Uzbekistan: Travel Information
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Uzbekistan - Consular Information Sheet
January 30, 1998
Country Description: Uzbekistan is a newly independent nation in the midst of profound political and economic change. Tourist facilities are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available. Internal travel and travel to other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), including both air and land routes, can be erratic and disrupted by fuel shortages, overcrowding and other problems.
Entry Requirements: A passport and visa are required. Private travel must be arranged in one of three ways: First, through a travel agency which has a relationship with Uzbektourism; second, via an invitation from a locally-registered firm or organization requesting visa issuance through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; or, third, via an invitation from an Uzbek individual requesting visa issuance through his/her local Office of Exit, Entry, and Citizenship (OEEC). All three methods may take up to a month to process. Visas are issued at Uzbekistan embassies and consulates abroad or, in countries where Uzbekistan does not have diplomatic representation, at Russian embassies and consulates. Visas also are issued upon arrival at Tashkent Airport, but only through the prior arrangement of the sponsoring organization or individual. The U.S. Embassy cannot act as a sponsor for private American travelers.
PLEASE NOTE: Uzbekistan does not honor the 72-hour transit rule allowing travelers with other CIS visas to transit Uzbekistan. The U.S. Embassy recommends that all travelers, even those simply transiting Uzbekistan for less that 72 hours, obtain Uzbek visas before traveling to Uzbekistan.
Travelers without a proper visa cannot register in hotels and will be fined and required to leave the country immediately. Further visa information is available at the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 1746 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036; telephone (202) 887-5300; fax (202) 293-6804.
Registration Requirements: All travelers present in Uzbekistan for over three days must register with OEEC, the Office of Entry, Exit, and Citizenship. Hotel guests are registered automatically, but all other travelers are responsible for registering themselves. Visitors without proper registration are subjected to fines and possible harassment by local authorities. Visitors are required to carry a medical certificate proving they are not HIV-infected, but this requirement is only sporadically enforced.
Medical Facilities: Medical care in Uzbekistan is below Western standards, with severe shortages of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at particular risk due to inadequate medical facilities. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States, and travelers have found that, in some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including provisions for medical evacuation, has proven to be useful. Further information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline, telephone (404) 332-4559 or by visiting CDC's Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.
Health Concerns: Travelers are advised to drink only boiled water, to peel all fruits and vegetables, and to avoid undercooked meat. Due to inappropriate sanitation conditions, travelers should avoid eating dairy products and most food sold in the streets.
Crime Information: Uzbekistan has a low rate of violent crime, but common street crime has increased, especially at night. In urban areas, travelers may find it helpful to take the same precautions against crime that they would take in a large American city. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to the U.S. Embassy. The Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" provides useful information on safeguarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad. Additional information on the region can be found in the Department of State's brochure "Tips for Travelers to Russia and the Newly Independent States." Both publications are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.
Currency Regulations: Most transactions are conducted on a cash-only, local currency (SOM) basis. Credit cards are accepted only at the main hotels and a few shops and restaurants. Traveler's checks can be cashed only into SOM at the National Bank of Uzbekistan. Travelers may wish to bring sufficient dollars to exchange into SOM to cover their expenses. Importation of currency exceeding $5,000 may be subject to a duty. Foreigners must fill out a Customs declaration upon entering Uzbekistan and may face fines upon departure, if unable to produce certificates verifying legal conversion of foreign currency.
Old U.S. dollar bills (prior to 1990), and those in poor condition (with tears, writing, or stamps), are not acceptable forms of currency in Uzbekistan. Although payment in U.S. dollars is required for certain hotel charges, plane tickets, and visa fees, other dollar transactions, as well as black market currency exchanges, are prohibited.
General Standards of Conduct: Uzbekistan is an Islamic nation. Although modest Western-style clothing is appropriate in Tashkent, women should be prepared to dress conservatively in areas outside the capital. In rural areas, women in shorts, pants, short skirts, or sleeveless blouses face the risk of harassment. Men do not wear shorts or sleeveless shirts in public.
Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.
Road Safety and Traffic Conditions: Uzbekistan is plagued by a deteriorating traffic infrastructure. Although roads in Tashkent are relatively well-maintained, many roads outside Tashkent, and particularly those in the Tien Shan and Fan Mountains, are in poor condition and may be passable only by four-wheel drive vehicles. Driving at night can be quite dangerous, as only the main roads in Tashkent are lit, and rural roads and highways generally are not illuminated. Visitors are strongly urged to avoid driving at night outside of Tashkent. Livestock, farm equipment, and carts drawn by animals are often found on both urban and rural roads during the day and at night. Local drivers are not familiar with safe driving techniques. Pedestrians in cities and rural areas cross streets at will, without looking for oncoming traffic. Uzbekistan has a large road police force, which frequently stops drivers for minor infractions or simple document checks. Foreign drivers may face harassment from road police, where minor corruption in the form of solicitation of bribes is commonplace.
Aviation Oversight: As a result of its November 1997 reassessment, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has found the government of Uzbekistan's Civil Aviation Authority to be in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Uzbekistani air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA home page at http://www.faa.gov/AVR/iasa.htm.
Embassy Location/Registration: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Uzbekistan. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is located at Ulitsa Chilanzarskaya, 82. The main telephone number for the U.S. Embassy is (7-3712) 77-14-07; the Consular Section's direct line is (7-3712) 77-22-31. Current information may also be obtained from the U.S. Embassy's website at: http://www.freenet.uz/usis/wwwhcon.htm.
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