Customs regulations and required documents
Personal effects import regulations
Kazakhstan has made significant improvements to its customs code regulations and procedures, moving from an overly complicated and, at times, nontransparent system to a more expeditious movement of goods. However, the country still ranks in the bottom half of countries (105 out of 190) on the World Bank’s “Trading Across Borders” metric.
Kazakhstan’s customs valuation rules largely conform to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Customs Valuation Agreement, and the country has adopted the Harmonized Schedule (HS) as its tariff nomenclature. Kazakhstan joined WTO in 2015.
On January 1, 2010, Kazakhstan adopted the unified customs tariffs and non-tariff regulations of the Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan Customs Union (CU), a legal framework of Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Detailed information on legal agreements and the customs duties schedule can be found at the website of the Eurasian Economic Commission.
The new Kazakhstan Customs Code and the Customs Code of the Eurasian Economic Union implemented several progressive provisions intended for simplification of customs procedures, integration of information technology (IT) initiatives, and reduction of ‘red tape’ issues in customs control procedures from January 2018. In April 2018, full-scale electronic declaration was launched for all customs procedures through Information System ‘Astana – 1’. The Customs Code of the Eurasian Economic Union conceptually changed the definition of a ‘customs declarant’, which may significantly impact business models of supply chains and logistics. Finally, the new provisions allow an entity that is qualified as an ‘authorized economic operator’ to apply simplified customs procedures.
Customs duties apply to goods imported to the CU countries from third countries. Customs duties rates are established either based on a percentage (in general, ranging between 0% and 40%; higher rates exist for certain goods) of the customs value of goods or in absolute terms in Euros (EUR) or U.S. dollars. Goods of the CU countries should be generally exempt from Kazakhstan customs duties.
In case the owner is sure that the product will be used only on the territory of Kazakhstan, it is possible to clear goods at the WTO rates. If the goods will be exported from the territory of Kazakhstan to the Member States of the EAEU, it is necessary to clear goods at the rate of the CU.
In addition to membership in the CU, Kazakhstan concluded several bilateral and multilateral Free Trade Agreements with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which provide for exemption of goods circulated between the CIS member states from customs duties, provided certain conditions are met. The ATA Carnet temporary import system was recently launched in Kazakhstan, allowing the duty-free temporary import and export of goods for specific purposes.
Kazakhstan continues to maintain tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) on imports of poultry, beef, and pork, as part of its obligations within the CU. Precious metals and stones, encrypted technologies, documents from national archives, and items of cultural value are among the products now subject to export licensing.
The Law on Investments provides customs duty exemptions for imported equipment and spare parts, but only if Kazakhstani produced stocks are unavailable or not up to international standards. In addition, imported equipment and spare parts designated for priority investment projects under governmental industrialization programs are exempted from customs duties.
Other reforms allow foreign citizens to import and declare goods at a port of entry without utilizing domestic customs brokers. Previously, foreign citizens that wished to import goods into Kazakhstan were required to have a Kazakhstani partner. Notwithstanding this reform, foreign citizens may still be required to have domestic customs brokers in order to file electronic customs declarations, unless they have software compatible with the new CU computer system.
Foreign firms can import some items for their own use duty-free including equipment and spare parts imported to implement an investment project, if this equipment is unavailable on the territory of Kazakhstan. Generally, Customs requires that imported goods be placed in a temporary storage warehouse operated by a customs-licensee pending clearance – a procedure that importers claim can add significant costs and delays to customs processing. U.S. firms have noted that the need to present “transaction passports” ranging from document procurements to bank transfers in order to clear their goods with Customs is a significant barrier to trade. Implementation of regulations allowing periodic declarations remains problematic.
Foreign entities cannot deal directly with customs officials in Kazakhstan and are legally required to use services provided by licensed customs brokers having the right to operate in Kazakhstan. A list of licensed customs brokers can be found on the website of the Kazakhstan Association of Customs Brokers.
According to EAEU and Kazakhstan customs legislation, depending on the customs procedure applied, customs declaration involves payment of any of the following:
customs fees set by the national legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan (RK);
import duties set by Eurasian Economic Commission resolutions;
export duties on certain goods, including petroleum products set by national legislation of the RK;
excise duties on certain type of goods according to Kazakhstan tax legislation;
12% import value-added tax (VAT).
In addition, EAEU law considers special, antidumping and protective duties on certain types of goods. Customs payments and taxes are payable to the state budget during customs declaration procedures.
Kazakhstan has a secular constitution. 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.
Possession and use of drugs is illegal; if found guilty, you could face a lengthy prison sentence in basic conditions.
Although homosexuality is not illegal, it is often not tolerated, especially outside the major cities. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
You must carry your passport at all times (not a photocopy).
There are restrictions on photography near military establishments, border areas and some official buildings. Notices about these restrictions are not always indicated. Photographing airport facilities is prohibited. Many of the larger shops and supermarkets also prohibit photography.
You can import a drone into Kazakhstan at airports or land border crossings without a licence. However, unlicensed use of drones in Kazakhstan will attract a fine, detention and confiscation of equipment. You can get a licence to use a drone from the Aviation Committee in Nur-Sultan. Applications for licences should include technical characteristics of the drone and details of planned use (when, where, how long). You can find more information about licensing requirements on the Zakon.kz website (information portal of the Republic of Kazakhstan) (only in Russian).
All goods entering the customs territory of Kazakhstan are subject to declaration and customs clearance at approved customs clearance points. A full declaration of goods must be filed within thirty days of arrival, but a brief declaration and notification on arrival of goods shall be submitted to the customs body within 24 hours after the goods cross the border and are placed at a temporary storage warehouse. With the exception of private persons permitted to transfer goods under a simplified procedure, a customs declaration must be filed by a Kazakhstani entity – that is, a business organization registered under Kazakhstani law or its affiliate or representative located in Kazakhstan, an individual entrepreneur registered in Kazakhstan, or a permanent resident of Kazakhstan. Foreign entities cannot deal directly with customs officials in Kazakhstan and are legally required to use services provided by licensed customs brokers having the right to operate in in the country.
A party declaring commercial goods at a customs office in Kazakhstan for their release for free circulation is responsible for submitting the paper and electronic copies of customs declarations (one copy of each per shipment), as well as accompanying documents. The Customs Cargo Declaration (5 copies) must be completed in either the Kazakh or Russian language. Other documents may be submitted in a foreign language. A customs officer, however, has the authority to request a translation of such documents into Kazakh or Russian as well as a notarization of the translation. In addition to the Customs Cargo Declaration, a party declaring goods is required to submit a set of other documents including invoices, a contract for the supply of goods, an import/export transaction passport and shipping documents (e.g., bill of lading, airway bill, etc.). The passport of transaction is the primary tool used in the framework of the currency control system. The passport of transaction represents a cross-agency document filled out by the exporter/importer and reviewed by customs officials and representatives of the exporter/importer’s bank.
From January 1, 2019, Kazakhstan imposed restrictions on the free of duty import of “personal” goods. The threshold of duty-free importation of goods for personal use of land and sea transport to the territory of the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is reduced to 500 euros, and the total weight of such goods should not exceed 25 kilograms.
As part of its WTO accession in 2015, Kazakhstan agreed to lower 3,512 tariff rates gradually, to an average of 6.1 percent in 2020. Tariffs on agricultural products will see the largest reduction, from 16.7 percent to an average of 7.6%. In January 2016, Kazakhstan began applying lower tariff rates to certain food products, automobiles, airplanes, railway wagons, lumber, alcoholic beverages, pharmaceuticals, freezers and jewelry.
In 2018, Kazakhstan’s Most Favored Nation (MFN) applied tariff rate averaged 7.1 percent. Kazakhstan applies a zero percent rate on approximately 1,900 tariff lines, including livestock, pork, fish products, chemical and pharmaceutical products, cotton, textiles, machinery and equipment, medical vehicles, and some types of airplanes. Kazakhstan’s simple average WTO bound tariff rate is 10.6 percent for agricultural products and 6.4 percent for non-agricultural products. Kazakhstan’s maximum WTO bound tariff rate for industrial products is 19 percent, but not less than 0.68 Euros per cubic centimeter (approximately USD 0.77 per cubic centimeter), while its maximum WTO bound tariff rate for agricultural products is 50 percent, but not less than 0.75 Euros per kilo (approximately USD 0.85 per kilo).
In 2010, Kazakhstan established tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) on imports of poultry and beef to meet its obligations under the Russia-Kazakhstan-Belarus Customs Union (CU), which have continued under the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). In 2012, U.S. exporters raised concerns about the trade-limiting effects of these TRQs and the way they were calculated and allocated. In October 2017, Kazakhstan developed new rules for TRQ allocation that establish clear deadlines and delineate authorities among government agencies. The volume of TRQs is expected to remain unchanged, however. Pork is not subject to a TRQ, and the tariff rate on pork is expected to be lowered from the current 30 percent to 25 percent in 2020.
Cats, dogs and birds (except pigeons) must be accompanied by a veterinarian health certificate with the seal of the local Board of Health and not be issued over ten days prior to arrival. Pets must have been vaccinated against rabies within 12 months and 30 days prior to entry. Pigeons are prohibited from entry. Pets may enter as passenger’s checked baggage, in the cabin or as cargo. Generally pets are not permitted in hotels.
Baggage is cleared at the first airport of entry in Kazakhstan.
Currency Import regulations:
Local currency (Kazakh Tenge-KZT) and foreign currencies: no restrictions. Amounts exceeding USD 10,000.- or equivalent must be declared.
Currency Export regulations:
Local currency (Kazakh Tenge-KZT) and foreign currencies: no restrictions. Amounts exceeding USD 10,000.- must be declared.
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No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.
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.
Most foreign nationals, including those from the UK, are currently prevented from travelling to Kazakhstan. For details of exceptions please see the government of Kazakhstan website
Travellers need to show a coronavirus free certificate issued within three days of arrival.
If you need further information about entry requirements, contact the local immigration authorities or the nearest Kazakh embassy. You should also check with your airline or travel company for the latest information.
Travellers entering Kazakhstan who test positive for coronavirus currently need to self-isolate for 14 days. Those needing medical assistance may be confined in state facilities.
Travellers need to provide details of where they are staying in Kazakhstan and to confirm they will abide by all coronavirus restrictions.
Travellers will be screened by having their temperature taken and assessed for other coronavirus symptoms on departure from Kazakhstan.
A visa is needed to enter Kazakhstan. This is a recent change, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
You should contact your nearest Kazakh Embassy for further information.
Make sure you have the right visa for the purpose of your travel, especially for business visas or work permits. Check the validity dates of your visa and any associated restrictions carefully before you travel.
Anyone who has overstayed their visa needs to apply to the local migration service for an extension and may have to pay a fine.
As of 10 January 2020, it is the responsibility of the host person or hotel to notify immigration authorities of a foreigner’s arrival. The notification should be made within three working days from the date of the guest’s arrival in country and can be done online on the Visa and Migration portal or in writing to the Migration Service.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of three months beyond the expiry date of your visa. Your passport should also have at least 1 blank page for your visa.
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry (together with a valid visa), airside transit and exit from Kazakhstan. If using an ETD to leave Kazakhstan, you may need to get an exit visa from the Migration Service (formerly the OVIR). This process can take five working days or longer. Check with the Migration Service for more information before confirming your travel plans.
Dual nationality isn’t recognised in Kazakhstan. If you enter Kazakhstan on a Kazakh passport and also hold British nationality the British Embassy can only provide very limited consular assistance. In cases of arrest or detention, consular access is unlikely to be granted.
The government of Kazakhstan imposes limits on how much foreign currency can be imported or exported, and certain goods are subject to custom regulations. For further information please visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Most visits are trouble-free. However, mugging and theft occur in cities and rural areas. Foreigners can be targeted.
There have been a number of violent attacks and muggings on the expatriate community in Atyrau and Aktau in western Kazakhstan, and in Nur-Sultan and Almaty. Attacks have largely taken place at night, in and around local nightclubs and bars or when arriving at home late at night, as the majority of apartment buildings have dark stairwells and no lifts. Avoid walking alone and where possible pre-arrange transport. Keep valuables in a safe place and out of public view. Avoid travelling in unofficial taxis, particularly at night and alone, or if there is another passenger already in the car.
Robberies have occurred on trains, so always lock railway compartments on overnight trains.
Passenger lists on aircraft are not always kept confidential. There have been instances of people being met from an aircraft by someone using their name and then being robbed.
The following areas of Kazakhstan are closed to visitors unless prior permission has been received from the Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry, with the agreement of the Kazakh National Security Committee:
Do not cross the border into or out of Kazakhstan illegally.
Most land borders are currently closed to foreign nationals due to Coronavirus restrictions.
If you wish to drive in Kazakhstan you should apply for a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP). 1949 IDPs previously issued by the UK may no longer be accepted in Kazakhstan. You can get IDPs over the counter from most UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.
Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus are a single Customs Union so if you’re planning to travel overland in your own vehicle make sure your customs declaration and temporary import licence are valid for the entire period of stay in all three countries. Your import licence can be extended for up to a year if necessary by contacting the customs authorities in any of the three countries.
Service stations are limited outside the main cities. Make sure you take all you need for your journey including water. Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained and in good condition for lengthy journeys.
Many roads are poorly maintained and road works or damaged roads are often not clearly signposted. Driving standards can be erratic. In some remote areas there are often stray animals on the roads. These are especially difficult to see in the dark. In winter, roads can become hazardous due to snow and ice.
Local traffic police only have the right to stop vehicles if an offence has been committed, but you should obey any request from the police to stop. The police officer should complete official papers relating to any alleged offence.
Many cars are not safely maintained and do not have rear seatbelts.
Take care when crossing roads as pedestrian crossings are rarely respected.
The FCDO cannot offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, 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.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation has carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Kazakhstan.
Following a relaxation in the coronavirus lockdown restrictions, flights resumed between most major cities on 1 May.
On 27 December 2019, an internal flight operated by the carrier ‘Bek Air’ crashed in Almaty, killing a number of people. Kazakhstan’s civil aviation authority has suspended the company’s licence. A list of further incidents and accidents in Kazakhstan can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
Local airlines do not always run to flight schedule. Check your actual departure or arrival time in advance. Keep hold of your baggage tags, as you will need to show them when you leave the airport.
Public demonstrations are only permitted when authorised in advance. Unauthorised small-scale public protests do take place occasionally, in contravention of local law, putting participants at risk of arrest. You should avoid any demonstrations or political gatherings. If you become aware of any nearby violence you should leave the area immediately