Information & Facts
An experienced and proficient interpreter can be of great
assistance at business meetings. It is customary to shake hands and
call people by their first names at business meetings, as well as
at informal gatherings. Business attire is generally a suit and tie
for men, and a suit or business dress for women. Small gifts (pens,
company logo pins or books) are frequently given at the end of an
initial meeting as a token of appreciation. Business cards are
widely distributed, both in Russian and English. Many people in
Kazakhstan are Muslim so it is not uncommon for them to take breaks
from work during the day for prayer; this should be taken into
consideration when scheduling meeting times.
The lack of moderating bodies of water make Kazakhstan's climate
extremely continental and very dry. Seasonal temperatures are
polarised and vary depending on the region. The best time to visit
Kazakhstan is in spring (April to June) or autumn (September to
October) when temperatures are mild. In spring the desert comes
into flower and autumn is harvest time, where market tables are
overwhelmed with freshly picked fruit. Average winter temperatures
during the day are 3 to -1°F (-16 to -18°C) in the far north and
about 21°F (-6°C) in the south; summer temperatures average 70°F
(21°C) in the north and 81°F (27°C) in the south. Snow starts to
fall around November and the mountain passes fill with snow until
April, sometimes even May. Climbers are advised to visit in summer
when the mountain temperatures are at their best.
The international dialling code for Kazakhstan is +7. The
outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g.
0044 for the UK). Area codes are in place, for example, Astana is
3172 and Almaty is 327. Roaming agreements exist with most
international mobile phone companies and reception is good around
the main cities. There are Internet cafes in most towns and cities
but they tend to be expensive.
Kazakh people are known for their hospitality, respect for
elders and peace and tolerance. Generosity and cordial behaviour
are common in both social and business fields. An invitation to the
traditional Kazakh feast, dastarkhan, is the most popular form of
Kazakh hospitality. Standards of dress and behaviour are
conservative and travellers should take care not to offend.
Possession and use of drugs is illegal and if found guilty, could
bring about a lengthy prison sentence.
The following goods may be imported into Kazakhstan without
incurring customs duty: 1,000 cigarettes or 1kg of tobacco
products; 2 litres of alcoholic beverages; a reasonable quantity of
perfume for personal use and gifts to the value of US$500 for
personal use only. On entering the country, tourists must complete
a customs declaration form, which must be retained until departure.
This allows the import of articles intended for personal use,
including currency and valuables, which must be registered on the
declaration form. They must be exported at the end of the stay.
Customs inspections can be long and thorough. It is advisable to
keep receipts for items bought in Kazakhstan in order to avoid
difficulties on departure.
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. The European
round 2-pin plugs are standard.
All travellers arriving from a yellow fever area are required to
have a certificate of inoculation. It is recommended that
travellers to Kazakhstan immunise themselves against hepatitis A.
Bird flu was discovered in poultry farms in Kazakhstan, but there
have been no reports of human infection. Medical care in Kazakhstan
is extremely limited and shortages of essential medical supplies
are common. Doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash,
regardless of travel health insurance. Blood screening is
inadequate and HIV/AIDS is a risk due to contaminated blood or
inadequate sterilization of instruments and syringes.
Kazakh and Russian are the official languages.
The official currency is the Tenge (KZT), which is divided into
100 tiyin. ATMs are generally accessible in Kazakhstan and major
European and international credit cards, such as Diners Club and
Visa are accepted in central hotels, shops and restaurants.
Travellers cheques are cashed at large hotels catering for
foreigners and should be in US dollars.
Most foreign passengers require a visa to enter Kazakhstan.
Holders of a letter of invitation (issued by either an organisation
or a national of Kazakhstan) can obtain a single-entry visa on
arrival, for a stay of up to one month, provided that (i) the visa
is pre-arranged by The Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and (ii) they
are arriving at Aktau, Almaty, Astana, Atyrau or Uralsk airports.
The visa fee is approximately USD 80. Additionally, foreign
visitors holding tourist visas (i) must be in possession of hotel
vouchers covering their period of stay in Kazakhstan, and (ii) if
staying longer than 5 days in Kazakhstan, must register themselves
at the OVIR (Upravlenie Passportno Visovoi Raboty Registration
Office). Failure to do so will result in penalties upon departure.
OVIR offices can be found in large cities in Kazakhstan. Note that
if visitors are holding a tourist visa, return/onward tickets are
not required. However, if they are holding a transit visa, it is
also required that they hold onward tickets, and the necessary
travel documentation for their next destination. A yellow fever
vaccination certificate is required to enter Kazakhstan, if
arriving within six days of leaving or transiting through an
infected area. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport
has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date
of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials
often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and
The general rules of safety in Kazakhstan are the same as in any
other developed country. There are the normal risks of pickpockets
and petty crime, and travellers are advised to be cautious of
corrupt police. Travellers are advised to be cautious at night in
and around clubs and bars. Kazakhstan is generally a very friendly
country and foreigners are respected.
Tipping is not customary in Kazakhstan as a service charge is
included in hotel and restaurant bills. There is also a fixed
charge on taxi and railway transport.