Our criticisms of the Uzbek Embassy in Bishkek and Kyrgyz Concept
(the agent who arranged Wes' "Visa Support" document) are founded. Between
misinformation, disorganization, failure to inform, and failure to deliver
on promises, these 2 outfits are the epitome of traveler frustration. We use this page
to document issues we encountered so people applying for an Uzbek Visa in the
future can hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls. None of these rules are documented at
the travel agents or the Uzbek Embassy, although the process seems to be fairly
The following applies to everyone except the Japanese. Japanese passport holders,
see Additional Information below.
- Letter of Invitation (called Visa Support by Bishkek travel agents and called
TELEX by the Uzbek Embassy): Every nationality except Japanese
require a Letter of Invitation to apply for an Uzbek tourist or transit visa. This
Letter of Invitation can be arranged through a local travel agent or over the Internet
with a travel agent in Tashkent (capital of Uzbekistan).
Travel agents in Bishkek charge between US$25~40 for a Letter of Invitation. Application
requires a photocopy of your passport, and a rough "intended" hand-written itinerary
of travel in Uzbekistan. Since we wanted a 1-month visa, we simply listed all the main cities
in the country and allocated dates to them that bridged a full month. This is completely
acceptable. The wait time to receive the Letter of Invitation by fax is 7 to 10 days (including weekends).
When on the road, the only advantage to using a local travel agent is that they will
receive and hold your fax while you visit other parts of Kyrgyzstan.
If you have a fax machine, contacting a travel agent in Tashkent directly for the Letter
of Invitation is cheaper. Many agents in Bishkek use Tashkent based Sairam Tourism
(Tel: +998-71-133-4411, Fax: +998-71-120-6937, Email:
individual travelers have complained about Sairam's lackadaisical customer service.
The Lonely Planet recommends Parus Travel (Email: email@example.com.
Travelers who requested Letters of Invitation over the Internet complained of having to correspond
for 2 months (this might be exaggerated) before receiving their Letter of Invitation.
The delay, however, is most likely partially the fault of both parties. Surely, being prepared
to fax a copy of your passport with travel itinerary (as stated above) will save loads of time.
The cost seems to be a standard US$25.
The received Letter of Invitation is simply a 2-page fax. Page 1 says, "Visa Support" across
the top, the company name with tel and fax numbers of the issuing travel agent in Tashkent,
the start and end dates of the granted support, and the name of the traveler. Page 2 is a
fake lodging voucher with the city names to be visited, an ambiguous accommodation entry
that says "1BRD", and the number of travelers: "1 pax". Oddly, the
traveler is not identified on this voucher.
There are 2 possible pitfalls at this stage. The first is delay in receiving the Letter of
Invitation. Every agent promises a maximum of 10 days. A problem that can arise is a rejection
of requested travel dates due to a national holiday sometime during your intended stay. In
this case, agents request you purchase an expensive tour package for them to issue the
Letter of Invitation. Oddly again, agents in Bishkek who arrange Letters of Support regularly
fail to recognize this potential issue and blindly make promises with the assumption that
all will go smoothly. Email and confirm many times to ensure there are no issues.
The other pitfall is receiving a Letter of Invitation with start and end dates different
from your expectation. There isn't much you can do to avoid this problem.
- Other documents: In addition to the Letter of Invitation, you need a photocopy of your
passport, (if in Bishkek, a photocopy of your Kyrgyzstan Visa or if you don't need one then
a photocopy of your Kyrgyzstan OVIR registration stamp), and a completed Uzbekistan Visa Application
Form. Get the application form off the Internet or pick one up at any travel agent in Bishkek.
Don't bother going to the Uzbek Embassy to get a form because there's no way to gain
- With Letter of Invitation, photocopies, and Visa Application in hand, an appointment with the
Uzbek Embassy (in Bishkek at least) is needed to enter the embassy to submit the paperwork.
Official hours for submission are Tuesday - Friday, 10:00-13:00 but in fact, the Consul works
from about 10:30 - 12:45. Some work days, in fact, the Consul chooses not to work at all, and at 10:30
the secretary pokes her head out the door and shouts some excuse in Russian with orders to
return tomorrow. One day the excuse was that the Embassy would have no electricity for the day
(even though the rest of the city did). We suspect the Consul was too drunk to work or had a hangover.
Without an appointment, it still may be possible to submit paperwork after everyone with an
appointment is finished. Sometimes the security guard only admits those with appointment.
Appointments are made by telephoning the Embassy (Tel: 66-30-78 in Bishkek) anytime between
several days before to the morning of the desired paperwork submission day. Only Russian is spoken.
- Passport and paperwork are submitted in the morning. For those who have a Letter of Invitation
(called TELEX by the embassy), the visa is issued at 15:00 that afternoon. In the afternoon,
you are told how much the visa costs. For a 1-month visa, the cost seems to be US$65 for US passports,
$70 for German and some other European passports, US$60 for Australian passports, US$15 for CIS passports, and US$0
for Japanese passports. One-week and two-week visas are slightly cheaper. Everyone pays an additional Ks 100
(about US$2.20) Embassy service fee.
Note to USA passport holders:
In the US, you can get a 4-year multiple-entry Uzbek Visa for US$45.
Each entry allows a 30-day stay. This option does not seem to be possible at Uzbek Embassies outside the US.
Additional Information for Japanese passport holders:
- Starting August 2002, Japanese passport holders no longer require a Letter of Invitation to apply for an Uzbek Visa.
- Prepare a photocopy of your passport, photocopy of your Kyrgyz OVIR registration, and an Uzbek Visa Application
- Go to the Uzbek Embassy without appointment Tuesday - Friday, 10:00-13:00. Wait for people with appointments to
finish, then submit your documents. You will be given a date about one week later to return. You can also return
anytime after the specified date.
- On your second visit one week later, bring your passport Tuesday - Friday, 10:00-13:00. Your visa will
be issued at 15:00 that day. The total cost is Ks 100 Embassy service fee.
- The Bishkek travel agent Kyrgyz Concept seemed very professional during the sale then failed to
deliver. They arranged a Letter of Invitation with dates different than our expectation, failed
to notify us of the date issue although we telephoned twice over the course of the next 2 weeks to
confirm that there was no problem, and refused to make an appointment for us at the Uzbek Embassy
although we agreed to this phone call before hiring them for their Visa Support service.
We were not the only travelers dissatisfied with their slack service. Also in
Bishkek is Central Asia Travel (CAT). They charge US$5 more (US$40 instead of US$35) but everyone
we talked to who used them was satisfied.
- September 1-3 is the Uzbek Independence Day. This national holiday disrupts Visa Support
processing during the full month of August. Why? We can only speculate.
- The Consul probably couldn't work due to a hangover on the day Wes went to the Uzbek Embassy to
submit his visa application documents. "Come back tomorrow." Curiously, one of the
first Russian words every foreigner learns is Zavtra (tomorrow).
- Some days the Uzbek Embassy requires appointments. Other days, the embassy doesn't take
appointments and it's a free-for-all mob out front waiting to get in. There's no way to know
what the situation will be day to day.
- Masami couldn't find anyone who understood what the process for Japanese passports was.
We wasted 3 days trying, getting turned away from the Embassy (Zavtra!), and trying again.
- In the end, what we thought would take 1 day took 4. And to top it off, because of Kyrgyz Concept
error, our visa validity dates don't match. Although we both have 1-month visas, we only have a
20-day overlap between the 2. Talking to other travelers, we learned that our case is not unique.