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Kazakhstan - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Kazakhstan. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to crime.
Safety and security
Safety and security
There is a threat of terrorism. Targets could include government buildings, places of worship, schools, transportation hubs and public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners.
On June 5, 2016, attacks occurred in Aktobe, in northwestern Kazakhstan, resulting in multiple deaths. Authorities have declared a nationwide “yellow” alert and have increased security measures on public transportation and in other public areas.
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.
Violent crime against foreign tourists occurs. Robberies occur on public transportation, in parks, shopping areas, open markets and restaurants, and near major tourist hotels and nightclubs. Do not open your door to strangers under any circumstance. Do not carry large amounts of money or travel alone after dark.
Foreigners have been robbed by individuals posing as police officers. If approached, ask to see police credentials.
Men posing as “meet and greet” airport facilitators lure unsuspecting foreigners into cars and demand money. Make prior arrangements with your contacts so they can appropriately identify themselves to you at the airport.
Do not accept food or drinks from strangers. Do not leave your food or drinks unattended in bars or restaurants. Cases of drugging followed by robbery have occurred.
Foreigners have been the target of violent attacks and muggings when leaving bars, nightclubs and other recreational establishments at night in Aktobe, Almaty, Astana and Atyrau. Avoid walking alone after dark and make transportation arrangements with a reputable company before leaving such venues.
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Use only officially marked taxis, pre-negotiate the fare and do not allow other passengers to ride with you.
Aggressive driving, poorly lit, marked and maintained roads and obscure signs make driving hazardous, especially in winter. Driving after dark is dangerous. The Cyrillic alphabet is used on road signs.
Hire a car with a driver.
Due to the vast distances between cities and the lack of gas stations and other services in rural areas, you should fully fuel your vehicle and pack a weather-appropriate emergency kit before leaving major cities.
Routine and strict border controls on the road between Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, make travel in this region more difficult.
While rail service is good, onboard robberies often occur and railroad officials may be involved. Store your belongings in a safe place and do not leave the compartment unattended. Ensure that the door is secured from the inside.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Unannounced delays and flight cancellations are common in winter due to poor weather conditions. Reservations on regional airlines are not always respected.
General safety information
Identification checks are common and police will arrest visitors who do not carry identification. Carry photo identification, as well as a legally certified copy of your visa and registration, with you at all times. Keep your passport and visa in a safe place and leave a photocopy of your travel documents with a relative or a friend at home.
Tourist facilities are limited, especially outside Almaty and Astana.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the authorities of Kazakhstan and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan for up-to-date information.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Kazakhstan, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians can enter Kazakhstan without a visa for up to 30 days. For stays longer than 30 days, you must obtain either a single- or multiple-entry visa. Single-entry visas allow visitors to remain in Kazakhstan for up to 90 days, while multiple-entry visas are valid for up to three years with a maximum of 30 days per entry.
When obtaining a visa, ensure that the visa corresponds to the type of activity you plan to undertake, as visa infringement is punishable by prison terms and deportation. For a full description of visa types and categories, consult the Kazakhstan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
You do not need a letter of invitation for stays longer than 30 days if you are applying for A3, B1, B3, B10 and B12 visa categories. Travellers with all other categories of visa must obtain an invitation for stays longer than 30 days.
Migration card and registration
You must complete a migration card and register with local authorities upon arrival at international airports in the country. A national border control officer of the Kazakh National Security Committee will affix an entry stamp on your migration card, while a port official will affix a second stamp, the registration of foreign citizens. Ensure that your migration card has these two stamps before leaving the passport control area. If you arrive at any other port of entry, a national border control officer only puts an entry stamp in your card, and you must register at the nearest Migration Police office within five calendar days of arrival. If you do not complete the registration process, you may be fined, detained and refused exit from the country.
Authorities have designated all areas within 25 km of a border as “closed zones,” and you must apply for a special permit to visit them. Closed zones include Alakol Lake, Big Almaty Lake, Sharyn Canyon, Monakhov Gorge and most other popular tourist destinations. Some areas within the provinces of Karaganda (Gulshad and Priozersk villages), Kyzylorda (city of Baikonur, and the Karmakshinsky and Kazalinsky regions) and West Kazakhstan (Bokeiordinsky and Zhangalinsky regions), as well as the district of Zhambyl (Gvardeyskiy and Rossavel villages and Kulzhabasy), are also closed to travellers.
To obtain a permit, valid for one visit only, send a request to the Head of the Almaty Migration Police Department. Indicate the name of the persons intending to visit the site, passport numbers for each person, the exact time and date of the visit, and the name of the site to be visited. If you attempt to enter these areas without a permit, you are subject to arrest and/or a fine.
Health entry requirements
You must provide a medical certificate of a negative test for infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), conducted no more than one month prior to registration, if you are planning to travel or reside in Kazakhstan for more than three months. The certificate must be presented to the Migration Police within three days of arrival and must be translated and certified by a local notary and the Centre for the Prevention and Control of AIDS in Almaty. The HIV test may be done abroad or locally at the centre.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
- Measles: Global Update - May 2, 2017 00:00 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
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.
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.
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 is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
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 (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks (e.g., those participating in outdoor activities in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.
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.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
* 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.
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 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 is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that typically causes fever, bleeding under the skin, and pain. Risk is generally low for most travellers. It is spread to humans though contact with infected animal blood or bodily fluids, or from a tick bite. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals. There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in Central Asia, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
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 provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Radioactive or toxic chemical sites associated with former defence industry installations and test ranges, particularly in the Semipalatinsk Test Site area, pose health risks. These test areas are normally closed to foreigners; if travelling to these areas on organized tours, closely follow the advice of tour leaders.
Medical services and facilities
Medical facilities throughout Kazakhstan are scarce and the quality of care is below Western standards. Medical clinics often have poor hygiene practices and lack basic drugs and equipment.
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.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
An international driving permit is required.
Illegal or restricted activities
There is zero tolerance for drinking and driving.
Possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs may result in jail sentences and heavy fines.
Photography of military installations or government buildings may result in a penalty. Seek permission from local authorities before taking photographs.
The importation of prescription medication is restricted. Contact the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan for more information.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Kazakhstan. If local authorities consider you a Kazakhstani citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
A Kazakh citizen cannot legally be a citizen of another country. Therefore, any Kazakh citizen who obtains another citizenship is legally obligated to surrender their Kazakh citizenship by advising the nearest embassy or consulate of Kazakhstan and returning all Kazakh identification and travel documents within three days of receiving their other citizenship.
Kazakhstan is a secular country but Islamic practices and beliefs are widespread and are most closely adhered to in rural areas. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
Although the laws of Kazakhstan do not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex, homosexuality is not socially tolerated. LGBTQ2 travelers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Kazakhstan.
See Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
The currency is the Tenge (KZT). The economy is largely cash-based. It is illegal to use foreign currency in financial transactions.
Traveller’s cheques are rarely accepted outside large hotels catering to foreigners. Credit cards are widely accepted in urban areas. Euros and U.S. dollars can be exchanged at authorized currency exchanges. All U.S. dollar bills must have been issued after 1995 and be in good condition. You must declare amounts exceeding US$3,000 in cash at border crossings.
Automated banking machines (ABMs) are widely available in Almaty and Astana, and are becoming increasingly available in urban centres throughout the country. Only some ABMs will accept debit cards that use the Plus system.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Kazakhstan is located in an active seismic zone. Avalanches and landslides are possible in mountainous areas, especially in the spring.
Kazakhstan experiences severe weather conditions, especially in the winter when temperatures can fall below -30 degrees centigrade and strong winds can result in wind chill temperatures below -50 degrees centigrade. Highways and roads are regularly closed in the winter months due to cold, wind and snow. Travellers should ensure they prepare appropriately and take adequate precautions when travelling outside of urban areas in the winter.
Industrial pollution is severe in some cities.
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
Astana - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the embassy of Canada in Astana and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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