This is an annual report produced
in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe.
OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in
Tajikistan. For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Tajikistan-specific
webpage for original reporting, consular messages, and contact information,
some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an
The current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication
assesses Tajikistan at Level 2, indicating travelers should exercise increased
caution due to terrorism. For more information, review OSAC’s report, Understanding
the Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Dushanbe as being a HIGH-threat
location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Crime directed toward Western expatriates and foreign entities is
relatively low. Although there are few indications that criminals target Westerners,
outsiders are quickly and easily identifiable, and perceived as being affluent.
Petty theft and unarmed robbery are common. Review OSAC’s reports, All That You Should
The levels of corruption at all
levels of the government and the private sector are very high. Transparency
International ranked Tajikistan 153 out of 180 countries in its Corruption Perceptions Index
Be careful in establishments that
serve alcohol; nefarious actors have slipped drugs into unwatched drinks,
leading to criminal acts. Insist servers open any drinks in your presence. Follow
the same smart personal security rules you would follow in any major city,
particularly one in the former Soviet Union. Review OSAC’s report, Shaken: The Don’ts of
Alcohol Abroad. Dushanbe does have a nightlife, and some clubs have prostitutes. Prostitution
is illegal in Tajikistan; engaging in it may also lead to U.S. prosecution
under some circumstances.
Tajikistan faces a number of
economic, political, border, and overall security challenges that can affect
the crime rate. Exacerbating this is the local police’s inability and occasional
unwillingness to detect, deter, and investigate criminal activity.
Tajikistan is overly reliant on
migrant labor remittances from the large Tajik diaspora working in Russia; thus,
when the Russian economy suffers, the Tajik economy suffers. That, in turn,
leads to economic hardship, even desperation, and possibly a correlation with increased
Be mindful when renting an apartment. Try to choose an apartment
that has secure doors and windows, employs a security service or guard, and
limits access to the building at the main entrances. Expatriates are vulnerable
to home robbery, so the physical security aspects of housing are important such
as having grilles on lower floor windows, ensuring well-illuminated streets and
entrances, and choosing residences in good neighborhoods. Secure valuables in
your home or hotel. Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and
Outs and Considerations for
Internet service providers are widely
available and affordable. Instances of cybercrime are comparatively infrequent
and unsophisticated, making this a low priority for law enforcement, which has
minimal cybersecurity capability. Because Tajikistan is within Russia’s “near
abroad,” significant Internet traffic routes through Russia, a recognized
source of cybercrime. Tajikistan authorities monitor Internet content and periodically
block websites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) and news sources at the
national level. Virtual private networks (VPNs) generally work with most Internet
providers; however, they are illegal. Some Internet providers are also able to
block VPN traffic, so your results may vary by both Internet provider and VPN
provider. Review reports, Cybersecurity
Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling
with Mobile Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite
Phones: Critical or Contraband?
Other Areas of
There is a history of territorial
dispute along the Tajik-Uzbek and Tajik-Kyrgyz borders, with the potential to
develop into limited armed conflict. There have been several instances of armed
skirmishes between Tajik and Kyrgyz border guards over the past five years,
particularly in the area of Isfara and the Vorukh enclave. Find information
about travel restrictions or areas of concern on the U.S. Embassy website.
A recent warming of Tajik-Uzbek relations has eased concerns on that border.
Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast
(GBAO) in the Pamirs is a restricted region for non-Tajik citizens. GBAO,
beginning on the west side of the border with Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province,
covers most of the eastern portion of Tajikistan. To cross into GBAO, an
expatriate must use designated checkpoints and have special permission in the
form of a passport stamp one can only obtain from the Interior Ministry’s
Department of Visas and Registration in Dushanbe. This permission is usually
not difficult to obtain, but processing can take up to two weeks. The
government closes GBAO to foreigners periodically. In 2018, there were
heightened tensions between the Tajik government and GBAO authorities when the President
visited GBAO, fired several government officials, and deployed additional
police and security officials to counter the perception of widespread
corruption. From Dushanbe into GBAO, the initial posts for checking GBAO
permission sit near Shurobod in the Khatlon Region and just north of Qalai-Khum
in the Darvos Region.
Road Safety and Road
Transportation infrastructure is
gradually improving, though erratic driving and car accidents are common.
Drivers should have a thorough knowledge of Tajik traffic regulations and
practice defensive driving techniques. In Dushanbe, the police make heavy use
of traffic cameras. These cameras are often calibrated to register violations
for cars at stop lights that pull all the way up to the white line marking the
intersection, even though the car stops for the light. Tajik drivers tend to
stop several meters short of crosswalks to avoid these fines. U.S. drivers
should note in particular that turning right on red is illegal. Also, some
traffic lights indicate that it is ok for traffic in specific lanes to continue
or turn by use of green arrows. For more information on self-driving, review
OSAC’s reports, Road
Safety Abroad, Driving
Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive
Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Pedestrians do not cross streets
at dedicated crossing points, and often do not look both ways before crossing. Any
driver who strikes a pedestrian will be considered at fault, regardless of
pedestrian negligence. Expect taxis and marshrutkas
(shared taxis) to stop unexpectedly or swerve to pick up and drop off passengers.
Tajik drivers often do not check traffic before merging onto a roadway, and
they frequently drive the wrong way down one-way streets. Traffic lights often
do not work, and the right-of-way in major traffic circles can depend on the
circle. Drivers should pay careful attention to marked turn lanes (even if the
paint is faded) because these lanes are often covered by traffic cameras, and
those cameras will photograph a turn made outside that turn lane, even if the
vehicle is only partially outside the turn lane.
Traffic police regularly pull cars
over to check documents or charge fines, both official and unofficial.
Occasionally, armed men in camouflage uniforms, usually from the security
services, accompany the traffic police. In most cases, this occurs prior to and
during major events, VIP movements, and security exercises.
Tajikistan has zero-tolerance laws
regarding drinking and driving. Police will charge those caught driving after
consuming any amount of alcohol.
Provincial travel, especially in
winter, can be dangerous, as avalanches, mudslides, rockslides, and flooding
often block major routes. In January 2018, a rockslide killed a local driver in
western GBAO along the major Pamir Highway. The roads from Dushanbe to Khujand
and from Dushanbe to GBAO can close for long periods due to avalanches and snow
accumulation. These major routes sometimes consist of a single gravel lane
along a mountain that can barely handle the large cargo trucks that supply the
more distant regions. Provincial roads that traverse mountainous terrain along
the Afghan border are difficult to navigate year-round. Take sufficient
emergency equipment (e.g. satellite phone, shovel, snow chains in the winter,
food, water, and blankets) on road trips. Distracted driving can easily result
in a fatal accident because of the lack of guard rails on roads traversing plunging
gorges. The scenery along these routes can be truly stunning, but memorial
stones to those killed in such accidents dot these roads.
Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad,
Driving Overseas: Best
Practices, and Evasive Driving
Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
In Dushanbe, public transportation
is often overcrowded and not operated at Western-level safety standards. Travelers
without a basic understanding of Russian or Tajik languages may find it
difficult to navigate and communicate with the drivers of public transportation,
as most drivers do not speak any English. Avoid crowded electric trolley buses
and marshrutkas. Taxis are generally safe, but female travelers should use caution,
as there have been several reports of taxi drivers sexually harassing female
passengers. Review OSAC’s report, Security In Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
Aviation security generally
conforms to international standards. However, flights are often subject to
short notice cancellation due to weather or other technical considerations, and
domestic flights are often overloaded. Foreigners have reported harassment and bribe
requests at Dushanbe International Airport (DYU), often over allegedly
incorrect documentation or made-up violations at the security checkpoint that
follows passport control in the departures area. Find a list of aviation
incidents and accidents on the Aviation
Safety Network website.
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Dushanbe as being a MEDIUM-threat
location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government
Supporters of regional terrorist
groups, like Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Islamic Jihad Union
(IJU), and Jamaat Ansarallah (JA), as well ISIS aim to overthrow Central Asian
governments and create an Islamic state. Because Afghanistan and Tajikistan
share more than 800 miles of common border, these groups are a significant
concern. As of 2017, local authorities reported that approximately 1,900 Tajik
citizens had joined militant groups outside the country over the past several
years. Some specific examples of recent incidents:
2019: A group of 15 Tajiks who had sworn allegiance to ISIS attacked and killed
five Tajik border guards at two remote outpost along the Tajik-Uzbek border.
2018: Authorities arrested two Tajiks who swore allegiance to ISIS and planned
an attack on the Tajik Ministry of Internal Affairs.
2018: ISIS claimed responsibility for a vehicle and knife attack on a group of
international cyclists, resulting in four deaths, including that of two U.S.
Several reports of varying
reliability over the past several years note unexploded IEDs found within Tajik
borders. Because of increased security at official U.S. facilities, terrorists
may seek softer civilian targets. Avoid large public gatherings when possible.
Tajiks primarily receive outside
news and television programming from Tajik government-approved media outlets,
which screens the stories for any unfavorable content. Much of the news programming
comes from Russia, exposing Tajiks to Russia’s increasingly anti-U.S. media. Despite
this, Tajiks generally hold positive view toward Westerners, and anti-U.S.
behavior is rare.
Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Dushanbe as being a MEDIUM-threat
location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government
Tajiks generally support their President,
crediting him with ending a devastating civil war and maintaining peace in a
country otherwise prone to divisiveness on regional and religious bases. They
recognize him as having the strength, skill, and experience to balance all
sides. However, in 2015, a Deputy Defense Minister staged an apparent coup
attempt that left nine attackers and eight police officers dead in Dushanbe and
a nearby city. The Deputy Minister and surviving supporters fled to the
mountains about an hour outside Dushanbe, generating little popular support. He
was killed two weeks later in a prolonged gun battle.
The potential for spontaneous
civil unrest exists, but incidents are rare. Local authorities are very
effective at controlling demonstrations. For more information, review OSAC’s
The specter of the civil war more
than two decades ago is never far from Tajik thoughts. However, only the most
extreme perceived injustices would bring people into the streets. Government
cronyism, pervasive corruption, and low standards of living are potential
sources of discontent. Much of the working male population is abroad, not only limiting
participants in potential unrest but also supplying much needed remittances
that make up more than a third of GDP, even during regional economic downturns.
Tajikistan is vulnerable to
natural disasters, especially earthquakes, avalanches, landslides, and flash
floods. Even minor tremors could result in significant damage to public
infrastructure and poorly constructed houses. Read OSAC’s report, Central
Asia Earthquake Preparedness.
Although the situation is
improving, the majority of the country lacks consistent power; blackouts and
brownouts are frequent. Many expatriate residences and hotels have backup
generators they must use at least weekly.
Changing U.S. dollars for local
currency (“somoni”) with unofficial moneychangers
is illegal. You must go to an official state bank branch for exchange. ATMs are
an excellent alternative for obtaining local currency. Dushanbe has many ATMs
that accept U.S. ATM cards, but it is safer to use ATMs in hotels, banks, or
larger stores rather than those exposed on the street. For more information,
review OSAC’s Report, The
Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud.
Consider local customs and
sensibilities when dressing. Tajikistan is nearly 100% Muslim and is socially
conservative, especially in rural areas and provincial towns. Learn the basics
of local customs, and show respect for those norms.
Western attire is common,
especially among men, but women should take care to dress somewhat more
conservatively, particularly in areas outside Dushanbe. A specific area of
concern involves sexual harassment and assault. Tajik cultural norms,
especially outside Dushanbe, differ from those in Europe and the United States.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, local society is becoming progressively
more religiously conservative. Western women, particularly those who travel
alone in the evening or night, should be sensitive to situations that put them
at risk. Women walking alone -- especially younger women who look Tajik -- may
be verbally accosted; direct eye contact with male strangers may lead to
unwanted attention. This is relatively common in Dushanbe, but less common in some
areas of GBAO. Western-looking women are less likely to fall victim to this
behavior, but all female visitors should be aware that this sort of behavior is
unfortunately common. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for female
Tajik culture is conservative and
generally not tolerant of the LGBTI community; recent government actions
include drawing up “lists” of local LGBTI individuals. LGBTI individuals should
exercise caution, especially with public displays of affection; they can easily
fall victim to verbal or even physical abuse. Same-sex sexual activity is legal
for those over the age of 16. Tajik law allows a change of legal gender on a
passport provide a medical professional attests to the individual having
undergone sex reassignment surgery. Review the State Department’s webpage on
security for LGBTI+
Buildings, public transportation,
communication, and road crossings are generally inaccessible to travelers who
require accessibility assistance. Review the State Department’s webpage on
security for travelers
People of African descent rarely
visit Tajikistan, and African-Americans are likely to be stared at or attract
attention, mainly due to the novelty of their presence. Sometimes this
attention can be both rude and quite forthright, but generally not physically
Tajikistan is a major conduit for
illicit drug traffic from Afghanistan. Tons of heroin pass through Tajikistan
every year from Afghanistan. The majority of the drugs likely enter Tajikistan
by the truckload at official points of entry along the Afghan border. There are
killings and skirmishes between Tajik border guards and Afghan drug
traffickers. Most of the skirmishes occur in Hamadoni and Shurobad Districts in
Khatlon Region (about two hours southeast of Dushanbe). Beyond the drug transit
issue, narcotics are in use in Tajikistan. Hashish use is illegal but common,
and heroin usage rates rise every year. Local drug enforcement is spotty,
selective, and fraught with corruption.
The police primarily focus on the
prevention and disruption of security threats. There are reliable reports of police
extortion and bribery, and police are generally unable to respond to crimes in
progress. Lack of resources, low salaries, and inadequate training contribute
to high corruption and a lack of professionalism among law enforcement
Carry your passport and visa (or
copies); if you encounter a situation involving the police, they will ask for
it. Police may attempt to extort a small bribe from you. Bribery is illegal. Travelers
confronted with a demand for a bribe should ask for the official’s name and official
identification number, and report the incident at the nearest police station.
Crime Victim Assistance
Download the State Department’s
Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
Victims of crime should go to the nearest police station promptly to file a
Ministry of Internal Affairs
29 Tehron Street, Dushanbe
Duty Officer: 21-08-30; 227-98-98;
Operators only speak Tajik or
Region Militia Directorate: Unit on Duty (83422) 606997 or 63038
Region Militia Directorate: Unit on Duty (83222) 22515 or 22536
Region Militia Directorate: Unit on Duty (83522) 29114 or 24203
Region Militia Directorate: Unit on Duty (83131) 21769 or 22255
The primary government bodies for
policing and security are the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State
Committee on National Security (GKNB).
Ministry of Internal Affairs handles routine policing and internal security functions.
GKNB is responsible for national security, counterterrorism, and border
Drug Control Agency is the primary agency for investigating drug possession and
Tajikistan’s inadequate public
healthcare infrastructure has given rise to private medical facilities offering
varying degrees of quality care in some specialties. Medical first responders
(ambulance crews) do not meet Western standards, and are not widely available, likely
poorly equipped, and often poorly trained. Expatriates almost exclusively use
private clinics for these reasons.
Smoking in public, including on
the street, is also illegal; police selectively enforce this rule. You may
still encounter smoking in restaurants.
Significant disease outbreaks are
possible due to population shifts, large numbers of migrant workers returning
from Russia, and a decline in some immunization coverage among the general
polio outbreak in 2010 accounted for almost a third of the world’s cases that
year, and killed/paralyzed children in remote villages.
are periodic outbreaks of typhoid in Dushanbe and in the south.
is some risk of malaria, cholera, and water-borne illnesses.
Central Asia, rates of infection of various forms of hepatitis and tuberculosis
(including drug-resistant strains) are on the rise.
use has also contributed to increases in HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
Find contact information for
available medical services and available air ambulance services on the U.S.
The U.S. Department of State strongly
recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling
internationally. Review the State Department’s webpage on insurance
The CDC offers additional
information on vaccines and health guidance for Tajikistan.
Review OSAC’s reports, The
Healthy Way, Traveling
with Medication, I’m
Drinking What in My Water?, Shaken:
The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire
OSAC Country Council Information
There is no formal OSAC Country
Council in Dushanbe. Interested private-sector security managers should contact
OSAC’s South &
Central Asia team with
U.S. Embassy Contact Information
109-A Ismoili Somoni Ave, Dushanbe
Hours of Operation: 0900-1700
After Hours Emergency: +992-98-580-1032
Before you travel, consider the
Department Traveler’s Checklist
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
Country Information Sheet