Azerbaijan travel guide
The original 'East-meets-West' destination, Azerbaijan sashays between space-age cityscapes and Arabian Nights exotica, taking in some of the most extraordinary landscapes in Caucasia en route.
Sitting at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, this former Soviet Republic is marginally bigger than Ireland, yet boasts an astonishing variety of natural wonders – from snow-capped mountains and bubbling mud volcanoes to sandy deserts and subtropical forests.
The northern hinterland is arguably the prettiest region thanks to the Caucasus Mountains, which rise to the misty heights of 4,466m (14,652ft). These lofty peaks are home to bears, wolves and leopards, not to mention nomadic shepherds, who move their flocks up and down these mountains in search of fresh pastures as they have done for thousands of year.
Meanwhile, along the boulevards of downtown Baku, nouveau riche residents butterfly between expensive boutiques. The capital's exclusive shops, modern architecture and luxury hotels – spoils of Caspian Sea oil – jar somewhat with the UNESCO old town.
Though oil has transformed the economy in recent years, Azerbaijan has always been of strategic importance. Nestling on the shores of the Caspian Sea, the camel caravans of the Silk Road once passed through the land, which, over the centuries, has been incorporated into the Persian, Turkish and Russian empires.
Today Azerbaijan is a sovereign state and, although Islamic, the mood is determinedly secular. Alcohol is not only readily available, but proudly produced. Grapes have been cultivated here for millennia and local vineyards develop some excellent wines. Azeri cuisine is also enjoying a renaissance thanks a profusion of new eateries popping up in downtown Baku.
86,600 sq km (33,400 sq miles).
9,915,179 (UN estimate 2016).
112.9 per sq km.
President Ilham Aliyev since 2003.
Prime Minister Ali Asadov since 2019.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all travel to:
- The rayons (districts) of Zengilan, Jabrayil, Qubadli, Lachin and Kelbajar. Western areas of Khojavand, Fuzuli and Aghdam rayons
- within 5km of the border with Armenia
A ceasefire agreement was signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan in November 2020 to end the military action in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. Some territory under Azerbaijani control post-conflict is currently closed to the general public and may contain high amounts of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and landmines. As part of the ceasefire agreement a Russian peacekeeping operation has been deployed to the area to monitor Armenian populated areas of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Lachin Corridor. On 13 September 2022, there was military action, in several areas, across the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Further military activities cannot be ruled out.
Several other civilian areas were affected by the conflict and could also contain UXO. These areas include, but are not limited to, the towns and rayons of Barda, Tartar, Ganja, Beylagan and Aghjabadi. The Azerbaijani authorities are working to remove UXO. However if you come across UXO do not approach it, or touch it. Make a note of where it was spotted, and notify the authorities on 102 or 112. Be aware that there may be more UXO nearby.
Before you travel, check the ‘Entry requirements’ section for Azerbaijan’s current entry restrictions and requirements. Monitor this advice for the latest updates and stay in contact with your travel provider.
If you plan to pass through another country on your journey, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
It is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides appropriate cover. See the FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.
Around 30,000 British nationals visit Azerbaijan every year, mainly on business. Most visits are trouble free. See Safety and security
Consular support is not available in areas of Nagorno-Karabakh region not under Azerbaijani control. Tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh remain. There have previously been military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas, particularly from September to November 2020, and on the inter-state border between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Civilian areas were hit, resulting in deaths and casualties. Anyone who has previously visited areas of Nagorno-Karabakh without the permission of the Azerbaijani authorities will be refused entry to Azerbaijan. See Local travel
Terrorist attacks in Azerbaijan cannot be ruled out. See Terrorism
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
Coronavirus travel health
There is no requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to leave Azerbaijan, as well as no requirement to show a COVID-19 passport upon entry.
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Azerbaijan on the TravelHealthPro website
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Azerbaijan.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Public places and services
There are currently no restrictions on travel around Azerbaijan. As of 3 April there is no requirement to have a ‘COVID-19 Passport’ to access public places.
The Baku Metro and public transport services within Baku are running as normal. Most long distance train services remain suspended.
Hotels are open in Azerbaijan.
Healthcare in Azerbaijan
People testing positive for COVID-19 are given the option to self-isolate or be treated at home. Only those with the most serious COVID-19 symptoms are usually taken to hospital, but this will depend on individual circumstances. If you think you might have symptoms of coronavirus you should call 103 or 804.
For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.
View Health for further details on healthcare in Azerbaijan.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
Nagorno-Karabakh and Surrounding Areas
The FCDO advise against all travel to:
- The rayons of Zengilan, Jabrayil, Qubadli, Lachin and Kelbajar. Western areas of Khojavand, Fuzuli and Aghdam rayons.
- within 5km of the border with Armenia
A ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan was signed on 10 November 2020. However, tensions remain and you should monitor local developments and announcements closely. You are advised against all travel to the above mentioned areas and restrictions on accessing some of these areas are in place.
Crime levels in Baku are generally low, but muggings do occur from time to time after dark in the centre of town around the western bars and clubs and near dimly lit entrances of private apartments. Take sensible precautions: be vigilant, avoid carrying large sums of money and don’t walk alone at night. Try to arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible by a private/company driver, or a known taxi firm.
You can report a crime at any local police station or by telephoning the police on 102. English speaking staff are available on the telephone, but when reporting a crime at a police station take someone with you who can interpret. Don’t sign any documents you don’t understand.
We are aware of ad hoc reports of foreign national residents being asked to make undocumented payments while making car journeys or seeking medical treatment. If you think you have been mistreated by an official then you should report your case to the relevant government department.
The FCDO advise against all travel to Nagorno-Karabakh as well as a number of surrounding rayons. See Safety and security page for full details. Consular support is not available in the areas of Nagorno-Karabakh region not under Azerbaijani control. The Nagorno-Karabakh area is the subject of a continuing dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and although a cease-fire was signed on 10 November 2020, tensions remain and you should monitor local developments and announcements closely. Some areas may be heavily land mined or littered with unexploded ordnances (UXOs). If you come across an UXO do not approach it, or touch it. Make a note of where it was spotted, and notify the authorities on 102 or 112. Be aware that there may be more UXOs nearby.
According to Azerbaijani legislation, entering Nagorno-Karabakh without the permission of the Azerbaijani authorities constitutes a criminal offence.
The land borders between Iran and Azerbaijan, and Georgia and Azerbaijan are temporarily closed.
The land border between Azerbaijan and Russia (Dagestan) is also closed. The FCDO continues to advises against all travel to Dagestan (for further details, see our travel advice page for Russia.
You need to have a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Azerbaijan. 1949 IDPs previously issued by the UK may no longer be accepted for use in Azerbaijan. You can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.
If you’re temporarily or permanently resident in Azerbaijan, after one month of your residence permit being issued you will only be able to drive with an Azerbaijan-issued driving licence. Driving licences are issued through ASAN Service Offices.
A green card is proof that you have vehicle insurance when driving abroad. You need to carry a green card to drive in Azerbaijan.
If you’re planning to hire a car, check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel
Right hand drive cars are not permitted in Azerbaijan.
Many cars are poorly maintained, and the standard of driving is erratic. Accidents are common, mainly due to poor or reckless driving and inconsistent enforcement of traffic rules. One-way only signs are often ignored and road closures and diversions are not marked. Traffic lights are often switched to flashing amber at night, which means both directions can proceed with caution.
There are a variety of taxi options available in Baku including private hire, app-based, and London-style metered cabs. Some visitors have reported being severely over-charged by local taxis. When using taxis you should agree a fare up front, or make sure the taxi meter is switched on. You should also check that the taxi has working seatbelts.
Take care when driving particularly at night. Many roads are of poor quality and badly lit.
Drink driving laws are strict and there is a zero limit on drinking alcohol and driving. Observe the speed limit and make sure you have adequate insurance.
If you’re in a vehicle that is travelling at an unsafe speed you should instruct the driver to slow down.
In the winter months snowfall often causes problems. Keep a blanket, shovel, torch, snacks and old carpet (to help if you get stuck in snow) if you intend to travel out of Baku in the winter months, or if heavy snowfall is forecast in Baku.
See the RAC guide on driving in Azerbaijan.
The Baku Metro is reasonably maintained and has basic safety equipment and procedures. Signs are in Azerbaijani and English. There are police at each station and security checks of bags and belongings.
If you travel by overland train, secure your valuables, do not leave the compartment unattended, and lock the door from the inside.
On 19 May 2022, the UK sanctioned Aeroflot, Rossiya Airlines and Ural Airlines. It is now illegal under UK law for any British national or British company to do business with these airlines. This includes the purchasing of flight tickets.
A list of incidents and accidents in Azerbaijan can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
In 2020, an International Civil Aviation Organisation audit of aviation safety oversight found that the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Azerbaijan was generally above the global average.
The European Commission publishes a list of airlines banned from operating within the EU. The list is based on random inspections on aircraft of airlines that operate flights to and from EU airports. The fact that an airline is not included in the list does not automatically mean that it meets the applicable safety standards.
The FCDO is unable to offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
The political situation in Azerbaijan is generally calm, but demonstrations and opposition rallies can occur.
You should avoid large gatherings and any demonstrations. These could escalate without warning. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible safety or security risks and be alert to local and regional developments, which may trigger public disturbances. British media representatives should make sure they are clearly identifiable.
Terrorist attacks in Azerbaijan can’t be ruled out.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.
Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners, such as international hotels, restaurants and pubs, as well as energy sector facilities. You should take sensible precautions.
There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Most of the population of Azerbaijan is Muslim. Azerbaijan is a largely secular society, and religion is usually considered a private matter. Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend other cultures or religious beliefs, including the photographing or videoing of mosques, churches and other religious sites or sites of commemoration, such as Martyr’s Alley in Baku. If in doubt, seek permission.
When visiting religious areas, or during the holy month of Ramadan, pay extra attention to ensure your actions are culturally sensitive. For further information, you should read our guidance on travelling during Ramadan.
In Baku local and foreign women usually dress in western-style clothing. It is now more acceptable for men in Baku to wear shorts in the summer months but outside of Baku it can be frowned upon and attract unwelcome attention.
Possession or use of illegal drugs of any kind carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms. The usual penalty for smuggling drugs is a prison term of between 3 to 7 years and/or a heavy fine.
Police sometimes carry out checks of identity documents. You should carry your passport at all times. Keep it secure and leave a photocopy of the details page separately in a safe place.
While homosexuality is not illegal, LGBT+ people in Azerbaijan tend to keep a low profile as it is not acceptable to a large part of society. This is particularly true outside Baku and among the older generation. Public displays of affection are frowned upon, especially outside of Baku. Physical contact between men (holding hands, embracing etc) is usually a sign of friendship. See our information and advice page for the LGBT+ community before you travel.
You need an export certificate to take antiques or art like carpets, samovars, copperware or paintings out of Azerbaijan. These are available from the Carpet Museum or through the seller. You should catalogue and declare to Customs any carpets or anything antique looking – even if clearly from a different part of the world - that you bring to Azerbaijan with you. Your relocation company should be able to offer you advice on this.
Military bases, equipment and installations in whatever condition are considered sensitive areas, and visitors have been detained and questioned while attempting to visit or photograph them. Be aware of cultural sensitivities when photographing mosques, churches and other religious sites. If in doubt, seek permission.
This page has information on travelling to Azerbaijan.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Azerbaijan set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Azerbaijan’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
The 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix will be held on 28-30 April 2023. If you are a UK national travelling to Azerbaijan to work in connection with the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, or a fan travelling to watch the Grand Prix, you will be able to obtain a visa on arrival to an international airport in Azerbaijan, from 01 April until 15 May 2023 upon producing one of the following documents:
- an accreditation card or other document confirming accreditation in accordance with the relevant rules of “Formula One Management Limited” company and International Automobile Federation, the international organisers of Formula 1 races
- an accreditation card for Baku City Circuit Operations Company
- a ticket or a document that confirms that you have obtained a ticket for the 2023 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
All travellers should familiarise themselves with the entry rules for Azerbaijan before travel.
From 28 March 2023, COVID-19 travel restrictions for travellers to Azerbaijan were lifted. The rules that previously applied to travellers coming to Azerbaijan no longer apply: you are no longer required to present proof of vaccination.
If you’re fully vaccinated
Entry requirements for Azerbaijan are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
If you’re not fully vaccinated
Entry requirements for Azerbaijan are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
Children and young people
There are no specific requirements for children and young people.
If you’re transiting through Azerbaijan
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.
Check with your airline before departing.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
If you are visiting Azerbaijan, your passport should be valid for a minimum of 3 months from the date your visa expires.
If you are a resident in Azerbaijan, your passport must be valid for a minimum of 3 months from the expiry date of your temporary or permanent residence permit.
British nationals travelling to Azerbaijan need to get a visa in advance (unless travelling to Azerbaijan to work in connection with the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, for which special arrangements apply as set out under the ‘Formula 1’ section above).
The ASAN Visa (e-Visa) service is now open to all British nationals. E-Visas normally take 72 hours to process. An urgent service is available for an additional fee. E-Visas are normally valid for 30 days and are single entry. If you apply for an e-Visa check the ‘Screening’ requirements for entry above.
You can also apply for a visa through the Azerbaijan Embassy-affiliated Visa Service Centre in the UK. When applying for a visa through the Azerbaijan Embassy-affiliated Visa Service Centre you should apply for a visa at least one month ahead of your intended travel date. Check the ‘Screening’ section above before applying for a visa.
Make sure you check the duration of your visa immediately to avoid overstaying unintentionally. Your visa should be valid when departing Azerbaijan.
For more information contact the State Migration Service email: email@example.com or visit the State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan website. Their address is:
202 Binagadi Highway
Telephone: +994 (0)12 562 56 23 or +994 (0)12 562 57 73
Alternatively, try the Migration Information Centre: telephone: 919 (in country calls only).
If you overstay (excluding those with permission to stay through the indefinitely extended e-visa process) you can obtain an ‘Exit Permit’ letter (an official letter giving permission to leave Azerbaijan within 48 hours) from the State Migration Service before you depart. You will be liable to a fine of between AZN300 to AZN400. You should get a receipt.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Azerbaijan.
If you’re staying in Azerbaijan for longer than 15 days you must register with the State Migration Service within 15 days of arrival by either visiting the State Migration Service in person or online. Hotels may provide this service for their guests, but visitors staying in apartments or private residences will have to register by themselves. Each traveller is responsible for ensuring that the registration has been completed.
If you’re staying longer than 30 days, you will need to obtain a temporary residence card unless applying to extend your visa on compassionate grounds. For more information refer to the State Migration Service.
Azerbaijan doesn’t allow adults (18 years or older) to hold dual nationality. You may be refused entry, denied departure or even face criminal liability if you’re 18 years or older and are found to be holding both an Azerbaijani passport and a passport of a different nationality. If you’re a British passport holder with links to Azerbaijan (through birth or otherwise) and wish to check your nationality status contact the State Migration Service before you travel. Children under 18 years old holding a second nationality shouldn’t face any difficulties.
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
Altitude sickness is a risk in some parts of Azerbaijan, including the ski resorts of Shahdag and Tufangdag in the Gusar district, lake Batabat in Nakhchivan, and the Talysh mountains. More information about altitude sickness is available from TravelHealthPro.
The UK does not have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Azerbaijan.
Medical facilities outside Baku are very limited. You should carry a comprehensive first aid kit for any trips out of Baku. Even in Baku serious illness or injury may require evacuation to Turkey or Western Europe. Make sure your insurance covers this.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 103 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
The Caucasus is an area of regular seismic activity, although there have been no recent serious earthquakes in Azerbaijan. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see this advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The currency of Azerbaijan is the manat (AZN)
All goods and services are paid in local currency. Pounds sterling, US dollars and euros are easily exchanged. Major hotels, supermarkets and restaurants in Baku usually accept credit cards. There are ATMs in most major towns and cities.
Take extra care when paying with credit cards or withdrawing money from ATMs and let your credit/debit card provider know where you’re going to avoid your card being blocked for anti-fraud reasons. Report anything suspicious to your credit/debit card provider as early as possible. If you suspect you have been a victim of credit card fraud you can find guidance from the UK Card Association.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry), or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.