- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Kazakhstan.
- Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
- There were a number of violent attacks in Kazakhstan in 2011. See the Terrorism section for more information.
- The Canadian Embassy in Astana provides consular assistance to Australians in Kazakhstan. See Where to get help for contact details.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Australian citizens are required to obtain visas prior to arriving in Kazakhstan. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Kazakhstan for the most up to date information.
Kazakhstan strictly polices visa requirements. Australians are advised to ensure they hold the appropriate visa in relation to their visit to Kazakhstan, especially business and work visas. Check the validity dates for your visa and associated restrictions before travelling. Penalties for visa infringements, including over staying your visa period, includes fines, imprisonment and deportation.
All visitors intending to stay for five days or more are required to register with the local Visa and Registration Office (OVIR) within five days of arrival. Short term visitors (up to 90 days) arriving in Kazakhstan via an international airport are automatically registered for the entire length of stay by passport control authorities. Visitors travelling for more than 90 days or for employment/education purposes need to contact their inviting organisation (listed on their visa) for assistance with registration with migration authorities. Failure to register with local migration authorities can result in fines and significant delays on departure.
There are strict regulations on the export of antiquities.
Routine and strict border controls apply on the road between Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Bishkek (Kyrgyz Republic).
All foreigners intending to stay in Kazakhstan for more than three months must provide a valid medical certificate of a negative HIV test.
If you are arriving from a country infected with yellow fever, you will be required to present a valid yellow fever certificate to be allowed entry into Kazakhstan.
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 is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.
There were a number of violent attacks in Kazakhstan in 2011. On 12 November, there was an explosion and shoot-out in the southern city of Taraz which killed seven people. On 31 October, two explosions occurred in Atyrau, on the Caspian Coast. On 30 June, three law enforcement officials were killed in an armed attack in Aktobe Oblast. On 24 May, an explosion in Astana killed two people. On 17 May, there was suicide bombing in the north-western city of Aktobe.
Civil unrest/Political tension
In December 2011, unrest and demonstrations occurred in towns in the Mangystau region of western Kazakhstan. A number of people were killed.
Australians planning to travel between Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic should monitor the media and other local sources of information regarding possible new safety or security risks in the border regions.
You should avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent.
We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
Robbery, pickpocketing, purse snatching and assaults, including with violence, occur on public transport, in parks, shopping areas, open markets (including the Green Market in Almaty), restaurants and near major tourist hotels and nightclubs, especially in the Almaty region.
There have been reports of foreign travellers being drugged and robbed while drinking in nightclubs and bars in Almaty.
Carjackings have been reported.
The risk of crime increases at night.
The expatriate community in Atyrau and Aktau in western Kazakhstan has been the target of violent attacks and muggings.
Thieves posing as police officers or unsolicited 'meet-and-greet' drivers at airports have robbed travellers. Official taxi drivers and police officers have identification.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. The Kazakhstan economy is cash-based, though travellers' cheques and credit cards are accepted at large hotels catering to foreigners and credit cards are widely accepted in Almaty. Automatic teller machine (ATM) services are limited and you should confirm ATM locations with your credit card provider before travel.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
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.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
Government authorisation is required prior to travel to areas along the border with China (Kulzhat and Kargos), regions around the Gvardeyskiy village, Rossavel village, the Kulzhabashy railway station in Zhambyl Oblast, Bokeyorda and Zhangaly districts in Western Kazakhstan Oblast, the town of Priozersk and Gulshad village in Karagunda Oblast, and Baykonur, Karmakshy, and Kazakly districts in Kyzylorda Oblast and to areas where military installations are located.
Driving standards and road conditions are poor. Roads can be particularly hazardous at night because of insufficient lighting, and during winter because of snow and ice. Access to service stations can be limited in rural areas and fuel shortages can occur. The road between Almaty and Bishkek (Kyrgyz Republic) is particularly treacherous. For further advice, see our road travel page.
Travel on local buses, mini-buses and taxis are not recommended because of poor maintenance and safety standards.
Domestic aircraft are subject to uncertain maintenance and safety standards.
For further information, please refer to our aviation safety and security air travel page.
When you are in Kazakhstan, 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.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Under Kazakhstan law, you must carry your passport, with appropriate registration, at all times. Identification checks by police are common.
Penalties for the possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe and include prison sentences and heavy fines.
There is a policy of zero tolerance for drink driving in Kazakhstan (ie driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero is an offence).
It is illegal to take photographs of or near military and security establishments and border regions.
Homosexuality is not illegal, but is not widely accepted in Kazakhstan society.
Serious crimes, such as murder, may attract the death penalty.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money, laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australian 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.
Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative in Kazakhstan and you should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.
During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.
Information for dual nationals
Kazakhstan does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Kazakh dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We strongly recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.
Australian/Kazakh dual nationals may be required to complete national service obligations if they visit Kazakhstan. For further information, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Kazakhstan before you travel.
Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.
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.
Medical facilities throughout Kazakhstan are below Western standards. Basic drugs and equipment are in short supply. Most doctors and hospitals will require payment in cash, regardless of whether you have travel insurance. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with the appropriate facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could be considerable.
Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis. Ticks are very common from spring to autumn. We recommend you take precautions against being bitten by insects and use insect repellent at all times.
Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, typhoid, hepatitis, haemorrhagic fever, tuberculosis, brucellosis, leishmaniasis 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. Avoid ice cubes, unpasteurised dairy products, and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
Where to get help
Australian does not have an embassy or consulate in Kazakhstan. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian Governments, the Canadian Embassy in Astana provides consular assistance to Australians in Kazakhstan. You should register your presence with the Canadian Government. This does not include the issuing of Australian passports.
Canadian Embassy, Astana
13/1 Kabanbay Katyr Street
Astana, 010001, Kazakhstan
Telephone: 7 (7172) 475 577
Facsimile: 7 (7172) 475 587
You can also obtain consular assistance through the Australian Embassy in Moscow.
Australian Embassy, Moscow
10a/2 Podkolokolny Pereulok
Telephone +7 (495) 956-6070
Facsimile +7 (495) 956-6170
If you are travelling to Kazakhstan, 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 above 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 (02) 6261 3305.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
A number of people have been killed in snow-related accidents in recent years including motor vehicles accidents, avalanches, snow falling from roofs and prolonged exposure to extreme cold.
In March 2010, large snow falls followed by warmer weather burst water banks at Kyzyl Agash and Zharbulak water reservoirs in the mountains outside of Almaty. This caused major flooding of the surrounding areas, resulting in 35 deaths and the evacuation of 3,000 people.
Kazakhstan is subject to earthquakes and floods. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If you are in an area affected by a natural disaster, you should monitor the media and follow the advice of local authorities.
For information on travelling in earthquake-prone areas, see our Earthquakes travel bulletin.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.
Children travelling alone or with one parent/guardian will require a letter of consent for travel signed by both parents.