- Customs. Airports in Uzbekistan have green (“nothing to declare”) and red corridors in the customs control zones. You would need to fill the customs declaration (two copies on arrival and one copy on departure)only if you brought some items/valuables (including certain types of restricted medication – see below) to declare or cash currency in equivalent of over 2000 US Dollars. Make sure that both copies of the declaration 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. Don’t bring in any pornographic or extremist material. It’s not allowed, and will be confiscated if (when) the customs officials find it, with potential further prosecution.
- Medicine. There are certain restrictions and requirements when you are going to bring your medications to Uzbekistan. If you are prescribed with psychotropic drugs or any other medicine that local authorities consider as controlled substances (including Codein), you should declare these when crossing the customs and provide proving documents (copy of the medical prescription, letter from your doctor/clinic at the country of residence). There are also rules that limit a quantity of any other medicine for personal use that you can import. Please, see more on following links: https://uz.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/doctors/prescription-medicines/ and http://uzbekistan.travel/de/list-of-prohibited-drugs/ .
- Security and crime. Uzbekistan is recognised as one of the safest countries for foreign visitors. Recently established Tourist Police operates in major towns along popular itineraries. But petty crime, pickpocketing, purse snatching and sometimes mugging still happen, if you are not careful enough at night-time or in crowd. General vigilance as in any other European or Asian city is advised. If you are going to restaurant or club till late hours, be sure that the place has permit to work after 23:00.
Prostitution and hiring prostitutes are criminal offence, causing serious consequences for those who cross this line. We firmly request from our guests to refrain from visiting Uzbekistan at all if they intend for any sort of “sex-tourism”.
- Religion. Uzbekistan is a secular Republic and its Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience. But proselytising and missionary activity is not allowed. One should also take into account the fact that over 86% of country’s population are Muslim and, although Uzbeks are generally very tolerant, some actions by foreigners might be seen as disrespect to local traditions. So, be careful if you talk about any religion, try to follow the certain dress code when visiting mosques or other places of worships (trousers or skirts below knees, but uncovered head is OK. Don’t walk in front of people during their prayers), ask your guide for other advice.
Because of cultural sensitivities, homosexuality is illegal in Uzbekistan, although related cases are very rare and were never used to foreigners. But it is advised to avoid showing affection publicly.
- Transport. Everyone, even local citizen, is required to have their passport when travelling between cities and provinces of Uzbekistan.Most cities have licensed taxi companies, usually with yellow cars, but visitors often approached by unofficial taxi drivers. Try to avoid them and always get advise beforehand from your guide or hotel.City buses, Tashkent Metro and Samarkand tram are generally safe, but often get crowded between stops during the rush hour. We do not recommend for foreign tourists to board inter-city public buses, as they are often old, tend to stop frequently and not always safe. The same thing can be said about some “traditional” trains, while high-speed “Afrosiyob” and some other trains with comfortable coaches are widely used by tourists.
And, please, always cross the road on designated pedestrian crossings – and even there, look to both sides for usually fast driving cars.
- Food. Uzbekistan is famous by its gastronomy and foreign visitors are encouraged to taste various meals of different provinces, even participate in cooking process and learn some recipes. But you should be aware that Uzbeks are meat-lovers and mostly it’s beef or lamb. Not all restaurants can offer vegetarian or vegan options, so you should seek advice from your local guide or us.
Veres Vert obtained quite a good experience in facilitating dietary needs of our guests (including gluten/lactose intolerance, food allergies), but this requires getting the information well beforehand.
Another issue is a stomach upset caused either by mixing unfamiliar local food or dining in places with doubtful hygiene. Again, please, seek advice from us or your local guide when choosing a restaurant or teahouse, as we regularly inspect and recommend only fully certified places. And, sorry for mentioning this, please – don’t drink dairy products after watermelon 🙂
- Electricity. In Uzbekistan the power plugs and sockets are of type C, E and F (also known as the standard “Euro” and “Schuko” or dual plug). The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your appliances in Uzbekistan, if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 – 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa). But if the standard voltage in your country is in the range of 100 V – 127 V (as is in the US, Canada and most South American countries), you need a voltage converter in Uzbekistan. If the frequency in Uzbekistan (50 Hz) differs from the one in your country, it is not advised to use your appliances.
If the appliance’s label states ‘INPUT: 100-240V, 50/60 Hz’ it can be used in all countries in the world. This is common for chargers of tablets/laptops, photo cameras, cell phones, toothbrushes, etc.
Power blackouts can sometimes occur in provinces, so we suggest bringing a power bank/portable charger if you need to recharge your phone and other USB devices.
- Money. Local currency is called Soum and the biggest banknote is 50.000 UzS (approx. 6 USD in January 2019), while new 100.000 banknote to be issued sometime during 2019. More and more places (hotels, restaurants, big shops) are accepting international credit and debit cards, but still it is advised to bring enough cash (preferably US dollars or Euro) for the duration of your stay. Number of the AMT machines is also increasing, but they are mostly located in big hotels and banks. Travellers’ cheques are not normally accepted. Only change money through official exchange booths. It is illegal to change money on the black market. Damaged or marked banknotes may not be accepted by exchange offices.
- Languages. Uzbek is the official language of the country and belongs to Turkic family of languages (along with Turkish, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, Tatar etc.). Many people in urban areas have a good command of Russian language, while local dialects of Tajik are also used in Samarkand and Bukhara. You shouldn’t have any problems using English in tourist sites, as well as some restaurants and shops, but be prepared if you go “off the beaten track”.
- Drones and filming. Unauthorised import and use of drones in Uzbekistan will incur fines and confiscation of equipment. Licenses to import drones must be obtained prior to arrival, but issued only for certain aims. According to the Government Decree adopted on 29 May 2018, “foreign creative groups” (meaning the media, film studios etc.) are allowed to bring and use their drones for filming materials about the tourism potential of Uzbekistan, but need to send their official request to the State Committee for Tourism Development, Ministry of Culture or UzbekKino National Agency. Mentioned entities, on their turn, to consider and request the special permission from the aviation authorities.
It is allowed now to take photos in the Tashkent Metro stations and most of the historic sites and museums allow this as well, but you should check if they require additional payment for filming. Please, also check if it’s allowed to use a camera near airports, border checkpoints, military barracks, bridges, police stations and industrial plants.
Media representatives, including freelancers, with tourist visa are not allowed to conduct any journalistic activity, for which they need to apply for special visa and request a temporary journalist accreditation from the MFA Uzbekistan.