Entry and residence regulations
Since July 15, 2014, a visa was no longer required for German citizens for a stay of up to 15 days in Kazakhstan, and since January 1, 2017, there has been no visa for a period of 30 days. For all longer stays, a visa must be applied for at the responsible consulate of the RK prior to departure. Since the regulations for the individual visa types differ and there are always changes, the current status should be checked on the website of the Embassy of Kazakhstan before each trip. There, there is also a list of competent consulates. The registration rules (after entry) were in January 2020 changed, but unlike announced, not simplified. You should always have your passport (or at least a photocopy of it) with you.
ATTENTION: Due to the corona pandemic, the entry conditions have changed: Visa-free entry is suspended for German citizens until May 1, 2021. In addition, a negative PCR text that must not be older than 72 hours is required to cross the border. A travel warning from the Federal Foreign Office applies.
Obtaining a visa, immigration and first impressions can be problematic, but don’t let that put you off. The experiences of other expats may be helpful in dealing with some cultural differences.
Travel, transportation and traffic
According to internetsailors, Kazakhstan has a diverse transport system which, given the size of the country and in terms of quality, is still expandable.
Flight tickets are expensive, but offer the fastest and most comfortable way to get around the vast country. The national airline Air Astana mostly uses modern machines on domestic flights. In addition, there are several small lines, especially SCAT, which fly to the regional cities of Kazakhstan and a few other destinations. Since the end of 2016, no Kazakhstani airline has been on the EU’s “black list”. The number of options from Western Europe to Kazakhstan to arrive seems to be characterized, however, did not increase, because many Western Airlines from there withdrawn have.
Railway ticket you should buy in advance because of the need for longer distances reservation a few days. Cash registers are not only found at the train station, but mostly also centrally. Buying tickets on the Internet is even easier. The prices are relatively low. The highlight of the Kazakhstan railroad is the TALGO, which connects the old and new capital, Almaty and Nur-Sultan, on a high-speed line. 1,327 km are covered in 13 hours.
Given the size of the country, there is a relatively well-developed and very inexpensive intercity bus network – including back to Uzbekistan. Regional and city traffic is served by (trolley) buses, trams and shared taxis (Marschrutka). Overcrowding is the norm on buses. Taxis are an affordable alternative. Especially in Almaty many private cars operate as a taxi, where you the price has to negotiate. In the meantime there are also several call taxi companies.
Almaty has had a metro 11.3 km in length since December 2011 (after the opening of new stations in spring 2015), and work is underway on the expansion – but in view of never-ending traffic jams and increasing parking problems, this is only a glimmer of hope.
Right-hand traffic prevails on the streets of Kazakhstan. Compliance with the obligation to wear seat belts on the front seats and the ban on cell phones is strictly monitored. There is a zero alcohol rule. Nevertheless, driving a car in Kazakhstan is only for people with strong nerves because of the road conditions and the behavior of road users. Overland journeys in the dark are generally not recommended.
In Almaty, at the instigation of the mayor, a few kilometers of cycle paths have been laid out in recent years – which are mainly used by pedestrians. Even if there are now even rental bike stations, the road to a bike-friendly city is still a long one. The situation is similar in Nur-Sultan. Increasing numbers of cyclists can be seen with the constant traffic jams, but this is a dubious pleasure given the driving behavior of motorists as well as air pollution. This can be found on the Internet now many blogs with personal accounts from wide cyclists and maps to the first orientation.
The official first Covid-19 case was registered in Kazakhstan in early March. On March 19, 2020, a very strict curfew was imposed on Nur-Sultan and Almaty. After the situation had initially stabilized, the restrictions were relaxed at the beginning of May. The result was an even stronger second wave in June that pushed the health system to its limits. The lockdown was tightened again. In the meantime, the situation has eased again, but many restrictions still apply to be on the safe side. Until mid-November 2020, almost 120 thousand. Cases of the disease were detected, the number of deaths is approximately 1,900 listed.
Due to the current rapidly changing regulations, it is recommended that you read the latest information from the Foreign Office or on the website of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan before booking a flight / starting a trip to Kazakhstan.