Azerbaijan - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel

Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel. 

Last published date: 2021-09-29

Business Customs

A premium is placed on face-to-face contact and close business relations in Azerbaijan.  Business takes time, patience, and often depends on personal relationships.  Companies interested in entering the market should expect to spend a considerable amount of time building trust and may want to consider hiring a local representative.  Delays in communication are common and should not be taken as an immediate sign that a potential partner is not interested.  Azerbaijanis tend to be very polite and hospitable but can appear to U.S. businessmen as vague and noncommittal in business transactions.  Embassy Baku’s Commercial Unit can facilitate communication with potential partners.  Requests for meetings with government officials can take time to confirm and may only be finalized at the last moment.  English is spoken by many in the business community, but Russian is more prevalent.  If possible, consider printing company materials and business cards in Azerbaijani or Russian.  Baku is a cosmopolitan city and western business attire is appropriate.  

Travel Advisory

The State Department issues Travel Advisories when warranted by local conditions.  If you are traveling to Azerbaijan, please refer to https://travel.state.gov for Azerbaijan-specific information.  This site is updated regularly and contains important information for travelers regarding security and safety, health, visa and immigration regulations, and general travel information about Azerbaijan.

Visa requirements

A valid passport and visa are required to enter Azerbaijan.  The visa application fee for an e-Visa is $20.  The application fee for a multiple entry visa is $350 and there is an additional courier fee.  Single-entry visas are available without a letter of invitation, but a multiple entry visa is only issued with an invitation from a company in Azerbaijan which has submitted their invitation for approval to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The list of travel agencies can be found at https://mfa.gov.az/ or on the Embassy of Azerbaijan’s website at https://washington.mfa.gov.az/en

Travelers to Azerbaijan must register with the State Migration Service after arrival if they intend to stay more than 15 days in the country.  Major hotels in Baku will generally assist guests with registration.  Those staying in private homes or lesser-known hotels will have to register themselves.  Registration is the traveler’s responsibility and failure to register can result in a fine of up to AZN 400 ($235), which must be paid before being allowed to depart Azerbaijan.  Registration may be done in person, at an ASAN e-government service center, or online at https://www.migration.gov.az/.

Outside the United States, visas may be obtained online or from any Azerbaijani embassy or consulate.  For additional information on visa requirements, contact the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington:

Potential visitors to the United States are urged to apply for a visa well in advance of their intended travel.  U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process.  Visa applicants should go to the following links:

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s):  State Department Visa Website

Currency

The national currency of Azerbaijan is the manat.  Credit and debit cards are accepted at most major hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, and mid-range shops in Baku, but the economy is still overwhelmingly cash based.  Foreign credit cards are not universally accepted, but most ATMs, particularly in Baku, accept U.S. ATM cards. 

Telecommunications/Electronics

The telephone system in Baku is generally reliable.  International calls can be completed but are expensive.  Cellular communication and roaming for U.S. cell phone services are available.  E-mail and full internet service are available via local internet providers and Wi-Fi is readily available in many Baku hotels. 

Electricity is supplied at 220V 50Hz, with European Standard sockets.  U.S. citizens should acquire an adapter and/or transformer for these outlets if they plan to use U.S. electrical equipment here.

Transportation

Subway: There is a functioning, but limited, subway system in Baku.  It is an inexpensive and quick way to navigate the city, although its stations are not always conveniently located for international travelers. 

Buses: Buses are cheap and plentiful, but are crowded, provide limited route information, and are not always well maintained.  Due to safety concerns, U.S. Embassy personnel may not use local buses.

Taxis: The taxi market in Azerbaijan is highly fragmented with a large number of competing companies operating metered taxis.  There is also an abundance of unregulated drivers.  Metered taxis cost approximately 4-12 AZN ($2-7) to reach most places in and around Baku.  A taxi to the airport from the city center costs approximately $10-30.  It is difficult to find an English-speaking driver, but an international hotel can assist you with doing so.  Ride-hailing service “Bolt” operates in Azerbaijan, but Uber is no longer available.  Unregistered, unmetered cabs are prolific, but fares should be negotiated in advance.

Car Rental: Both Hertz and Avis offer rental vehicles with or without drivers.  If you are considering bringing a vehicle with you from overseas, a 4X4 is recommended given the poor, but improving, road conditions throughout the country and in some parts of Baku. 

Air: There are many flights to Baku, although some routes have been suspended or their frequency decreased.  Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL), Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, and other international carriers all offer flights to Baku.

Language: Business can be conducted in Azerbaijani, Turkish, English, or Russian, with English becoming increasingly prevalent.  However, business travelers should be prepared to hire an interpreter for $100-150 per day, depending on their experience.  Outside Baku, most people speak only Azerbaijani.

Health: The health care system in Azerbaijan is often unable to provide the level of medical care common in the United States.  U.S. visitors should ensure all immunizations and vaccinations are up to date before arriving in Azerbaijan.  There are some clinics that offer a higher standard of medical care, including International SOS Clinic, the Turkish-American Medical Clinic, and MediClub.  World Med Clinic (American Implant Center), a U.S.-Azerbaijani joint venture, provides U.S.-standard dental care.  However, major medical emergencies require a medical evacuation.  All U.S. travelers should ensure that they have up-to-date medical evacuation insurance to cover potential evacuation costs that can exceed $70,000 for transportation alone.

Local time, business hours, and holidays: Azerbaijan does not observe Daylight Savings Time.  Therefore, Azerbaijan is eight hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Savings Time during daylight savings time in the United States and nine hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time when daylight savings is not being observed.  The Government of Azerbaijan does not restrict business hours.  In general, businesses are open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Many business and government offices also keep Saturday hours.  Hours may vary considerably depending on the preference of the individual businessperson.  Business appointments are rarely made before 10:00 a.m.  Lunch is generally taken from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.  The U.S. Embassy is closed for U.S. holidays as well as several Azerbaijani holidays or commemorations.  A complete list of these holiday closures is available at http://azerbaijan.usembassy.gov/holidays.html.  A complete list of official Azerbaijani holidays and commemorations (published by the President’s office) is available at https://en.president.az/azerbaijan/holidays.

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings: Personal items, tools of trade, and business samples can usually be imported with little difficulty.  Foreign currency can be brought into the country but must be declared.  Visitors are allowed to take the same amount of currency out of the country as was shown on the declaration form upon entering the country.  Camera equipment must be declared upon arrival.  All visitors should retain their customs declaration form until departure from the country.