Kazakhstan

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Monday, 06 July 2015.   From 16 July 2015, Australians visiting Kazakhstan for stays of up to 15 days will not require a visa (see Entry and exit). The level of the advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Kazakhstan. You should exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
  • Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Kazakhstan. The Canadian Embassy located in Astana, provides limited consular assistance to Australians in Kazakhstan. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents and conducting interviews, and certifying copies of documents for Australian passports. The Australian Embassy in Moscow can also assist Australians in Kazakhstan. For additional information on consular services available to Australians in Kazakhstan, contact the Australian Embassy in Moscow in the first instance.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, you should contact the nearest Embassy or consulate of Kazakhstan for the most up to date information.

From 16 July 2015, Australians visiting Kazakhstan for stays of up to 15 days will not require a visa. For stays exceeding 15 days, Australians must obtain the appropriate visa for the purpose of their visit, especially if travelling on a long-term business or work trip. Check the validity dates for your visa and associated restrictions before travelling. Penalties for visa infringements or overstaying include fines, imprisonment and deportation. Kazakhstan is strict about its visa policies.

At certain border points, travellers are sometimes provided with a stamped migration entry card. Keep this card in your passport as it may be required when exiting Kazakhstan or when undertaking official business.

All visitors intending to stay for five days or more are required to register with the Kazakhstan Migration Police formerly known as the Office of Visa and Registration (OVIR), within five days of arrival. Visitors should contact their inviting organisation (listed on the visa) for assistance with registration with the Migration Police. Failure to register with the Migration Police can result in fines and significant delays on departure. For the most up to date information and additional requirements on registration, contact the nearest Embassy or consulate of Kazakhstan.

Children travelling alone or with one parent/guardian will require a letter of consent for travel signed by both parents.

There are strict regulations on the export of antiquities.

Strict border controls apply to road travel between Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Bishkek (Kyrgyz Republic).

To be allowed entry into Kazakhstan, you will be required to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate if you are arriving from a country in which yellow fever is endemic. You will also require a valid medical certificate of a negative HIV test if you are intending on staying for more than three months.

Some medications available over the counter of by prescription in Australia, such as sleeping tablets or medication containing codeine, may be illegal or restricted in Kazakhstan. You should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Kazakhstan for advice. You should also carry a copy of the prescription, a letter from your physician and declare all prescription medication and other restricted items on arrival. If not declared, or if the quantity held exceeds legal limits, possession of such items even with a doctor’s prescription, could lead to administrative or even criminal charges.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Safety and security

Crime

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. The risk of crime increases at night.

There have been reports of foreign travellers being drugged and robbed in nightclubs and bars in Almaty.

Avoid walking alone at night and pre-arrange transport if possible.

The expatriate community in Atyrau and Aktau in western Kazakhstan has been the target of violent attacks and muggings.

Carjackings have been reported.

Thieves posing as police officers or unsolicited 'meet-and-greet' drivers at airports have robbed travellers. Official taxi drivers and police officers have identification. Avoid taking unofficial taxis and avoid getting in a taxi that has other passengers in addition to the driver.

Civil unrest/Political tension

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 also read our travel advice for the Kygyz Republic.

You should avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.

Money and valuables

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 Astana and Almaty. Automatic teller machine (ATM) services are limited and you should confirm ATM locations with your credit card provider before travel.

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 online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

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, 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.

Rail travel can be unreliable and dangerous due to petty crime.

Travel on local buses and mini-buses is not recommended because of poor maintenance and safety standards.

Airline safety

The European Union has imposed an operating ban on all carriers certified by Kazakhstan regulatory authorities, with the exception of Air Astana. The European Union (EU) European Union website has a list of airlines that are subject to operating bans or restrictions within the EU.

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 Kazakhstan.

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

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Kazakhstan, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. 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. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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. See our Drugs page.

Driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero is an offence in Kazakhstan.

It is illegal to take photographs of or near military and security establishments, some official buildings, airport facilities and border regions.

Same-sex relationships are not illegal in Kazakhstan, but are not widely accepted by society. Information for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and inter sex travellers can be found on our LGBTI travellers page.

Serious crimes, such as murder, may attract the death penalty.

An apostille is required on Australian-issued documents to be recognised in Kazakhstan. If you planning to live or work in Kazakhstan for long periods, we encourage you to contact the nearest Embassy or consulate of Kazakhstan to check their requirements for legalising documents, prior to departing Australia. Apostilles can only be issued by DFAT in Australia, and cannot be issued by Australian Embassies, High Commissions or Consulates overseas. For additional information check our Legalising documents page.

If you intend to apply for a Kazakh residency permit, you will require a Certificate of No Objection to Residency. Similarly, if you intend to get married in Kazakhstan, you will require a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage. You can apply for these certificates at the Australian Embassy in Moscow.

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 began on 18 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 bulletin.

Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative in Kazakhstan and you should take care not to offend. If in doubt, dress conservatively and seek local advice.

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.

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 are 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.

Some medications available over the counter of by prescription in Australia, such as sleeping tablets or medication containing codeine, may be illegal or restricted in Kazakhstan. You should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Kazakhstan for advice. You should also carry a copy of the prescription, a letter from your physician and declare all prescription medication and other restricted items on arrival. If not declared, or if the quantity held exceeds legal limits, possession of such items even with a doctor’s prescription, could lead to administrative or even criminal charges.

Where to get help

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

For criminal issues, contact the local police on 112. The national emergency number is 102. Emergency numbers for firefighting and rescue is 101, and ambulance or medical emergencies is 103. You should obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

To complain about tourism services, contact the service provider directly.

Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Kazakhstan. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the Canadian Embassy in Astana, provides limited consular assistance to Australians in Kazakhstan. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents.

Canadian Embassy, Astana

13/1 Kabanbay Katyr Street
Astana, Kazakhstan
Telephone: +7 7172 475-577
Fax: +7 7172 475-587
Email: astnag@international.gc.ca
Website: www.canadainternational.gc.ca/kazakhstan

You can also obtain consular assistance through the Australian Embassy in Moscow.

Australian Embassy, Moscow

10a/2 Podkolokolny Pereulok
Moscow, Russia
Telephone +7 495 956-6070
Facsimile +7 495 956-6170
Website: www.russia.embassy.gov.au

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

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.

Additional information

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.

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 bulletin.

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.