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Kazakhstan travel advice

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Risk level

Kazakhstan - Exercise a high degree of caution

Exercise a high degree of caution in Kazakhstan due to crime, including muggings and burglaries.

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Safety and security

Crime

Petty crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs, particularly in urban centres. Almaty has one of the highest levels of street crime in Central Asia. Pickpockets target tourist sites such as:

  • parks
  • shopping areas
  • open-air markets
  • restaurants
  • nightclubs

They also target public transportation, especially buses.

To minimize the risk of becoming a victim of crime:

  • be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially in crowded areas
  • don’t walk or travel alone, especially at night
  • don’t show signs of affluence, such as flashy jewellery
  • don’t carry large amounts of money
  • be vigilant if approached by strangers seeking assistance
  • if you’re threatened, hand over valuables without resistance
  • ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times

Violent crime

Violent crime, such as muggings and burglaries, makes up the majority of reported crimes, which mostly target locals.

Incidents involving tourists typically occur at night outside of bars and nightclubs when tourists are leaving the establishment, particularly in Almaty, Astana and Atyrau. Residences of foreigners have also been targets for burglary.

  • Choose living accommodations that have good security measures
  • When at home, don’t open your door to strangers under any circumstance
  • Keep windows and doors locked at all times

Fraud

Credit cards

Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. When using debit or credit cards:

  • pay careful attention when others are handling your cards
  • use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
  • avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
  • cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
  • check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements

Fraudulent police officers

Thieves posing as police officers have approached foreign travellers and asked them to pay alleged fines.

If you face with this situation, offer to follow the officer to the nearest police station to pay the alleged fine.

Fraudulent airport facilitators

Fraudulent “meet and greet” airport facilitators have lured travellers into cars and requested money.

  • Make prior arrangements with reputable drivers and companies
  • Ask for identification upon arrival

More about overseas fraud

Demonstrations

Demonstrations take place regularly. In recent years, there have been incidents of police arresting protesters. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Terrorism

There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time.

Targets could include:

  • government buildings, including schools
  • places of worship
  • airports and other transportation hubs and networks
  • public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners

Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Be particularly vigilant during:

  • sporting events
  • religious holidays
  • public celebrations
  • major political events, such as elections

Terrorists may use such occasions to mount attacks.

Spiked food and drinks

Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

Women’s safety

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse. 

Her own way – a woman’s safe-travel guide

Tourist facilities

Tourist facilities are limited, especially outside Almaty and Astana. To minimize safety risks:

  • plan adequately
  • avoid travelling alone
  • inform relatives of your itinerary
  • monitor fuel levels to ensure that your fuel tank is never lower than half full
  • have adequate food and water supplies
  • carry a cell phone

Road safety

Road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country. Roads are poorly lit, marked and maintained. Driving conditions are increasingly hazardous during winter. Highways and roads are regularly closed in the winter months due to cold, wind and snow.

Drivers are extremely aggressive and reckless. They don’t respect traffic laws. Pedestrians are also unpredictable. Accidents are common.

  • Avoid driving unless you are familiar with local road conditions
  • Consider hiring a car with a driver

If you choose to drive:

  • don’t drive after dark
  • ensure your vehicle is fuelled prior to making any long-distance trips, as the distances between cities are vast and there are not many gas stations in rural areas
  • pack a weather-appropriate emergency kit

Public transportation

Buses

Buses are often overcrowded and passengers are targets for pickpockets.

Avoid travelling by bus.

Taxis

Passengers have been victims of robbery and assault while using unmarked taxis.

  • Use only officially marked taxis
  • Negotiate the fare with the driver before departure
  • Never share a taxi with strangers

Trains

While rail service is reliable and relatively safe, onboard robberies do occur and railroad officials may be involved.

  • Store your belongings in a safe place
  • Ensure that the compartment door is secured from the inside
  • If you’re on an overnight route, be extra vigilant as other passengers will likely be sleeping in the same compartment, which can increase the risk of theft

Air travel

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

General information about foreign domestic airlines

Unannounced delays and flight cancellations are common in winter due to poor weather conditions. Regional airlines do not always respect reservations.

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Entry and exit requirements

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

We have obtained the information on this page from the authorities of Kazakhstan. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.

Passport

Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.

Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

Regular Canadian passport

Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the expiry date of your visa.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Other travel documents

Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Useful links

Visas

Tourist visa: not required for stays up to 30 days
Business visa: not required (for stays up to 30 days)
Student visa: required

Your host must register your stay with the local authorities, within 3 working days of your arrival, if you are staying for more than 3 days.

Registration portal - Kazakh Ministry of Internal Affairs

You could face various measures if you don’t comply with the terms of your visa, including:

  • warning
  • fine
  • deportation
  • prison terms
  • entry ban

Ensure that your visa corresponds to the type of activity you plan to undertake.

Visas for foreign citizens - Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Registration

Your hosts must notify migration services of your arrival within 3 business days.

If the registration process is not completed within this time frame, local authorities may detain you, impose a fine or delay your exit from the country.

Closed zones

Local authorities have designated all areas within 25 km of a border as “closed zones.”

These closed zones encompass some popular tourist sites, namely:

  • Big Almaty Lake
  • Lake Alakol
  • Sharyn Canyon
  • Monakhov Gorge

The following areas are also closed to travellers, but you may visit them with a special permit:

  • Karaganda province, including the villages of Gulshad and Priozersk
  • Kyzylorda province, including the city of Baikonur as well as the regions of Karmakshinsky and Kazalinsky
  • West Kazakhstan province, including the Bokeiordinsky and Zhangalinsky regions
  • Zhambyl province, including the villages of Gvardeyskiy and Rossavel and Kulzhabasy

You will have to show your passport upon entry.

You may request a permit at the territorial divisions of the Migration Police at the place of your stay. If you attempt to enter these areas without a permit, you are subject to arrest and/or a fine.

Permits for closed zones – Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan

Children and travel

Learn about travel with children.

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

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Health

Relevant Travel Health Notices

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines are right for you.

Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements

Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

Risk

  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.

Recommendation

  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
  • Contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Tick-borne encephalitis

Risk

Tick-borne encephalitis is present in some areas of this country. 

It is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

It is spread to humans by the bite of infected ticks or when you consume unpasteurized milk products.

Recommendation

Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks during outdoor activities.

A vaccine against TBE does exist but is only available in countries where the disease is present.

Learn more on what you can do to prevent tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)

Rabies

Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

COVID-19

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements section.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air..

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Central Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea

Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.

The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.

Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.  

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Central Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, malaria, and tick-borne encephalitis.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that can cause fever, pain and bleeding under the skin.  In some cases, it can be fatal.  It spreads to humans through contact with infected animal blood or tissues, or from the bite of an infected tick.  Risk is generally low for most travellers.  Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals, particularly livestock.  There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in Central Asia, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.

Medical services and facilities

Health care is inadequate. Medical facilities throughout Kazakhstan are scarce. They often have poor hygiene practices and lack basic drugs and equipment.

You will likely need medical evacuation in case of serious illness or injury.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

Medication

Some prescription medication may not be available in Kazakhstan.

If you take prescription medication, you’re responsible for determining their legality in the country.

  • Bring sufficient quantities of your medication with you
  • Always keep your medication in the original container
  • Pack them in your carry-on luggage
  • Carry a copy of your prescriptions

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

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Laws and culture

You must abide by local laws.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.

Drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. 

Useful links

2SLGBTQI+ travellers

The law of Kazakhstan doesn’t criminalize sexual acts or relationships between individuals of the same sex.

However, 2SLGBTQI+ travellers could be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics.

Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Kazakhstan.

If local authorities consider you a citizen of Kazakhstan, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.

General information for travellers with dual citizenship

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Kazakhstan.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Kazakhstan by an abducting parent:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Kazakhstan to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.

Useful links

Dress and behaviour

Kazakhstan is a secular country. However, Islamic practices and beliefs are widespread, particularly in rural areas.

To avoid offending local sensitivities:

  • dress conservatively
  • behave discreetly
  • respect religious and social traditions

Photography

It’s illegal to photograph:

  • military installations
  • government buildings
  • airport facilities
  • border areas

Some large shops and supermarkets also prohibit photography.

Identification

Local authorities may ask you to show identification at any time. Police will arrest you if you don’t carry identification.

  • Carry your passport, visa and other travel documents with you at all times
  • Keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe place, in case it is lost or confiscated
  • Keep a digital copy of your ID and travel documents
  • Consider also carrying a legally certified copy of your visa and registration

Driving

Kazakhstan has a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving.

You must carry an international driving permit.

More about the International Driving Permit

Money

The currency is the tenge (KZT).

The economy is largely cash-based. Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted in urban areas. ATMs are becoming increasingly available in urban centres throughout the country. However, only some ATMs will accept Canadian debit cards.

  • Make sure you have access to local currency in cash while in the country
  • Check with your hotel which payment methods will be accepted

It’s illegal to use foreign currency in financial transactions. Euros and U.S. dollars can be exchanged at authorized currency exchanges. All U.S. dollar bills must have been issued after the year 2000 and be in good condition.

When travelling to Kazakhstan, you must declare:

  • the amount of local currency you are bringing upon arrival
  • foreign currency exceeding the equivalent of US$3,000 in cash 

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Natural disasters and climate

Kazakhstan experiences severe weather conditions, especially in the winter when temperatures can fall below -30°C and strong winds can result in wind chills that make it feel below -50°C.

If you’re travelling outside of urban areas in the winter:

  • keep informed of local and regional weather forecasts
  • ensure you have emergency supplies in your vehicle

Seismic activity

Kazakhstan is located in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes occur regularly, particularly in the Almaty region. Landslides are possible in affected areas, and strong aftershocks may occur after the initial quake. Earthquakes may also trigger avalanches in mountainous areas, especially in the spring.

Avalanches and landslides can make roads impassable, cause power disruptions and disturb other essential services.

If an earthquake occurs:

  • avoid the affected areas
  • monitor local media to stay informed on the evolving situation
  • follow the instructions of local authorities

Useful links

Wildfires

Wildfires are common throughout the country between July and August, when temperatures can reach +40°C.

The air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke.

In case of a major fire:

  • stay away from affected areas, particularly if you suffer from respiratory ailments
  • follow the advice of local emergency services personnel
  • monitor local media for up-to-date information on the situation

Air pollution

Industrial pollution is severe in Almaty and Astana, particularly from November to March, when residents burn coal to heat homes and two coal-fired thermoelectric plants operate.

Monitor air pollution levels, which change quickly, especially if you suffer from respiratory ailments or have pre-existing medical conditions.

During periods of high pollution:

  • limit your activities outdoors
  • monitor local media
  • follow the instructions of local authorities

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Need help?

Local services

Emergency services

In case of emergency, dial:

  • police: 102
  • emergency assistance: 112

Consular assistance

Astana - Embassy of Canada
Street AddressKabanbay, Batyr Street 13/1, Astana, Z05H0A5, KazakhstanTelephone7 (7172) 475 577Fax7 (7172) 475 587Emailastna-consular@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.Canada.ca/Canada-And-KazakhstanServicesPassport Services AvailableFacebookEmbassy of Canada to KazakhstanTwitterCanada in KazakhstanOther social mediaKazakhstan Canada
Consular district

Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Kazakhstan, in Astana, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

Disclaimer

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services.

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