Once upon a time, Uzbekistan was a real hassle to visit. Travelers faced labyrinthine and opaque visa processes, expensive letters of invitation and complicated registration requirements. Luckily, those days are long gone. Uzbekistan now makes life as easy as it can for tourists, starting with a streamlined visa process.
With these reforms, it’s never been easier to travel to Tashkent and visit the glorious Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. Read on to see if you need a visa to visit Uzbekistan and how to go about getting one.
Most nationalities get a one-month visa-free stay
More than 60 nationalities now qualify for visa-free travel to Uzbekistan. Whether entering the country by air or land, most eligible travelers can stay in Uzbekistan for up to a month. Countries covered by the scheme include the UK, EU countries, Turkey, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Israel and most Latin American countries.
Former Soviet countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia are allowed to stay for 90 days visa-free; citizens of Kyrgyzstan get 60 days. Oddly, US citizens over the age of 55 also qualify for visa-free travel, though if you are under 55, you’ll need to apply for a visa.
Note that all visitors to Uzbekistan should have a passport valid for at least six months from the date of arrival in Uzbekistan.
E-visas are easy to obtain for other nationalities
Citizens of around 70 countries that are not covered by the visa-free travel scheme can apply for an e-visa online, which is a lot more convenient than going to an Uzbekistan embassy in person. This includes citizens of the USA under the age of 55, and visitors from India, China and Thailand. The application process is generally quite easy and takes only a couple of days, there’s a US$20 fee. For full details, see the website of Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
When applying for an e-visa, you can apply for a single, double or multiple-entry visa, but the total validity of the visa is only 90 days from the application date, with a limit of 30 days for each entry. You must enter and leave Uzbekistan within this 90-day window. It’s a good idea to print out your visa confirmation once you have received it, to show at airport check-in or at land borders.
Some travelers have reported glitches with the website when uploading photos, making payments or receiving an email activation code. If you can’t get the website to work, you’ll have to get your visa from an Uzbekistan embassy abroad, and in that case, your visa will have fixed entry and exit dates, which you’ll need to confirm when you apply. Find details for Uzbekistan’s diplomatic missions online.
In theory, citizens of most countries are eligible to transit through Uzbekistan for five days visa-free, provided they fly into and out of the country with Uzbekistan Airways. In practice, most people find it easier to get an e-visa.
Visa extensions are tricky to arrange
Unfortunately, visa extensions are still difficult to obtain in Uzbekistan, so it’s best not to put yourself in a situation where you need to extend your stay. It’s almost always easier to go to a neighboring country and then reapply for another 30-day visa; Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and, to a lesser extent, Tajikistan, all offer visa-free entry to most travelers.
Remember to register with your accommodation
The vast majority of travelers stay in B&Bs, hostels or hotels where reception staff will automatically register guests with the authorities. You’ll be given a small paper registration receipt – hold on to these insignificant looking slips of paper, as you can, in theory, be asked to show them when you leave the country, though few people are actually asked for them.
If you stay in private homes or camp out in a tent or campervan, things are much trickier. You’ll need to register at least every three days using the Emehmon online guest registration system. In practice, you’ll need the help of a local to do this, as only Uzbekistan-issued bank cards can be used to pay the 10,000 som daily fee.
Alternatively, you can simply stay in a hotel every three days, and every time you reach a new city, let the hotel staff handle the registration process. You may also be able to pay hotels a few dollars to register you, even if you are not a guest.