Lonely Planet Writer

Kazakhstan abolishes visa requirements for travellers from 45 countries

Travel to Kazakhstan has just gotten much easier for many as the country has introduced a permanent visa-free scheme. Passport-holders from 45 different countries are now allowed to enter the Central Asian nation without obtaining a visa beforehand.

Alpine landscape with mountains and lake in Kazakhstan. Image: Vasiliy Chishko
Alpine landscape with mountains and lake in Kazakhstan. Image: Vasiliy Chishko

Previously, Kazakhstan had trialled a visa-free scheme in 2014 for visitors from ten countries. The pilot scheme was seen as a success and extended to 19 countries in 2015, with the intention of further extending the scheme over the subsequent years.

In the Pavlodar region of northeast Kazakhstan, horsemen drive their herd to a corral where they'll spend the night. Kazakhs must guard their animals at all times against horse thieves (a time-honored tradition in Kazakshtan) and predators like the steppe wolf. Pastoralists have lived in this region of Kazakhstan for at least 5,000 years. Archeologists have discovered the oldest-known remains of a domesticated horse at a sight located about 100 miles from where I took this picture.
In the Pavlodar region of northeast Kazakhstan, horsemen drive their herd. Image by Ryan Bell / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Starting 1 January, 2017, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry officially lifted visa requirements for nationals of 45 countries, including the European Union and OECD member states, the US, UAE, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, among others. Travellers from eligible states will be able to visit Kazakhstan for up to 30 days without obtaining a visa before arrival.

Astana, Kazakhstan.
Astana, Kazakhstan. Image by Ken & Nyetta / CC BY 2.0

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said, “The policy is designed to promote an even more favorable investment climate in Kazakhstan and develop the country’s tourism potential.” Notably, Kazakhstan is hosting several major international events in 2017, including the Winter Universiade in Almaty  from 29 January to 8 February and Expo 2017 in the country’s capital city, Astana  from 10 June to 10 September.