Kazakhstan visa in Urumqi
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Feb 4, 2013 10:40 PM Last Post By: letemspeak
Feb 2, 2013 4:58 AM
Feb 2, 2013 9:07 AM
It's been a while since I've done this, but average waiting time is around 4 days, and the process is relatively simple. You don't say where you're from so that may affect exactly what you need to submit, but for many nationalities it's just the application, photos, etc etc. Getting in the embassy can feel like a wrestling match with all of the people waiting outside though. Hopefully someone will come along with a recent experience.
Feb 2, 2013 5:17 PM
2Not sure if things have changed but when you get inside Kazakhstan you will see nothing has changed so I would believe the visa process is still the same.
Here it is. Depending on your nationality, you may need an invitation. A tour company can do this. When I went there they charged about $20 US for an invitation letter of which they can email you in a pdf format. You simply print it out and submit it with your passport and money at the embassy. Best to google 'Kazakhstan Invitation' to find a company. You pay them when you arrive in the country so no advanced payment was necessary then. Sorry if this is a bit outdated but it's a worse case scenario.
If you don't want to go through all that, they can issue you what is called a 'Simple Visa' which will get you entry without an invitation. Maybe by paying a little extra for the visa would get you this but it really depends who was on that day. For some reason they just gave me the simple visa (the official must have like me, it can be that simple). The process only took 2 days then but I'm not even sure the embassy will be in the same place now. It was over 10 years ago I went.
Just something extra. If you're taking the bus to the border there was a special foreigner bus then where you pay about 5 times the amount. You can get a local to buy a ticket for you and there's no problem riding with the locals to the border.
Sorry I could't be more help but I thought I would step in and tell you what I did when I took this route back then.
Feb 3, 2013 6:42 PM
3Can you let us know if you believe it's still required to get an LOI when applying for a Kazakh visa in Urumqi. I did this almost exactly three years ago and nothing more than simply submitting the application was required. In fact, this is the first I've ever heard of a Kazakh LOI being necessary anywhere in Central Asia. Nor have I ever heard of anything called a "Simple Visa". Kazakh visas are generally regarded as an easy visa to get in a particularly difficult region. Unless that is, there have been some very recent changes.
When I took a bus from Urumqi to the border, I bought the ticket myself and the bus was 100% Chinese. I've never heard of a tourist bus on this route. This border doesn't really see enough. tourists to make a tourist bus a viable option. From the border there are infrequent share taxis to Almaty. There are also buses and a train that travels direct between Urumqi and Almaty.
Feb 3, 2013 10:36 PM
4Well, things must have changed allot. When I went, all the border regions with Central Asia when leaving from major cities were basically cordoned off by the chines government in a way that channeled foreigners to use the 'foreigner only bus'. None of the ticket vendors at the bus station would let us go by any other so we had to get a local to buy the ticket for us. Anywhere where a little extra money could be made from foreigners the opportunity was ceased. Even getting into Tibet there was a special foreigner ticket which had to be purchased for the same ride everyone else took and it was pretty expensive off memory. I'm glad to hear they've scrapped it.
As for LOI's that was the standard way ten years ago. We faced considerable obstacles entering the country as you only had 72 hours to register and the registry office kept getting moved. They opened the window for about an hour a day and the ques were very long and the fines were big for not registering (hence the incentive for creating obstacles for registration). Anyway, I'm getting off track.
The letter of invitation was for countries where there was not reciprocal agreement with with the Kazakh government. Off memory, most people had to get one then but I think Sweden didn't. Maybe some others too. I hope you don't have to get one but honestly, the best way to ask is to ring one of the embassies in your country. There is probably one in at your capital city or a neighboring countries capital city. I wouldn't deliberately try to mislead you but back then the visa juggle and registration seemed like it was designed to catch you out and make your journey difficult from the beginning. Going to a Central Asian embassy was incredibly stressful. They would try to find anything they could to turn you away and if your $US weren't crispy and bran new and in the right denominations they would turn you away. The next opportunity would be in another week and again, the ques are long. Maybe someone who has been there more recently can update you.. Believe me, it's not Europe.
Hope it all works out for you.. I'm just trying to help give you a clear picture of where you're going. I have this link from Australia which might provide a little more info. Look at the Kazakh embassy website. I was there in 2000. Good luck.
Feb 3, 2013 11:24 PM
5Oh yes, one more thing.
latemspeak.. A simple visa is probably something you will never see. Kazakh people know what this is. Sometimes if there is an official entering the country, business person or if you pay a large enough bribe you can get one of these. It's multiple entry exit and doesn't require an invitation. I mentioned it because if you are entering on some other grounds other than tourism then you may be able to ask for one of these from an embassy in a neighboring country. Corrupt police and officials run the country so extra payment might do wonders.
Feb 4, 2013 10:40 PM
6OK, great to hear your experiences. And it's nice to know that travel in this region, though still not easy, is much less complicated than it was ten or fifteen years ago.
OP, you can always try calling a Kazakh Embassy/Consulate in your home country, but keep in mind different Embassies/Consulates may have different application procedures. In 2009 no LOI was needed to in Urumqi or Beijing (or elsewhere in the region) and the process was relatively straight forward.
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