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Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzstan)

If you’re travelling to Kyrgyzstan, 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.

Latest travel alert

We advise you to only use officially-recognised border crossings and to only travel in the border areas if absolutely necessary.

Emergency Assistance

Because there is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in Kyrgyzstan, 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 Kyrgyzstan 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 Kyrgyzstan, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

Kyrgyz local emergency service telephone numbers are:
101 for fire
102 for police
103 for ambulance

Other EU embassies

You can contact the Embassies and Consulates of other EU countries represented in Kyrgyzstan 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

Political unrest

Following protests on 31 May 2013, a state of emergency was declared in the Jeti-Oguz district (Issyk-Kul province) from 31 May to 10 June 2013. Security is reported to have been increased in both the Jeti-Oguz district and Jalal-Abad city.

Demonstrations on political and socio-economic themes occur both in central Bishkek and in other parts of the country. You should avoid all demonstrations.

Border areas

Security was increased in border areas and we advise you to only use officially-recognised border crossings and to only travel in the border areas if absolutely necessary.

Be extremely cautious if you’re travelling overland from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan or Tajikistan. These borders are subject to closure without notice so always check in advance which officially recognised border crossings are open. There’s also a risk that uncontrolled Kyrgyz-Uzbek border areas may be land-mined.

Tensions exist over recognition of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek borders and a number of gunfire exchanges have been reported, most recently from the Jalal-Abad Oblast. 

Keep yourself informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser.

Terrorism

You should be aware of the continuing threat from terrorism, which Kyrgyzstan shares with other countries in Central Asia. There’s a history of terrorist activity and armed violence, particularly south and west of Osh, where there have been several terrorist attacks and hostage-takings in the past.

Landmines

There is a risk that uncontrolled Kyrgyz-Uzbek border areas may be land-mined.

Crime

Mugging and theft regularly occur in both city and rural areas and foreigners are a particular target. You should take sensible precautions: 

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
  • During your stay you should carry a notarised photocopy of your passport at all times.
  • Be wary of any strangers offering assistance or being over-friendly
  • There have been reports of thefts committed by uniformed police officers and gangs

Taxis

Avoid travelling in unofficial taxis, particularly at night and alone, or if there’s another passenger already in the car. We don’t encourage the hiring of private gypsy cabs instead of licensed taxicabs in Kyrgyzstan. In addition, taxis aren’t always metered and you should negotiate the fare in advance of entering the taxi.

Lost or stolen passports

If you lose your passport you must report this immediately to the police and get confirmation of the loss in writing. This report will be necessary when applying for an emergency passport from the Irish Embassy in Moscow.

The Embassy is able to accept applications for new passports, which may take between four and six weeks to be processed in Dublin, but is not able to issue new full passports in Moscow.

Airport

Passenger lists on aircraft aren’t always kept confidential. There have been cases of people being met by name from an aircraft and subsequently robbed. If you’re arriving at Manas International Airport, arrange your onward transportation from the airport in advance.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Kyrgyzstan, 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 Kyrgyzstan, you should be extremely careful. Many cars aren’t safe and the roads are poorly maintained with roadworks or damaged roads often not clearly signposted. If you want to drive:

  • Bring your full Irish driver’s licence and your international driving permit and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol, however little consumed, is regarded as a serious offence in Kyrgyzstan
  • Use main roads when travelling in or around Bishkek and avoid large crowds
  • Service stations and petrol/water access can be limited outside the cities of Bishkek and Osh. Make sure you take all you need for your journey
  • Avoid driving at night
  • Be aware that roads outside the capital are often blocked by snow during the winter months and avalanches and landslides frequently block roads in the spring

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).

Air safety

It’s not known whether maintenance procedures on aircraft used on internal flights are always properly observed or whether passengers are covered by insurance. If possible, we advise you to fly directly to your destination on an international flight originating outside Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and avoid in-country and regional travel using domestic carriers. If you intend to travel to and from Kyrgyzstan, avoid flying on airlines listed under the EU operating ban.

Public transport

We advise against using local buses and/or mini-buses as vehicles often lack seatbelts and are not well maintained. Theft on board is also a risk.

 

Local laws and customs

Personal identification

Always carry your passports or notarised copies. The police can arrest those found without a form of identification.

Under Kyrgyz law, anyone claiming to be a police officer must present their credentials on demand. Don’t get into cars with anyone you don’t know, even if the person seems to be a police officer.

Illegal drugs

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

Photography

Taking photos of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with the authorities.

LGBT

Homosexuality was legalised in 1998. However, homosexuality is not often discussed or recognised publicly. Care and discretion should be exercised at all times.

Natural disasters and climate

Earthquake

Kyrgyzstan is located in an active seismic zone. If you’re travelling to or living in Kyrgyzstan, make sure you know what to do in the event of an earthquake.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Irish citizens don’t need a visa to enter Kyrgyzstan if they’re travelling in the country for up to 60 days.

Passports

It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a notarised photocopy of your passport at all times. You should ensure that you have entered your next of kin details into the back of your passport.

If you have questions about the entry requirements for Kyrgyzstan, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Kyrgyzstan, which is in London. You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.

Health

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

Tuberculosis is widespread throughout the country and there are regular outbreaks of Hepatitis A, meningitis and brucellosis. Cases of AIDS and malaria have also been registered.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities are not as developed as those in Ireland. Medication easily available in Ireland may not be as easily available in Kyrgystan or may be restricted.

Banking

Kyrgyzstan is a cash-only economy. Very few places accept credit cards and travellers’ cheques. There are only a handful of ATM machines, and none in rural areas.

Currency

You should only change money at officially authorised currency exchanges. US dollars are the most widely accepted foreign currency; others may be difficult to exchange.