Tajikistan

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 28 August 2014.   This advice contains updated information under Safety and security: Civil unrest/Political tension (Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast- special travel permit required. Sporadic and localised violence in Korugh town in June 2014, resulting in heightened security and military presence on the streets). 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. For border regions with the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan we advise Australians to reconsider your need to travel due to the risk of land mines and criminal activity. We have increased the level for GBAO to reconsider your need to travel due to the unpredictable security situation.

Tajikistan overall

Border regions with the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan

Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast

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.
  • See also our general advice for business travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
    • organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
    • register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
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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.

Entry into the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast requires a special permit issued in advance, in addition to a Tajik visa. You can apply for this permit from Tajik embassies and consulates abroad, or from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Visa and Registration Office (OVIR) within Tajikistan.

Tajikistan’s borders with neighbouring countries are subject to closure without notice. You should check in advance which border posts are open.

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. In recent years there have been 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.

Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO): We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to GBAO.
Entry into the GBAO requires a special permit issued in advance, in addition to a Tajik visa. You can apply for this permit from Tajik embassies and consulates abroad, or from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Visa and Registration Office (OVIR) within Tajikistan.
There has been sporadic and localised violence in Khorugh town, the administrative centre of GBAO, most recently in June 2014. There is currently heightened security and military presence on the streets. Further violence is possible. If you are in GBAO, you should avoid large gatherings and any civil unrest. You should reconsider your need to travel there and consider leaving if it is safe to do so.

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.

Money and valuables

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.

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

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 Overseas Road Safety page.

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.

Airline safety

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 Tajikistan.

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

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. 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.

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

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 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.

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

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 02. The national emergency number for the fire department is 01 and for an ambulance is 03.

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 Tajikistan. You can contact the Australian Government at the Australian Embassy in Russia for consular assistance. See contact details below:

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 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.

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.