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Tajikistan

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Tajikistan because of the threat of terrorist attack and potential for civil unrest. Pay close attention to your personal security.
  • On 29 July 2018, an incident occurred in southern Tajikistan between a vehicle and seven cyclists from Western countries. This appears to have been a deliberate attack and the motives are not yet known. Maintain awareness of your surroundings in Tajikistan and keep a low profile. See Safety and security.
  • Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks. Take official warnings seriously. Follow the instructions of local authorities. See Safety and security.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to the border regions with Afghanistan due to armed conflict in Afghanistan. Clashes in north-east Afghanistan between the Taliban and Afghan government forces in April and May 2017 were close to the border with Tajikistan. See Safety and security.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) due to the risk of violence. See Safety and security.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to the border regions with the Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan because of the risk posed by landmines and criminal activity. See Safety and security.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Tajikistan. The Australian Embassy in Moscow provides consular assistance to Australians in Tajikistan.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

You'll need a visa to visit Tajikistan. Ensure your passport has at least two empty pages. 

If you travel to Tajikistan from a country that has a Tajik embassy or consulate, you must get a visa prior to travelling.

If you travel to Tajikistan from a country in which there is no Tajik embassy or consulate, you'll need to submit your visa application form and provide the required documents online before you travel. On arrival at Dushanbe International Airport, you'll then be able to complete your application for a visa on arrival.

Tourist visas are issued for a maximum of 45 days and cannot be extended or replaced. Make sure you leave the country before your visa expires.

If you intend to visit relatives or friends, you'll need to apply for a private (XC) visa, which is different to a tourist (T) visa.

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 Tajikistan or check the Website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan (Consular Service Section) for up-to-date information.

Other formalities

If you'll stay in Tajikistan for three or more days, you'll need to register with the local Visa and Registration Office (OVIR). If you enter Tajikistan on a tourist (T) visa with a duration of 30 days or less, you're exempted from this requirement.

If you're staying at a hotel, ask whether the hotel will register with OVIR on your behalf. If so, follow up to make sure they have done so. If the hotel does not register you or if you're not staying at a hotel, you'll need to visit OVIR to register yourself within three days of arrival in Tajikistan.

The Tajikistan Government has special health test requirements for travellers intending to visit Tajikistan for more than 90 days.

More information: Embassy or Consulate of Tajikistan

If, despite the risks (see Safety and security), you plan to visit the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), you'll need a special permit issued in advance (in addition to your Tajik visa). You can apply for this permit (subject to the security situation in the neighbouring regions) at Tajik embassies and consulates abroad. Within Tajikistan, apply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or OVIR.

Border crossings

Tajikistan's borders with neighbouring countries can close without notice. Some border crossings may only be open to local residents. Check with local authorities in advance which border crossings are open and if they are available for you to pass through.

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.

Be aware of attempts to obtain 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 official currency is the Tajik Somoni (TJS) but US dollars and Euros are readily accepted. US bank notes issued before 1996 cannot be exchanged.

You'll need to declare any money you bring in to Tajikistan on arrival. Hold on to your customs declaration form: you'll need to present it on departure to demonstrate that you're not taking more money out of Tajikistan than you brought in.

The Tajik economy is largely cash-based. Travellers cheques are not accepted and international banking services are limited. There are several ATM machines in Dushanbe and some other larger cities but they might not be available in rural areas. Very few establishments accept credit cards.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks have occurred in Tajikistan and Tajik security forces have reportedly prevented several more, including at least 12 planned attacks since January 2017.

Reported security incidents include armed clashes involving Tajikstan's security forces on 4 and 5 September 2015 near Dushanbe and Dushanbe International Airport, which resulted in a number of deaths, and multiple explosions in various locations, including Dushanbe, in recent years.

  • 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 any 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. 

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

More information: Terrorism threat worldwide

Civil unrest and political tension

Demonstrations and other large public gatherings can turn violent.

Heightened security measures are in place in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), where there has been political violence in the past. In June 2014, there was sporadic and localised violence in Khorugh town, the administrative centre of GBAO. Entry into the GBAO requires a special permit. see Local travel.

Clashes in north-east Afghanistan between the Taliban and Afghan government forces in April and May 2017 were close to the border with Tajikistan. Armed conflict continues in Afghanistan, with possible impacts in neighbouring regions of Tajikistan.

  • Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings.
  • Monitor the media and local sources for advice of planned and possible unrest. Avoid affected areas.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to the GBAO. If you are in GBAO, consider leaving if it is safe to do so.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to the border regions with Afghanistan.

Crime

Pickpocketing is common in Dushanbe and on international rail services. Foreigners may be targeted. Women can be subject to verbal and physical harassment. Criminal activity increases after dark.

Criminal groups are particularly active in Tajikistan's border regions. The region bordering Afghanistan is a transit point for drugs and other smuggled goods. Criminal activity and occasional clashes between government forces and suspected criminal groups pose safety and security risks in the regions bordering Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic.

  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables in a secure location.
  • Carry a copy of your passport and visa (separate from your passport).
  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
  • Be alert to your surroundings at all times.
  • Take particular care if travelling alone or at night.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to the border regions with Afghanistan, Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan.

Local travel

Road travel

Road conditions and driving standards are poor. Conditions can be particularly treacherous in winter and spring, when avalanches and landslides occur. Driving at night is dangerous.

Police or military checkpoints are common and you may be required to provide identification documents such as your passport and visa.

Many interior roads, including the main road from Dushanbe to Khujand, are only open in the summer months. In July 2017, flooding occurred in several areas of GBAO, causing damage to parts of the Dushanbe-Kulyab-Khorog-Kulma-Karakorum highway. The road is open but is not fully repaired.

Access to service stations can be limited in rural areas.

It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level greater than zero.

  • Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices before driving.
  • Avoid driving at night.
  • Drive defensively and legally.
  • Don't drink and drive.
  • Seek local advice on the condition of roads before you travel.
  • Make sure you have plenty of petrol when travelling in rural areas.

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 riding a motorcycle. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.

Taxis

Only use licensed taxis and limousines, preferably arranged through your hotel.

Public transport

Public transportation in the city is often overcrowded and not always safe. Bus service between major cities is unreliable.

Rail travel

Rail travel can be unreliable and dangerous due to criminal activity.

Air travel

There are frequent flight cancellations and delays at Dushanbe International Airport. Holding valid entry visas for alternate destinations may be useful if you need to depart Tajikistan quickly.

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 Tajikistan.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all 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

Penalties for drug offences in Tajikistan are severe and include lengthy imprisonment in local jails.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

Foreigners are legally required to carry a copy of their current passport and visa at all times.

While perhaps legal in some countries, the following activities are illegal in Tajikistan:

  • driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero
  • photography around sensitive sites such as military zones, military assets, military personnel, transportation facilities and government buildings
  • smoking on the street
  • taking artefacts or cultural items out of Tajikistan without official permission.

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

Tajikistan does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Tajikistan dual nationals who are arrested or detained. Tajik authorities may insist you enter Tajikistan on your Tajik passport. If not, travel on your Australian passport at all times.

More information: Dual nationals

Local customs

There are conservative and traditional codes of dress and behaviour in Tajikistan. Public displays of affection may cause offence. Take care not to offend. If in doubt, dress conservatively and seek local advice.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Tajikistan but it is not widely accepted.

More information: LGBTI travellers

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to occur between early May and early June 2019. During Ramadan, take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting.

More information: Ramadan

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Make sure 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
  • that you are covered for the whole time you'll 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 discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

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. Example: some sleeping tablets and medications containing codeine are restricted in Tajikistan.

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, stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

Declare all 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 a risk in the southern border areas (particularly around the Khatlon region) and some central (Dushanbe), western (Gorno-Badakhshan) and northern (Leninabad) areas.

Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne diseases. Ticks are very common in country areas and active from spring to autumn.

Protect yourself against insect-borne diseases:

  • ensure your accommodation is insect proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including always using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • consider taking prophylaxis against malaria where necessary
  • check your body for ticks during and after travel in forested areas
  • remove any ticks from your body as soon as possible.

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid, brucellosis, hepatitis and rabies) are prevalent. More serious outbreaks occur from time to time.

  • Maintain good personal hygiene, including regular and thorough handwashing.
  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Tailings and pesticides

In the northern Sughd Region there are a number of unprotected uranium tailings and pesticide waste dumps, which may pose a health risk. Seek local advice.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities and services are limited in Tajikistan. Hygiene conditions are poor. There is a shortage of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.

Doctors require up-front payment before providing treatment. 

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.

The Australian Embassy in Moscow can provide a list of medical facilities in Tajikistan.

Natural disasters

Tajikistan experiences earthquakes. Avalanches, mudslides and floods occur in mountainous areas.

If a natural disaster occurs:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag).
  • 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.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, tour operator, employer or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Fire and rescue: 01
  • Medical emergencies: 03 or go direct to the hospital
  • Criminal issues: 02 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, 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 Tajikistan. You can contact the Australian Embassy in Moscow, Russia, for consular assistance.

Australian Embassy, Moscow

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

Check the Australian 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

Additional resources