Tajikistan

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Tuesday, 14 January 2014.   It contains updated information under Safety and security: Civil unrest/Political tension (the border between Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic has been closed until further notice). We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Tajikistan overall because of the threat of terrorist attack and potential for civil unrest.

Tajikistan overall

Border regions with Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Tajikistan because of the threat of terrorist attack and potential for civil unrest.
  • Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel at this time to the border regions with the Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan because of the risk posed by landmines and criminal activity.
  • We also advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the border regions with Afghanistan due to the hazardous security situation in that country.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Tajikistan. The Australian Embassy in Moscow provides consular assistance to Australians in Tajikistan.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
click on image to expand

Entry and exit

Australians need a visa to visit Tajikistan. As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly, you should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Tajikistan for the most up to date information.

All visitors intending to stay for three or more days in Tajikistan are required to register with the local Visa and Registration Office (OVIR). Most hotels undertake visa registration on behalf of guests. If you are not staying at a hotel, you are required to visit the OVIR within three days of your arrival in Tajikistan.

The Tajikistan Government has special health test requirements for travellers intending to visit Tajikistan for more than 90 days. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Tajikistan for the most up to date information on these requirements.

Customs declaration forms filled out on arrival must be presented upon departure to demonstrate that more money is not being taken out of Tajikistan than was brought in.

There are frequent flight cancellations and delays at Tajikistan international airport. Holding valid entry visas for countries of alternate flight destinations may be useful if you need to depart Tajikistan quickly.

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. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Tajikistan because of the threat of terrorist attack and potential for civil unrest. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Terrorist attacks have occurred in Tajikistan. Since September 2010, there has been an upsurge in security incidents including explosions in various locations in Tajikistan, including the capital, Dushanbe.

Civil unrest/political tension

You should avoid any demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent.

Border with Afghanistan: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the border regions with Afghanistan due to the hazardous security situation. This region is a transit point for drugs and other smuggled goods.

Borders with the Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel at this time to the border regions with the Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan due to the risks posed by landmines, and criminal activity. There have been incidents involving armed clashes between border forces and suspected criminal groups in these border areas. Following clashes, the border between Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic has been closed until further notice.

Crime

Pickpocketing is common in Dushanbe and on international rail services. Those perceived to have money, including foreigners, may be targeted. Criminal activity increases after dark.

Women can be subjected to verbal and physical harassment. You should take care when travelling alone, particularly at night. Pay attention to your immediate surroundings and exercise judgement.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money in Tajikistan, such as credit cards, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Tajikistan. The Tajik economy is largely cash-based. Travellers' cheques are not accepted. International banking services are limited, though there are several ATM machines in Dushanbe. The official currency is the Tajik somoni, but US dollars and Euros are readily accepted. US bank notes issued before 1996 cannot be exchanged.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents 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.

Local travel

Road conditions and driving standards are poor. Conditions can be particularly treacherous in winter and spring, when avalanches and landslides occur. Driving at night is dangerous. For further advice, see our bulletin on Overseas Road Safety.

Police or military checkpoints are common and you may be required to provide identification documents such as your passport and visa.

Many interior roads, including the main road from Dushanbe to Khojand, are only open in the summer months.

Access to service stations can be limited in rural areas.

Rail travel can be unreliable and dangerous due to criminal activity.

Women travelling on their own may be subject to harassment.

Energy and heating shortages occur periodically, especially in winter, and may disrupt travel plans.

Neighbouring countries may close their borders with Tajikistan at any time.

Special permits must be obtained from the Tajikistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs for travel to the Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Region.

Airline safety

Airline and air charter safety and maintenance standards vary throughout the world. It is not known whether maintenance procedures and safety standards on aircraft used on flights in Tajikistan are always properly observed or whether passengers are covered by airline insurance.

For further information, please refer to our Aviation Safety and Security travel bulletin.

Laws

When you are in Tajikistan, 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.

Foreigners are required by Tajikistan law to carry a copy of their current passport and visa with them at all times.

Penalties for drug offences in Tajikistan are severe and include lengthy imprisonment in local jails.

There is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol. Driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero is an offence.

Consensual homosexual activity is not illegal in Tajikistan, although it is not considered socially acceptable or discussed in public. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Photography around sensitive sites such as military zones, military assets and/or military personnel, transportation facilities and government buildings is illegal.

Permission from the government of Tajikistan is required if artefacts or cultural items are to be taken out of the country.

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

There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Tajikistan. You should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Public displays of affection may cause offence.

During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.

Information for dual nationals

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

Our Dual nationals brochure 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.

Medical facilities are scarce in Tajikistan and the standard of services is very limited. There is a shortage of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, and hygiene conditions are poor. Doctors will require up-front payment before commencing treatment. The Australian Embassy in Moscow (see contact details below) can provide a list of medical facilities in Tajikistan. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation could be considerable.

Malaria is a risk in the southern border areas (particularly around the Khatlon region) and some central (Dushanbe), western (Gorno-Badakhshan) and northern (Leninabad) areas. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria where necessary and to take measures to avoid insect bites, including using an insect repellent, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid, brucellosis, hepatitis 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, raw and undercooked food, and unpasteurised dairy products. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

In the northern Sughd Region there are a number of unprotected uranium tailings and pesticide waste dumps. These may pose a threat to the health of those travelling in the region. You should seek local advice.

Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne diseases. Ticks are very common in country areas and are active from spring to autumn.

Where to get help

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Tajikistan. You can obtain consular assistance from the nearest Australian Embassy which is in Russia:

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

If you are travelling to Tajikistan, 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 (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Tajikistan is located in an earthquake zone.

Avalanches, mudslides and floods occur in mountainous areas.

Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.



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.