Tajikistan travel guide
Following in the footsteps of ancient Silk Road traders, modern travellers come to Tajikistan to experience a magical journey across the ‘Roof of the World,’ a land of soaring mountain ranges, deep ravines and high-altitude deserts.
Although Tajikistan is one of the most remote countries in the world, even its most inaccessible nooks host life; the mountains and deserts are home to Kyrgyz nomads, who eke out simple, self-sufficient lives as they have done for generations. Intrepid travellers will endure some of the coldest temperatures on the planet to visit them, but these chilly conditions are tempered by the Kyrgyz’s warm hospitality.
An independent state since 1991, Tajikistan spent much of the last two centuries under Tsarist and Soviet rule. Ethnic Tajiks form the majority of the population, but there are also minority ethnic groups of Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz origin – a mix brought about by Stalin’s “divide and conquer” strategy.
Tajikistan’s landscapes are just as dramatic as its political history. In the mountainous west, lofty peaks plunge into deep valleys where villages cling precariously to the cliffs-side above fast flowing rivers. In these settlements, where most of the population are subsidence farmers, any available patch of land is terraced and cultivated with potatoes, cabbage and wheat.
Over in the east, the mountains plateau into a vast, high-altitude desert that looks like the surface of the moon. This is a hostile part of the world, as Marco Polo noted when he travelled through the region. “No birds fly here because of the height and the cold,” he wrote.
Most arrive in Tajikistan via its capital, Dushanbe, one of the prettier cities in Central Asia with its gilded palaces, leafy parks and neoclassical facades. Emerging from the shadows of Soviet rule, Dushanbe is desperate to impress; it boasts the largest teahouse and tallest flagpole in the world, which are, aside from a few museums and markets, about the extent of its attractions.
But Tajikistan isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey; a journey through history and geography, where warm a welcome awaits those intrepid enough to visit.
143,100 sq km (55,251 sq miles).
8,669,464 (UN estimate 2016).
57.2 per sq km.
President Emomali Rahmon since 1994.
Prime Minister Qohir Rasulzoda since 2013.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Tajikistan 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.
Commercial flights to and from Dushanbe have resumed with a reduced frequency and are sometimes subject to cancellation at short notice.
Travellers should check with the airlines for up to date flight information.
Turkish Airlines flies to Istanbul on Monday and Thursday. Fly Dubai flies to Dubai on Wednesday and Saturday. Air Astana flies to Almaty on Sunday. Uzbekistan Airlines flies to Tashkent on Wednesday and Saturday, Somon Air operates international flights to Istanbul (Tuesday and Friday), Dubai (Thursday and Saturday), Tashkent (Monday and Friday), Almaty (Wednesday), Moscow (Tuesday), Minsk (Monday and Saturday). A number of other airlines operate flights to destinations in Russia and other neighbouring countries).
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Tajikistan.
Returning to the UK
When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.
You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should check that the test result can be provided in the correct format and language.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID. 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
Travel in Tajikistan
You should monitor updates by the Tajikistan Government and should comply with any restrictions, health or screening measures introduced by the authorities.
There are no local restrictions or localised lockdowns in place, however you must wear a face covering in public spaces, including in vehicles. Breaches of regulations can result in fines or eventually imprisonment.
Hotels and private rentals are generally open. Travellers should check with the accommodation provider to confirm availability and regulations.
Public places and services
Public places and services in Tajikistan were allowed to re-open in mid-June. Local regulations, including wearing of face masks, should be observed at all times.
Healthcare in Tajikistan
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.
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact your medical or travel insurance provider for guidance and advice. In an emergency, contact the Ambulance Services on 03 (from landlines) or 103 (from mobiles).
Testing for COVID-19 is carried out for severe cases only in Tajikistan.
View Health for further details on healthcare in Tajikistan.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Tajikistan
As information is available about the national vaccination programme, this page will be updated.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the UK authority responsible for assessing the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines. It has authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines for temporary supply and use in the UK. Find out more about MHRA approval for these vaccines.
British nationals living overseas should seek medical advice from their local healthcare provider in the country where they reside. Information about vaccines used in other national programmes, including regulatory status, should be available from the local authorities. This list of Stringent Regulatory Authorities recognised by the World Health Organisation may also be a useful source of additional information. Find out more information about the COVID-19 vaccines on the World Health Organization COVID-19 vaccines page.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
Everyone should comply with the measures put in place in Tajikistan to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you need urgent consular assistance, you should contact your local British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephones numbers are available 24/7.
Dushanbe is relatively secure, but there have been occasional muggings and petty crime against foreigners. Women should avoid going out alone at night, and may suffer harassment even during the day.
There have been instances of sexual assault, including rape, reported to the British Embassy. This has included suspected use of ’date-rape’ drugs targeting foreigners. Don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.
You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK. Alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit. Don’t accept lifts from strangers or passing acquaintances at any time.
There are sporadic clashes between border forces and drug traffickers along the Afghan border, particularly in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast. The most recent incidents during 2018 resulted in a number of injuries.
Tourist facilities are under-developed and goods and services taken for granted in the UK may not be available.
On 6 November 2019, it was reported that 17 people were killed in an armed attack on a Tajik security checkpoint in Rudaki District on the Tajik/Uzbek border, approximately 60km south-west of Dushanbe. The Tajik Government has said that Daesh/ISIS is responsible. Dushanbe remains calm, and there is no special police presence on the streets or at checkpoints. You should exercise caution and vigilance, particularly if travelling near or across the Tajik/Uzbek border.
The Tajik-Kyrgyz border is disputed. Localised violence erupts occasionally and the border can be closed at short notice, particularly near the Vorukh enclave. There were clashes between Tajik and Kyrgyz border guards and civilians in June 2018 and there have been a number of security incidents in recent months. Previous incidents have involved firearms. There’s a risk of further localised violence and border closures at any time. You should remain vigilant in border areas and check local media reports before travelling.
Don’t venture off-road in areas immediately adjoining the Afghan, Uzbek and Kyrgyz borders, as there are both marked and unmarked minefields.
Tajikistan’s borders with neighbouring countries are subject to closure without notice. Check in advance which border posts are currently open.
The crossing points on the Tajik/Kyrgyz border at Guliston (Isfara region), Avchikalacha (Sughd region) and Kizil Art (Gorno-Badakhshan region) are open to British nationals. The border at Karamik (Jirgatol region) is currently only open to Tajik and Kyrgyz nationals, although this may change in the future following talks between the two countries.
The crossing points on the Tajik/Uzbek border at Bratstvo (Tursunzade region), and at Fotehobod and Patar/Rabot (Sughd region) and the Panjakent-Samarkand border are open to British nationals holding visas.
Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast
The government of Tajikistan sometimes suspends issuing permits for travel to the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) by foreign nationals who enter Tajikistan on a tourist visa. This can happen at short notice, depending on the security situation in the area. If you’re considering travel to the GBAO you should contact the Embassy of Tajikistan for up to date information on whether permits are being issued.
On 13 January a clash in the regional capital Khorog between local youths and the security forces resulted in the use of non-lethal weapons and 1 person was hospitalised. There is a possibility of further unrest.
Tensions in Khorog have risen since September 2018. In November and December 2018 there were small scale clashes between local youths and the security forces.
If you’re travelling in the region, you should remain vigilant in public places and be alert to any security announcements by the Tajik authorities.
Several areas of the GBAO and other parts of the country are damaged by flooding in the spring and winter seasons and roads are often closed. Most of the infrastructure has been repaired, but many roads, including the Pamir Highway, are currently open but not fully repaired.
Take local advice in the Tavildara region of central Tajikistan as there are a few minefields dating from the civil war in the mountains. Medical and rescue facilities are unreliable where they exist at all.
You need to have a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Tajikistan. 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.
Roads outside the main towns are poorly-maintained and often only accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles. Conditions are particularly treacherous in spring due to the risk of avalanches and landslides. Many interior roads are only open in the summer months. It is possible to drive from Dushanbe to the north and Tajikistan’s second city, Khujand, via a tunnel, but this road is particularly dangerous in winter due to icy conditions and drivers can be trapped for a long time if caught in an avalanche because of the remoteness. The roads to GBAO are often closed in the winter. Check local road conditions prior to travel..
Local vehicles are poorly-maintained and driving standards are basic. Petrol stations are rare outside towns and there are no breakdown companies. Make sure you take all you need for your journey, allowing for delays. Emergency communications such as satellite phones are advisable for travel outside towns. Neighbouring countries may close borders temporarily.
Flights in Tajikistan may be cancelled at short notice or substantially delayed. Overloading on local flights is not uncommon.
Instances of harassment by officials at Dushanbe International Airport have been reported to the British Embassy. This typically involves requests for payment for allegedly incorrect documentation or other offences. Some reports state that airport officials have acted in an intimidating manner. You should ensure, through your hotel or directly with the Tajikistan Office of Visas and Registration (OVIR) that your documentation and papers are in order before passing through border control at the airport. If you suffer harassment or intimidation at the airport you should report this to your travel agent and/or the consular bureau at the airport.
The FCDO can’t 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 International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Tajikistan.
A list of incidents and accidents in Tajikistan can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
It is now 20 years since the Tajik civil war ended. The political situation is generally stable, but you should remain vigilant in public places and be alert to any security announcements by the Tajik authorities.
You should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people.
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out further attacks in Tajikistan. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.
On 6 November 2019, it was reported that 17 people were killed in an armed attack on a Tajik security check-point in Rudaki District on the Tajik/Uzbek border, approximately 60km south-west of Dushanbe. The Tajik Government has said that Daesh/ISIS is responsible. In light of this incident, you should exercise caution and vigilance, particularly if travelling near or across the Tajik/Uzbek border.
On 29 July 2018, 7 tourists from western countries were cycling near Dangara in southern Tajikistan when a local man drove into them. This was a deliberate attack. Four of the 7 cyclists were killed by the vehicle’s impact and wounds sustained in a subsequent knife attack carried out by the occupants of the car. This is the first incident of its kind in Tajikistan. While the motives are not clear, the terrorist group Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) claimed responsibility. In light of this incident, you should exercise extreme caution and vigilance, particularly if hiking or cycling in the countryside.
There’s a threat of kidnapping in Tajikistan. The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage-takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.
There’s 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.
Tajikistan has a secular constitution. Most Tajik citizens are Muslims. Some, particularly in rural areas, may be conservative in outlook. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times.
Women travelling alone may not be shown respect.
Homosexuality is not illegal under Tajik law but local attitudes are conservative, particularly outside the main cities. You should take care over public displays of affection.See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Possession and use of drugs is illegal and, if found guilty, you could face a lengthy prison sentence in very basic conditions.
Carry a photocopy of your passport at all times. Requests to produce an ID are frequent.
Taking photos of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may get you into trouble with the authorities.
Although rarely enforced smoking whilst walking on the street is illegal and punishable by a fine.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Travellers arriving in Tajikistan must provide confirmation of a negative PCR test, issued within 72 hours of arrival. The test must be a COVID-19 PCR swab test. Other test results including antibody tests are not accepted.
COVID-19 entry requirements may change at short notice, and travellers to Tajikistan are strongly encouraged to check the specifics with their airline, including the timeframes for undertaking COVID-19 PCR tests, before travel.
Entry to Tajikistan
Land border crossings between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China and Afghanistan are closed to travellers. A small number of border points with Uzbekistan are open to Tajik citizens only. Some border points with Uzbekistan, China and Kyrgyzstan are open for cargo only. Flights are operating from several destinations. See International Travel section for further details.
The Tajik civil aviation authority announced the temporary suspension of all flights to and from Tajikistan from 20 March. However, from 21 July Fly Dubai air has resumed weekly commercial flights between Dushanbe and Dubai. Somon Air occasionally organises flights from Dushanbe to Moscow and Frankfurt and vice-versa.
Testing / screening on arrival
Travellers arriving in Tajikistan will be screened and be required to have a PCR test on arrival.
Travellers entering Tajikistan are not currently subject to quarantine but are required to self-isolate for at least three days upon arrival; this may be subject to change.
Testing on departure
Most destinations and transits require travellers to have a negative PCR test before departing Tajikistan. Travellers should check the regulations at their destination and any transit points and obtain the required tests before travel. Travellers may be screened by having their temperature taken and assessed for other COVID-19 symptoms on departure from Tajikistan.
Regular entry requirements
British nationals require a visa before travel. The Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan in London offers an online e-visa service.
Tourist visas are valid for a period of up to 45 days.
Make sure you are travelling on the correct type of visa, particularly if staying with friends or family rather than at a hotel. If you have been issued any visa other than a “Tourist” visa, you will be required to register with the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within 3 days of arrival. Hotels may only carry out registration for the duration of your stay with that particular establishment; if your visit also includes travel to other parts of the country you may need to register again for the remaining part of your travel.
The Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan in London also processes applications for travel permits to the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan. Entry into the region, both from inside and from outside Tajikistan, requires a special permit in advance in addition to a valid Tajik visa. You can also get a permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Office of Visas and Registrations once in Tajikistan.
Once you arrive in Tajikistan you can apply for visa extensions at the Consular Department of the Tajik Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Multiple entry and transit visas
If you plan to travel to areas in the Khatlon Region bordering Afghanistan (eg Panj, Kumsangir) you will need to apply for a permit from the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dushanbe prior to travel.
If you are travelling back to Russia, Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan, you should get the relevant re-entry visa before entering Tajikistan. Transit visas for Tajikistan are usually valid for three days. If you wish to stay longer, you must get a longer-term visa through Intourist Tajikistan or at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after arrival.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date you apply for a visa to enter Tajikistan and must have at least two empty pages.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
You can’t enter Tajikistan with a UK Emergency Travel Document (ETD). If you lose your passport in Tajikistan the British Embassy in Dushanbe can issue an ETD, but you’ll need to get an exit visa from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Office of Visas and Registrations before you can travel out of Tajikistan. It can take at least 5 working days to get an exit permit.
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Tajikistan on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Tajikistan.
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).
Other health risks
TB (including multi-drug-resistant TB), typhoid and cholera occur in Tajikistan. There are occasional cases of malaria in summer in the Khatlon region and in the south of Gorno-Badakhshan.
Don’t drink tap water and take particular care over food and drink preparation. If you plan to stay for more than 90 days you must present a medical certificate that you are HIV-free, or take a test. The FCDO advise against taking the test in Tajikistan, due to the poor quality of medical facilities.
Local medical care
There is no reciprocal healthcare agreement between the UK and Tajikistan.
Tajikistan has poor medical facilities and a shortage of basic medical supplies. Medical facilities outside Dushanbe are quite basic and in some locations almost non-existent. You should be aware that brand name drugs may not be genuine.
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance including evacuation by air ambulance, and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 03 (non-English speaking) and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Tajikistan is located in an active seismic zone. There’s been an increase in the number of earthquakes in Tajikistan during 2016 and 2017; most are small but affect remote areas of the country, particularly the east in Badakhshan province. Avalanches and landslides often block roads in the spring and early summer.
You should familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake and follow the advice of the local authorities.The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
In late spring and summer Tajikistan is prone to seasonal flooding and mudslides caused by melting glaciers. Take care, follow local advice and be aware that conditions can change suddenly.
Heavy snowfall in winter can cause delays and cancellations at airports, and can disrupt local travel, particularly in mountainous regions where there is an increased risk of avalanches. Take local advice on road conditions during or following severe weather.
Tajikistan is mostly a cash-only economy. Only change money at officially authorised currency exchanges. Very few establishments accept credit cards and none accept travellers’ cheques. There is a small, but increasing number of ATMs in Dushanbe and other larger towns, but none in rural areas. US dollars are the most widely accepted foreign currency; other currencies, apart from Euros or Russian roubles, may be difficult to exchange.
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 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. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.