Asia and Oceania

Kyrgyzstan Flag of Kyrgyzstan

Still current at: 11 June 2008
Updated: 15 May 2008

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Health section (prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Kyrgyzstan). The overall level of the advice has not changed.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country


Travel Summary

  • There is no British Embassy in Kyrgystan, but there is an Honorary British Consul in Bishkek.  Kyrgystan is covered from the British Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan, with consular assistance provided by the British Embassy Office in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  See the General section of this advice for more details.

  • Since the parliamentary elections in March 2005, there have been a number of demonstrations in Bishkek related to the internal-political situation.  Political tensions remain high.  The next parliamentary elections will take place on the 16 December 2007.  You should check the current situation before travelling and avoid any political demonstrations or large crowds while in Kyrgyzstan.  See the Political Situation section of this advice for more details.

  • Tensions also exist over recognition of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek borders and you should only use officially recognised border crossings if travelling in the region.  There is a risk that uncontrolled border areas may be land-mined.  See the Local Travel section of this advice for more details.

  • There is a threat from terrorism in Kyrgyzstan. Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. See the Terrorism section of this advice for more details.

  • Most visits to Kyrgyzstan are trouble-free. We are not aware of any British nationals who required consular assistance in Kyrgyzstan in 2007. We are not aware of any British nationals who required consular assistance in Kyrgyzstan in 2007.  However, you should be aware that there have been a number of criminal incidents involving foreigners in Kyrgyzstan.  See the Crime section of this advice for more details.

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

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.   See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details.

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is a threat from terrorism in Kyrgyzstan. Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. There is a history of terrorist activity and armed violence, particularly south and west of Osh, where there have been several terrorist attacks and hostage-takings in the past. In Southern Kyrgyzstan in November 2004, a man stopped by the police in Osh detonated a grenade killing himself and a police officer. Although there are no confirmed links to terrorist organisations, this does highlight the need for continued vigilance when travelling in the region.  For further information see Terrorism Abroad.

You should pay attention to any security announcements by the Kyrgyz authorities.

Crime

Most visits are trouble free.  However, mugging, sometimes violent, and theft regularly occur in both cities and rural areas and foreigners are a particular target.  In September 2006, a British national was violently robbed outside a nightclub in Bishkek.

In July 2006, a British national living in Bishkek was shot and seriously injured. The investigation is ongoing but there is no indication so far of this attack reflecting specific targeting of British nationals.

Keep large amounts of money hidden at all times and be wary of any strangers offering assistance or being over-friendly.

There have been reports of thefts committed by uniformed police officers and gangs.  Avoid walking alone at night and travelling in unofficial taxis.  Passenger lists on aircraft are not always kept confidential.  There have been cases of people being met by name from an aircraft and subsequently robbed.
 
For more general information see Victims of Crime Abroad.
 
Political situation

Kyrgyzstan Country Profile

On 24 March 2005, a large demonstration took place in the capital Bishkek forcing the Government to resign and President Akaev to leave the country.  A day of violence and looting in Bishkek followed.

Presidential elections were held peacefully on 10 July 2005 and a new government was formed.  Since that time there have been several large-scale demonstrations, all related to internal issues (such as assassinations of Kyrgyz MPs or major crime figures).  In October 2005 there were demonstrations in front of the Parliament and in Ala-Too Square in Bishkek, following the death of an MP during a prison riot.  In January 2006, there were demonstrations in Osh and Jalalabad following an attempt by the Government to replace local Governors.  On 31 March and on 8 April 2006, further large demonstrations took place in front of the Parliament. On 2 November 2006 the For Reform opposition group held a demonstration in the main Alatoo Square in Bishkek.
 
Political tensions remain high and demonstrations led by the political opposition have continued in 2007.  The next parliamentary are to be held on the 16 December 2007.  You should check the current situation before travelling and avoid any political demonstrations or large gatherings of people while in Kyrgyzstan.
 
Local Travel
 
Tensions exist over recognition of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek borders.  These tensions have been heightened following the events in Andijan, Uzbekistan in May 2005, which resulted in a flow of refugees across the border into Kyrgyzstan.  You should only use officially recognised border crossings in this area, as there is a risk that uncontrolled Kyrgyz-Uzbek border areas may be land-mined.
 
Road Travel
 
You can drive in Kyrgyzstan on a UK or International Driving Licence.
 
Service stations and petrol/water access can be limited outside the cities of Bishkek and Osh.  Make sure you take all you need for your journey.  Extra care should be taken when driving in Kyrgyzstan as a significant proportion of cars are not safely maintained and do not have rear seatbelts.  We advise against using local buses and/or mini-buses as maintenance of these vehicles are not always properly observed.
 
The roads are poorly maintained with roadworks or damaged roads often not clearly signposted.  Roads outside the capital are often blocked by snow during the winter months.
 
For further information see Driving Abroad.

Air Travel

It is not known whether maintenance procedures on aircraft used on internal flights are always properly observed or whether passengers are covered by insurance.  You are advised where possible to fly directly to your destination on an international flight originating outside Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and to avoid in-country and regional travel using domestic carriers.  British Government employees do not use flights run by Kyrgyzstani airline companies unless this is unavoidable.  You should bear this in mind when making your travel plans.
 
The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the community.  You should check the following link to see whether this will affect your travel:  http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/flywell_en.htm

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. 
 
Possession and use of drugs is illegal and, if found guilty, you could face a lengthy prison sentence in basic conditions.
 
Homosexuality was legalised on 1 January 1998.  However, homosexuality is 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.
 
For more general information for different types of travellers see Travel Advice Relevant to You.

Entry requirements

Visas
 
Although it is now possible to obtain one month entry visas on arrival at Manas Airport, we continue to recommend that for ease of entry visitors get a visa before travelling to Kyrgyzstan, contact the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic in London.  British Nationals no longer need to register with OVIR (The Department for Visa and Registration under the Ministry of Internal Affairs).
 
There is no longer an agreement allowing visas issued in another Commonwealth of Independent Stated (CIS) country to be used to transit Kyrgyzstan.  If you intend to visit two or more CIS countries you should contact the relevant embassies for advice before travelling.
Travelling with children

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.

Health

Medical facilities in Kyrgyzstan are not as developed as those in the UK.

Malaria, tuberculosis, Hepatitis A, meningitis and brucellosis are common to Kyrgyzstan.  

In the 2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 4,000 adults aged 15 or over in Kyrgyzstan were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 0.1% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%.  You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to Kyrgyzstan and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
 
For more general health information see Travel Health

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

There have been no reported cases of Avian Influenza (also known as Bird Flu) in Kyrgystan.  But the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed cases elsewhere in the region.

Natural Disasters
 
Kyrgyzstan is located in an active seismic zone.  Avalanches and landslides frequently block roads in the spring.  There have been a number of tremors in recent months – the strongest of which measured 6 on the Richter Scale on 8 January 2007.

General

Insurance

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance, including evacuation by air ambulance, before travelling.  This advice is particularly relevant if planning an adventure holiday (e.g.  skiing, mountaineering etc…).  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you forn all the activities you want to undertake.  See Travel Insurance for more details.

If things do go wrong when you are overseas then this is how we can help.
 
British representation

British interests in Kyrgyzstan are represented overall by the British Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan.  However, consular or emergency cover for Kyrgyzstan will be provided by the British Embassy Office in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  For consular advice or emergency assistance, please contact the British Honorary Consul in Bishkek, who works closely with the British Embassy Office in Almaty.
 
Consular Registration

Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.  More information about registering with LOCATE can be found here.

Passport

You should carry your passport, or a notarised copy of it, at all times.  The police can arrest you if you do not carry identification.
 
The British Embassy Office in Almaty does not issue passports and, before setting off, you should ensure that your passport has sufficient validity and a good number of unused pages.  However, the Embassy Office is able to accept applications for new passports, which will be forwarded to the British Embassy in Moscow for processing.  Please note that this may take up to four weeks.  Temporary passports, valid for one year, are available in Almaty and can usually be produced within 24 hours.
 
Money
 
Outside Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan is very much a cash-only economy.  You should only change money at officially authorised currency exchanges.  Very few establishments accept credit cards and traveller's cheques.  There are only a handful of ATM machines, and none in rural areas.  US dollars or Euros are the most widely accepted foreign currency; others may be difficult to exchange.
 
CONTACT DETAILS
 
British Embassy - Astana
62, Kosmonavtov Street
Renco Building 6 Floor
Astana 010000
 
Telephone: (73172) 556200
Facsimile: (73172) 556211
 
Office Hours: GMT: Mon-Thurs: 0300-1130; Fri: 0300-1000
Local: Mon-Thurs: 0900-1730; Fri: 0900-1600
 
Website:  http:// www.britishembassy.kz
 
British Embassy Office Almaty – Consular & Visa Section
Microdistrict Samal – 2
97 Zholdasbekova Street
Samal Towers 9th Floor
Almaty 050051
Telephone     +7 573 150 2200
                        +7 7272 506 191
 
Facsimile        +7 573 150 2212
                      +7 7272 507962
 
Hours of Business (local time: GMT + 6 hours)
08:30-17:00 (Mon-Thurs)
08:30-15:30 (Friday)
 
Out of office Emergency Number:  +7701 711 2301

Travel advice for this country

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contacts

Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, British Honorary Consulate

Address:

British Honorary Consul
2nd Floor
115 Ibraimova
Bishkek
(Located next to the Dordoi Plaza Business Centre)
720040 British Honorary Consul: Michael Atsoparthis

Telephone:

(996 312) 584245 Mobile tel
(996) 312 652855

Fax:

 

Email: gbhoncon@mail.kg

Office hours: