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Kazakhstan

If you’re travelling to Kazakhstan, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution.

Emergency Assistance

Because there is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in Kazakhstan, we're limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Moscow.

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Kazakhstan before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems when you're in Kazakhstan, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

The number for local emergency services in Kazakhstan is 103.

Other EU embassies

You can contact the Embassies and Consulates of other EU countries represented in Kazakhstan for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

 

Safety and security

Unrest

Foreign nationals can travel to most places in Kazakhstan, but if you want to travel to any ‘closed territories’ or secure areas, you’ll need advance permission from the relevant authorities. Some military/restricted areas are not clearly marked so be careful when you’re travelling away from normal routes.

Public demonstrations are only permitted when authorised, so rarely take place. You should avoid any demonstrations or political gatherings. If you become aware of any nearby violence you should leave the area immediately.

Terrorism

Although the threat from terrorism in Kazakhstan is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates. 

Crime

There have been a number of violent attacks and muggings on the expatriate community in Atyrau and Aktau in western Kazakhstan, and in Astana and Almaty. Attacks have largely taken place at night, in and around local nightclubs and bars or when arriving at home late at night, as the majority of apartment buildings have dark stairwells and no lifts. Avoid walking alone and where possible pre-arrange transport.

You should take sensible precautions to protect yourself from crime while in Kazakhstan: 

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
  • You must carry your passport with you at all times in case you are asked by the police for identification. Keep your passport in a safe place at all times
  • As in many major cities, you should be careful of petty crime in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital city. This includes theft from vehicles waiting at traffic lights or parked cars and the copying of cash or credit cards at fraudulent ATM machines.
  • Robberies have taken place on trains, so always lock railway compartments on overnight trains. 
  • Be wary of accepting food and drink from strangers in bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Some visitors have been drugged and subsequently robbed.

Lost or stolen passports

If you lose your passport, report this immediately to the police and get confirmation of the loss in writing. You’ll need this report when applying for an emergency passport from the Irish Embassy in Moscow.

The Embassy can accept applications for new passports, which may take between four and six weeks to be processed in Dublin, but it can’t issue new full passports.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Kazakhstan, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Moscow if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Kazakhstan, you should exercise caution and bring your international driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Taxis

Avoid travelling in unofficial taxis, particularly at night and alone, or if there’s another passenger already in the car. We advise you to hire licensed taxicabs while you’re in Kazakhstan, rather than private gypsy cabs.

Air safety

If you’re intending to travel to Kazakhstan, avoid flying on airlines subject to the EU operating ban. At present, with the exception of Air Astana, all Kazakh airlines are refused permission to operate services in the EU because they don’t comply with internationally-recognised safety standards. It’s not known if maintenance procedures on aircraft used for internal or regional flights are properly observed.

 

Local laws and customs

Personal identification

You must have your passport with you at all times in Kazakhstan as well as your migration card that you received when you enter the country. Genuine police officials should always present their own credentials when asking you for proof of your identity.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms. 

Photography

There are some restrictions on photography near military establishments, border areas and some official buildings. There are sometimes notices on display about these restrictions, but this is not always the case, so you should be cautious.

LGBT

Although homosexuality isn’t illegal in Kazakhstan, it’s often not condoned or tolerated, especially outside the major cities. Caution and discretion are advised at all times.

Customs

We strongly advise you to declare all valuables on entry in order to avoid paying duty on those items when departing Kazakhstan.

Natural disasters and climate

Earthquakes

An earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter Scale struck near Almaty in 2012, however, there were no reports of any injuries or casualties. If you’re travelling to or living in Kazakhstan, make sure you know what to do in the event of an earthquake.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Visas

Until 31 December 2017 you can travel to Kazakhstan without a visa, provided that your stay does not exceed 30 days (the day you arrive counts as day 1, regardless of arrival time). If you wish to stay longer than 30 days, you will need a visa.

You should ensure that you have the correct visa for the purpose of your travel, especially for business visas or work permits. Check the validity dates of your visa and any associated restrictions carefully before you travel.

If you violate the conditions of your visa, you could face a short term of imprisonment and/or a ban on entry to Kazakhstan for up to 5 years. Overstaying the date written on your white immigration card may result in similar penalties, regardless of the validity of your visa.

For more information on entry requirements for Kazakhstan, please contact the Embassy of Kazakhstan in London.

Passports

You must have your passport with you at all times in Kazakhstan as well as your migration card that you received when you enter the country. Genuine police officials should always present their own credentials when asking you for proof of your identity.

Immigration cards

At airports and border posts, Kazakhstani immigration officials will present you with a white immigration card. You must keep this card throughout your stay in Kazakhstan and present it at the airport/border posts when you’re departing.  

Crossing the border

We advise you not to cross the border into or out of Kazakhstan illegally as the absence of entry/exit stamps will cause problems (e.g. possible detention, fines) when leaving or re-entering the country.

Health

Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Kazakhstan.

Tick-borne encephalitis

Ticks carrying encephalitis are a problem in mountains and forests, particularly during April, May and June.

Other illnesses

There have been reports of human rabies cases in recent years. Cases of tuberculosis have been reported in the Aral Sea and Semipalatinsk regions, as well as in prisons.

Money

Most hotels, restaurants and larger shops accept credit cards, but smaller shops and taxi drivers don’t. ATMs exist in most major cities but you should bring enough money for your trip. Travellers’ cheques aren’t normally accepted.

Currency

The tenge is the unit of currency in Kazakhstan. If you want to buy tenge in Kazakhstan, we advise that you take Euro or US dollars to change (US dollars are the most widely accepted foreign currency). All notes should be in good condition.

Only change money at banks, hotels and recognised exchange kiosks - it’s an offence to change money from street traders. Bring your passport and visa with you, as you’ll need to show them when you’re changing money.