Travel Guide

Kazakhstan Basics

The Basics


Time: GMT +6

Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. The European round two-pin plugs are standard (Type C & F).

Money: The official currency is the Kazakhstani Tenge (KZT), which is divided into 100 tiyin. ATMs are generally accessible in Kazakhstan, with major European and international credit cards, such as Diners Club and Visa, accepted in central hotels, shops, and restaurants.

Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Kazakh, spoken by about 65 percent of the population, is the state language and Russian is an official language used for business, administration, and cross-cultural communication.

Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival in Kazakhstan. No visa is required for stays of up to 30 days.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival in Kazakhstan. No visa is required for stays of up to 30 days.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival in Kazakhstan. A visa is required for stays longer than 30 days.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival in Kazakhstan. A visa is required for visits longer than 30 days.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival in Kazakhstan. A visa is required.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival in Kazakhstan. A visa is required for stays longer than 30 days.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival in Kazakhstan. A visa is required for stays longer than 30 days.

Passport/Visa Note: Most foreign passengers require a visa to enter Kazakhstan. Holders of a letter of invitation (issued by either an organisation or a national of Kazakhstan) can obtain a single-entry visa on arrival, for a stay of up to one month, provided that (i) the visa is pre-arranged by The Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and (ii) they are arriving at Aktau, Almaty, Nur-Sultan, Atyrau or Uralsk airports. The visa fee is approximately USD 80. Additionally, foreign visitors holding tourist visas (i) must be in possession of hotel vouchers covering their period of stay in Kazakhstan, and (ii) if staying longer than 90 days in Kazakhstan, must register themselves at the OVIR (Upravlenie Passportno Visovoi Raboty Registration Office)- it is best to confirm (ii) with their travel agent. Failure to do so will result in penalties upon departure. OVIR offices can be found in large cities in Kazakhstan. Note that if visitors are holding a transit visa, it is also required that they hold onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter Kazakhstan, if arriving within six days of leaving or transiting through an infected area. NOTE: It is highly recommended that travellers' passport has at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: All travellers arriving from a yellow fever area are required to have a certificate of inoculation. It is recommended that travellers to Kazakhstan immunise themselves against hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and update their MMR (mumps-measles-rubella) vaccines. Medical care in Kazakhstan is extremely limited and shortages of essential medical supplies are common, so travellers should take along their own set of essentials. Doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash, regardless of travel health insurance. Blood screening is inadequate and HIV/AIDS is a risk due to contaminated blood or inadequate sterilisation of instruments and needles. Travellers should make sure to have an updated and signed letter from their physician, providing detailed information on what medications they carry and why they need them.

Tipping: Tipping is not customary in Kazakhstan, as a service charge is included in hotel and restaurant bills. However, as more tourists arrive tipping is becoming more common. There is also a fixed charge on taxi and railway transport, so many taxi drivers won't take tips unless travellers insist repeatedly.

Safety Information: The general rules of safety in Kazakhstan are the same as in any other developing country. There are the normal risks of pickpockets and petty crime, and travellers are advised to be cautious of corrupt police. Travellers are advised to be cautious at night in and around clubs and bars. Kazakhstan is generally a very friendly country and foreigners are respected.

Local Customs: Kazakh people are known for their hospitality, respect for elders, as well as a peaceful and tolerant nature. Generosity and cordial behaviour are common in both social and business fields. Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative and travellers should take care not to offend. Greetings between opposite genders should remain verbal and same sex friends may shake hands, or if very close, greet one another with a hug. Possession and use of drugs is illegal and if found guilty, could bring about a lengthy prison sentence. Same sex couples are discouraged from openly showing their affection, because, while same-sex relations are legal, cultural norms prohibit and even actively discriminate against homosexuality.

Business: An experienced and proficient interpreter can be of great assistance at business meetings. Kazakhstan's hierarchal social structure translates into the business environment, so high ranking officials and partners will wish to meet with their equals. It is customary to shake hands and call people by their first names and last names at business meetings, as well as at informal gatherings and small talk commonly precedes any business negotiations. Business attire is generally a suit and tie for men, and a suit or business dress for women; even at informal gatherings formal attire is often expected. The respective parties often give small gifts (pens, company logo pins or books) at the end of an initial meeting as a token of appreciation. Business cards are widely distributed, with Russian and English translations. Many people in Kazakhstan are Muslim and therefore often take breaks from work during the day for prayer; so visitors should consider prayer times when scheduling meetings.

Communications: The international dialling code for Kazakhstan is +7. The city code for Nur-Sultan is 7172. Inexpensive SIM cards are available and are an easy way to communicate both locally and internationally. Free wifi is available in cafes, restaurants and hotels in main towns and cities.

Duty Free: The following goods may be imported into Kazakhstan without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 200g of tobacco products; three litres of alcoholic beverages; a reasonable quantity of perfume for personal use and gifts to the value of US$500 for personal use only. On entering the country, tourists must complete a customs declaration form, which must be retained until departure. This allows the import of articles intended for personal use, including currency and valuables, which must be registered on the declaration form. They must be exported at the end of the stay. Customs inspections can be long and thorough. It is advisable to keep receipts for items bought in Kazakhstan in order to avoid difficulties on departure.