Kazakhstan has a diverse set of visa rules for passport holders of different nations: visa-free, single entry, multiple entry, visa only with a letter of invitation,… Which one is for you? Read on.
Important: when entering the country, you might need to get registered.
The visa-free regime was suspended for most of 2020 and 2021 due to covid, but has been reinstated in 2022.
Visa-free means you do not need to get a visa in advance. You will also not get a visa at the border. You will only get a stamp and a registration card (see below). All visa-free regimes are valid at land borders, sea ports and airports.
Citizens of the following countries and territories can visit Kazakhstan without a visa for up to 30 days (unless otherwise noted):
2 – up to 90 days
3 – up to 30 days, for a maximum total stay of 60 days within any 180 day period
4 – up to 30 days within 180 day period
5 – up to 30 days within year period
6 – up to 14 days
Visa runs: You can no longer enter and re-enter visa-free as many times as you like, indefinitely. This was common practice until the end of 2019. From 2020, all visa-free nationalities are now only allowed a maximum of 90 days within 180 days.
It is still ok to re-enter the same day. Every time you re-enter, you get a fresh 30 days.
Passport validity: For visa-free entry, your passport only needs to be valid for the period of your stay. If you are coming with a visa, your passport needs to be valid until the standard 6 months after the end of your stay.
Updates and questions can be posted in this forum topic.
90 days within 180 days: what does it mean?
This is still a matter of debate. The best (and only) explanation of the new policy we have read so far says the 180-day period is counted from the first entry, unlike for instance the Schengen area, where the 180-day period is assessed counting backwards at each entry.
This means (in our opinion) that if you enter on January 1st, you have 90 days until June 29. On June 30, a new 180-day period starts where you can use up to 90 days.
Do you have to exit at the end of a 180-day block? We do not know for sure.
Holders of passports issued by India and China do not require a visa for a 72-hour stay, provided that they enter and exit through the airports of Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Shymkent, Aktau, Karaganda and Taraz.
Kazakhstan has started an e-visa system. Citizens of 117 countries will be able to apply for an e-visa for tourism purposes. A letter of invitation is needed (see the chapters below for more info). The visa is single entry and valid for 30 days. Additionally, e-visas for business and medical treatment are available for 23 countries. Holders of an e-visa must arrive via Astana or Almaty airport.
The e-visa is valid only for the visa recipient. Children must get a separate visa.
Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Macau, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
The list of countries whose passport holders can get an electronic business or medical e-visa:
Bahamas, Bermuda, Burundi, Cambodia, Cuba, Greenland, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Kuwait, Laos, Macau, Macedonia, Montenegro, Morocco, Nicaragua, Oman, Qatar, Serbia, South Africa, Vatican, Virgin Islands, Vietnam.
Process and Q&A
Your passport needs to have at least 2 blank pages and expire no earlier than 3 months after the expiry date of the requested visa. The process:
- Register on the e-visa website.
- Fill in the visa application form and the invitation number you got from the letter of invitation sent to you by a tour operator (see the chapter below)
- Pay the consular fee
- Print the e-visa after you got the confirmation e-mail
- Present the printed e-visa when passing through passport control at the airport in Astana and Almaty.
These are the rough guidelines we got from the Kazakh government. We have no reports yet of how this would work in reality, but we know at least one person already managed to get an e-visa. Your questions and experience reports are more than welcome in the Kazakh E-visa Q&A.
Visa support and LOI (letter of invitation)
To get a tourist visa at a Kazakh embassy, or to get an e-visa, you will need to acquire a letter of invitation (LOI) first. No letter of invitation is needed for nationals of Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia if applying at the embassy. Everyone else who needs to apply for a visa, needs a letter of invitation.
Some embassies accept a letter of invitation from a private person in Kazakhstan. Others only accept an invitation letter from a Kazakh tour operator.
We do not offer invitation letters ourselves anymore.
If you are not able to visit visa-free, you will need to get a tourist visa at a Kazakh embassy. Since 2017, most embassies only accept applications from residents of the country they are located in.
If you do not have a Kazakh embassy in your country, find out which embassy is responsible for your nationality or get a visa on arrival.
Tourist visa types have been simplified since 2017. Only 2 types remain: single entry and multiple entry.
- Visa duration: 90 days
- Period of stay within those 90 days: 30 days
- Number of entries: 1
- Cost: 20-50$
- Visa duration: 90 days
- Period of stay: 30 days maximum for each entry
- Number of entries: unlimited
- Cost: 200$
The 90 days start from the date you fill in on the form, not the date you receive the visa. Let it be clear: with a multiple entry visa, you can only stay 30 days in-country for each entry. You are, however, allowed to return the same day after a visa run.
A group visa is a possibility for tour groups who travel together. Most importantly, they need to enter and exit the country together. We don’t know the minimum size of the group.
Visa on arrival
Pre-arranged visas for a stay of up to 1 month can be obtained on arrival for nationals arriving from a country without a Kazakh diplomatic mission. The fee is approximately US$80, and they must hold an invitation letter. The visa on arrival is available at the airports of Aqtau, Almaty, Astana, Atyrau and Oral.
You will in any case need a special letter of invitation for visa on arrival from a tourist agency. It is not possible to get a Kazakhstan visa on arrival at a land border, nor at Aqtau sea port.
The transfer desk works Monday-Saturday during office hours. If you arrive outside of these times, you will have to wait. If that takes more than half an hour, you will be questioned by the police and possibly be detained.
If the transfer desk is open, you can show your letter of invitation, pay 80$ and receive your visa on the spot.
Find all info on the transit visa for Kazakhstan page.
Registration in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan visa requirements
- a valid passport with expiry date 6 months after the end of your stay in Kazakhstan and 2 empty pages
- a copy of Kazakhstan LOI (if you need one)
- the completed visa application form
- 1 passport-size photo
- Money to pay for the visa
A new rule in 2017 says you can only apply at the embassy where your residence is. Most embassies seem to follow this rule, but some are willing to make exceptions if you do not have an embassy in your home country. See the embassy reports section for details.
Overstaying and extending your visa
In the past, a 5000$ fine or 3 weeks in Kazakh jail were the punishment for anyone who failed to leave the country on time. Since 2017, it has become possible to overstay without serious consequences. Officially, you need to be able to demonstrate force majeure (flight cancellation, train delay, hospital visit, …), but at least one person has managed to get away with overstaying for a day without a good reason.
The procedure involves going to the nearest OVIR station and asking for an extension. You can then receive a B20 exit visa valid up to 15 days.
Taraz, October 2017: Border guards said within 3 days of overstay you only get an official warning, then another 5 days to leave with the exit visa in your passport before it goes to court. Went to OVIR, got an exit visa for 10 days – cost 1500 tenge.
YMMV. All updates welcome in the Kazakh visa overstay forum topic.
Kazakhstan has 39 types of visas. Have a good look at this official document to get a sense of where to start if you are coming for very particular reasons.
Since the visa-free regime, embassy reports are no longer very useful. In general, the rule now seems to be you can only apply in your home country. We have had 2 reports since 2017, in Baku and Kuala Lumpur, that only people with residence permit can apply. In Tbilisi it was still possible without residence permit, but for an extortionate 200$.
Forum threads with embassy reports:
More Silk Road visas
More on Kazakhstan
- The basics