Uzbekistan travel guide
Most people would struggle to find Uzbekistan on a map, let alone get around to visiting. But while this Central Asian nation remains a mystery to the masses, its obscurity makes it all the more appealing for more adventurous travellers.
Those who do make the trip are following in famous footprints: from Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan, some of the world’s most famous pioneers and conquerors have blazed a trail through this land.
Granted, Uzbekistan has its fair share of problems. It would be remiss not to mention the hard-line government, corrupt officials and Islamic militants that besmirch the reputation of the country. But they are the exception rather than the rule: most people in Uzbekistan extend legendary hospitality to visitors.
While the country is young, having gained independence in 1991 after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the roots of Uzbekistan are ancient.
The historic town of Samarkand, once a crossroads on the Silk Road, has long been known as the ‘Jewel of Islam’. One of the so-called Big Three (a term used to describe Uzbekistan’s three main Silk Road cities) its cityscape is dominated by sparkling turquoise domes and towering minarets adorned with intricate mosaics.
Stunning examples of this architecture can be found across Uzbekistan, most notably in Khiva, the best-preserved and most remote of the Big Three. It’s a living museum, home as it is to a vast collection of Islamic architecture, which remains frozen in time within the city walls. And then there’s Bukhara. The last one of the Big Three, it is also known as the ‘Pillar of Religion’ and is surely one of the most exquisite cities in the Islamic world.
It’s not all about manmade attractions, though. The Ferghana Valley is a place of unremitting natural beauty where fertile valleys give out to the snow-capped Tien Shan and Pamir mountains.
This also happens to be the country's most fertile region, its breadbasket, where visitors can enjoy stunning landscapes, local produce and friendly bazaars rarely seen by Western eyes.
447,400 sq km (172,742 sq miles).
30,300,446 (UN estimate 2016).
65.3 per sq km.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev since 2016.
Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev since 2003.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Uzbekistan 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
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.
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
Commercial flights to and from the UK to Uzbekistan restarted in August, although they operate only twice per week. Flights to Frankfurt have also resumed and there is a daily flight to Istanbul Check with your travel company or airline for the latest information.
Testing on departure
All persons departing Uzbekistan by air are required to undergo temperature checks. Anyone showing high temperature and/or other COVID-19 symptoms will be denied boarding. Depending on the destination country of the flight, the authorities of that country may also require other pre-boarding checks in addition to those conducted by the Uzbek authorities.
Travel in Uzbekistan
Civilian airports are open but scheduled international passenger flights are now very limited. Some domestic flights are operating.
Public transport in cities has resumed and train travel between regions is now operating.
Care should be taken if using taxis as some operators might not be fully complying with COVID-19 hygiene measures.
Under measures introduced by the Uzbek authorities, anyone subject to quarantine or self-isolation who breaches such controls is liable to a minimum fine of 11 Million UZS (approximately £900) or up to 10 years imprisonment.
Hotels, motels and guest houses have reopened (but are subject to special health and safety rules) following the easing of restrictive measures.
Public places and services
Persons aged over 65 are recommended to remain in self-isolation and not to visit public spaces. Large group gatherings in any public place are limited.
Shopping malls, clothing markets, restaurants, cafes, beauty salons and larger shops, as well as gyms, swimming pools, private kindergartens and education centres are open.
You must wear a face mask while outside – you may be fined (up to approximately £100) if you do not comply with this regulation.
Healthcare in Uzbekistan
For contact details of English-speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should call the 1003 hotline number of the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan. Please note, however, operators at the hotline will speak only Russian or Uzbek.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms
If you show COVID-19 symptoms you will undergo testing at government facilities.
If you test positive for COVID-19 will be placed into Red, Yellow and Green categories. If you have a light form of coronavirus infection (asymptomatic), you will be categorised as Green. If you have medium symptoms (e.g. high temperature), you will be categorised as Yellow, and if you have serious symptoms, you will be categorised as Red.
If you are categorised as Green or Yellow, and if approved by a doctor, then you will be allowed to have treatment at home and will be required to comply with existing sanitary-hygiene rules. In Red cases, you will be admitted to hospital. If you are categorised as Green or Yellow and treatment at home is not possible, you will be hospitalised in a dedicated government facility, and discharged after 10 days if no further symptoms are observed.
If you have been in contact with a person who tests positive for COVID-19, you will no longer be automatically quarantined but are required to self-isolate for 14-days and be subject to medical monitoring.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Uzbekistan
We will update this page when the Government of Uzbekistan announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Uzbekistan national vaccination programme has started and the Government is using a mixture of AstraZeneca, Moderna, Sputnik V and Sinopharm/Sinovac vaccines, although the latter vaccines are more commonly used. The Government of Uzbekistan has stated that British nationals resident in Uzbekistan are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme. For further information on the vaccination programme and access to vaccines, contact your local clinic or private healthcare provider.
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.
If you’re a British national living in Uzbekistan, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from the local authorities or found online
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
The Government’s official website for coronavirus information in Uzbekistan can be found at www.coronavirus.uz. An official telegram channel is also available (https://t.me/koronavirusinfouz). Please note that these resources are available in Uzbek or Russian.
The Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan COVID-19 hotline number is 1003.
Violent crimes against foreign nationals are rare. Reports of muggings, pick pocketing, snatch-and-grab robberies, theft of unattended bags and purse snatching are more common, especially in crowded places (bazaars, public transportation). Home burglaries and break-ins occur, even in wealthier neighbourhoods.
You should exercise caution and take measures to protect your personal security as you would when visiting any European country.
Dual nationality is not recognised in Uzbekistan. If you enter Uzbekistan on an Uzbek passport and also hold British nationality the British Embassy can only provide very limited consular assistance. In cases of arrest or detention consular access is unlikely to be granted.
Much of the guidance in the following (travel) sections has been overtaken by the strict measures put in place by the Uzbek Government and internationally to combat the spread of Covid-19. But it remains valid in the longer term, once normal travel in and to Uzbekistan can resume.
On 6 November 2019, it was reported that 17 people were killed in an armed attack on a Tajik security check-point on the Uzbek/Tajik border. Daesh/ISIS claimed responsibility. You should exercise caution and vigilance, particularly if travelling near or across the Uzbek/Tajik border.
Tensions exist over recognition of the Uzbek/Kyrgyz border. There have been a number of security incidents in this region including several gunfire exchanges. As above, security incidents have also been reported along the Uzbek/Tajik border.
Take care if you travel to the Fergana Valley given the potential for tensions in the region.
The land border with Afghanistan is currently closed.
Land borders between Uzbekistan and neighbouring states, particularly Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, are often closed at short notice. 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.
Care should be taken when travelling in the areas bordering Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, as some border areas may be land-mined.
Check in advance which border posts are open. Borders crossing points are also subject to closure without notice.
If you drive in Uzbekistan, make sure you have all registration papers, including motor insurance. You must carry your UK Driving Licence or an International Driving Permit at all times.
You can drive in Uzbekistan with a valid UK driving licence for the whole length of your visit. You should make a copy of your driving licence translated either into Russian or Uzbek to make interaction with local authorities and traffic police easier, although it is not legally required. If you live in Uzbekistan or staying in the country for an extended period, it is recommended that you apply for a local driving licence, as you will need this to buy a car.
Take care as many roads are poorly-surfaced and badly-lit.
Driving is on the right in Uzbekistan. Vehicles approaching a roundabout have the right of way over vehicles already on the roundabout.
Seatbelts for drivers and passengers are compulsory and the use of mobile phones while driving is prohibited.
There are security checkpoints at the city limits of Tashkent and other towns.
A new regulation has been introduced allowing only licensed taxis (with certain colour and signs and card payment equipment) to operate in Uzbekistan. However, unlicensed taxis continue to operate. You should use official taxis where possible. Many taxis do not have rear seat belts, so you may wish to ask for a taxi with seat belts in the front and rear.
Many buses and taxis in Uzbekistan run on Compressed Natural Gas and safety regulations are often not followed. Where possible you should opt for modern vehicles when travelling by bus or taxi.
Uzbekistan Airways operate regular services to a number of European destinations, including London, although presently flights are limited due to COVID restrictions. Uzbekistan is also served by Turkish Airlines. Other airlines do also offer Regional services and FlyDubai have started flights to Dubai.
We 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.
In 2008 the International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Uzbekistan.
A list of incidents and accidents in Uzbekistan can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety Network.
Take care when travelling long distances by train. If you have to travel overnight, keep valuables in a safe place. Don’t leave your belongings in the compartment unattended. Lock the door from the inside. You will need to present your passport with valid visa when booking train tickets.
The political situation in Uzbekistan is stable.
You should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people. Exercise caution and maintain a high level of security awareness, particularly in public places.
Terrorist attacks in Uzbekistan can’t be ruled out. Attacks could happen anywhere and could affect western interests and 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 on the Uzbek/Tajik border. Daesh/ISIS claimed responsibility. In light of this incident, you should exercise caution and vigilance, particularly if travelling near or across the Uzbek/Tajik border.
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.
Uzbekistan has a secular constitution. Most Uzbek people are Muslims. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. See Travelling during Ramadan
You should carry your passport with you at all times as this is a legal requirement in Uzbekistan. The police often carry out checks.
Possession of drugs is illegal. There is a ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco to those under 20. Prison sentences can be lengthy. While prison conditions have reportedly improved, reports of widespread hepatitis and tuberculosis and allegations of mistreatment of some prisoners by officials remain a concern.
Homosexuality is illegal under Uzbek law and is still very much frowned upon socially. You should take care over public displays of affection. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Any form of photography can upset the authorities, particularly photographs of government buildings including the Palace of Forums in Tashkent and sometimes in local bazaars not normally visited by tourists. While restrictions have been relaxed recently, you should check before using a camera, especially near airports, border checkpoints, military barracks, bridges, police stations and metro stations.
Unauthorised import and use of drones in Uzbekistan will attract fines, detention and confiscation of equipment. Licenses to import drones must be obtained prior to arrival. The following link has more information on licensing requirements (only available in Russian).
Adoption in Uzbekistan
The adoption of a child from Uzbekistan by British Nationals that are no longer habitually resident in the UK is not possible. Under local law Uzbekistan authorities do not accept the ‘no objection’ letter issued by the British Embassy in Tashkent as sufficient for the purpose of adoption.
Please note that the ‘no objection’ letter has the sole function of confirming that the British national(s) in question are no longer habitually resident in the UK. As the child is not being adopted under British adoption legislation, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and British consulates are unable to have any further role in the matter.
There is no scope or provision to amend the letter, which is designed for the specific purpose stated above. It is not the role of the British Embassy to agree whether or not the applicants are suitable or eligible to adopt the child, or whether the child is adoptable.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Uzbekistan set and enforce entry rules. For further information 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)
Entry to Uzbekistan
British nationals arriving from the UK are permitted to enter Uzbekistan. Visitors are not currently subject to quarantine or self-isolation restrictions, provided they have a valid negative PCR test certificate, issued within the last 72 hours, before they arrive into the country.
Current restrictions are being assessed and monitored on a regularly and may change at very short notice.
PCR test for entry into Uzbekistan
To enter Uzbekistan you must be able to show a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for coronavirus taken no more than 72 hours before your arrival into the country. This includes people who are vaccinated.
You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You must arrange to take a private test.
Testing/Screening on arrival
Individuals entering Uzbekistan by automobile will be subject to a rapid coronavirus infection antigen test at border checkpoints, at your own expense. Arrivals by air or rail are not subject to such testing.
If you test positive
Foreign visitors arriving by automobile who test positive at the border will be denied entry. Foreign citizens and stateless persons permanently residing in Uzbekistan will be quarantined in a medical institution located in the relevant territory.
British nationals can transit Uzbekistan airside, if they meet the requirements for the next country they are travelling to.
Regular entry requirements
If you have a British citizen passport you can enter Uzbekistan as a visitor for stays of up to 30 days without a visa.
If you’re travelling on a different type of British passport, are travelling for a purpose other than tourism or business, or intending to stay longer than 30 days, you should check entry requirements with the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in London.
If you’re entering Uzbekistan on an Uzbek visa make sure that you check it once issued and carefully note the date of expiry and the number of entries permitted.
Do not overstay your visa, or exceed your permitted duration of stay, even for a very short period. Any traveller found to have overstayed will face a fine and possibly deportation. It is not always easy or possible to extend your stay or a visa if you wish to remain in the country for longer than you originally intended. If you are travelling overland, make sure you arrive at your intended border crossing in good time before your period of stay or visa expires.
For further information contact the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in London.
You must register within 3 days of arrival. Saturdays and Sundays count as part of the three day period. If you are staying in a hotel, you will be asked for your passport at check-in and it will be retained for a short period. Hotel staff will complete the registration paperwork and return your passport to you.
If staying in a private house, your host should register you with their local district OVIR (Department of Foreign Travel & Exit (they also deal with the registration of Foreign Citizens)) or on the electronic registration system Emehmon. If you travel to another city and plan to stay for longer than three days, you will need to register again. You must follow this procedure, as a full record of your whereabouts whilst in Uzbekistan is required upon departure. Visitors who are unable to account for their whereabouts could be fined and possibly deported.
If you are a tourist transiting Uzbekistan in a recreational vehicle or staying in tents/camping, you are responsible for your own registration. You should register online via the electronic registration system Emehmon within three days of arrival. During the online registration process there will be a tourist tax charge for each day of your stay. At the moment tourist tax can only be paid online by Uzbek debit card in local currency, payable by credit or debit card, therefore you should seek assistance from hotels or local tour operators.
Your passport should be valid for at least 3 months beyond your date of entry to Uzbekistan.
Dual nationality is not recognised in Uzbekistan. See Dual nationality for more information
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry (with a valid Uzbek visa), direct airside transit and exit from Uzbekistan. If your ETD has been issued in Tashkent, you’ll need an exit visa from the OVIR (Department of Foreign Travel & Exit) before you can travel out of Uzbekistan. This process can take at least 5 working days.
You should fill out two copies of the customs declaration form on arrival. Make sure that both copies are signed and stamped by Customs officials. You will need to present one to the customs authorities as you enter the country and produce the other on departure. Any currency or valuables found in your possession and not declared on your customs declaration form may be confiscated.
Travelling with medicines
If you enter Uzbekistan with medicines, whether prescription or non-prescription, you should check in advance the list of prohibited medicines and the legal quantities of medicines that are allowed to be imported. You can find information on the website of the State Customs Committee of Uzbekistan.
You should carry a doctor’s prescription if you intend to travel with prescription medicines and declare the items on your customs declaration form. Some non-prescription medicines in the UK cause problems on entry into Uzbekistan, including codeine. Possession of these items can lead to administrative or criminal proceedings if you don’t have a prescription, or if you’re carrying more than you need for the visit and don’t declare them on arrival. Issues have most frequently been reported at land borders.
For information about border crossings and road travel into Uzbekistan, see Border crossing for more information.
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Uzbekistan 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 Uzbekistan.
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 more information on the rules in Uzbekistan, see Health. If you need further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the Uzbek Embassy in London.
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)
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 103 (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.
The quality of medical care in Uzbekistan is generally poor. Most hospitals are badly-equipped and unhygienic, with a limited supply of drugs. There is no guarantee that equipment will have been properly sterilised, especially in rural hospitals. You should avoid all but basic treatment or essential treatment in the event of an emergency. Medical insurance companies usually refer complaints of a more serious nature to hospitals in Europe or New Delhi.
The reciprocal healthcare agreement between the UK and Uzbekistan terminated on 1 January 2016.
Air quality in the Karakalpakstan and Khorezm regions has deteriorated as a result of storms over the Aral Sea bringing salt, dust and pollutants into the air. As for any acute deterioration in outdoor air quality due to weather events, you should minimise your individual exposure to external air by staying indoors in an air-conditioned environment as much as possible, with windows and doors closed and as well sealed as possible. Wash all fruit, vegetables and other foods which might have been exposed, and regularly damp dust all indoor surfaces, washing your hands afterwards. It is unclear when the air quality will improve; you’re advised to monitor local reports and weather forecasts for the latest information and local advice.
Uzbekistan is located in an active seismic zone. There are regular tremors, but the last significant earthquake to cause major damage in Uzbekistan was in 1966.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
Bring enough cash for the duration of your stay. Credit cards are not widely accepted beyond Tashkent and the main tourist areas of Samarkand and Bukhara. Travellers’ cheques are not normally accepted. There are very few cash dispensers. US dollars are the most widely accepted foreign currency. Only change money through official exchange booths. It is illegal to change money on the black market, and harsh penalties will be imposed on those caught doing so. Damaged or marked bank notes will not be accepted at official exchange locations.
You will need to complete a foreign currency declaration form when you arrive, and keep a copy yourself. You cannot leave with more foreign currency than you arrive with.
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. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.