Azerbaijan

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Wednesday, 13 August 2014.   This advice contains new information under Entry and exit (all foreign citizens staying in Azerbaijan for longer than three days must register with local police within three days of arrival; foreigners cannot leave the country with more money than they declared on arrival). We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Azerbaijan overall. We continue to advise Australians not to travel in the area of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan overall

Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia-Azerbaijan border areas

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Azerbaijan.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel in the area of the closed Armenia-Azerbaijan border and ceasefire line because of sporadic clashes.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region and the military occupied areas surrounding it because of the risk of armed conflict in this area.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Azerbaijan. The Australian Embassy in Turkey provides consular assistance to Australians in Azerbaijan.
  • See also our general advice for business travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Australians require a visa to enter Azerbaijan. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) are the prerogative of the Azerbaijani Government. These conditions can change with little warning. Visa information can be found on the websites of the State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan or your nearest Azerbaijani diplomatic mission abroad. You can find a complete list of Azerbaijan's embassies and consulates on the website for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan. You should check well in advance of your travel for the most up-to-date information.

Australians travelling with a passport that contains visas/stamps from the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh are likely to encounter difficulties at Azerbaijani border control points, including refusal of entry into Azerbaijan.

In Azerbaijan, applications for visa extensions and renewals can be made at the State Migration Service at 202 Binagadi Highway, 3123 Block, Binagadi district, Baku City, Azerbaijan Republic, AZ1114, tel: +994 12 562 5623, fax: +994 12 562 3702 or email info@migration.gov.az. We advise you to carry a photocopy of your passport details page and existing Azerbaijan visa while your application for a new or renewed visa or ID card is being processed. Ministry of Interior Police can conduct random checks of foreign citizens for their documentation (see the Laws section).

Under Azerbaijani law, all foreign citizens staying in Azerbaijan for longer than 3 days must register with local police within three days of arrival.

Travel restrictions may apply to Australians planning to travel overland from Azerbaijan to neighbouring countries. We recommend you contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Azerbaijan and those of neighbouring countries for up to date information on travel restrictions and visa requirements that may apply.

There are no restrictions on the importation of foreign currency for both nationals of Azerbaijan and foreigners provided the amount is declared. Nationals of Azerbaijan are allowed to export up to USD10,000 without documentation. However, foreigners are only allowed to export up to the amount that they imported (disclosure of evidence for the imported amount will be required). If no evidence of the amount is provided, only USD1,000 will be permitted for export.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Civil unrest/political tension

We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Azerbaijan. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Police have used force to break up demonstrations and protests. You should avoid all demonstrations, protests and political rallies as they may turn violent.

Armenia-Azerbaijan border areas: We strongly advise you not to travel in the area of the closed Armenia-Azerbaijan border and ceasefire line. There are regular reports of clashes along the border, including in Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan province, which have resulted in a number of deaths and injuries. The conflict zone also contains landmines.

Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas: We strongly advise you not to travel to the western region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding military occupied areas because of the risk of armed clashes in the region. The dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh remains unresolved and insurgent forces occupy part of Azerbaijan territory. A ceasefire has been in place since 1994 but regular breakdowns occur. Anti-personnel landmines are located in areas near the front lines.

The Australian Government is extremely limited in its capacity to provide consular assistance in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas and in the Armenia-Azerbaijan border areas.

Crime

The incidence of violent crime in Azerbaijan is low. However, serious crimes against foreigners, including home burglaries, robbery and assault have been reported.

There have been reports of foreigners being robbed after consuming "spiked" drinks in bars and nightclubs in Baku. Do not leave your drinks unattended in bars or nightclubs and do not accept drinks from new acquaintances.

Travellers should be particularly vigilant when walking after dark, including near hotels and in residential areas.

Petty crime, including robbery and pick-pocketing, can occur at outdoor markets and on public transport, including the underground in Baku.

Travellers have been robbed and assaulted when using unofficial taxis. The use of taxis accredited to your hotel or familiar to you may reduce risk.

There have been reports of thieves posing as police officers while demanding money from tourists and expatriate residents.

Local authorities provide assistance to foreigners who have been the victim of crime. The numbers for emergency services are: police – 102 and ambulance – 103. You can also contact English speaking staff at the Police Office of Crimes By and Against Foreigners on +994 12 590 9966.

Money and valuables

The Azerbaijan economy is cash-based and most goods and services require payment in the local currency (the Manat). US dollars and the Euro (all notes should be in good condition) are widely used and are easily exchanged for local currency. Travellers' cheques and credit cards are not widely accepted, except in major hotels, some restaurants and banks. ATMs are available in major cities.

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. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Review the General advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Local travel

Driving in Azerbaijan can be dangerous due to poorly maintained roads and vehicles as well as poor local driving habits. Rural roads often do not have sufficient lighting and signage and may be shared with pedestrians, slow moving farm equipment and livestock making driving hazardous. Right hand drive cars are not permitted in Azerbaijan. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Public transport (e.g. the Baku Metro) is often poorly maintained, overcrowded and lacking in basic safety and emergency equipment. If you travel by train, you should lock the door from the inside and not leave your belongings unattended.

Airline safety

The aircraft and maintenance of aircraft used by Azerbaijan's domestic airlines on internal and regional routes may not always meet international aviation standards. Flights may be overbooked, resulting in the dangerous overloading of aircraft. Domestic flights are also subject to prolonged delays or unexplained cancellation of service.

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 Azerbaijan.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Azerbaijan, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research local laws before travelling.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy imprisonment and heavy fines.

Foreigners have been questioned and detained for photographing or visiting military personnel, equipment and sites.

Azerbaijan has a zero tolerance policy on drink driving. The only permissible blood alcohol level is zero.

Authorisation is required for the purchase and removal of any antiquity or cultural artefact from Azerbaijan. A receipt and an official certificate are required to legally export these items from Azerbaijan.

Local customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the export of items such as antiquities, religious materials, carpets, artworks and caviar.

Religious proselytizing is prohibited by law for foreigners.

Homosexual activity is not illegal in Azerbaijan, however it is not widely accepted. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Travellers in Azerbaijan should keep a copy of their passport and visa with them at all times. Routine police checks in public and tourist spots are common. Failure to provide evidence of a valid travel document may result in detention and/or substantial fines.

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.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin in mid-June 2015. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities 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. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin.

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Azerbaijan and you should take care not to offend.

You should be aware that many Azerbaijanis disapprove of public displays of affection.

Information for dual nationals

Azerbaijan does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Azerbaijani dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We advise you to travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

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'll be 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.

Private medical clinics with facilities comparable to those in Western countries operate in Baku. However, medical facilities in other areas of Azerbaijan, and in government facilities generally, are often inadequate. Shortages of basic medical supplies are common. Doctors and hospitals will usually require up-front payment before commencing treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities may be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could be considerable. If you need emergency medical assistance, you can telephone 103 for an ambulance.

Malaria is a risk in the southern lowland areas of Azerbaijan, especially in summer. We encourage you to take prophylaxis against malaria where necessary and to take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, typhoid, hepatitis, 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, and avoid ice cubes. You should also avoid unpasteurised dairy products and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

The World Health Organization has confirmed human deaths from avian influenza in Azerbaijan. Australians intending to travel to Azerbaijan should discuss the risk of avian influenza with their doctor as part of their routine pre-travel health checks. See our health page and Avian Influenza bulletin for further information on influenza.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police on 102. Local authorities provide assistance to foreigners who have been the victims of crime. You can telephone English speaking staff at the Police Office of Crimes By and Against Foreigners on +944 12 590 9966.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas. Australia does not have an Embassy in Azerbaijan. You can contact the Australian Government at the Australian Embassy in Turkey for consular assistance. See contact details below:

Australian Embassy
MNG Building, 7th Floor
88 Uĝur Mumcu Caddesi
Gaziosmanpaşa, Ankara
Turkey
Telephone +90 (312) 459 9500
Facsimile +90 (312) 446 4827
Website www.turkey.embassy.gov.au

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

In an emergency, limited consular assistance, which does not include the issue of Australian passports, may be obtained from:

British Embassy
45 Khagani Street
Baku 1010
Telephone: +994 12 437 7878
Facsimile: +994 12 497 7434
Website: http://ukinazerbaijan.fco.gov.uk/en/

If you are travelling to Azerbaijan, 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 +61 2 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Azerbaijan is in an area prone to seismic activity. Information on seismic activity can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links:



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.