark.
Access to service stations can be limited in rural areas.
Local buses, mini-buses and taxis are often poorly maintained.
Landmines are a risk in the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border areas, as well as Kyrgyz-Tajik border areas. Landmines have also been found in the Batken Oblast near the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.
If using local airlines, check your departure time with the airport information line as delays occur frequently.
Due to safety concerns, all airlines certified by the Kyrgyz Republic regulatory authorities have been banned from operating in European airspace.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of the Kyrgyz Republic, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
You are required to carry your passport, or a certified copy, at all times. Identification checks by police are common.
Possession and use of drugs is illegal and severe penalties apply, including long jail sentences and heavy fines. See our Drugs page.
Driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero is an offence.
An apostille is required on Australian-issued documents to be recognised in the Kyrgyz Republic. If you intend to live or work in the Kyrgyz Republic for long periods, we encourage you to contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the Kyrgyz Republic to check what requirements are for legalising documents prior to departing Australia. For additional information please check our Legalising documents page or contact the Australian embassy in Moscow.
If you are planning to get married in the Kyrgyz Republic, you will require a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage. This certificate can be applied for at the Australian Embassy in Russia. Please contact the Embassy’s consular section for additional information.
Same-sex relationships are not illegal in the Kyrgyz Republic, but are not widely accepted by society. Information for LGBTI travellers can be found on our LGBTI travellers page.
You should check with local authorities before taking photographs of/or near military and security establishments.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Each year, the Islamic holy month of Ramadan is observed in the Kyrgyz Republic. In 2016, Ramadan is expected to begin in early June. The exact timing of Ramadan depends on the sightings of the moon and this differs from country to country. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities, including the Kyrgyz Republic, should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, people who are not fasting are advised to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting.
Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative in the Kyrgyz Republic. You should take care not to offend. If in doubt, dress conservatively and seek local advice.
Obvious displays of affection, even between married couples can offend and attract harassment or detention by police.
Information for dual nationals
The Kyrgyz Republic does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Kyrgyz dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We strongly recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.
Our Dual nationals page provides further information.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you are away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
Medical facilities in the capital Bishkek are limited and medical equipment and pharmaceuticals are in short supply. In remote areas the standard of medical services is very basic. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with the appropriate facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could be considerable.
Malaria is endemic in the southern and western parts of the country bordering Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, particularly in Batken, Osh and Zhele-Abdskaya provinces. Other insect-borne diseases occur (including tick-borne encephalitis and leishmaniasis). Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis. Ticks are very common from spring to autumn. We recommend you take prophylaxis against malaria where necessary, take precautions against being bitten by insects and use insect repellent at all times.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, hepatitis, meningitis, tuberculosis, brucellosis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water with intact seals. Avoid ice cubes, unpasteurised dairy products, and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
Some medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia, such as sleeping tablets or medication containing codeine, may be illegal or restricted in the Kyrgyz Republic. You should contact your nearest embassy or consulate of the Kyrgyz Republic for advice. Carry copies of your prescription, a letter from your physician, and declare all medications and other restricted items on arrival. If not declared, or if the quantity exceeds the legal limits, possession of such items, even with a doctor’s prescription, could lead to administrative or even criminal charges.
Where to get help
Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.
For criminal issues, contact the local police on 102. For fire and rescue number is 101. For medical emergencies the number is 103. You should obtain a police report when reporting a crime.
To complain about tourism services, contact the service provider directly.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. Australia does not have an Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic. You can contact the Australian Government at the Australian Embassy in Russiafor consular assistance. See contact details below:
Australian Embassy, Moscow
Podkolokolny Pereulok 10a/2
Telephone: +7 (495) 956-6070
Facsimile: +7 (495) 956-6170
See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are travelling to the Kyrgyz Republic, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Natural Disasters, severe weather and climate
There is a high risk of earthquakes in the Kyrgyz Republic. Tremors are frequent. You should familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake. See our earthquakes bulletin for advice.
Avalanches and landslides are also common in mountainous areas.
In recent years, a number of people have been killed in snow-related accidents including motor vehicles accidents, avalanches, snow falling from roofs and prolonged exposure to extreme cold.
For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links: