Customs regulations and required documents
Personal effects import regulations
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 2021, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 12 April and finish on 11 May. See Travelling during Ramadan
Possession and use of drugs is illegal. If you’re 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. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
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.
Military arms and ammunition: permit, issued by the Ministry of Defence of Kyrgyzstan, is required.
Hunting or sporting weapons: permit, issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Police) of Kyrgyzstan, is required.
The import of certain endangered species of plant, live animals and their products is prohibited or restricted under CITES.
For further details please refer to CITES: www.cites.org.
Prohibited: Photographs and printed matter directed against Kyrgyzstan, narcotics (opium, hashish, etc.), fruit and vegetables.
Crew members customs regulations:
The same regulations as for passengers apply.
Cats, dogs and birds must be accompanied by a veterinarian health certificate with the seal of the local Board of Health. The certificate must be issued maximum ten days prior to arrival. Pets must have been vaccinated against rabies within 12 months and 30 days prior to arrival.
Baggage is cleared at the first airport of entry in Kyrgyzstan.
Exempt: baggage of transit passengers with a destination outside of the C.I.S.
Currency Import regulations:
Local currency (Kyrgyz Som – KGS): only allowed for residents of Kyrgyzstan if previously declared when leaving the country.
Foreign currencies: maximum USD 10,000.- or equivalent. Amounts exceeding USD 3,000.- must be declared on arrival.
Currency Export regulations:
Local currency (Kyrgyz Som – KGS): unlimited for residents, if declaration is made.
Foreign currencies: up to the amount imported and 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.
British Passport holders are able to enter Kyrgyzstan. A negative PCR test from no more than 72 hours before your arrival by air is now needed for foreign citizens to enter Kyrgyzstan. If your journey is delayed and your results are outside the 72 hour period you will need to have a further PCR test on arrival. Requirements could change at short notice. Check with your airline before travel. For any questions on entry or exit requirements you should contact the relevant Kyrgyz authorities on +996 312 881 618.
You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
Passengers may have their temperature tested on arrival. However if you’re showing symptoms of Coronavirus you may be taken to state medical facilities. You’re likely to be subject to temperature checks, and other medical observation on arrival, and could be asked to self-isolate at home.
For any questions on visa and registration requirements, you can contact the Kyrgyz visa service for information on your individual circumstances at [email protected] or +996 312 66 30 70 and +996 702 42 88 65 (WhatsApp).
There is no registration requirement for British nationals entering Kyrgyzstan under the visa free regime intending to stay less than 60 days. Foreign citizens can currently stay in Kyrgyzstan indefinitely without a visa, even if registration has expired.
The Kyrgyz government has announced that foreign citizens and stateless persons can currently stay in Kyrgyzstan indefinitely without a visa, even if registration has expired. If you need to extend your period of stay on the basis of obtaining a visa (work permit, family ties, or other grounds) the visa centre is willing to consider the possibility of obtaining visas without leaving the Kyrgyz republic.
If you’re outside Kyrgyzstan and have an application waiting for consideration please email the Kyrgyz Visa Centre at [email protected].
If you need further information about entry requirements or visa issues, visit the MFA visa website or contact the local immigration authorities.
You can contact the Kyrgyz visa service at [email protected] or +996 312 66 30 70 and +996 702 42 88 65 (WhatsApp).
For the latest information on new measures introduced by the Kyrgyz government, see the Kyrgyz government official website, and the Coronavirus response team telegram channel (Russian and Kyrgyz only).
You should also be aware that neighbouring Kazakhstan has introduced visa requirements for foreign nationals. See more information on the Kazakhstan Travel Advice Page
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Kyrgyzstan and must have at least 1 full blank page if you’re applying for a visa. This rule is not applicable when entering Kyrgyzstan under the 60 day visa-free regime.
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.
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
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 calendar days. If you’re staying for more than 60 calendar days you must register within 5 days of entry into Kyrgyzstan and you must register for the period of validity of your visa.
In April 2019, Kyrgyzstan simplified the process of registration for foreigners. Foreigners can now register through the electronic services portal (available in Russian and Kyrgyz only) instead of at the counter at the State Registration Service office. Under the new amendments, foreign citizens can act as a host and register visitors staying in their homes. The registration coupon with QR-code on the forms can be obtained online and printed on a regular printer. Mobile applications will be developed for reading the information.
Demonstrations occur regularly in Bishkek and elsewhere across the country. Most demonstrations pass peacefully but on occasion can turn violent, sometimes with little or no warning. You should avoid all crowds and demonstrations and, maintain a low profile. Follow updates on local media and any instructions from the police or other authorities.
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.
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. In October 2020 there were protests in Osh and Jalal- Abad following parliamentary elections though these remained peaceful.
Tensions exist over recognition of the Kyrgyz/Tajik borders. There have been a number of security incidents in this region and several gunfire exchanges, the most recent in October 2020.
There are also occasional violent incidents on the Kyrgyz/Uzbek and Kyrgyz/Kazakh border. There is a risk that uncontrolled Kyrgyz/Uzbek border areas may be land-mined. Check in advance which border posts are open.
You should only use officially recognised border crossings. The border can be closed at short notice, particularly near the Vorukh enclave. You should remain vigilant in border areas and check local media reports before you travel.
There are frequent power cuts throughout the country.
You can drive in Kyrgyzstan using a UK driving licence for up to 30 days or an International Driving Permit. If you need an International Driving Permit, from 28 March 2019 you will need to have a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Kyrgyzstan. From 1 February 2019, you can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.
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. There have been cases of sexual harassment and assault on public transport.
Internal flight services currently operate between Bishkek, Osh, Jalalabad and Batken.
All Kyrgyz airlines are banned from operating services to the EU because they do not 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). On occasion British government staff have also used Avia Traffic flights where no other option is available.
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 in Kyrgyzstan often involves travelling to very remote areas. There is a high risk of avalanches, landslides and rock falls. Weather can change very quickly, including with heavy snowfall blocking roads and trekking routes in the autumn and winter. 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 do not trek alone. In remote areas, mobile phone coverage is extremely limited, and any medical facilities basic.
There is a limited mountain rescue service staffed by volunteers, but the rescue equipment they have is limited.
If you’re considering setting up an investment or doing business in Kyrgyzstan it is essential to research carefully, including looking into potential business partners thoroughly. You may also want to consult a local lawyer. Kyrgyzstan is ranked 124th of 180 countries on the 2020 Transparency International Global Corruption Index. Although there are British companies operating successfully in Kyrgyzstan, there have been a number of instances of British people getting into difficulties, including having assets stolen or being physically attacked. Getting redress through the Kyrgyz legal system can be slow and getting judgements implemented can be very difficult. The British Embassy is not able to get involved (including offering advice) in private disputes over property, employment, commercial or other matters.
There is a list of local lawyers and translators available on our website. There are also a number of business associations in Kyrgyzstan that may be able to offer you advice. If you get into difficulties due to the actions of state bodies you can also contact the office of the Business Ombudsman.