Useful Tips for Travelers to Uzbekistan
Preparing for your trip to Uzbekistan
To ensure that your choice of departures, tours and hotels are available, we highly recommend an early reservation, especially during the high seasons, which run from mid April through mid June and from the end of August through late October. Before the trip to Uzbekistan you can make an online reservation using our online reservation form. To give our guests good impressions from a trip to Uzbekistan we try to organize small groups, usually not more than 10 - 15 participants per guide and tour leader
How to get to Uzbekistan
Travel by plane or train
The most convenient way to get to Uzbekistan is to travel by plane to Tashkent, the capital of the country, from the main international airports of Europe, Asia and Middle East. Tashkent is served by several international airlines. National company Uzbekistan Airways offers regular flights to London, Birmingham, Amsterdam, Athens, Frankfurt am Main, Paris, Peking, Bangkok, Delhi, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, New York, Seoul, and Tel Aviv. Further, In addition Uzbekistan Airways offers flights to many destinations within the CIS and Uzbekistan. Also you can get to Uzbekistan by train, this kind of trip.
Customs Declaration Forms
Upon arrival at any international airport or land border of Uzbekistan make sure that you fill out 2 (two) copies of the Customs Declaration Form (“Entry Custom Declaration Form”) at the customs check point. Please make sure to accurately indicate all types and exact amounts of foreign currency you are carrying and declare all valuables, including expensive items such as jewelry, electronics and photo equipment. One copy of the Entry Custom Declaration Form is kept by the customs officer, and the second copy is stamped and returned to you. You are strongly advised to keep the second copy of the Entry Customs Declaration Form until departure, as it contains information about the amount of valuables and foreign currency being brought for your trip to Uzbekistan. Upon departure, travelers will be permitted to take out valuables and foreign currency up to the amount indicated in the Entry Customs Declaration Form. There is no “Green Line” at Uzbek custom check points.
All foreign nationals are required to register if they stay longer than 72 hours in Uzbekistan. If you are staying at a hotel, registration is done automatically when you check in (although a few budget hotels are not allowed to handle this service). Your hotel will give you a registration slip, which you should carry in your passport at all times for the duration of your trip (If you run into trouble with the authorities, they will want to see your registration slips). If you are staying at a private house, you and your host must register in person at the local OVIR office (Department of Visas and Registrations) within 72 hours of arrival.
When leaving Uzbekistan at passport control your passport and visa validity will be checked. Sometimes the immigration officer might also request that you show registration forms from hotels or local OVIR office. So make sure to have your hotel registration slips handy (preferably clipped into your passport) when you pass through passport control.
Uzbekistan tourism has been actively developed during the past few years, making the trip to Uzbekistan more comfortable. Many good hotels were built in Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and other big cities, which comply with modern hotel standards. In addition, there are some family-run hotels and B&B hotels which offer a suitable accommodation at much lower price. Most hotel rooms are equipped with a shower, private bath, air conditioning, telephone, satellite TV with international channels like CNN, BBC, ESPN.
Cash and travelers checks
It is possible to exchange US Dollars, Euros, UK pounds and Japanese Yen into Uzbek soums at banks and exchange offices in hotels. Exchange offices and banks do not accept hard currency banknotes that are old, worn out, have handwriting on, torn, lined or wrinkled. Such banknotes are accepted only in one branch of National Bank of Uzbekistan in Tashkent for about a 10% fee. It is extremely difficult to change soums back into dollars at reasonable exchange rates, so it is advised that you spend what soums you have before leaving the country. American Express Travelers Cheques are not recommended during your trip to Uzbekistan, as they draw hefty fees and cannot be exchanged at favorable rates.
Credit Cards and ATM Machines
Credit cards are not widely accepted in Uzbekistan outside of upscale restaurants and hotels in Tashkent. Shops, restaurants and local transport prefer to be paid in Uzbek soums. Some upscale hotels in Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara accept Visa cards. Master cards are less frequently accepted. ATM machines are not widespread in Uzbekistan. Upscale hotels in Tashkent usually have separate ATMs for Mastercard and Visa cards that dispense US dollars, but one or both are often out of order or out of cash. A few banks in Tashkent across the country have ATMs that accept Visa or Mastercard as well, although they are subject to the same uncertainties. Always have a backup plan. A more reliable way to get dollars is to go to a local bank and get a cash advance on your credit card. A few banks accept Visa cards (UzKDB Bank, National Bank of Uzbekistan, RBS Bank), while only Asaka Bank can perform Mastercard cash advances. Banks charge 2 to 4% of the amount being withdrawn for this service.
Bank working hours: from 09:00 till 16:00, lunch break from 13:00 to 14:00
Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
Exchange offices working hours: from 08:00 till 18:00 and 24 hours in big hotels.
Departure from Uzbekistan
Preparing for departure
The departure procedure at the airport is straightforward: Check in for the flight, go through customs (please see Customs Declaration Forms instructions for departure) and passport control, pass through security and board the plane. For international flights travelers are advised to arrive at the airport 2 ½ to 3 hours before their departure time. Before leaving the hotel for the airport please check the following documents: passport, registration forms provided by hotels or OVIR (the police branch that handles visas and registrations - see "Registration", below), Entry Customs Declaration Form, air-ticket and validity of Uzbekistan visa in your passport. If your Uzbekistan visa expired before your day of departure, the penalty at the airport at departure applied might be up to US$ 3,000. If you need to extend your visa please contact Advantour in advance (at least 5 days before your departure).
Upon departure at the customs checkpoint you will be requested to fill out 1 copy of the Customs Declaration Form. Please make sure to indicate the all types and exact amounts of foreign currency you are carrying and declare all valuables. Remember, you are allowed to take out valuables and foreign currency up to the amount indicated in the Entry Customs Declaration Form, filled out upon arrival. In case if traveler has more cash than it was declared upon arrival, travelers will have to prove the source of the money (ATM receipt or any other bank documents). When source cannot be proved, money will have to stay in Uzbekistan, traveler will be requested to leave the exceeding amount with friends, travel agency, or even can be confiscated if there is no one to leave the money with. It gets more complicated if you lose the Entry Custom Declaration Form, you may not be able to take out any amount cash or valuables. At customs you may be requested to show declared valuables and recount foreign currency indicated in Customs Declaration Form.
Handicrafts and souvenirs
At the customs checkpoint the customs officer might request to see any handicrafts and souvenir items you have bought in order to ensure you are not illegally exporting items of cultural value or antiques. If you are bringing such items out of the country be sure to have proper documentation. For other souvenirs, it's a good idea to have a receipt or certificate from the shop that states that the item is mass-produced. If you don't have a certificate, there is an expert from the Ministry of Culture of Uzbekistan on duty at the airport who is tasked with inspecting suspected items. An "inspection fee" must be paid on site; the amount of the fee depends on the nature and value of item being inspected. During your trip to Uzbekistan it is advised to keep receipts and request certificates of items that may have cultural value and/or look like antique. Items that have cultural value and souvenirs out of Uzbekistan:
- Antique items (carpets, ceramics, suzanis, musical instruments, paintings, etc) that were created 50 (fifty) or more years ago are not allowed to be taken out of Uzbekistan.
- Items of cultural value that were made within the last 50 (fifty) years (including fully handmade artwork, exclusive handicrafts, artwork that contains precious metals and stones, items or fragments of items found during archeological excavations, ancient books, musical instruments, and various kinds of weapons that have historical or cultural value) require a special certificate from the Ministry of Culture of Uzbekistan in order to be taken out of Uzbekistan. If you have bought any items of cultural value, please contact your agent at Advantour in advance.
Mass-produced items - ordinary souvenirs, machine-made suzanis, carpets, embroidery products made within last 50 (fifty) years - require no special certificate. However, to prove that such items are indeed mass-produced you should get a receipt or certificate stating such from the shop where you purchased the item. If a customs officer has doubts about whether or not items you are carrying have cultural value, and you cannot produce the necessary documentation, he or she will ask the expert from the Ministry of Culture on duty at the expert to inspect the item. The inspection fee must be paid on-the-spot in cash by the owner of the item in question. The amount of the fee depends on size and value of the item. The minimum fee starts from about 25,000 Uzbek Soum.