15 November 2017
Organising visas on the road is never a fun experience.
Throw in dozens of pushy locals that refuse to wait in a queue, a pair of corrupt military officials and an entirely random system of who’s next and you’ll land somewhere near the chaos of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Dushanbe.
Though visas can ordinarily be processed within an hour or two, the entire ordeal is a much more frustrating than it ought to be.
If you’re planning to apply for your Uzbekistan visa in Dushanbe, here’s everything you need to know.
The long-promised streamlined visa process for Uzbekistan is finally here!
As of 15 July 2018, citizens of 102 countries may travel visa-free for a period of 5 days when transiting through Uzbekistan’s international airports.
For longer stays, a number of nations are also eligible to apply for a single entry e-visa for stays of up to 30 days for a cost of just 20 USD. The visa is valid for a period of 90 days and applications must be processed at least 3 days before travel is set to commence. This includes most countries in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a handful of Asian nations.
If you are ineligible for the e-visa or for whatever reason the application system reverts back again – it wouldn’t be the first time – read on!
You will need to take the following documents with you to the embassy:
- Your passport
- A photocopy of your passport’s photo page
- A filled out application form (fill in here, print out and sign)
- A passport photo
- An official Letter of Invitation, if needed
Price: $75 paid in cash for a standard 30-day single entry visa (transit and shorter stay visas may be less, citizens of USA may be charge upward of $160)
Embassy Opening Hours: 9AM to 12PM and 2PM to 4PM | Monday to Friday
Embassy Address: 30 Sanoi Street, Dushanbe
Citizens of the following countries do not need a LOI:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, UK and USA.
However, you may need to wait 4 or more working days for your visa to be processed without one.
Everyone else, you’ll need to organise a LOI before applying for the visa.
We used Stantours which are widely recommended and we were happy with their service. The LOI costs $70 and takes between 10 and 14 working days to be finalised so be sure to get the ball rolling well before you need to apply for your visa.
There are agencies offering cheaper LOI services, but as you’ll be paying online, be sure to choose reputable organisation.
When applying for the LOI, you’ll also need a letter confirming your employment. In general, the agency will be able to provide a template of the information they need. If you are self-employed or unemployed, a similar template exists where you simply need to state your type of work and that the purpose of your visit is purely for tourism.
If you’ve applied for a LOI through an agency, you should also receive a completed application form so you don’t need to fill this out again.
If you haven’t, you can fill it out online here, print it off and sign it.
For the addresses in Uzbekistan, there’s no need to be specific if you don’t already have a fixed itinerary, simply list the cities you plan to visit.
You will need to attach your passport photo to the top right-hand corner of the application form before applying for the visa.
If you can’t get your hands on a stapler before arriving, there is a small door about 10 metres from the embassy which has scissors and staplers for this very purpose. Try to get this done before joining the kerfuffle at the embassy door to avoid wasting time.
Take buses 1 or 3A along Rudaki Avenue and jump off just after Sanoi Street, the small side road where the embassy is located.
Orderly lines and waiting of turns are not the done thing here. From what we saw, it’s all about hustling your way to the front of the queue. Elderly ladies are the worst offenders.
Outside the embassy you’ll most likely encounter a large throng of people. They are generally a mix of those waiting to drop off their paperwork and those waiting to collect their passports and visas.
The two military men on guard decide who goes in and when, but otherwise, they fail dismally at maintaining any sort of order.
First, you’ll need to do the passport check at the window inside the doorway. The military official will check your passport and paperwork here before you’re allowed to proceed.
There may be a vague queue for this on the right of the doorway, otherwise just nudge your way in or ask the officer on duty and he’ll point you to the front.
You may need to be a little wary here though as we heard from several others that some of the guards at the window have become accustomed to asking tourists for money.
Either they looked somewhat different from their passport photo – a radical haircut or perhaps a newly burgeoning beard – or they were plainly threatened that if they didn’t pay, they would not be getting their visa that day. Protest, haggle it down, even make a fuss of asking the other guard, but in the end, you may just have to pay it to get past.
If you can though, stand your ground! The more that tourists pay, the more tourists will be asked to pay.
Once past passport control, you’ll move into the room where your visa will be processed.
Inside, there are, in theory, two queues – the left is for dropping off your documents for processing, the right is for collecting your visa and making payment.
Others in the queue will most likely try to hustle their way in front of you. Let them do so consistently and you’ll add a considerable amount of time to your wait.
Once you reach the front, the clerks are generally pleasant and speak English. They will look over your documents briefly, take your passport and send you back outside to wait for anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour or more.
If you don’t have a LOI and don’t need one, you will most likely need to wait 4 or more working days for your visa to be processed.
Otherwise, when your visa is ready, your name and Nationality will be called over the loudspeaker and you can re-enter to collect your passport and pay for the visa.
TOP TIP: As the clock ticked closer to midday, tensions seemed to rise and the crowd outside became more and more agitated, particularly those who were yet to drop in their paperwork and passports. We’d highly recommend arriving as early as possible before things become a little more manic. If you’re still waiting around shortly before 12 o’clock, it’s worth hovering around inside to ensure you leave with your passport and visa then and there.