Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.
The Kyrgyz Republic draws on a combination of Central Asian and Russian cultural influences, and customs may depend on the ethnicity of the person with whom you are meeting. It is customary to shake hands and call people by their first name and patronymic (adaptation of the father’s first name) at business meetings and at informal gatherings, though use of just the first name is also acceptable. Business attire is generally a suit and tie for men, and a suit or business dress for women. Refreshments are usually served at business meetings - coffee, tea and water are the norms. Small gifts (pens, company logo pins, portfolios, and books) are frequently given at the end of an initial meeting as a token of appreciation. Business cards are the norm, often printed in both Russian/Kyrgyz and English.
Scheduling meetings, especially official ones requiring to go though established protocol channels, can be difficult, but this is also the norm. It can sometimes take weeks to get a response to an e-mail, fax, or a telephone message request for a meeting. Once contact has been established, patience is still required to confirm a date and time to meet. It is not uncommon for meetings to be cancelled last munite with no explanation.
Kyrgyzstani businessmen are generally less direct than American businessmen. What can be accomplished in a few meetings in the U.S. might take more in the Kyrgyz Republic, requiring patience, some understanding of local cultural aspects and discipline on the part of the American. An experienced and competent interpreter can be invaluable in business meetings.
Though the Kyrgyz tend to be Muslim, business travelers with experience in Islamic countries will find the country to be very secular, and many practices that exist elsewhere in Muslim world are not widely observed here, although this is slowly changing. It is quite common for ethnic Kyrgyz to consume alcohol at dinner functions or receptions and not refuse from pork-containing dainty.
Please consult the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs web site, http://www.travel.state.gov, or the Embassy’s website, https://kg.usembassy.gov/, for current travel and consular information, including the most recent Consular Specific Information for the Kyrgyz Republic.
All U.S. citizens residing in or visiting the Kyrgyz Republic are encouraged to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Enrollment in the STEP greatly facilitates our ability to locate you in the event of an emergency. The STEP also allows us to replace your passport quickly if it is lost or stolen, or contact you in case the Embassy or your relatives need to pass you an urgent message. We will release information about you to others only in accordance with your wishes (as stipulated by the U. S. Privacy Act of 1966).
The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek is located at:
171 Prospect Mira, Bishkek 720016
Telephone: +996 (312) 59 70 00.
You must have a valid U.S. passport to visit the Kyrgyz Republic. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into the Kyrgyz Republic and must have at least one full blank page if you are applying for a visa.
A visa-free regime for citizens of some states, including the United States of America, was introduced in July 2012. U.S. citizens are permitted to enter the country for tourism for up to 60 days without a visa; U.S. citizens who intend to stay in the Kyrgyz Republic beyond 60 days must register with their district State Registration Service Office (Passport Desk) (State Registration Service). It is illegal to engage in religious activity, beyond attending weekly services, on a tourist visa. Travelers should apply for the correct category of visa for their purpose of travel. For the most up-to-date visa information and information regarding entry/exit requirements, contact the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic.
Individuals traveling to the Kyrgyz Republic to perform religious work or work in affiliation with any religious organization in any capacity are required by national law to declare so on their visa applications, and must obtain a work visa and register with the Office of Religious Affairs after arrival. The Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens traveling in the Kyrgyz Republic also obtain Kazakh visas, as commercial air travel out of the Kyrgyz Republic is limited and U.S. citizens may need to travel through Kazakhstan to return to the United States. Travelers intending to transit through Russia in route to a third country must have a Russian transit visa. Even travelers who are simply changing planes in Moscow or another international airport in Russia for an onward destination will be asked to present a transit visa issued by a Russian Embassy or Consulate.
Russian authorities may refuse entry to travelers who do not have transit visas.
Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors and foreign residents in the Kyrgyz Republic. The law states that visitors staying more than one month must present evidence that they are HIV-negative. This restriction has not been actively enforced, but enforcement could begin without notice. Please verify the status of this requirement with the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic before you travel.
The Kyrgyz Republic allows travelers to enter and exit the country with up to the equivalent of 3000 USD. For sums greater than 10,000 USD , a customs declaration is required.
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.
The som is the official currency of the Kyrgyz Republic. The use of U.S. dollars, particularly for informal activity, is still prevalent in the country, despite recent legislation that outlaws the publication of prices in dollars. Debit and credit cards are common in Bishkek and Osh. ATMs are common throughout the country, though less so in rural areas. Visa and Mastercard are commonly accepted.
Telephone coverage in the Kyrgyz Republic remains less than universal and internet connections are not ideal in remote areas, but there is significant progress in providing high speed internet in the largest cities. As in developing countries with poor telecommunications infrastructure and regulations, the number of cellular users has surpassed the number of landlines. Most business travelers with roaming capabilities will have no problem using mobile phones here. Both landline and cellular rates in the Kyrgyz Republic are higher than in Europe, especially for domestic long-distance and international calls.
Business travelers can obtain internet access via most hotels, sometime for a charge. Wi-Fi at cafes is becoming more and more common in Bishkek and Osh. Fast and reliable internet is available in most apartments in Bishkek.
Bishkek is the Kyrgyz Republic’s main transportation hub. Most business travelers arrive into Bishkek via Istanbul (Turkish Airlines), Moscow (Aeroflot) or Dubai (Fly Dubai). It is roughly a six-hour flight from Istanbul and Moscow and just under four hours from Dubai. For up-to-date travel information, it is best to check the websites of the airport in Bishkek for arrival/departure schedules. Osh now receives flights from Istanbul as well, but with much less frequency.
Several operators offer daily flights between Bishkek and Osh. Jalalabad and Batken also have regular flights from Bishkek and Osh.
Despite a national movement to encourage the use of the Kyrgyz language, Russian is still widely used predominantly in larger cities and especially in business. English is uncommon, though younger business people often have at least a basic grasp of the language. Though good interpreters demand a premium price, business travelers are well advised to ensure they have a qualified interpreter in business meetings.
Medical care in the Kyrgyz Republic is limited and well below North American and Western European standards. Basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics can be in short supply. Besides the shortage of medical supplies and poor infrastructure at public hospitals there can be difficulties for foreigners with communicating to medical personnel, especially elderly experienced doctors, due to lack of knowledge of English. Private clinics may offer more modern equipment or have English-speaking staff, although at a somewhat higher cost than state-run facilities Elderly travelers and those with pre-existing health problems may be at risk due to inadequate medical facilities. Most resident Americans travel to Western Europe for serious medical treatment. Such travel can be extremely expensive if undertaken under emergency conditions. For this reason, all visitors are strongly advised to carry medical evacuation insurance that includes overseas hospitalization coverage and emergency air ambulance evacuation insurance. There are many private insurers that offer these types of services such as: www.medjetassist.com/ or www.internationalsos.com/en/.
Although the U.S. Embassy cannot provide medical assistance or care to private citizens visiting the Kyrgyz Republic, there is a link to medical resources in Bishkek on the consular section of the Embassy’s website. No medical facilities in the Kyrgyz Republic take U.S.- issued insurance cards so be prepared to pay cash or, in some locations, with a credit card. You may be refused service at some hospitals if you cannot pay in cash at the time of service. Travelers requiring prescription medications or specific brand-name medicines should bring sufficient supplies with them and not rely on local availability.
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 hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877- 394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website.
Further health information for travelers is available at World Health Organization - International Travel and Health.
Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays
The Kyrgyz Republic is 10 or 11 hours ahead of ES, depending on the time of year. (The Kyrgyz Republic does not observe Daylight Savings Time.) Business hours are normally 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Local holidays can be found on the Embassy’s website, but travelers are also advised to confirm dates with contacts in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings
As a rule, officials give temporary imports full conditional exemption from import duties and taxes. For goods to qualify as “temporary entry,” the importer must identify them so customs authorities can ensure that the ones presented for re-export are the same as those originally brought in. Products that cannot be identified under this definition (such as electricity), cannot be placed under the temporary import regime.
Travel Related Web Resources
- State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs
- State Department Visa Webite
- U.S. Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic
Embassy of The Kyrgyz Republic, Washington, DC