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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan - Consular Information Sheet
January 4, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Uzbekistan is a newly independent nation in the midst of 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. Internal travel and travel to other New Independent States (NIS), including both air and land routes, can be erratic and disrupted by fuel shortages, overcrowding and other problems. The capital is Tashkent.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required; official invitations from a sponsoring organization or individual are no longer required for American citizens. Visas are issued by Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad. Visitors coming from countries where Uzbekistan does not have diplomatic or consular representation should obtain visas in a third country. Visas are issued at the airport only as a rare exception and only through prior arrangement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at least four business days before arrival.

Note: Uzbekistan has suspended the 72-hour transit rule that allowed travelers with visas from other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States to transit Uzbekistan without an Uzbek visa. All travelers, even those simply transiting Uzbekistan for less than 72 hours, must obtain an Uzbek visa before traveling to Uzbekistan.

Further visa information is available at the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan, located at 1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20036; telephone (202) 887-5300; http://www.uzbekistan.org; or the Uzbek Consulate in New York, located at 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 327A, New York, NY 10017; telephone (212) 754-6178 or (212) 754-7403; http://www.uzbekconsul.org.

REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS: All travelers present in Uzbekistan for over three days must register with the Office of Entry, Exit, and Citizenship. Hotel guests are registered automatically, but all other travelers are responsible for registering themselves. Visitors without proper registration are subject to fines and possible harassment by local authorities. Uzbek law mandates that visitors carry a medical certificate attesting that they are not infected with HIV, however, this requirement is only sporadically enforced.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: American citizens are urged to be aware of an increased threat of terrorist violence in Uzbekistan and the heightened activity and vigilance by the security forces responding to that threat. Restricted personal movement, including the closing of roads to traffic, and frequent document, vehicle and personal identification checks should be anticipated. In August 2000, fighting broke out on the Tajikistan-Kyrgyz and Tajikistan-Uzbekistan borders in response to insurgency activity by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). As a result of operations by government security forces, portions of the Uzbek borders with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan were subsequently closed to civilians and tourists; such closures can be expected if IMU activity recurs in the summer. The IMU has been responsible for several hostage-taking incidents in Kyrgyzstan directly targeting foreign citizens, including Americans. U.S. citizens should remain vigilant with regard to their personal safety.

Americans traveling to or residing in Uzbekistan are urged to contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent for up-to-date information on security developments.

CRIME: Uzbekistan has a relatively low rate of violent crime, but recent attacks against foreigners, including American citizens, indicate that it is increasing. Also, common street crime has increased, especially at night. In urban areas, travelers are urged to take the same precautions against crime that they would take in a large American city.

Although using private cars as taxi cabs is a common practice in Uzbekistan, Americans, especially women and those traveling alone, should not consider this a safe practice. Americans are encouraged to use clearly marked taxi cabs, such as those at hotels.

The loss or theft abroad 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, for 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_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical care in Uzbekistan is below Western standards, with severe shortages of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at particular risk due to inadequate medical facilities. Most resident Americans travel to the West for their medical needs.

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.

Please 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. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that 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, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Travelers are advised to drink only boiled water, peel all fruits and vegetables, and avoid undercooked meat. Due to inadequate sanitation conditions, travelers should avoid eating dairy products and most food sold in the streets. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers 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 Uzbekistan is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Uzbekistan has a developed but deteriorating traffic infrastructure. Although roads in Tashkent are relatively well-maintained, many roads outside Tashkent, and particularly those in the Tien Shan and Fan Mountains, are in poor condition and may be passable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles. Driving at night can be quite dangerous because only the main roads in Tashkent are lit; rural roads and highways generally are not lit. Visitors are strongly urged to avoid driving at night outside Tashkent. Livestock, farm equipment, and carts drawn by animals are found on both urban and rural roads at any hour. Local drivers are not familiar with safe driving techniques. Pedestrians in cities and rural areas cross streets unexpectedly and often without looking for oncoming traffic. Uzbekistan has a large road police force, which frequently stops drivers for minor infractions or simple document checks. Foreign drivers may face harassment from road police, among whom minor corruption in the form of solicitation of bribes is commonplace.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Uzbekistan driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please fax your question to the Uzbek Embassy in Washington, D.C. at (202) 293-9633 or the Consulate General in New York at (212) 838-9812.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Uzbekistan's Civil Aviation Authority as Category One -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Uzbekistan's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site 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 the DOD at telephone 618-229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Uzbek customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import or export from Uzbekistan of items such as armaments and ammunition, space technology, encryption devices, X-ray and isotope equipment, nuclear materials, poisons, drugs, precious and semi-precious metals, nullified securities, pieces of art and antiques of historical value. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Uzbekistan in New York for specific information regarding customs requirements.

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. Persons violating Uzbek laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in Uzbekistan are strict, and offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

CONSULAR ACCESS: Travelers to Uzbekistan are subject to frequent document inspections. Therefore, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passport and their Uzbek visa with them at all times so that they may more readily prove that they are U.S. citizens. In accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and certain bilateral agreements, local authorities must grant a United States consular officer access to any U.S. citizen who is arrested. U.S. citizens who are arrested or detained should ask for the U.S. Embassy to be contacted immediately.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Most transactions are conducted on a cash-only, local currency (som) basis. Credit cards are accepted only at the main hotels and a few shops and restaurants; traveler's checks can be cashed only into som at the National Bank of Uzbekistan. Travelers may wish to bring sufficient U.S. currency to exchange into som to cover their expenses. Importation of currency exceeding U.S. $10,000 is subject to a 1 percent duty. Foreigners must complete a customs declaration upon entering Uzbekistan and may face fines upon departure if unable to produce certificates verifying legal conversion of foreign currency.

Old U.S. dollar bills (prior to 1990) and/or those in poor condition (with tears, writing, or stamps), are not acceptable forms of currency in Uzbekistan. Although payment in U.S. dollars is required for certain hotel charges, plane tickets, and visa fees, other dollar transactions, as well as black market currency exchanges, are prohibited.

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 (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security in Uzbekistan. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, is located at Ulitsa Chilanzarskaya, 82. The main Embassy telephone number is (998 71) 120-5450, fax (998 71) 120 6335; the Consular Section's direct line is (998 71) 120-5444. Current information may also be obtained from the Embassy web site at: http://www.usis.uz/wwwhcon.htm.

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