The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that comprehensive travel insurance, including medical insurance, is obtained before travelling to Kazakhstan.
Travellers should note that the Irish Government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains or for expenses incurred by Irish citizens as a result of a personal emergency while travelling. You should ensure that your medical insurance includes evacuation by air ambulance.
You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. If you are planning an adventure holiday (including skiing or climbing in the mountains near Almaty) you must ensure that your medical insurance includes air ambulance evacuation.
Please note that Irish citizens require visas when travelling to Kazakhstan and that these visas must be obtained in advance. It is not possible to obtain a visa on arrival. We also strongly advise all travellers not to overstay their visas.
Safety and Security
Most visits to Kazakhstan proceed smoothly. However, you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be directed against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
Foreign nationals may travel to most places in Kazakhstan, but travel to any "closed territories" or secure area requires advance permission from the relevant authorities. Some military/restricted areas are not clearly marked so care should be taken when travelling away from normal routes.
- A number of bodies were recently found in the Ile-Alatau Nature Reserve near the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border, 30 km from Almaty. Kazakh authorities have opened an investigation. Visitors should exercise caution when travelling in this area.
- Fifteen bodies were discovered in late May at a burnt-out border post near the Kazakh town of Usharal on the Kazakh-Chinese border. An investigation into the incident has begun.
- A number of people were reported to have died as a result of clashes in the towns of Zhanaozen and Shepte in western Kazakhstan on 16 December 2011.
- A number of casualties were reported following an armed attack in the city of Taraz on 12 November 2011.
- Two explosions, which are thought to have resulted in the death of one man, were reported in Atyrau on 31 October 2011.
- Security forces and an armed group clashed in the Temir District of Aktobe on 30 June 2011 and the beginning of July. Three police officers and ten members of the armed group are thought to have died in the attacks.
- An explosion in Astana on 24 May 2011 was reported to have killed two people.
- A suspected suicide bomber attacked the National Security Committee office in Aktobe on 17 May 2011, resulting in one death and injuries to two people.
Those intending to travel to Kazakhstan should avoid flying on airlines subject to the EU operating ban. Further information about this ban is available on the European Commission website at http://ec.europa.eu/transport/air-ban/list_en.htm
At present, with the exception of Air Astana, all Kazakh airlines are refused permission to operate services in the EU because they do not comply with internationally recognised safety standards. It is not known if maintenance procedures on aircraft used for internal or regional flights are properly observed.
International driving licences are valid in Kazakhstan.
Local regulations require you to carry photo ID at all times. You should ensure that you have entered your next of kin details into the back of your passport. If you lose your passport you must report this immediately to the police and get confirmation of the loss in writing. This report will be necessary when applying for an emergency passport from the Irish Embassy in Moscow.
Please note that the Embassy is able to accept applications for new passports, which may take between four and six weeks to be processed in Dublin, but is not able to issue new full passports in Moscow.
You are advised to avoid walking alone at night as there have been incidents of mugging. Keep valuables in a safe place and out of public view. Avoid travelling in unofficial taxis, particularly at night and alone, or if there is another passenger already in the car. The Embassy does not encourage the hiring of private gypsy cabs instead of licensed taxicabs in Kazakhstan.
Robberies have occurred on trains, so always lock railway compartments on overnight trains. As in many major cities, other incidents of crime (involving both foreign and local people) have included theft from vehicles waiting at traffic lights or parked cars, copying of cash or credit cards at fraudulent ATM machines, and spiking of drinks in bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
The local equivalent to the 999 emergency line in Kazakhstan is 103.
Local Laws and Customs
Irish citizens require valid visas for the duration of their stay in advance of travelling to Kazakhstan. For entry requirements for Kazakhstan, please contact the Embassy of Kazakhstan at the following address:
Travellers to Kazakhstan are required to have a form of photographic identification with them at all times, in addition to their migration card. It is also advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport and visa with you and have a copy to hand at all times. Genuine police officials should always present their own credentials when asking someone for proof of their identity.
At airports and border posts, Kazakhstani immigration officials present travellers with white immigration cards. Travellers must retain these cards throughout their stay in Kazakhstan and present them at the airport/border posts on departure.
You are advised not to cross the border into or out of Kazakhstan illegally as the absence of entry/exit stamps will cause problems (e.g. possible detention, fines) when leaving or re-entering the country.
Some restrictions exist on photography near military establishments, border areas and some official buildings. Notices about these restrictions are sometimes, but not always, indicated so some caution is advised.
Although homosexuality is not illegal, it is often not condoned or tolerated, especially outside the major cities.
Travellers are strongly encouraged to declare all valuables on entry in order to avoid paying duty on those items when departing Kazakhstan.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date. There have been reports of human rabies cases in recent years. Cases of tuberculosis have been reported in the Aral Sea and Semipalatinsk regions, as well as in prisons.
Ticks carrying encephalitis are also a problem in mountains and forests, particularly during April, May and June.
Natural Disasters and Climate
An earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter Scale struck near Almaty on 31 May 2012. There have been no reports of any injuries or casualties to date.
Additional Country Information
The Tenge is the unit of currency in Kazakhstan. The approximate currency exchange rate at the time of writing is €1.00: 185 tenge. If you wish to purchase tenge in Kazakhstan, we advise that you take Euro or US dollars to change. All notes should be in good condition. You should only change money at banks, hotels and recognised exchange kiosks. You will need to show your passport and visa to change money. It is an offence to change money from street traders. Most hotels, restaurants and larger shops accept credit cards, but smaller shops and taxi drivers do not. ATMs exist in most major cities. You should bring enough money for your trip. Travellers’ cheques are not normally accepted. US dollars are the most widely accepted foreign currency.
The Embassy of Ireland accredited to Kazakhstan is located in Moscow, in the Russian Federation. The contact details for the Embassy in Moscow are available here.Top