Special Travel Circumstances in Kyrgyzstan

The borders between the Kyrgyz Republic and its neighbors are poorly delineated and often unmarked, and several areas are in dispute. Border guards on both sides have been known to apprehend travelers in disputed territories to check travel documents. There have been a number of cases along the Tajikistan and Uzbekistan borders where foreign travelers were detained by immigration officials of those countries because the visitor entered the country without a proper visa, even though the traveler had no intention of leaving the Kyrgyz Republic and entering another country. Anyone traveling in those border areas should be especially careful and it is advised that travelers have a valid visa for the neighboring country.

Kyrgyz customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from the Kyrgyz Republic of items such as antiquities or hunting trophies. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic at 2630 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., 20008, telephone:(202) 338-5141, fax:(202) 742-6501, for specific information regarding customs requirements.

The Kyrgyz Republic is a mostly cash-based economy, although credit cards can be used at major Western-style stores and some restaurants. ATMs are available, although you should use only those installed at bank branches or large, reputable hotels. A hotel or bank may, on occasion, accept traveler’s checks, but the fees can be as high as 20 percent.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passport and Kyrgyz visa with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and citizenship are readily available.

The Kyrgyz Republic is an earthquake-prone country. Flooding is also common at some times of the year and in some locations. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Hunting and trekking are popular sports for locals and tourists in the Kyrgyz Republic; however, U.S. citizens traveling to the Kyrgyz Republic should be aware that hunting in the Kyrgyz Republic without proper licenses is illegal. It is also illegal to import or own firearms in the Kyrgyz Republic without a permit issued by the Kyrgyz government. Foreign hunters who do not have official permission to hunt or take trophies out of the country may face criminal and/or civil charges. Both hunting and trekking infrastructures are underdeveloped with limited services, especially in the high mountainous regions. Avalanches and landslides are common in these mountainous regions, often cutting offvillages for weeks at a time. These villages and hunting areas are in isolated, rugged, mountainous areas inaccessible by the limited rescue services available in the Kyrgyz Republic. U.S. citizens traveling to the Kyrgyz Republic to hunt or trek need to be aware of the risks involved.

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