Kyrgyz Republic

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 07 November 2014.   This advice contains updated information under Safety and Security, Laws, Where to get help and Additional information. The level of this advice has not changed, we continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in the Kyrgyz Republic because of the potential for civil unrest, the threat of terrorism and high levels of crime.

Kyrgyz Republic overall

Kyrgyz-Uzbek and Kyrgyz-Tajik border areas and the Ferghana Valley

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Kyrgyz Republic because of the potential for civil unrest, the threat of terrorism and high levels of crime.
  • You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media about possible new safety or security risks.
  • You should avoid demonstrations, street rallies and public gatherings as they may turn violent.
  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the Kyrgyz-Uzbek and Kyrgyz-Tajik border areas (in the south and south-west) and the Ferghana Valley. The security situation in these areas is volatile and there are frequent incidents of violent crime, varying levels of civil unrest and reports of terrorist activity. The affected area includes the cities of Osh, Jalalabad and Batken. Landmines are also a risk in uncontrolled border areas.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in the Kyrgyz Republic. The Australian Embassy in Russia provides consular assistance to Australians in the Kyrgyz Republic.
  • See also our general advice for business travellers
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic for the most up-to-date information, or visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Australian tourists do not require a visa to the Kyrgyz Republic for a short stay of up to 60 days. Australians planning to visit the Kyrgyz Republic for purposes other than tourism, or for more than 60 days, should contact the nearest Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic for information on visa requirements.

Borders between the Kyrgyz Republic and neighbouring countries can close without notice. You should confirm that borders are open before travelling. Strict border controls apply on the road between Bishkek and Almaty (Kazakhstan).

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

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Kyrgyz Republic because of the potential for civil unrest, threat of terrorism and high levels of crime. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media about possible new safety or security risks.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the Kyrgyz Republic.

The security environment is volatile in the south and south-west, including in the cities of Osh, Jalalabad and Batken, where there have been clashes between security forces and militant and criminal groups. If you are considering travel to the south, you are advised to read this advice in conjunction with the travel advice for Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

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

Demonstrations occur in Bishkek and in other parts of the country. You should avoid demonstrations, street rallies and public gatherings as such events may turn violent. Australians could be caught up in violence directed at others. Monitor the media and other local sources of information about possible new safety or security risks.

Border regions with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and the Ferghana Valley: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the Kyrgyz-Uzbek and Kyrgyz-Tajik border areas (in the south and south-west) and the Ferghana Valley due to the volatile and unpredictable security situation.

If you are considering travel to the border regions with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and the Ferghana Valley, you are advised to read this advice in conjunction with the travel advice for Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Security forces from all three countries monitor the border region. They randomly but frequently conduct operations in the border regions.

Crime

There is a high incidence of crime, including violent crime, and foreigners can be targeted. Kidnapping, robbery, mugging and pickpocketing have occurred, including near hotels, public transport and in other crowded places, especially where expatriates are known to gather. The risk of crime increases at night.

There is potential for foreigners to get caught up in violent clashes between criminal groups.

Thieves posing as off duty police, uniformed police or unsolicited 'meet and greet' drivers at airports are known to target travellers.

Avoid hailing taxis on the street and where possible book official taxis through a telephone dispatch service.

Money and valuables

The Kyrgyz economy is primarily cash-based and US dollars are widely used. Travellers cheques and credit cards are accepted only in some major hotels.

Import and export of currency up to the same amount is allowed, but customs declarations must be completed on arrival and departure.

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.

Never surrender your passport to strangers, and when hotel staff ask to make a copy, make sure it is returned promptly. Losing your passport in the Kyrgyz Republic might involve considerable costs and delays to your travel plans associated with getting an exit visa and a replacement passport.

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. Roads can be particularly hazardous in winter and at night. For further advice, see our road travel page.

The road between Bishkek and Almaty (Kazakhstan) is especially treacherous due to heavy traffic loads and a dangerous mountain pass. A significant number of traffic accidents have been reported on this road.

Access to service stations can be limited in rural areas.

Local buses, mini-buses and taxis are often poorly maintained.

Landmines are a risk in the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border areas, as well as Kyrgyz-Tajik border areas. Landmines have also been found in the Batken Oblast near the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.

Airline safety

Due to safety concerns, all airlines certified by Kyrgyz regulatory authorities have been banned from operating in European airspace.

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 the Kyrgyz Republic.

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

Laws

When you are in the Kyrgyz Republic, 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.

You are required to carry your passport, or a copy, at all times. Identification checks by police are common.

Possession and use of drugs is illegal and severe penalties apply, including long jail sentences and heavy fines.

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

Same-sex relationships are legal in the Kyrgyz Republic, but are not widely accepted by society. Information for LGBTI travellers can be found on our LGBTI travellers page.

You should check with local authorities before taking photographs of or near military and security establishments.

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.

Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative in the Kyrgyz Republic. You should take care not to offend. If in doubt, dress conservatively and seek local advice.

Information for dual nationals

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

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 in the capital Bishkek are limited and medical equipment and pharmaceuticals are in short supply. In remote areas the standard of medical services is very basic. 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.

Malaria is endemic in the southern and western parts of the country bordering Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, particularly in Batken, Osh and Zhele-Abdskaya provinces. Other insect-borne diseases occur (including tick-borne encephalitis and leishmaniasis). 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 prophylaxis against malaria where necessary, take precautions against being bitten by insects and use insect repellent at all times.

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

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 or report it to the nearest police station. You should also obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

In an emergency, dial the following 24 hour emergency numbers from a mobile or landline:

  • 101 for Fire and Rescue
  • 102 for Police
  • 103 for Medical Emergencies.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. Australia does not have an Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic. You can contact the Australian Government at the Australian Embassy in Russia for consular assistance. See contact details below:

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

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

If you are travelling to the Kyrgyz Republic, 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

There is a high risk of earthquakes in the Kyrgyz Republic. Tremors are frequent. You should familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake. See our earthquakes bulletin for advice.

Avalanches and landslides are also common in mountainous areas.

In recent years, a number of people have been killed in snow-related accidents including motor vehicles accidents, avalanches, snow falling from roofs and prolonged exposure to extreme cold.

Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, you should monitor the local information sources and 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.