Kyrgyz Republic - Consular Information Sheet
September 24, 2001
TRAVEL WARNING (Issued September 21, 2001): The Department
of State warns U.S. citizens to defer travel to the Kyrgyz Republic.
The September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States and anxiety
in the Kyrgyz Republic has significantly added to concerns about
the security situation for Americans residing in and visiting
While the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic has been helpful
in ensuring the safety of U.S. citizens, the presence of indigenous
militant groups, including a group designated by the Secretary
of State as a foreign terrorist organization, requires that all
Americans in or traveling through the Kyrgyz Republic take appropriate
steps to maintain their security awareness.
As a result of these concerns, the Department has approved the
authorized (voluntary) departure of non-emergency personnel and
family members of U.S. Embassy personnel in the Kyrgyz Republic.
All American citizens in the Kyrgyz Republic are urged to take
those measures they deem appropriate to ensure their well being,
including consideration of departure from the country. The U.S.
Embassy in Bishkek remains available for emergency American citizen
In July 2001, Kyrgyz armed forces engaged in a skirmish with
armed individuals south of the city of Khaydyrkahan in Batken
Oblast. At least two Kyrgyz soldiers were wounded. In August 2000,
members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a group designated
by the Secretary of State as a foreign terrorist organization,
crossed the Tajik-Kyrgyz border, engaged Kyrgyz security forces,
and took four American climbers hostage. Periodic fighting between
Kyrgyz forces and the IMU has resulted in a number of reported
Kyrgyz fatalities. In 1999, armed IMU militants from Tajikistan
took four Japanese citizens hostage.
The Department of State reminds U.S. citizens that the security
situation in areas of the Kyrgyz Republic to the south and west
of the provincial capital of Osh, and particularly along the Kyrgyz-Tajik
and the Kyrgyz-Uzbek borders remains fluid, volatile and dangerous.
There exists a continuing threat of terrorist violence in the
southern Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan.
Given this situation, U.S. Government personnel are prohibited
from traveling to areas of the Kyrgyz Republic south and west
of Osh and in rural areas along the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border. Due to
the presence of land mines in the Batken Oblast and along the
Kyrgyz-Tajik border, the U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that
American citizens avoid all travel to these areas.
Americans who decide to remain in or visit the Kyrgyz Republic
should exercise maximum caution and take prudent measures. This
includes maintaining a strong security posture by being aware
of their surroundings, avoiding crowds and demonstrations, keeping
a low profile, varying times and routes and notifying the U.S.
Embassy in case of any change in the local security situation
as well as if there are changes in their contact information.
U.S. citizens in the Kyrgyz Republic are strongly urged to register
and obtain updated security information at the American Embassy
in Bishkek. The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek is located at 171 Prospect
Mira, 720016 Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. The telephone number is
996-312-551-241,fax number 996-312-551-264.
For further general information regarding travel to the Kyrgyz
Republic, U.S. citizens should consult the Department of State's
Consular Information Sheet for the Kyrgyz Republic, available
via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov.
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Kyrgyz Republic (formerly known
as Kyrgyzstan) is a newly independent nation in Central Asia undergoing
profound political and economic change. Tourist facilities are
not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken
for granted in other countries are not yet available.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa as well as an
invitation are required. For further information regarding entry
requirements, contact the
Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic at 1732 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20007, telephone (202)338-5141, fax: (202) 338-5139,
or on the Internet at http://www.kyrgystan.org. Americans are
required to register their passports with the Office of Visas
and Registration, of the Kyrgyz Internal Affairs Ministry, within
three business days of arrival in the Kyrgyz Republic. There are
fines for failure to register and fines for late registration.
This requirement does not apply to official delegation members
and bearers of diplomatic passports.
DUAL NATIONALITY: The Kyrgyz Republic does not recognize
dual citizenship. In addition to being subject to all laws of
the Kyrgyz Republic affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may
also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations
on Kyrgyz citizens. For additional general information on dual
nationality, see Dual
SAFETY AND SECURITY: The Department of State urges U.S.
citizens to avoid all travel to rural areas along the Kyrgyz-Uzbek
and Kyrgyz-Tajik borders, and all areas to the south and west
of the provincial capital of Osh. Security conditions in these
parts of the southern Kyrgyz Republic differ from security conditions
in the north, and a threat of terrorist violence in the southern
Kyrgyz Republic continues through the summer of 2001.
Military and insurgent activity created volatile and dangerous
situations in the southern Kyrgyz Republic in the summers of 1999
and 2000. There are land mines in Batken Oblast and near the Kyrgyz-Tajik
border. Hostage-taking incidents involving foreigners have occurred
during each of the last two summers, including one in the summer
of 2000 involving American citizens. All U.S. Government personnel
are prohibited from traveling to areas of the Kyrgyz Republic
south and west of Osh and in rural areas along the Kyrgyz-Uzbek
border because of the volatile security situation in these areas.
NOTE: U.S. citizens should check the Consular Information
Sheets and current Travel Warnings or Public Announcements for
nearby countries, including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan,
and Uzbekistan on a regular basis. The U.S. Embassy in each of
those countries can provide up-to-date information about local
Crime and Safety issues. Information about how to contact each
embassy directly is available on the Internet at the
Consular Affairs home page, http://www.travel.state.gov ,
or by calling the U.S. Embassy, Bishkek.
CRIME: The U.S. Embassy cautions U.S. citizens to exercise
caution in urban areas of the Kyrgyz Republic due to the high
rate of violent crimes against foreigners. Travelers should not
take public transportation or walk after dark, and should be extremely
cautious in or near hotels, bars, parks and all places that attract
an expatriate clientele. The Kyrgyz Republic has a high rate of
violent crime due to unemployment and an increase in the number
of organized gangs. Economically motivated street crime against
U.S. citizens is rising. Common crimes include auto theft, muggings,
and pickpocketing in crowded places such as markets and public
Harassment and extortion by people who purport to be Kyrgyz police
officers are common. According to Kyrgyz law, any person claiming
to be a police officer must show identifying documents on demand.
U.S. citizens should not accept requests by people, whether in
civilian dress or in police uniform, if they have no official
Further, Americans should exercise caution in traveling to Bishkek
from the Kazakh border crossing at Georgievka on the Bishkek-Almaty
road. The Embassy has received several reports of robbery of foreigners
entering Kyrgyzstan by this route. Persons in plainclothes claiming
to be police officers have stopped vehicles and robbed the occupants
under the pretense of a search for contraband.
The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately
to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State's pamphlet,
A Safe Trip Abroad, which provides useful information
on guarding valuables and ways to promote a more trouble-free
journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su
MEDICAL FACILITIES: The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy
in Bishkek maintains a list of foreign and local physicians who
have agreed to give medical assistance to Americans. Basic medical
supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics,
are in short supply in the Kyrzgyz Republic. Elderly travelers
and those with existing health problems may be at risk due to
inadequate medical facilities. Travelers to the Kyrgyz Republic
may find it prudent to consult with medical evacuation companies
regarding costs and insurance rates prior to their arrival. Please
the Consular Affairs Internet home page at http://travel.state.gov
for contact information for air ambulance or medical evacuation
MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs
do not provide payment for medical services outside the United
States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment
for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care
overseas may face extreme difficulties.
Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your
policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation,
and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring
hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States
can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Ascertain whether payment
will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you
will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance
policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for
disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, or by autofax:
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the Center for
Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers' hotline,
at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299),
or via the CDC's
Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
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 the Kyrgyz Republic is provided for general reference
only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Most of the Kyrgyz Republic's road infrastructure consists of
two-lane roads, all of which are in various states of disrepair.
Many local drivers tend to disobey fundamental traffic laws -
such as stopping at a red light. As a result, driving can be very
dangerous. Accidents involving severe injury and/or death are
Drivers must exercise particular caution to avoid uneven pavement,
potholes and open drains and manholes. Night driving should be
avoided, as roads are inadequately lit. In winter, roads are seldom
plowed and ice and snow make the poor driving conditions even
more hazardous. Pedestrians routinely walk in the road necessitating
even greater caution for drivers.
Mountain roads in the Kyrgyz Republic are often narrow and tortuous,
and may close without notice. Guardrails and barriers preventing
falling rocks are often missing. The Bishkek-Osh road is currently
undergoing extensive renovation along much of its length and construction-related
activity can create additional hazards and delays.
The Kyrgyz Republic does not have a roadside assistance infrastructure.
Towing companies do not exist. Although mechanics are available
in cities there is little organized oversight or certification
of their practices or abilities. Rest areas are infrequent and
very primitive. Service stations are generally available in and
near cities, but the fuel they provide may be adulterated or of
Generally, speed limits are 60 km per hour in the cities and
90 km per hour in rural areas. Kyrgyz law mandates that all automobile
passengers wear seat belts and that motorcycle riders wear helmets.
International driving permits are recognized in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Drivers may face harassment by traffic police, who have been
known to demand arbitrary "fines" for purported infractions.
The Kyrgyz Republic has a "zero tolerance" policy for
driving under the influence of alcohol.
Public transportation in the Kyrgyz Republic is limited to buses
and taxis. Travelers should be particularly careful when using
public transportation. Buses tend to be very crowded and can be
unsafe and unreliable. Taxis too can be unsafe and dangerous.
Due to the danger of theft or assault, travelers should avoid
entering a cab that already contains passengers. Taxis are seldom
metered, and travelers should negotiate a fare prior to entering
a cab and be aware that cab drivers often try to charge foreigners
a high fare. Drivers of vehicles that are not taxis are often
willing to drive people for fares, however, U.S. citizens should
avoid using all of these "private taxis" and unmarked
additional general information about road safety, including links
to foreign government sites, see the Department of State,
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
For specific information concerning Kyrgyz Republic driver's permits,
vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact
the Kyrgyz Ministry of Transportation through the
Kyrgyz Embassy in Washington, DC at 1732 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20007, telephone (202)338-5141, fax: (202) 338-5139,
or on the internet at http://www.kyrgystan.org.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial
air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority
to operate such service, between the U.S. and the Kyrgyz Republic,
the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed
the Kyrgyz Republic's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance
with international aviation safety standards.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa. The U.S.
Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air
carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Kyrgyz customs authorities may enforce
strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export
from the Kyrgyz Republic of items such as antiquities or hunting
trophies. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the
Kyrgyz Republic in Washington for specific information at
1732 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007, telephone (202)338-5141,
fax: (202) 338-5139, or on the internet at http://www.kyrgystan.org.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to the 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. Persons violating
the Kyrgyz Republic's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled,
arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking
in illegal drugs in the Kyrgyz Republic are strict and convicted
offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Hunting in the Kyrgyz Republic without proper licenses is illegal.
Foreign hunters who do not have official permission to hunt or
take trophies out of the country may face criminal and civil charges.
CONSULAR ACCESS: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry
a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that,
if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and citizenship
are readily available. In accordance with the Vienna Convention
on Consular Relations and certain bilateral treaties, a consular
officer from the U.S. Embassy must be given access to any U.S.
citizen arrested in the Kyrgyz Republic. U.S. citizens who are
arrested or detained should ask for the U.S. Embassy to be contacted
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: The Kyrgyz Republic is a cash-only
economy. The banking system is not well developed and there are
no automated teller machines. One or two hotels or banks may,
on occasion, accept travelers checks or credit cards but fees
can be quite high for travelers checks, as much as 20 percent.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: The Kyrgyz Republic 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) at http://www.fema.gov.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction please refer to our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living or visiting
the Kyrgyz Republic are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy
and obtain updated information on travel and security in the Kyrgyz
Republic. The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek is located at 171 Prospect
Mira, 720016 Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. The phone number is 996-312-551-241,
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet of August 6, 2001
to incorporate the information about the current Travel Warning
for the Kyrgyz Republic.