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Travel Security Advice for Tajikistan

Tajikistan_National_Flag

tajikistan_mapTajikistan_Overview


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Tajikistan remains the poorest of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia.  It is a nominally constitutional, democratic, and secular republic, dominated by President Emomali Rahmon who has been in power since 1992.  Tourist facilities are undeveloped and many goods and services usually available in other countries are unavailable.  Read the Department of State’s Background Notes on Tajikistan for additional information.



REGISTRATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Tajikistan are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at the Department of State travel registration page in order to obtain updated information on local travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency.



ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:  

A valid passport and visa are required to enter and exit Tajikistan, as well as for registration at hotels.  The visa should be valid for the entire period of stay in country, through departure, and travelers should ideally request visas that allow for changing travel dates.  Failure to produce a valid visa will require the traveler to leave the country immediately.  Travelers planning to arrive in Tajikistan from countries that have Tajik embassies or consulates must obtain Tajik visas abroad prior to their travel.  Tajikistan is represented by embassies and consulates in the following countries:  United States of America, United Kingdom, Afghanistan (Kabul, Mazori Sharif), Austria, Belarus, Belgium, China, Egypt, Germany, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), and Uzbekistan.  Travelers arriving in Tajikistan from countries in which there are no Tajik embassies or consulates must have Tajik visa support, in the form of a letter from the Tajik Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) confirming that a visa may be issued, in order to receive a Tajik visa at the Dushanbe International Airport upon arrival.  Travelers also need to have two passport-size photos, a visa application form (2 copies), and a passport valid for at least six months following the duration of the planned stay in Tajikistan.  Travelers arriving without these documents may be denied entry and deported from Tajikistan.  Visas issued at the Dushanbe airport are normally valid for only 45 days.  This “upon arrival” visa service does not apply to any other Tajik airports or land borders.  Receiving a visa at the airport may also entail some waiting time at the Consular bureau at the airport, which in rare cases may not even be staffed.  

Most travelers staying in Tajikistan three days or longer must, within three days of arrival in Tajikistan, obtain registration stamps at the MFA or the Department of Visas and Registration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (OVIR), depending on whether the purpose of the visit to Tajikistan is for official or personal travel.  The only exception to this rule is holders of “tourist” visas (normally marked on visa stickers with a letter “T”), who are staying in Tajikistan for up to 30 days.  Tourists do not need to register with OVIR, unless they decide to extend their stay, in which case they should register prior to the 30 day limit.  Holders of all other visa categories must register with the MFA or OVIR within three days of arrival in Tajikistan.  A few hotels in Dushanbe are also allowed to register foreign citizens staying at those hotels.  Immigration authorities may deny the departure of travelers who failed to register their visas until after they have paid a fine and obtained the registration stamps at the MFA or OVIR.

In order to receive visa support, an organization inviting a traveler to Tajikistan must submit a request to the MFA at least two weeks in advance of the planned travel date to Tajikistan.  Persons planning to arrive in Tajikistan at the invitation of a private Tajik resident (e.g., a friend or relative in Tajikistan) need to obtain a notification letter from OVIR.  According to OVIR, it may take up to 45 days to obtain the notification letter.  The MFA will issue Tajik visa support on the basis of the OVIR notification letter.  The inviting party should send a copy of visa support to the traveler.  The original MFA visa support will be sent to the Consular bureau at Dushanbe airport. 

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, persons traveling at the invitation of Tajik organizations or travel agencies, who are applying for visas at Tajik embassies or consulates abroad, will be able to obtain single-entry Tajik visas valid for 45 days upon direct submission of their visa request to the Tajik embassy or consulate (without a visa support letter).  With the issuance of visa support, travelers applying for visas at Tajik embassies or consulates abroad will be able to obtain multiple-entry visas valid for a longer time.  Visa validity depends on what is written in the visa request and the MFA visa support form and on the visa type.  For example, staff of international organizations in Tajikistan can receive visas valid for up to one year; individuals who are going to visit friends or relatives in Tajikistan can receive visas valid for up to three months; those applying for “student” visas can receive visas valid for up to nine months. 

Travelers who would like their visas extended need to apply for extension in advance through the MFA (official travelers) or OVIR (tourist or commercial travelers).  Entry into the Gorno-Badakhshan region, both from inside and outside of Tajikistan, requires special authorization in advance in addition to a valid Tajik visa.  Travelers can obtain this authorization at Tajik embassies and consulates abroad, or by applying to the MFA or OVIR once in Tajikistan.  Tajik authorities advise that sponsoring organizations in Tajikistan submit requests for travel authorization for the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region at least two weeks in advance of the planned travel.  The Tajik MFA or OVIR will list the names of the settlements and cities in Gorno-Badakhshan which the traveler plans on visiting in the travel authorization stamp.  The Gorno-Badakhshan travel authorization is not written on the Tajik visa; it is a separate notation placed in the recipient’s passport.

The government of Tajikistan requires visitors who remain in country for more than 90 days to present a medical certificate showing that they are HIV-free, or to submit to an HIV test in Tajikistan.  HIV is a growing health threat in Tajikistan.

Visit the Embassy of Tajikistan web site for the most current visa information.

Transit Visas: Travelers intending to transit through Russia en route to a third country must have a Russian transit visa if they are planning to leave the transit area of the airport.  Travelers who plan to leave the transit area for any reason or who need to change airports for an onward destination will be asked to present a transit visa issued by a Russian Embassy or Consulate. In these cases, Russian authorities may refuse to allow a U.S. citizen who does not have a transit visa to continue with his or her travel, obliging the person to immediately return to the point of embarkation at the traveler’s own expense.

Note: Departure options from Tajikistan may be limited in an emergency.  U.S. citizens, their family members, and their dependents can maximize departure options by obtaining extended visas for travel to countries with reliable connections to Tajikistan, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Russia.  Other destinations, notably Turkey, offer several flights a week and do not require American citizens to obtain visas in advance.  Please note, however, that in emergency situations, flights may be suspended.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.



THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY:

Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), al-Qaida, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement remain active in Central Asia, as do anti-Western, anti-Semitic extremist organizations such as Hizb’ut-Tahrir.  These groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. Government or private interests in the region, including in Tajikistan.  Terrorist attacks involving the use of suicide bombers have previously taken place in neighboring Uzbekistan.  Insurgent activity in neighboring Afghanistan could also affect the security situation in Tajikistan.

Minor explosions have occasionally occurred in Dushanbe in the last two years.  These explosions have usually happened at night.  In July 2009, explosive devices detonated near Dushanbe International Airport and Hotel Tajikistan and in a major market south of town.  In June 2007, an individual threw a grenade at the Supreme Court building.  Witnesses and unofficial reports indicate that three guards were killed, although no official reports confirmed this.  In November 2007, a small explosive killed an individual outside the Kokhi Vahhdat conference center in the center of Dushanbe.  In both cases, no individual or organization claimed responsibility and authorities continue to investigate.  Also in November 2007, a small improvised explosive device destroyed the official car belonging to the Commander of the President’s National Guard.  Incursions along the Afghan border have resulted in shootings and kidnappings; however, most are believed to be related to narcotics trafficking.  None of these incidents have indicated the targeting of Americans or Westerners.

In general, criminal groups and terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.  Because of increased security at official U.S. facilities, terrorists are seeking softer civilian targets such as residential areas, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, hotels, outdoor recreation events, and other venues.  The limited number of facilities catering to Westerners in Tajikistan presents a heightened risk.  American travelers should also avoid demonstrations and large crowds.  Demonstrations and mobs are rare in Tajikistan since the 1992-1997 civil war, and police reaction to such behavior is unpredictable.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs' website,

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.



CRIME:

The level of criminal activity in Dushanbe is high.   Of significant concern is the inability of Tajikistan’s law enforcement entities to provide adequate and immediate assistance.  Lack of manpower, low salaries, and inadequate training all contribute to a lack of professionalism among law enforcement entities.  Tajikistan’s struggling economy and high unemployment have resulted in incidents of street crime, including pick pocketings, muggings and armed robberies.  Alcohol-related incidents such as bar fights and drunk driving are common.  Criminals are not deterred by the risk of confrontation and tend to operate in groups of two or more to decrease their chances of arrest.  When crimes do occur, they can be violent in nature.  Additionally, the lack of a free media and the infrequent public outreach between the government and the public through the media does not provide the average citizen current and accurate information to make informed decisions about safety.  Government statistics are typically inaccurate because many crimes are not reported to law enforcement organizations.  Often police refuse to open minor or routine cases that seem too difficult to resolve. 

Crimes of opportunity can occur against anyone, and the Embassy reminds visitors to be careful and cautious in their own personal security, whether within the city limits of Dushanbe or in the more remote areas of the country.  Americans should be aware that danger increases after dark, and they are advised to use caution when traveling alone or on foot after dark.  The U.S. Embassy encourages visitors to travel in pairs and to notify colleagues of their whereabouts when not working, especially during evening hours.  Travelers are also encouraged to carry a copy of their passport (separate from their wallets) to speed up issuance of a new passport in case of theft.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.  Transactions involving such products are illegal under local law.  In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.  More information on this serious problem is available at the Department of Justice website.



VICTIMS OF CRIME: 

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see end of this sheet or see the Department of State list of embassies and consulates).  This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Tajikistan is:

01 - Fire, 02 - Police, 03 – Ambulance

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.



CRIMINAL PENALTIES: 

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.   Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States

Persons violating Tajik laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Tajikistan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.



SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Tajikistan has a cash-only economy.  International banking services are limited, but ATM machines have been installed in various locations.  Cash is dispensed in both U.S. and local currency.  Few establishments in the country accept credit cards and none accepts traveler's checks.  Tajikistan's national currency is the Somoni, which is convertible.

Tajik customs authorities may subject all items that are imported into or exported from Tajikistan to a high level of scrutiny.  The Government of Tajikistan may enforce strict customs regulations against those who import and export goods.  The export of antiques and cultural valuables requires special permission.  There are also currency restrictions.  Travelers must fill out a Customs Declaration Form upon arrival in Tajikistan, have it stamped by Tajik customs officials at the port of entry and retain the form until departure to demonstrate that the travelers are not leaving Tajikistan with more money than they brought into the country.  Please contact the Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan in the United States, 1005 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20037; telephone (202) 223-6090, fax:  (202) 223-6091, or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for specific information about customs requirements.

The Republic of Tajikistan does not recognize dual citizenship with most countries, including the United States (except with Russia, where dual citizenship is regulated by a special interstate agreement).  Dual nationals who attempt to leave Tajikistan on U.S. passports without valid Tajik visas in them are likely to have problems with immigration authorities upon departing Tajikistan.

Travelers to Tajikistan are subject to frequent document inspections by local police.  U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to carry copies of their U.S. passports, Tajik visas, and visa registration at all times (including while traveling within Tajikistan) so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity,  U.S. citizenship, and valid visa status in Tajikistan are readily available.  Always check your visa and registration validity dates so that these documents can be renewed if necessary before they expire.  Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest, including many government buildings, may result in problems with the authorities.  In accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and certain bilateral agreements, local authorities must grant a U.S. consular officer access to any U.S. citizen who is arrested.  U.S. citizens who are arrested or detained should ask to contact the U.S. Embassy immediately.

Travelers to Tajikistan should keep in mind that rationing of electricity is an ongoing practice in Tajikistan especially during the colder season of the year (i.e. from September to March).  It is not unusual for parts of the capital city Dushanbe to be without electricity during night hours and sometimes during daytime hours at this time.  Outside of the capital city during these months, the supply of electricity may be more severely limited.

Tajikistan is an earthquake-prone country.  General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).



MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: 

The quality of Tajikistan’s medical infrastructure is significantly below Western standards, with severe shortages of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics.  Many trained medical personnel left the country during and following the civil war.  Elderly travelers and those with pre-existing health problems may be at particular risk due to inadequate medical facilities.

Significant disease outbreaks are possible due to population shifts and a decline in some immunization coverage among the general population.  There have been outbreaks of typhoid in the Dushanbe area and in the south of the country, an outbreak of Congo Crimea hemorrhagic fever to the west of Dushanbe, and the risk of contracting malaria, cholera, and water-borne illnesses is high.  Throughout Central Asia, rates of infection of various forms of hepatitis and tuberculosis (including drug-resistant strains) are on the rise.  Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Tajikistan.  For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.

It is advised to drink only bottled or thoroughly boiled water while in Tajikistan.

The government of Tajikistan does require all foreign citizens applying for visas valid for over three months (with the exception of persons applying for diplomatic, official, investors and humanitarian types of visas) and all visitors who remain in country for more than 90 days to present a medical certificate from a medical facility in their country or in Tajikistan showing that they are HIV-free, or to submit to an HIV test in Tajikistan (if they are already in Tajikistan without such a certificate).  HIV is a growing health threat in Tajikistan.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC website For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) websiteThe WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.



MEDICAL INSURANCE: 

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to determine whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.



TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: 

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  The information below concerning Tajikistan is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Travel to, from, and within Tajikistan is difficult and unreliable.  Neighboring countries may unilaterally close borders and some borders are poorly delineated.  Armed police or military checkpoints can make road travel outside of Dushanbe more difficult.  Crossing the Tajik-Uzbek border, in particular, has been known to present difficulties for drivers operating vehicles with non-Tajik government-issued plates.  Road travel should be undertaken only in daylight hours and on routes known to the traveler or a reliable escort.  Those traveling to Gorno-Badakhshan by car should do so only during daylight hours.  The roads traverse mountainous terrain along the Afghan border that is difficult to navigate, even in daylight hours.  Public transportation vehicles in the city are often overcrowded and not always safe.  If you are driving, be vigilant because pedestrians often tend to cross the street at inappropriate places or walk along the highway without paying attention to vehicular traffic.  Bus services between major cities have been severely disrupted by border closures and should not be relied upon.  The State Traffic Inspectorate (GAI, or in Tajiki, BDA), which has checkpoints in many cities and at regular intervals along all highways outside the city, frequently stops vehicles for inspection of the vehicle and the driver’s documents.

During the winter months, the potential dangers when traveling outside of Dushanbe in the mountainous areas of the country are heightened.  Every year, accidents and casualties occur on Tajikistan’s mountain roads and passes, often when drivers ignore warnings not to travel over a closed mountain pass.  Avalanches are a common occurrence in Tajikistan’s mountains during the winter months.  The tunnel bypassing the Anzob Pass is still not complete and travel via this construction project is not advised in any season.  Please exercise caution and limit winter travel to Tajikistan’s mountain regions.

In certain parts of the country, including in the Vakhsh and Rasht valleys and along the Afghan-Tajik border, land mines and cluster munitions form an additional hazard.  If an area has land mine warning signs, or is marked off with red and white plastic tape, heed the warning and do not venture off the road.  In all cases, do not pick up or handle anything that looks like unexploded munitions.

Emergency phone numbers in Tajikistan include:  fire – 01, police – 02, ambulance – 03, state traffic control (GAI) duty officer – 235-45-45.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.



AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: 

As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Tajikistan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Government of Tajikistan’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards.  Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.



CHILDREN'S ISSUES: 

Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.



EMBASSY LOCATION: 

Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State list of embassies and consulates.

U.S. Embassy Dushanbe


109A Ismoili Somoni Avenue
Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Telephone: 992-37-229-2000
Consular Direct Line: 992-37-229-23-00 and
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Facsimile:  992-37-229-20-50
Emergency after hours: 992-90-770-10-32

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Tajikistan dated December 09, 2008, to update the sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Threats to Safety and Security, Crime, Special Circumstances, and Medical Facilities and Health Information.


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding Tajikistan HERE.......

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassies Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens)............

There is also a Malaria Warning for Tajikistan HERE......

Regards

The SW Team.........

 

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