Today was my appointment at the Uzbekistan Embassy in Bishkek to apply for my Uzkebistan tourist visa. My appointment was for 10.00am (like at least 15 others) but I walked out with my visa by 10.15am. Job done! I’m including some information about the visa application process further below, for those who are following behind.
My Uzbek visa commences on 20th June (for 30 days), so my first task is to pore over the guidebook and map of Kyrgyzstan and decide where I am going to go for the remaining six days here. If I’m going to leave Bishkek tomorrow, I need to have an idea where I’m going.
My initial plan for Uzbekistan was to enter via Namangan and then do a circular route to include Samarkand, Bukhara, Navoi and back to Samarkand before heading to Tashkent and over the Kazakh border to Shymkent. However, after speaking with other overlanders here at Nomad’s (who have just come from Uzbekistan), I am changing the route. I will still enter via the Namangan border crossing but will then likely travel to Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Nukus, the Aral Sea and then exit Uzbekistan into Kazakhstan via the Beyneu border crossing. This amended route will let me see more of Uzbekistan but will omit Shymkent in Kaz, so a pretty good trade off, I think. I’m really looking forward to Uzbekistan – I suspect it will prove to be a highlight of the trip.
I was pulled over by the place again today (second time in Bishkek). The officer examined my passport and wanted to know where my Kyrgyzstan visa was. I told him ‘visa-free’ but he wasn’t happy. He called his ‘commander’ on the phone to ask if Germans were supposed to have a visa. When he got off the phone, I pointed to my passport and clarified that I was British. He then had to call his boss back and tell him I am British. I was kept waiting until his boss called him back (presumably confirming to him that UK citizens do not require a visa). The officer was clearly confused because I could hear him telling his boss that I had visas for Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Uzbekistan – he couldn’t understand why I needed visas for those countries but not Kyrgyzstan. Anyway, after the call with his boss, he gave me back my documents and I was free to leave.
And it is HOT!!! The thermometer at Nomad’s is reading 86F (35C) in the shade. I bought a couple of pairs of shorts today – these long pants have got to go.
Visa Application Process
For those wishing to apply for an Uzbek visa in person, at the embassy in Bishkek, you will require an appointment, which can be made over the phone (it’s easiest to get someone from your hotel or guesthouse to make the appointment for you). In my case, we called Wednesday morning and got an appointment for 10.00am on the Friday (two days later).
The embassy is only open on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Opening hours are 10.00am to 1.00pm.
When you turn up for your appointment, you must be in possession of the following:
- Copy of passport (I copied all pages but they only seemed interested in the page with photo and personal info)
- A completed application form (the form must be completed online and then printed out – access the form at evisa.mfa.uz. The English version of the form can be accessed at http://evisa.mfa.uz/evisa_en/
- A passport photo
- US cash to pay for the visa (cost for a UK citizen is $75)
When you arrive at the embassy, you’ll find several others also waiting as everyone is given a 10.00am appointment. At 10.00am, a woman opens the door and begins a roll-call from her appointment register. Pay attention to the roll-call, as the order in which your name is called is the order in which you will be processed, so remember your number and who is in front of you. Only one person (or one couple) is allowed into the office at any time, so everyone else waits outside on the sidewalk until it is their turn. Fortunately, I was second in line, so I was done by 10.15am.
I recommend obtaining a Letter of Introduction (LOI) in advance. A LOI is not a requirement for UK citizens but it speeds up the process. I obtained my LOI through StanTours who e-mailed the LOI to me so that I could print it out for the embassy. The major challenge with obtaining the LOI through StanTours is that they only accept payment via wire-transfer which isn’t always possible when you’re already on the road.
If you don’t have an LOI, the embassy will accept your application and it will then take some time to process it (I’ve heard it can be up to 10 business days). If you have the LOI, you will get the visa while you wait – 5 minutes in my case.