Most, but not all, visitors to Kyrgyzstan require a visa, which can be obtained in advance at a Kyrgyzstan embassy or upon arrival at Bishkek airport (not on land crossings) and on international flights from outside the CIS. A few nationalities - eg: Japanese - do not require a visa but are required to register with the Office of Visas & Regulations (OVIR), while others require a visa but do not have to register - most EU countries fall into this category. There are a few countries that need to both register and obtain visas such as India, Iran and Pakistan, and others, mostly CIS countries, that require neither visas nor registration. For most nationalities it is no longer necessary to receive an invitation to apply for a tourist visa. Visas are normally issued for 30 days.
A new law has been signed on July 24th 2012 and has gone into effect on July 27th 2012, giving 60-day visa-free travel for the following 44 countries.
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vatican, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Hungary, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Canada, South Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, United Arab Emirates, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, United States of America, Finland, France, Croatia, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden, Estonia, Qatar, Brunei Darussalam, Bahrain.
All other countries not listed above and nationals of countries listed above intending to travel for a period of more than 30 days are required to obtain a visa support letter from the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs if travelling for business purposes or, if travelling privately or for the purposes of tourism, an invitation letter issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This additional paperwork can be issued, at a price and with some advance notice, by contacting one of the Bishkek travel agents.
Applying for a visa The best advice is to try and obtain a visa in advance in your own country. Visa applications usually involve the following: a valid passport with at least one blank page, a completed application form, one passport-sized photo, the appropriate tee and a stamped, addressed envelope if applying by post. Additional charges are made for an express service.
Countries that do not have a Kyrgyz diplomatic representation may apply at a Kazakh embassy or consulate instead. These include the following: Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
Arriving by air, it may be possible to get a visa at Bishkek Manas Airport.
Visa fees At the Kyrgyz embassy in the UK in London, standard charges are 45 GBP for a 1-month tourist visa and 60 GBP for a 1-month multiple-entry visa. 'Ordinary' visas (ie: business and private visas that require a letter of introduction) cost 40 GBP for 1 month; 60 GBP for 1-month, multiple-entry; 60 GBP for 2-months, single-entry; 110 GBP for 6 months and 140 GBP for 1 year. Applications normally take 5 working days.
In the USA, a 1 -month, single-entry tourist visa costs US$70; a 1-month, double-entry tourist visa US$90; a 3-month, single-entry visa US$110; and a 3- month, double-entry visa US$130. Business visas cost from US$100-300, depending on the period of stay and number of entries. Allow 10 working days for processing.
Visas On arrival Tourist visas are issued on arrival of international flights at Manas Airport in Bishkek. The visa desk is opened for the arrival of international flights from outside the CIS. If planning to arrive by air from a European destination, or anywhere else outside the CIS, this can save a lot of hassle; it is generally cheaper too. Single-entry, 1-month visas cost just US$35; double-entry, 1 month visas are US$55. Be sure to have the exact fee in crisp new banknotes. Visas arc issued and stuck into passports before immigration; the whole process takes only about 10 minutes once the issuing officer has turned up.
Visas in central Asia If possible, avoid collecting visas en route through central Asia as this can involve a lot of hanging around in capital cities and may ultimately represent a false economy in terms of both time and money. For example, the Kyrgyzstan embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan is only open to receive visa applications twice a week and then it takes at least a week to issue the visa. Similarly, the Uzbekistan embassy in Bishkek is infamously unhelpful and a bad place to apply for a visa to that country. This said, applying for a Kyrgyz visa in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is usually straightforward and fairly swift.
Entry and exit stamps In legal terms it is only possible to enter or leave Kyrgyzstan at an approved border post. The stamp on your visa proves that you have entered by such a post and any lack of one in your passport has the potential to cause problems with the authorities. The problem is that at some border posts, particularly those that are less frequently used, they may fail to stamp you in. This happens on leaving the country too (although it is less problematic), with officials claiming that they have no stamp, have run out of ink, or just cannot be bothered. Try and insist, but if they do not have stamp there is not much that you can do about it. If this is the case, make a note of the time and date that you crossed the border (and perhaps also get the officer's name and number) then go to the OVIR in the first big town that you reach and explain the situation where they will, hopefully, stamp your passport. Any dated documentation like a ticket or hotel receipt would also be good to have.
Visa extensions Tourist visas of 30 days may be extended relatively easily in Kyrgyzstan at the OVIR offices in Bishkek, Karakol, Naryn and Osh. OVIR is also where registration needs to be done, although this is now redundant for most nationalities. Extensions are normally for one week, although some claim to have received a month's extension without any trouble. Bring a copy of your main passport page and one or two passport photos. Having a Russian-speaking accomplice is helpful if you do not speak the language as the forms are in Russian only. The fee is in the order of 300som.