So I have been in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for the last month sourcing visas for the neighbouring countries like Tajikistan and Gorno Badakhshan amongst others. One of the hardest beasts to negotiate is the visa for Uzbekistan. So I thought I’d give you all a run down of how I secured my Uzbekistan Visa here in mighty Bishkek.
Getting a Letter of Invitation for Uzbekistan
Instead of going through the procedure again, just check out my article on getting a Letter of Invitation for Uzbekistan. Similarly to the Authorisation Code for the Iran Visa, there is a delay of around 7 days while you wait on the letter of invitation. Not all nationalities need an LOI to visit Uzbekistan and the situation changes a lot.
However as of January 2016, I needed a Letter of Invitation on an Irish or a British passport, so I got it – it takes a week to come through and then you print it.
Where is the Uzbekistan Embassy in Bishkek?
As of January 2016, the Uzbekistan Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan is fairly central and certainly the easiest of all the embassies I visited to find in this city. You can check out their official website, Uzbekistan Embassy Bishkek.
From Apple Hostel Bishkek, a Marshrutka number 113 takes you to Moscow Street (Moskovska) and if you get out at the Turkish Embassy just before the junction for Tynystanov Street. The Uzbekistan Embassy is just a few blocks up on the right hand side, next door to the Belgian Embassy. This was true as of January 2016 of course.
Uzbekistan Embassy, Tynystanov St, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Opening Hours of Uzbekistan Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
While there are official opening hours, to get a visa you strictly need an appointment. If you try negotiating with them on this, it will not be a good idea and will fall on deaf ears. Please respect this and get an appointment booked. The details are written in black ink on a yellow page which sits outside the Embassy. It’s written in Russian and English for your convenience.
Booking Your Appointment at the Uzbekistan Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
To get the visa, you must have booked an appointment. I travel on an Irish and a British passport and both passports require a letter of invitation. You cannot book an appointment until you have the letter of invitation. You can’t even fake it either, or book it in advance – they need the reference number on the Letter of Invitation.
Phone them and book the appointment and you must phone them between 14.00 – 17.00 in the afternoon. If they are not too busy (January 2016 seemed a quiet month) you can normally get your appointment the next day. I can’t speak Russian but the staff at the Apple Hostel Bishkek, Marat phoned them and booked my appointment. Phone: 0312-66 30 78.
Arrival at the Uzbekistan Embassy in Bishkek
I arrived at 9.53 am for my 10 am appointment. I waited outside and there was also a Kyrgyz lady waiting with me. She was actually making a visa application for a Korean and Chinese guy who couldn’t speak Russian or English. The Staff at the Uzbekistan Embassy speak good English, if reluctant.
The lady in the Consulate (on the left hand side of the building) let us inside the room at 10 am. She checked all of our applications first – there were four of us that day – Chinese, Koreans and myself.
What Do You Need to Get a Visa for Uzbekistan
Again, this may vary from nationality to nationality and on time of year etc. They vary things a lot, but in January 2016, I needed:
1.One completed application form (fill it in online and print it).
2.One A4 copy of your passport‘s photo and signature pages.
3.One A4 copy of your passport’s entry stamp or visa for Kyrgyzstan.
4.One passport sized photo (I always carry these).
5.My Letter of Invitation (in my case provided by Marco Polo travel in Tashkent, with the help of Silk Road Explore).
6.The payment (in my case $85 US for an 11 day double entry visa).
Filling in the Application Form for the Uzbekistan Visa
Again as I’ve mentioned before, if you fill in visa forms regularly, this one will not cause you too many problems. To save yourself time, hassle and possible rejection /upsetting the staff at the embassy, fill in the application yourself online and print it out for them. Trust me – just go to this link and get everything filled in.
For the hotel, just make one up – you are not asked for a hotel booking to secure this visa – the Letter of Invitation is the most important thing. For reason for visit with details – put sightseeing/tourist and list the places you intend to visit. You can only put a maximum of five places. I put Samarkand, Khiva, Bukhara, Tashkent and Termiz.
Paying for the Uzbekistan Visa in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
So once the Consul is happy you have submitted all necessary documents, you will be given a slip to pay in money into the bank – the KICB in Bishkek. This was a more unusual visa application however. As the Azerbaijan, Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan visas all meant a bank visit on my own to pay for the visa, the Uzbekistan Consul comes with you to the bank. She personally walks with you. It’s all done very strictly and in detail.
It’s the KICB Bank opposite the Turkish Embassy on Moscovska Street and it’s about an 8 minute walk. You can chat to the Consul during the walk. I must admit, she was extremely pleasant and friendly. Despite what you have heard about Uzbekistan Embassy Workers.
You just get a ticket inside the bank, you queue up and pay. You need to also carry a copy of your passport as ID and to prove the passport number, so make sure you have multiple copies – the Embassy keep your passport while you’re paying.
I paid $85 US for my visa though in my case yet again there was an issue with it. I was initially told to pay $75 US so I did. On returning to the Embassy, the Consul informed me she had made a mistake and I should have paid $85 US. They had never dealt with an Irish passport for a double entry before and so I had to walk back to the bank on my own to pay an extra $10 US!! A similar thing had happened the week before with my Afghanistan Visa application so as you can tell, it was a nervy time. It got me quite stressful and at the time I really did question if I would get the visa. After all, the corrupt Algerian Embassy in London charged me £100 for my “visa” but I never saw my passport again, or the visa and had spent £1,500 on my visit to their country (they gave me a 17 hour reluctant transit visa in the end).
After you have paid you walk back to the Embassy with the Consul. She checks everything is good with the payment and in my case, I had to go back to pay an extra $10 US! Crazy!
Collecting the Visa for Uzbekistan
After all of that, I still feared the worst and expected to be told to come back next week to collect the visa. But luckily the Chinese and Koreans were getting urgent visas and they were leaving the next day. So I asked the Consul if I was getting mine that day too (I asked her early in the morning) and she said yes. After submitting the slip for the final $10 US, the Consul went away for 5-6 minutes and came back with my passport and double entry 11 day visa for Uzbekistan, putting a huge smile on my face! OK so it’s only 11 days there, but that’s cool – I’ll whizz round the backpacking sights and make the most of all 11 days. When I realised, it’s actually 12 days as I’ll enter on the 1st and leave on the 11th, so a 00.01 am arrival and a 23.59 pm departure maybe?
Despite a lengthy waiting process and a bit of patience, on the day the Uzbekistan visa was easy to get. If you follow my two posts on it, you shouldn’t have any issues!
Now it’s just a case of organising my route in and out of the country. I simply can’t wait!