Do I need a passport or visa to enter?
A valid passport and visa are required. The Embassy of Kazakhstan in Washington, D.C., and the Consulate of Kazakhstan in New York issue visas. The Embassy of Kazakhstan is located at 1401 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036, telephone (202) 232-5488 or 550-9617, fax (202) 232-5845, and the Consulate at 535 Fifth Avenue, 19thFloor, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 230-1900 or 230-1192, fax (646) 370-6334. An invitation is not required for single-entry business and tourist visas, but multiple-entry visas require an invitation from an individual or organizational sponsor in Kazakhstan. The U.S. Embassy in Astana and the U.S. Consulate General in Almaty do not issue letters of invitation to citizens interested in private travel to Kazakhstan. All travelers, even those simply transiting Kazakhstan, must obtain a Kazakhstani visa before entering the country. Travelers should be aware that overstaying the validity period of a visa will result in fines and delays upon exit. Travelers may be asked to provide proof at the border of their subsequent travel arrangements. Travelers transiting through Kazakhstan are reminded to check that their visas allow for a sufficient number of entries to cover each transit trip and to check the length of validity of the visa.
Most visa categories cannot be extended in Kazakhstan. Exceptions to this rule are student visas, visas for medical treatment, visas for permanent residents of Kazakhstan, and work visas, which can be extended in Kazakhstan up to the expiration date of the holder's work permit, a separate document issued only in Kazakhstan. Business visas can be extended domestically if the traveler is in Kazakhstan at the invitation of the Government of Kazakhstan, a diplomatic mission, or an international organization in Kazakhstan. Please note that the application process for work permits—including extensions—requires a U.S. police clearance. It is highly recommended that you obtain the clearance before your travel to Kazakhstan, as it may be difficult to have fingerprints taken in Kazakhstan. For more information about U.S. background checks, please see www.fbi.gov.
Travel to certain areas bordering China and cities in close proximity to military installations require prior permission from the Kazakhstani government. In 2008, the government declared the following areas closed to foreigners: the town of Baikonur and surrounding areas in Kyzylorda Oblast, and the town of Gvardeysk near Almaty. U.S. citizens traveling within Kazakhstan have on occasion reported local officials demanding documentation authorizing travel within their area of jurisdiction, even though they received permission from the Department of Migration Police. U.S. citizens should report any trouble with local authorities to the U.S. Embassy in Astana or the U.S. Consulate General in Almaty.
Registration of U.S. passports is conducted at the same time as the issuance of the visa in one of Kazakhstan's embassies and consulates abroad or at the time of a border crossing. Foreigners traveling to Kazakhstan are required to provide a white immigration registration card to border officials upon arrival to Kazakhstan. These cards can be obtained either onboard aircraft flying to Kazakhstan or at border crossings. Travelers must retain this card throughout their stay in Kazakhstan. Two stamps on the card indicate that the traveler is registered. If the card contains only one stamp, the traveler must register with the Migration Police within five calendar days. As of January 2013, certain hotels in Almaty are also able to register foreign guests. All registrations are valid for three months, regardless of where they are issued. To extend your registration beyond three months, or if you are not sure if you have been properly registered at the time of visa issuance or border crossing, please contact your local office of the Department of Migration Police. Foreigners must inform the Migration Police of changes of address. Foreigners who violate registration rules may be tried before an immigration judge. Penalties for violating registration rules, that include failing to produce a white registration card with proof of registration on departure, include delayed and/or denial of boarding, fines, imprisonment for up to 15 days, and deportation.
Visa rules that went into effect on March 1, 2010, created a visa category for missionaries. Visitors to Kazakhstan engaging in missionary work or other religious activities must register with the Department of Justice office in the region (Akimat) where the activities will take place. This applies even if the religious activities are not the primary purpose of the visit. Attendance at a religious service does not itself require registration, but participation in the delivery of the service may. U.S. citizens have been fined and deported from Kazakhstan for addressing a congregation, leading prayers, and performing religious music without proper religious worker registration. In addition, representatives of faith-based non-governmental organizations are often considered subject to the registration requirement even if their activities are not religious in nature. If in doubt whether registration is required, visitors should contact the Ministry of Justice office responsible for the area of Kazakhstan where they intend to engage in religious activities and request a written decision. Religious worker registration is only valid for the locality where it is granted and visitors must register in each jurisdiction where they wish to engage in religious activities.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for a child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure. All children adopted in Kazakhstan after May 2003 must obtain exit stamps from both the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before departing the country.
Visit the Embassy of Kazakhstan's website for the most current visa information.
Some HIV/AIDS restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Kazakhstan. Visitors applying for a work or residency permit, required for U.S. citizens who wish to spend more than 6 months in Kazakhstan, must submit negative HIV test results with their application to the Migration Police in the city where they intend to work or reside. The results must be less than three months old. The city HIV clinic in the place of registration can conduct the test or may certify test results performed abroad. If the original test results are in a language other than Russian or Kazakh, they must be accompanied by an official translation. If a foreigner tests positive for HIV in Kazakhstan, he or she must depart the country.