Uzbekistan

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 05 September 2014.   It contains new information under Laws (Australian/Uzbek dual nationals should be aware that local laws in Uzbekistan provide for penalties for citizens of Uzbekistan who serve in the military and security forces of foreign countries). We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan overall

Andijan and the eastern region of the Ferghana Valley; Regions bordering Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic and Afghanistan

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Uzbekistan because of the threat of a terrorist attack and the unpredictable environment in the region.
  • Terrorist attacks have occurred in Uzbekistan. Attacks could be directed against a range of targets, including locations known to be frequented by foreigners.
  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to regions bordering Afghanistan, Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, including Andijan and the eastern region of the Ferghana Valley, at this time. The security situation in these areas can be volatile, and there is a risk from unmarked landmines.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Uzbekistan. The Australian Embassy in Russia provides consular assistance to Australians in Uzbekistan.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Australian citizens are required to obtain a visa for Uzbekistan prior to arrival. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Uzbekistan for the most up-to-date information. The Embassy of Uzbekistan in Singapore can provide assistance and can be contacted on (+65) 6734 3942 or by email at info@uzbekistan.org.sg. Visa and travel information is available on their website.

Uzbek visas specify the validity of the visa, the amount of entries and also the duration of the stay. For example, you may be granted a multiple entry visa with a validity of three months and a seven day limit on the duration of your stay. You are only allowed to stay in the country for the number of days specified under the ‘duration of stay’ section on the visa.

All visitors intending to stay for three days or more are required to register with local authorities. Most hotels undertake registration on behalf of guests, however, if you are not staying at a hotel, your host should assist you with registration at the local Passports and Visa Office (OVIR or UVIR). If you travel to another city and plan to stay for three days or longer, you will need to register there as well.

Travellers must ensure they possess a valid visa for their next destination. There have been a number of cases where travellers who failed to have a valid visa for their next destination were returned to Uzbekistan.

Currency import and export (of the same amount) is allowed however you need to complete a customs declaration form on arrival and departure.

Some medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia, such as sleeping tablets, may be illegal or restricted in Uzbekistan. You should declare all prescription medications and other restricted items on arrival in Uzbekistan, and carry a copy of the doctor’s prescription with you. If you are unsure that your medication is legal, contact the nearest Embassy of Uzbekistan for advice. See also our prescription medication page for further information.

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

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Uzbekistan because of the threat of a terrorist attack and the unpredictable security environment in the region. Terrorist attacks have occurred in Uzbekistan. Attacks could be directed against a range of targets, including locations known to be frequented by foreigners.

In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include commercial and public areas known to be frequented by foreigners such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs, embassies and other diplomatic interests, schools, markets, shopping centres, places of worship, public transport, outdoor recreation events, tourist areas and large public gatherings. Uzbek government buildings and western government and commercial interests are also possible targets.

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

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

We recommend that you reconsider your need to travel to the following areas:

Andijan and the eastern region of the Ferghana Valley: Demonstrations occur and have the potential to turn violent. If you are travelling to the Ferghana Valley, monitor developments as the security situation may deteriorate without notice.

Regions bordering Tajikistan and Kyrgyz Republic: The security situation in these border regions is volatile. In the past, there has been sporadic armed conflict in rural areas in the east of Uzbekistan between extremist or criminal groups and government forces. Tensions over the recognition of the border with the Kyrgyz Republic have resulted in clashes between security forces. There are also unmarked landmines in these areas. If, despite this advice, you decide to travel to these border regions, monitor developments as the security situation may deteriorate without notice.

Regions bordering Afghanistan: The security situation in Afghanistan is extremely dangerous. There are landmines in the border region between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

Crime

Petty crime targeting foreign travellers has been reported. Travellers have been robbed when using unofficial taxis and travelling on trains, particularly on overnight rail services.

There have been reports of travellers being robbed by individuals posing as police. There have also been reports of harassment, mistreatment and extortion by police or other local officials.

Avoid obvious displays of wealth, particularly in rural areas. Crime levels are higher at night and you should avoid walking alone.

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. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out whether your ATM card will work in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan is predominantly a cash economy. You should exchange any unspent local currency prior to departure as there is no exchange office at the international airport. The Uzbek Som is not freely convertible. Exchanging the Som back into foreign currency can be difficult particularly if you do not retain receipts from the initial exchange into Som.

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

Land borders between Uzbekistan and neighbouring states are often closed at short notice. If travelling by road you should check in advance whether the borders are open.

Road conditions and driving standards are poor. Rural roads are particularly treacherous, including in the Tian Shan and Fan Mountains. Driving at night is dangerous because the roads are unlit and vehicles share the roads with livestock and animal drawn carts. Security checkpoints are common. Access to service stations can be limited in rural areas. Landmines are present near the border with Tajikistan. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Drivers are charged a fee to bring motor vehicles into Uzbekistan. Payment is collected at border crossings and varies according to the length of stay. Travel to Termez on the Afghan border and areas of Surkhandarya in the south-east require an official permit.

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

Requests from police to produce proof of identity are common. You should carry a photocopy of your passport and visa at all times.

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 internal flights are always properly observed or whether passengers are covered by airline insurance.

For further information, please refer to our air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Uzbekistan, 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.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy prison sentences served in local jails.

Serious crimes, such as attempted murder, can attract long sentences.

Homosexuality is illegal and penalties include prison sentences. See our LGBTI travellers page.

It is illegal to photograph government and military buildings, and also public transport infrastructure, including metro stations. This may result in confiscation of equipment or detention. You should check before taking photographs of government or security infrastructure.

Some medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia, such as sleeping tablets, may be illegal or restricted in Uzbekistan. Travellers who do not declare restricted medications may be detained. See the Entry and exit section for more information.

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 on or around 28 June 2014 and finish on or around 27 July 2014. 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 the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin.

Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative in Uzbekistan. You should take care not to offend.

Dual nationality

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

Australian/Uzbek dual nationals may be required to complete national service obligations if they visit Uzbekistan. Local laws provide for penalties for citizens of Uzbekistan who serve in the military and security forces of foreign countries. For further information, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Uzbekistan 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'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.

Some medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia, such as sleeping tablets, may be illegal or restricted in Uzbekistan. Travellers who do not declare restricted medications may be detained. See the Entry and exit section for more information.

Malaria is a risk in Uzunskiy, Sariassiskiy and Shurchinskiy districts (Surkhandarya and Kashkadarya provinces). We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria where necessary and using insect repellent, wearing long, loose fitting light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

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

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, 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 with intact seals, avoid ice cubes, raw and undercooked food, and unpasteurised dairy products. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities are limited in Uzbekistan, with medicines and equipment often in short supply. Doctors and hospitals often require payment in cash prior to providing services, including for emergency care. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation could be considerable.

Where to get help

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Uzbekistan. You can obtain consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Moscow, Russia:

Australian Embassy, Moscow

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

If you are travelling to Uzbekistan, 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

Uzbekistan is located in an active earthquake zone.

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

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.