Not sure about visas yet? Click here for all you need to know about Kazakh visas.
Be aware that you may be fined, asked for a bribe or go to jail at any time during your stay in Kazakhstan for not registering properly, or even if you have registered properly. After being accused of not providing the correct information here, we would like to re-iterate: we are not responsible for any trouble you may get into with the Kazakh police.
In 2017, there has been an increase in bribes solicited from tourists by police officers. This may well have to do with the general increase in foreign tourists in Kazakhstan rather than anything else, though.
Do I need to register?
Registration card and 5-day rule
When entering Kazakhstan, travelers receive a white registration card. You must fill in and retain this card throughout your stay in Kazakhstan. Two stamps on the card indicate that the traveler is registered. If the card contains only one stamp, the traveler must register with the Migration Police (OVIR) within 5 days. If you stay less than 5 days, you do not need registration (arriving at 23:55 counts as a full day!).
If you are traveling on the visa-free regime, legally, it seems you do not need to register anymore since April 2016. However, reports have come in of people still getting proposed jail time or big fines after not registering. This seems to us to be a scam, so be prepared.
Make sure you always get the two stamps on your registration paper (see below). Have your embassy number on stand-by. If you only have 1 stamp and get shooed away by the OVIR saying you only need one, get that in writing with their stamp on it to have a defence against corruption or ignorance.
We have also unearthed a law text that says in vague wording that travelers on visa-free visits do not need to register. You can print it to show to the border guards or police.
Although some people want to see more foreigners in Kazakhstan enjoy themselves, others only want to screw you over and squeeze money out of you. Be very wary of the police.
Not visa-free, but no LOI needed
Until March 2017, the situation was as below. As of now, we are no longer sure.
If you arrive by airplane, you will get two stamps at the airport and you do not need to register with the Migration Police anymore. If you arrive over land or sea, you do need to register if you only get one stamp. Most travelers are able to get 2 stamps directly at a land border nowadays, so registration is not necessary anymore for many. If you only got one, asking nicely has worked well in the past. If they only want to give you 1 stamp, read up on the procedure below.
Need a LOI
Attention! The above does not count for people from countries who are not part of the visa-free or easy visa procedure regime (see the list at the bottom of the Kazakh visa page). Meaning, if you needed an LOI to get to Kazakhstan, you will always need to register, regardless of number of stamps. If you are not on a tourist visa, registration is also mandatory in most cases. Not all, but we are confused about the exceptions. Just try to register.
This can be difficult as immigration might say, no, you already have 2 stamps, get lost. Press on, and say that you need to be registered or you will have to pay a fine or be deported otherwise.
The OVIR offices are generally loud, busy and confusing, especially during the summer. Try to go with a local if you do not speak Russian. All registrations should be free and valid for 3 months, regardless of where they are issued. This means that you can keep your registration card when you leave and enter Kazakhstan again in case you have a multiple entry visa. Many border guards however tend to take your registration card, in which case you will have to register again on re-entering Kazakhstan.
The process: you will need a copy of your passport and your Kazakh visa and the address of the hotel where you are staying at.
There is always a copy shop nearby OVIR. Give your papers to the migration police officer (locating the correct window might take some time even if you speak Russian) and she will hand you 2 forms to fill in your data. Possibly she might tell you that you need to get these forms from the copy shop as well. Hand in the forms, together with your passport. You get one form back, stamped, with which you should return later (the officer will tell you when) to pick up your passport and registration. Later usually means 1 or 2 days later. Sometimes, 15 minutes is all they need.
Since March 2013, it seems possible to register online. You will need the help of a Kazakh citizen. We have not heard of anyone who has tried it yet, and don’t know if and how it actually works.
Try not to register in Astana, Semey or Oskemen (Ust-Kamenogorsk). It seems the OVIR of Astana and Oskemen only give 10 days registration instead of the 30-day rule. Astana in 2015 seems to do 30-day registration (but perhaps only through travel agents).
Address: 109A Karasay Batyr, corner with Baitursynov street
Tel: (3272) 63-86-81 or 62-54-62
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 9-13 and 15-18, Saturday 9 – 13
It is a blue building that stands a bit back between the rest of the houses. The copy shop next to it is a bit more expensive than the one 3 houses down. Window number 3 is for foreigners.
Address: ul. Sakena Seifullina, 29
Address: microdistrict 3, house 123. Go along SE-edge of district and look for house 151. Take the road in there. A bit in there’s an outdoor shop on your left and the OVIR is 20-30 meters further on your right.
Big place with big sign on the facade. You need window 2.
It’s at N50.29661 E57.13868, actually on OSM also, if you know what to search for! Smart red brick building with a blue sign, you can’t miss it.
Address: ulitsa Azattysk 85 – you need a copy of the passport pages with the photo, with the Kazah visa and a copy of the migration slip from the border. You fill in the form on the spot, it takes about 15 minutes, and it is free.
Address: Ermekova 118
Address: 152-154 Kabanbay Batyr Street reached either by tram 70 or bus (bus 17 or 46, probably others as well) along Kazakhstan Street and get off at Green Bazaar opposite Kaztelecom (Kaztelecom is on the northwestern corner of Kazakhstan Street and Kabanbay Batyr Street).
Get onto the same side of the street as Kaztelecom and walk for about 250 metres, you will pass the police station and the OVIR office is next door up some stairs and through a three sets of doors.
Only registers for 10 days!!
Address: Toraigyrova 70/1
Tel: 8 (7182) 32-04-08 or (7182) 326962
Also a bad place to register! Travelers have reported Migration Police refused to register them.
Address: Zheltoksan Street, through some setback blue gates.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 – ?
To find the immigration office, walk up Momysh-uly Avenue from the main Republic Avenue until you come to Abal Park. On the opposite corner from the park you’ll see a large blue-grey building and beside it another building. Many police cars should be parked outside. There’s a blue metal gate. Walk through the gate, into a courtyard and up to the first floor where you should find immigration.
Apply at window 4.