Kyrgyzstan Bishkek 2002.08.26 - 08.31

Uzbek Visa

Our criticisms of the Uzbek Embassy in Bishkek and Kyrgyz Concept (the agent who arranged Wes' "Visa Support" document) are founded. Between misinformation, disorganization, failure to inform, and failure to deliver on promises, these 2 outfits are the epitome of traveler frustration. We use this page to document issues we encountered so people applying for an Uzbek Visa in the future can hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls. None of these rules are documented at the travel agents or the Uzbek Embassy, although the process seems to be fairly consistent.

The following applies to everyone except the Japanese. Japanese passport holders, see Additional Information below.

  1. Letter of Invitation (called Visa Support by Bishkek travel agents and called TELEX by the Uzbek Embassy): Every nationality except Japanese require a Letter of Invitation to apply for an Uzbek tourist or transit visa. This Letter of Invitation can be arranged through a local travel agent or over the Internet with a travel agent in Tashkent (capital of Uzbekistan).

    Travel agents in Bishkek charge between US$25~40 for a Letter of Invitation. Application requires a photocopy of your passport, and a rough "intended" hand-written itinerary of travel in Uzbekistan. Since we wanted a 1-month visa, we simply listed all the main cities in the country and allocated dates to them that bridged a full month. This is completely acceptable. The wait time to receive the Letter of Invitation by fax is 7 to 10 days (including weekends). When on the road, the only advantage to using a local travel agent is that they will receive and hold your fax while you visit other parts of Kyrgyzstan.

    If you have a fax machine, contacting a travel agent in Tashkent directly for the Letter of Invitation is cheaper. Many agents in Bishkek use Tashkent based Sairam Tourism (Tel: +998-71-133-4411, Fax: +998-71-120-6937, Email:, Web:, but individual travelers have complained about Sairam's lackadaisical customer service. The Lonely Planet recommends Parus Travel (Email: Travelers who requested Letters of Invitation over the Internet complained of having to correspond for 2 months (this might be exaggerated) before receiving their Letter of Invitation. The delay, however, is most likely partially the fault of both parties. Surely, being prepared to fax a copy of your passport with travel itinerary (as stated above) will save loads of time. The cost seems to be a standard US$25.

    The received Letter of Invitation is simply a 2-page fax. Page 1 says, "Visa Support" across the top, the company name with tel and fax numbers of the issuing travel agent in Tashkent, the start and end dates of the granted support, and the name of the traveler. Page 2 is a fake lodging voucher with the city names to be visited, an ambiguous accommodation entry that says "1BRD", and the number of travelers: "1 pax". Oddly, the traveler is not identified on this voucher.

    There are 2 possible pitfalls at this stage. The first is delay in receiving the Letter of Invitation. Every agent promises a maximum of 10 days. A problem that can arise is a rejection of requested travel dates due to a national holiday sometime during your intended stay. In this case, agents request you purchase an expensive tour package for them to issue the Letter of Invitation. Oddly again, agents in Bishkek who arrange Letters of Support regularly fail to recognize this potential issue and blindly make promises with the assumption that all will go smoothly. Email and confirm many times to ensure there are no issues.

    The other pitfall is receiving a Letter of Invitation with start and end dates different from your expectation. There isn't much you can do to avoid this problem.

  2. Other documents: In addition to the Letter of Invitation, you need a photocopy of your passport, (if in Bishkek, a photocopy of your Kyrgyzstan Visa or if you don't need one then a photocopy of your Kyrgyzstan OVIR registration stamp), and a completed Uzbekistan Visa Application Form. Get the application form off the Internet or pick one up at any travel agent in Bishkek. Don't bother going to the Uzbek Embassy to get a form because there's no way to gain admittance.

  3. With Letter of Invitation, photocopies, and Visa Application in hand, an appointment with the Uzbek Embassy (in Bishkek at least) is needed to enter the embassy to submit the paperwork. Official hours for submission are Tuesday - Friday, 10:00-13:00 but in fact, the Consul works from about 10:30 - 12:45. Some work days, in fact, the Consul chooses not to work at all, and at 10:30 the secretary pokes her head out the door and shouts some excuse in Russian with orders to return tomorrow. One day the excuse was that the Embassy would have no electricity for the day (even though the rest of the city did). We suspect the Consul was too drunk to work or had a hangover. Without an appointment, it still may be possible to submit paperwork after everyone with an appointment is finished. Sometimes the security guard only admits those with appointment. Appointments are made by telephoning the Embassy (Tel: 66-30-78 in Bishkek) anytime between several days before to the morning of the desired paperwork submission day. Only Russian is spoken.

  4. Passport and paperwork are submitted in the morning. For those who have a Letter of Invitation (called TELEX by the embassy), the visa is issued at 15:00 that afternoon. In the afternoon, you are told how much the visa costs. For a 1-month visa, the cost seems to be US$65 for US passports, $70 for German and some other European passports, US$60 for Australian passports, US$15 for CIS passports, and US$0 for Japanese passports. One-week and two-week visas are slightly cheaper. Everyone pays an additional Ks 100 (about US$2.20) Embassy service fee.

Note to USA passport holders:

In the US, you can get a 4-year multiple-entry Uzbek Visa for US$45. Each entry allows a 30-day stay. This option does not seem to be possible at Uzbek Embassies outside the US.

Additional Information for Japanese passport holders:

Our pitfalls

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