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Kyrgyz Republic

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in the Kyrgyz Republic due to the potential for civil unrest, threat of terrorism and high levels of crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
  • Reconsider travel to the Kyrgyz-Uzbek and Kyrgyz-Tajik border areas and the Ferghana Valley, including the cities of Osh, Jalalabad and Batken. The security situation is volatile and there are frequent incidents of violent crime and civil unrest. Landmines are present and reports of terrorist activity are frequent.
  • Avoid demonstrations, street rallies and public gatherings as they may turn violent.
  • 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.

Entry and exit

If you're visiting for tourism and staying for 60 days or less, you won't need a visa. In other circumstances, you'll need a visa.

You can apply for an e-visa for tourism and business for up to 90 days.  You can only enter and leave via Manas and Osh International airports and the Ak-Jol checkpoint at the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border. To apply visit the e-visa website.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact an Embassy or Consulate of the Kyrgyz Republic or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic for up-to-date information.

Many flights in and out of the Kyrgyz Republic stopover in Russia. Ensure you satisfy visa requirements for any countries you'll transit.

Other formalities

If you arrive in the Kyrgyz Republic from a country with yellow fever risk, you'll need to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate on entry. More information: Yellow fever risk and certification requirements (by country, WHO)

There are some HIV/AIDS restrictions for visitors and residents in the Kyrgyz Republic. You’ll need an HIV test to apply for a work visa. Check requirements with an Embassy or Consulate of the Kyrgyz Republic before you travel.

If you'll be staying in the Kyrgyz Republic for longer than 60 days, you may need to register your details with the State Registration Service.

Border crossings

Kyrgyz Republic's borders can close without notice. Some border crossings may only open for local residents; others may be open to some nationalities but not to Australians. Strict border controls apply on the road between Bishkek and Almaty (Kazakhstan). Expect delays at the border crossing for customs checks.

If you plan to cross any of the Kyrgyz Republic's borders, check with local authorities for up-to-date information on border conditions, including which border crossings Australians can use (if any).

Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Never surrender your passport to strangers. When hotel staff request your passport to photocopy, ensure they return it promptly. Losing your passport in the Kyrgyz Republic might involve considerable costs and delays to your travel plans as you'll need to get an exit visa and a replacement passport.

Be aware of attempts to get access to your passport by deception.  If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The currency of the Kyrgyz Republic is the Kyrgyzstani Som (KGS) but US dollars are widely used.

Currency controls are in place. There are some restrictions on the import and export of currency exceeding USD3,000.

The economy is primarily cash-based. Travellers cheques and credit cards are accepted only in some major hotels.

There have been cases of unauthorised withdrawals after using electronic banking facilities.

  • Use ATMs in controlled areas, such as within banks or large hotels.
  • Check for skimming devices before you insert your card.
  • Keep your credit card in sight at all times when making purchases.

Carry sufficient cash to cover your needs. Contact your bank to ensure your Australian cards will work overseas.

Safety and security

The security situation in the Kyrgyz-Uzbek and Kyrgyz-Tajik border areas, including the Ferghana Valley, is volatile and landmines are present. There are frequent incidents of violent crime, civil unrest and reports of terrorist activity. There have also been clashes between security forces and militant and criminal groups. Security forces from the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan monitor the border region and randomly but frequently conduct operations there.

In August 2016, several Uzbek border guards were deployed to a disputed territory along the border. In March 2016, Uzbek border guards temporarily blocked an unmarked section of the border with the Kyrgyz Republic, located in the Ala-Buka district.  

Landmines are a risk in the Kyrgyz-Uzbek and Kyrgyz-Tajik border areas. Landmines have been found in the Batken Oblast near the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.

  • Reconsider travel to the Ferghana Valley and other areas near the Kyrgyz-Uzbek and Kyrgyz-Tajik borders, including the cities of Osh, Jalalabad and Batken. Avoid travelling near the disputed border with Uzbekistan.
  • If you plan to travel to this region, also read the travel advice for Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Crime

There is a high incidence of crime, including violent crime. Foreigners can be targeted. Kidnapping, robbery, mugging and pickpocketing have occurred, including near hotels, public transport and in other crowded places, especially where expatriates gather. The risk of crime increases at night.

Thieves posing as off duty police, uniformed police or unsolicited 'meet and greet' drivers at airports target travellers.

Drink spiking is a risk. Alcoholic drinks can be mixed with harmful substances which can cause sudden loss of consciousness, serious illness, blindness, brain injury or death.

Kidnapping local women for marriage is an ongoing practice in the Kyrgyz Republic. Foreigners could mistakenly fall victim to such kidnappings. Female travellers should take care when travelling alone outside major cities.

Foreigners can get caught up in violent clashes between criminal groups. Disputes between foreigners and locals sometimes result in the detention of the foreign citizen and lengthy legal proceedings.

  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
  • Keep your car windows and doors closed and locked at all times, including when moving.
  • If you suspect you're being extorted by a police officer or other local official, offer to walk with them to the nearest police station, where you can verify their identity and their demands.
  • Avoid hailing taxis on the street. Where possible book official taxis by telephone. Negotiate the price before the trip.
  • Don't get in a taxi if there are other passengers beside the driver.
  • Be alert to your surroundings at all times.
  • Avoid walking at night, especially if you're alone.
  • Never accept food, drinks, gum or cigarettes from strangers. Never leave your food or drink unattended.

More information: Kidnapping

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks have occurred in the Kyrgyz Republic. Targets have included public transport and transport hubs, and places frequented by foreigners.

In February 2018, authorities detained a man suspected of planning a suicide bomb attack.

In October 2016, multiple embassies in Bishkek issued warnings of an increased threat of terrorist attack, possibly involving kidnapping and hostage taking and targeting Kyrgyz authorities and foreign diplomats.

In 2016, a suicide car bomber rammed the gates of the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek. The attacker died and three Kyrgyz employees were wounded in the blast. Chinese and Kyrgyz authorities described the incident as a terrorist attack.

During 2016, Kyrgyz authorities reported they prevented over 17 potential terrorist attacks.

  • Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
  • Exercise particular caution around locations known to be possible terrorist targets.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Keep an eye on the news for new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so.

More information: Terrorism threat worldwide

Civil unrest and political tension

Demonstrations, street rallies and public gatherings can turn violent.

  • Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings.
  • Monitor the media and local sources for advice of planned and possible unrest. Avoid affected areas.

Local travel

Border regions

The security situation in the Kyrgyz-Uzbek and Kyrgyz-Tajik border areas, including the Ferghana Valley, is volatile and landmines are present. See Safety and Security.

Road travel

Road conditions and driving standards are poor. Roads can be particularly hazardous in winter and at night.

The road between Bishkek and Almaty (Kazakhstan) is especially risky due to heavy traffic loads and a dangerous mountain pass. Traffic accidents are frequent.

Access to service stations can be limited in rural areas and diesel is often unavailable.

It is illegal to drive if your blood alcohol level is above zero.

  • Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices before driving.
  • Keep your car windows and doors closed and locked at all times.
  • Have plenty of petrol when travelling in rural areas.
  • If you're planning travel by road to Kazakhstan, read the travel advice for Kazakhstan.

Driver's licence 

You'll need a valid international driving permit (IDP) along with your current Australian driver's licence to drive a vehicle. Driving without an IDP could void your travel and vehicle insurance.

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while using these vehicles. Always wear a helmet.

Taxis

It's safest to use registered taxis and authorised limousines. These can be arranged through your hotel or resort. Taxis are often poorly maintained.

Public transport

Bus and trolley car services operate in Bishkek. Mini-bus services operate in regional areas. Local buses and mini-buses are often poorly maintained.

Air travel

Flight delays are common. Check your departure time with the airport.

Due to safety concerns, airlines certified by the Kyrgyz Republic regulatory authorities are banned from operating in European airspace.

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in the Kyrgyz Republic.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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.

Drug laws

Possession and use of drugs is illegal. Severe penalties apply, including long jail sentences and heavy fines. More information: Drugs

Other laws

If you're planning to get married in the Kyrgyz Republic, a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage is required. You can apply for this at the Australian Embassy in Moscow.

You'll need an for Australian-issued documents. If you intend to live or work in the Kyrgyz Republic for long periods, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the Kyrgyz Republic to check what the requirements are for legalising documents.

More information: Legalising documents

It is illegal to:

  • fail to carry appropriate personal identification. Carry your passport, or a certified copy, at all times: identification checks by police are common
  • drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol level greater than zero
  • photograph certain military and security establishments.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

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. Travel on your Australian passport at all times.

More information: Dual nationals

Local customs

Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative in the Kyrgyz Republic. 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.

Same-sex relationships are legal in the Kyrgyz Republic but are not widely accepted by society. 

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to occur between early May and early June 2019. During Ramadan, respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. Don't eat, drink or smoke in public or in front of people who are fasting. More information:

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Ensure your policy includes adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions.

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 your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel

Take legal prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a letter from your doctor (translated into Russian), stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

Declare medications and other restricted items on arrival. If you fail to declare such items, or if the quantity exceeds the legal limits, you could face administrative or criminal charges, even if you have the required paperwork.

More information:

Health risks

Insect-borne diseases

Malaria is common in the southern and western parts of the country bordering Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, particularly in Batken, Osh and Zhele-Abdskaya provinces.

Ticks carrying encephalitis are very common in forested areas from spring to autumn. Other insect-borne diseases occur, including leishmaniasis.

Protect yourself against insect-borne diseases:

  • ensure your accommodation is insect-proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • consider taking malaria prevention medication
  • seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.

More information: Infectious diseases

Other infectious diseases

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.

  • Maintain good personal hygiene, including regular and thorough handwashing.
  • Boil drinking water or drink bottled water with intact seals.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid raw and undercooked food.
  • Avoid unpasteurised dairy products.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities in Bishkek are limited and medical equipment and pharmaceuticals are in short supply. The standard of medical services in remote areas is basic.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.

Natural disasters

There is a high risk of earthquakes in the Kyrgyz Republic. Tremors are frequent. Avalanches and landslides are 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.

If a natural disaster occurs:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times.
  • closely monitor local media and other sources such as the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts.

More information: Earthquakes

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, 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.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Fire: 101
  • Medical emergencies: 103 or go direct to the hospital
  • Criminal issues: 102 or go to your local police station

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

To complain about tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas. Australia does not have an Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic. Contact the Australian Embassy in Moscow for consular assistance.

Australian Embassy, Moscow

Podkolokolny Pereulok 10a/2
Moscow RUSSIA
Phone: +7 (495) 956-6070
Fax: +7 (495) 956-6170
Website: russia.embassy.gov.au

Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information