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Moving to Kyrgyzstan?

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Francois Carpentier

Living in Kyrgyzstan, from France

"Not knowing anyone, I had to move to Bishkek. Thanks to InterNations I built up a great circle of friends in no time."

Adriana Rodrigues Zon

Living in Kyrgyzstan, from Portugal

"Great that I found some valuable tips from other InterNations members before moving to Bishkek. I would have been lost without them."

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Kyrgyzstan at a Glance

Moving to Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is a young and lively country, with much to offer, from tradition to nature and plenty of leisure options, but it still entails some difficulties and challenges that expats should know before moving to Kyrgyzstan. Check out our guide for some useful info, from visas to transportation!

The Land and Its People

Kyrgyzstan's population was around   5.8 million in 2014. The country has a very young population, with over a quarter under 15 years old compared with just 6% over 65. Kyrgyzstan is predominantly rural, with two thirds still living in Kyrgyzstan’s countryside. The biggest ethnic group is the Kyrgyz. This Turkic group makes up 72% of the population. Local minorities include Russians, Uzbeks, and Dungans. 

Visas for Kyrgyzstan

Although many assume that Kyrgyzstan requires a lengthy, complex and expensive visa process even for tourist visas, in line with the current situation in neighboring countries, this is untrue. Kyrgyzstan is making a big push to develop its small but steadily flourishing tourism industry. Consequently it is now one of the most open and accessible countries in the Central Asian region, with many visitors being able to visit the country for periods of time as long as two months without even needing a visa.

As of August 2012, US and Canadian visitors, as well as citizens of a number of European and Asian countries, do not require a visa for visits of up to 60 days. Those from other countries require a tourist visa, which must be obtained prior to travel. Documents required for the visa processing include a letter of invitation and a visa support letter from the Department of Consular Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic. 

Obtaining a work visa requires the submission of a number of further documents. However, the full list can only be acquired by going to the Authorized Department in Bishkek in person. There is usually also an inspection process, when a representative of the Authorized Department will visit the work place of the individual applying for a visa. They will typically review the company’s documents and quiz the company on its activities. As such, best get in touch with your (future) employer for help with your work visa application.

Getting to Kyrgyzstan

Expatriates moving to Kyrgyzstan from further afield will most likely have to get connecting flights, as there are still relatively few direct flights to Kyrgyzstan. However, it is possible to fly into Bishkek via Russia, Istanbul, and Astana. Carriers that fly to the country include Pegasus, Aeroflot, and Air Astana.

As a landlocked nation, Kyrgyzstan borders a number of other countries including China, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. Overland travel is possible, however it is important to bear in mind that border crossings can be time consuming, some are dangerous, and many countries bordering Kyrgyzstan have hefty visa requirements of their own.

InterNations Expat Magazine