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Kyrgyzstan
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Latest travel advice for Kyrgyzstan including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2017-02-14T13:36:25.655+00:00: Latest update: Summary & Safety and security (Air Travel) section – removal of information about air crash on 16 January

There is an underlying threat from terrorism. You should be vigilant in public places and follow any security advice from the local authorities. See Terrorism.

Take care if you travel to the Oblasts (Provinces) of Osh, Batken and Jalal-Abad. See Local travel

The Kyrgyz/Uzbek and Kyrgyz/Tajik borders are subject to closure without notice. There have been a number of security incidents in the Kyrgyz/Uzbek border region in recent months. See Local travel

There are occasional clashes along the disputed Kyrgyz-Tajik border. A Tajik civilian was killed in an exchange of gunfire near the Vorukh enclave in July 2014. There was a separate incident near the villages of Kok-Tash and Chorkuh in August 2015. There’s a risk of further localised violence and border closures at any time.

There is a high risk of earthquakes. See Natural Disasters

You must carry your passport, or a notarised copy of it, at all times. See Local laws and customs

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Safety and security

Political situation

Demonstrations on political and socio-economic themes occur both in central Bishkek and in other parts of the country. You should avoid all demonstrations.

Independent Kyrgyzstan’s first two Presidents were deposed: Akaev in the 2005 Tulip Revolution and his successor Bakiev in a bloody coup in April 2010. In June 2010 inter-ethnic violence erupted in southern Kyrgyzstan, leaving more than 400 dead and over 100,000 displaced. Interim President Roza Otunbayeva oversaw a constitutional referendum and parliamentary and presidential elections before handing over power following open elections to President Almazbek Atambaev in December 2011

Crime

Muggings (sometimes violent) and theft occur regularly. There have been incidents involving criminals, mostly after dark. Take care if you go out after dark.

Large amounts of money should not be on show and be wary of strangers offering help or being over-friendly. Be particularly aware of your surroundings when using currency exchange offices and visiting the bazaars in Bishkek, particularly Osh Bazaar, where tourists are regularly targeted by pickpockets.

Local travel

Take care if you travel to the Oblasts (Provinces) of Osh, Batken and Jalal-Abad. While there has been no widespread violence since 2010, underlying tensions continue to exist.

Tensions exist over recognition of the Kyrgyz/Uzbek borders. There have been a number of security incidents in this region and several gunfire exchanges. You should only use officially recognised border crossings in this area; there is a risk that uncontrolled Kyrgyz/Uzbek border areas may be land-mined. Check in advance which border posts are open.

The Kyrgyz-Tajik border has not been agreed along its entirety. Localised violence erupts occasionally and the border can be closed at short notice, particularly near the Tajik Vorukh enclave. Tajik and Kyrgyz security forces clashed in this area in January 2014 leaving 8 wounded, and a Tajik civilian was killed in an exchange of gunfire in July 2014. There’s a risk of further localised violence and border closures at any time.

There are frequent power cuts throughout the country.

Road travel

You can drive in Kyrgyzstan using a UK driving licence or an international driving permit. Petrol stations are limited in rural areas and diesel is often unavailable. Make sure you take all you need for your journey. Take extra care when driving, particularly over long distances. You should avoid giving lifts to hitchhikers given incidents when drivers have been robbed by people they picked up. Many roads are poorly lit and poorly maintained with road works or damaged roads often not clearly signposted. Roads outside the capital are often blocked by snow in winter. There is currently no MOT and no legal requirement for vehicles to be insured. Pedestrians often have a low awareness of road safety

You should avoid flagging down taxis. Use telephone, SMS, or taxi services, which are more reputable and have English-speaking dispatchers. Wherever possible use main roads when travelling in and around Bishkek and avoid large crowds even if in a vehicle.

Avoid using local buses and mini-buses as they are not always properly maintained and are notorious for pick-pockets.

Air travel

All Kyrgyz airlines are banned from operating services to the EU because they don’t meet international safety standards.

Where there’s a clear business need to travel internally within Kyrgyzstan, British government staff may use Air Manas flights (formerly known as Pegasus Asia).

You can see a list of recent incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety Network.

The International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

In 2009 the International Civil Aviation Organisation conducted an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Kyrgyzstan.

Trekking

Trekking in Kyrgyzstan often involves travelling to very remote areas. There is a high risk of avalanches, landslides and rock falls. Adequate insurance, including for any activity at high altitude, is essential. If you’re trekking or mountaineering, be vigilant and be prepared to adapt your plans to reflect local conditions and advice. Use a reputable trekking agency, let someone know your estimated return time and don’t trek alone. In remote areas, mobile phone coverage is extremely limited, and any medical facilities basic.

Terrorism

There is an underlying threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. There has been some terrorist activity and armed violence, particularly south and west of Osh. Security forces conducted several anti-terrorism operations in Bishkek in 2015. A suicide bomb attack was carried out on the Chinese Embassy on the outskirts of Bishkek on 30 August 2016.

You should maintain a high level of vigilance in public spaces and near to public buildings, and pay attention to any security announcements by the Kyrgyz authorities.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Kyrgyzstan has a secular constitution. Most Kyrgyz people are Muslims. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. Lack of cultural sensitivity has caused trouble for some unaware foreign nationals.

In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 27 May and finish on 25 June. See Travelling during Ramadan

Possession and use of drugs is illegal. If you are found guilty, you could face a lengthy prison sentence in basic conditions.

Homosexuality is legal, but not often discussed or recognised publicly. You should take care over public displays of affection.

Taking photos of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with the authorities.

You must carry your passport, or a notarised copy of it, at all times. The police can arrest you if you do not carry ID.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

British nationals don’t need a visa to enter and stay for up to 60 days. If you stay in Kyrgyzstan for over 60 days without a valid visa, you’ll be liable for a fine. It’s not possible to get a visa in Kyrgyzstan if you originally entered the country without a visa. If you think you may spend more than 60 days in Kyrgyzstan, you should get a visa from a Kyrgyz Embassy before you travel or on arrival at the airport in Bishkek. The visa can be extended at a Kyrgyz Government office at 66, Razzakova Street in Bishkek.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 3 months from the date of entry into Kyrgyzstan and must have at least 1 full blank page if you are applying for a visa.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Kyrgyzstan. If using one to leave Kyrgyzstan, you must obtain an exit visa from OVIR (the Department for Visa and Registration under the Ministry of Internal Affairs). This takes at least 5 working days.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Registration

On 19 December 2016, the government of Kyrgyzstan approved a decree removing the requirement for British nationals staying in Kyrgyzstan for longer than 5 days to register with the local authorities. You now only need to register your stay with the State Registration Service if you’re visiting for more than 60 days.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

The reciprocal healthcare agreement between the UK and Kyrgyzstan terminated on 1 January 2016.

Medical facilities in Kyrgyzstan are not as developed as those in the UK. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

There have been several cases of anthrax in Kyrgyzstan, mainly in the south of the country, due to insufficient measures to vaccinate animals.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 103 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Natural disasters

There is a high risk of earthquakes. Tremors are frequent. You should familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake and follow any advice given by local authorities. In the mountains, avalanches and landslides frequently block roads.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agencyhas information about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

Avalanches and landslides frequently block roads and are a particular hazard in the spring.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

See also

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  • British Embassy Bishkek

    Title:British Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic
    Email:ukin.kyrgyzrepublic@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    21 Erkindik Boulevard
    Office 404
    Bishkek
    720040
    Kyrgyzstan

    Contact: Telephone: +996 (312) 303637
    Visiting:Office hours (GMT):
    Monday -Friday: 3am-7am and 8am -11:30am

    Office hours (Local):
    Monday - Friday: 9am - 1pm and 2pm - 5:30pm

    For General Enquiries - UKin.KyrgyzRepublic@fco.gov.uk
    Visa enquiries - www.ukvi-international.faq-help.com
    Consular enquiries - consular.bishkek@fco.gov.uk
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Lost or Stolen Passports (Assistance Services)
    Births and Deaths registration service (Documentary Services)
    Notarial services (Documentary Services)
    Issue certificate of no impediment (Documentary Services)
  • DFID Kyrgyzstan

    Title:DFID Kyrgyzstan
    Email:enquiry@dfid.gov.uk
    Address:

    21 Boulevard Erkindik, Office 404

    Bishkek
    720040
    Kyrgyzstan

    Contact: Tel:: +996 (312) 303647
    Visiting:
    Services:Legalisation Service (Other Services)

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