This is an annual report produced in
conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent,
The current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Uzbekistan at
Level 1, indicating that travelers should exercise normal precautions.
Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent does not assume
responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or
firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular
individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service
Review OSAC’s Uzbekistan-specific
webpage for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact
information, some of which may be available only to private-sector
representatives with an OSAC password.
There is moderate risk from crime in Tashkent. The Government of
Uzbekistan does not release accurate crime statistics; most data comes through
informal sources. Open-source reporting on crimes within Uzbekistan increased
in 2018, but this does not necessarily correspond to an increase in actual
crime. Violent crimes against foreign victims are rare. Crimes of opportunity (e.g.
mugging, pickpocketing, snatch-and-grab robbery, theft of unattended bags,
purse snatching) are common, especially in crowded places (e.g. bazaars, public
transportation) and in more impoverished areas of Tashkent. Home burglaries and
break-ins occur, even in wealthier neighborhoods. In general, locals perceive
foreigners to be wealthy, and target them for financially motivated crime. Most
expatriate houses in Uzbekistan have more substantial residential security
features relative to U.S. houses.
Nightclubs frequented by foreign
clientele are targets for illicit activity, and often become the focus of
law-enforcement operations. Simultaneous raids on these and similar
establishments occur; authorities sporadically enforce a nighttime curfew of
11:00 pm for many establishments. Application of the curfew typically involves
law-enforcement arriving at the venue, operations (e.g. dancing, music, food
and beverage service) ceasing, and everyone departing without incident. However,
authorities can detain patrons for document verification and questioning, which
can take several hours. In 2018, there were several incidents at nightclubs in
Tashkent, including the murder of a patron beaten to death by security guards after
having threatened them with a knife. The nightclub, located in the center of
Tashkent, closed; the security guards face criminal charges.
Unofficial news outlets and informal sources
report violent crimes in some of the more impoverished areas of Tashkent,
including some parts of Sergeli, Chilanzar, and Hamza districts, and around the
Chorsu Market in the Old City. Unsolved property and violent crimes are more
common in these areas.
Although the official and black-market
exchange rates for the Uzbek soum have come back into alignment, the practice of
exchanging money on the black market is still illegal. Anyone engaging in black
market currency exchange risks receiving counterfeit bills, as well as detainment,
interrogation, or arrest. Uzbekistan remains a predominately cash economy. Establishments
often do not accept credit cards or U.S. ATM cards. ATMs regularly run out of
cash. Vendors and banks frequently rejected U.S. cash that is not “crispy”
(clean, no wrinkles, no marks). There is a substantial risk of fraud outside of
major establishments and banks. For more information, review OSAC’s report, The
Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud.
There are no official statistics reported
for vehicle theft (including carjacking), but unofficial reports advise that it
Corruption is endemic in the public and
private sectors, and often closely involves criminal mechanisms. Criminal links
exist throughout Uzbek society.
Other Areas of Concern
Exercise caution while traveling
throughout Uzbekistan. Due to increased security measures, any attempts to
navigate Uzbekistan’s land borders could be difficult and invite delays. Despite
official Uzbek government announcements of an increased number of
border-crossing stations, many border crossings with neighboring countries
remain closed or inoperable. Proper documentation (i.e. current passport, valid
visa for the destination) are essential for both internal and external travel.
Even with proper documentation, unexpected border closures and restrictions
against non-Central Asians may prevent crossing.
If you plan to return to Uzbekistan after
crossing the border, ensure you have a valid multiple-entry visa. Some Western
travelers have traveled to neighboring countries only to realize they cannot
return because their visa was for a single entry. The most direct routes in certain areas
of the Fergana Valley are along roads that may temporarily cross poorly
demarcated or disputed borders. Locals use these so-called transit roads daily
by without incident. Authorities may consider crossing the border in this
manner, even inadvertently, as an immigration violation.
For more information, review OSAC’s Report, Security
in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Traffic safety is a major concern. Roads suffer
poor maintenance, with uneven surfaces and large potholes. Traffic lights
frequently malfunction, and street lighting is poor to non-existent,
particularly on secondary roads where driving at night is ill advised. Highways
and roads outside of most major cities are serviceable; travel only during
daylight hours for adequate visibility. It is common for local drivers to drive
at night without headlights, especially outside of Tashkent.
Local drivers exhibit a general lack of
respect for traffic rules/regulations, from disregarding lane markings, to
driving on the opposite side of the street, to making sudden lane changes
without signaling. Personal vehicles operating as ad hoc, informal cabs will
pull over without warning to pick up passengers, and often make turns from any
lane. Minor and moderate traffic accidents are frequent. Officially, parties involved
in an accident must contact the police and exchange insurance information; in
practice, cases often resolve on the street with a cash payment by the
offending party. This is a normal, albeit illegal, practice, since formal
investigations are time-consuming, bureaucratic, and cumbersome. Rampant
corruption with respect to traffic citations and accident investigations
exists. Newly installed traffic cameras enforce red light and speeding
violations, which has led to new, abrupt traffic behaviors. Drunk drivers are
also a concern, although there is technically a zero-tolerance policy. Stay
alert and drive defensively.
Pedestrians have the right of way. Vehicles
will often stop abruptly to allow pedestrians to cross at designated areas.
While crosswalks are common, they are not always used. Pedestrians frequently
stand in traffic to hail a taxi and attempt to cross the street where there is
no pedestrian crossing. Many people walk in the street, often wearing dark
clothing, and are difficult to see, especially in inclement weather and in the
dark. Some drivers are inattentive to the presence of pedestrians. This
combination leads to frequent, serious pedestrian/vehicular accidents –
especially at night.
The government has been installing
traffic radars and cameras on roads and intersections in the country that are able
to detect speeding, and traffic light violations. A speed limit is set for
70km/h in towns and 100 km/h at highways outside towns.
Depending upon security conditions,
Americans could expect restricted personal movement to certain parts of the
country, including the temporary closing of roads to traffic, and frequent
vehicle and personal identification checks.
Uzbekistan allows a blood alcohol
concentration (BAC) of 0.3 for drivers. For more information on self-driving, review
OSAC’s report, Driving Overseas: Best
Public Transportation Conditions
Public transportation in Tashkent
consists of an underground metro system and buses (including microbuses). The
metro is fairly clean and affordable, and features armed police surveillance. Authorities
usually search personal items, and it is common for guards to review
identification documents. Buses are generally crowded and offer pickpockets
easy targets. Unlicensed buses and damas
vans come with increased safety and security risks.
The U.S. Embassy advises its employees to
use radio-dispatched, app-dispatched, or well-marked taxicabs. Avoid unregistered
cabs for crime and safety reasons. Taxis may try to pick up additional
passengers, raising the risk of crime or scams. Police will not assist victims
of price gouging or scamming by unregistered taxis. Very few taxis have or
allow the use of seatbelts.
Travel by rail is popular, and the advent
of high-speed rail lines provides an effective, alternative form of
transportation. Security measures at train stations are similar to those at
Islam Karimov Tashkent International
Airport (TAS) maintains relatively robust security. Travelers should prepare
for long lines, line jumpers, and an extremely crowded baggage retrieval area; however,
the airport is implementing customer service improvements. Customs regulations
allow importation of up to $2,000 in cash without customs declaration;
travelers must declare any amount exceeding $2,000 upon entry/exit into
Uzbekistan. Save your customs declaration to show the amount of money declared
upon entry into the country.
When possible, arrange transportation in
advance. While taxis are abundant, language barriers and subsequent
negotiations over fares can lead to problems or exorbitant fares. The exit area
of the arrival terminal is crowded, with a large number of taxi drivers harassing
travelers with offers of overpriced transport. There are marked taxicabs in the
parking lot near the terminal for those needing transport; they will provide an
official receipt, but the fare is unreasonably high.
Regional airports maintain similarly
robust security, although amenities are substandard or non-existent. Domestic air
travel has improved, with multiple flights to many larger regional cities.
Local, Regional, and International
There is moderate risk from terrorism in
Tashkent. Uzbek security and law enforcement bodies have successfully prevented
terrorist attacks since 2004, and aggressively pursue investigations of
potential radicalization or terrorism support. Radicalization of Uzbek
nationals or ethnic Uzbeks has occurred abroad, raising the risk of returning
fighters or terrorists. Over the past few years, Russia has arrested dozens of
Uzbeks for suspected ties to terrorism or for links to extremist organizations.
Uzbeks allegedly participated in the terrorist attacks against the Istanbul
airport in June 2016, the Reina nightclub in Istanbul in January 2017, in Sweden
in April 2017, and in the United States in October 2017. In July 2018, members
of an ISIS cell attacked and killed four cyclists as they biked through
Southern Tajikistan; two of the victims were U.S. nationals. Uzbek nationals or
ethnic Uzbeks reportedly have become foreign terrorist fighters in Syria.
Supporters of terrorist groups are active
in Central Asia. The U.S. Government remains concerned that terrorist groups
may be planning attacks, possibly against U.S. interests, in Uzbekistan and across
Central Asia. Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan (IMU), al-Qa’ida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan
Islamic Movement (ETIM/ETIP) are active in the region. In the past, these
groups have conducted kidnappings, assassinations, and suicide bombings. Terrorist
groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Since official
U.S. facilities have increased security, terrorists and their sympathizers may
seek softer targets.
Members of various terrorist groups have
expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and have attacked U.S. government interests in
Central Asia previously, including U.S. Embassy Tashkent, and may attempt to
target U.S. government or private interests in the region.
The Government of Uzbekistan maintains
friendly relations with the U.S. Government. Expressions of anti-U.S. or anti-Western
sentiment are rare; the U.S. remains a popular destination for business/leisure
travel for Uzbek citizens.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
There is minimal risk from civil unrest
in Tashkent. While Uzbekistan’s constitutional provisions afford citizens the
right to hold rallies, meetings, and demonstrations, authorities can ban or
suspend these on security grounds. While the potential for civil disturbance
exists, demonstrations are rare. Unapproved demonstrations of typically less
than a dozen people have occurred in front of the General Prosecutor’s Office,
Monument of Courage, the Supreme Court, and district courts in Tashkent; authorities
often shut them down. In outlying regions, larger demonstrations and road
blockages, some consisting of as many as 200 participants, occasionally occur
in protest against utility shortages or currency issues. Authorities usually
disperse these quickly, too.
Civil unrest and political violence are
uncommon due to the high degree of control and engagement by the government
from the national level to the local neighborhood associations (mahallas).
Although the rare demonstrations are
typically peaceful, avoid them. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can
turn unpredictable and violent; moreover, there is a significant risk that
security authorities will use force to control the demonstration and/or conduct
follow-on investigations and criminal proceedings against demonstrators.
Uzbekistan is located on a major
earthquake fault line, and tremors are frequent. In 2011, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake
damaged/destroyed at least 800 homes in the Fergana valley. The reported death
toll was 13 people, and more than 80 others sustained injuries.
Local housing rarely meets Western
construction standards; however, major Uzbek hotels reportedly meet earthquake design
U.S. Embassy Tashkent strongly encourages
residents and visitors to evaluate their own earthquake readiness and
emergency-response capabilities. Find a useful resource regarding emergency
preparedness on the U.S. Embassy Tashkent’s
For more information, review OSAC’s report, Central
Asia Earthquake Preparedness.
Industrial and transportation accidents
are very common, as occupational safety, health standards, and traffic
regulations are often lacking or ignored.
Visitors and residents have no
expectation of privacy. Security services monitor foreign visitors closely and
may employ surveillance practices. It is reasonable to expect that authorities may
monitor hotel rooms, offices, cars, taxis, gyms, and other public places on
site or remotely. Do not expect privacy in communications via phone, Internet,
or fax. Authorities may search personal possessions without your knowledge or
consent. Maintain direct control of all electronic devices while traveling in
Personal Identify Concerns
LGBTI rights are very limited to
non-existent, with sexual relations between men punishable by up to three
years’ imprisonment. The law does not specifically address same-sex sexual
activity between women. Same-sex sexual activity is generally a taboo subject
in Uzbek society, and there are no registered LGBTI organizations. Same-sex
couples may experience discrimination by the local population.
Authorities only allow religious
congregation within registered religious communities. The registration process
is strict and complex. Proselytizing, importing and disseminating religious
literature, and offering private religious instruction are subject to criminal
penalties/deportation. Carrying religious literature and/or open displays of
worship can attract the attention of security authorities.
Foreign citizens should not give public speeches
or engage in other public events, regardless of size, unless the Ministry of
Justice or a relevant branch has authorized their participation in the event.
The Uzbek government is strict about public events, especially when a foreigner
Penalties for possessing, using, or
trafficking in illegal drugs in Uzbekistan are severe, and convicted offenders
can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. There is a risk of
narco-terrorism issues, given the geographic proximity to Afghanistan and its
location within a major corridor of trade and transport routes for Afghan
heroin and opium. Several times each year, Uzbek authorities announce the
seizure of large drug shipments at border crossings, likely representing just a
fraction of what is transiting the country. Corruption and lack of training/equipment for
law enforcement agencies hamper efforts to stem the flow of narcotics. The drug addiction
problem is also likely significantly worse than acknowledged by the government.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates there are ten times as
many drug addicts in Uzbekistan as officially acknowledged. This issue generally
does not affect the expatriate community.
Kidnappings have occurred; however, the
U.S. Embassy is not aware of any recent instances involving the expatriate
Police training and equipment is often below
U.S. standards. Police reportedly commonly solicit bribes to supplement their
salaries, or may readily accept bribes when offered. Very few local law enforcement
officials speak English. While police response capability is available, there
is little investigative ability to solve crimes primarily due to limited
training, funding, and equipment.
Tourist police units operate at regional
police headquarters in Samarkand, Bukhara, Khorezm, and Kashkadarya. Tourist
police aim to aid tourists/visitors and prevent offenses against them at
sightseeing and cultural sites. Tourist police officers patrol areas by foot
and in specially marked police vehicles.
In 2018, a realignment of responsibilities
among the Armed Forces and Security Services resulted in creation of the
National Guard. Currently the National Guard provides public order and security
in cities throughout Uzbekistan. The National Guard patrols the streets in
conjunction with local police forces.
Authorities enforce a prohibition on taking
photographs of military or security installations or other locations of
strategic significance (e.g. government ministries, border and other
checkpoints, bridges, tunnels, reservoirs, mountain passes, etc.). However, there
is no longer any prohibition on photography of the metro system. Obey all signs
restricting photography, and remember that the absence of signage does not imply
permission. Photography of cotton harvesting remains a sensitive subject. For more information,
please review OSAC’s report, Picture
This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography. Authorities generally
prohibit the personal use of drones in Uzbekistan.
Travelers to Uzbekistan are subject to
frequent document inspections. Travelers should have proper identity documents
or a copy of their passport with them, and cooperate with police authorities if
stopped for questioning.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or
The risk of abuse while in police custody
is a potential danger. If police harassed or detained a U.S. citizen,
immediately report the incident to the American Citizen Services Unit (ACS) at
Crime Victim Assistance
If a U.S. citizen is the victim of a
crime, immediately report the incident to ACS.
Uzbekistan has an emergency response
telephone system. Dial 102 on local
phones for police services. Reach fire services at 101. Dialing 1050
reaches the Ministry of Emergency Situations, where you can report all other
critical incidents. Emergency dispatch services will likely speak only Russian
or Uzbek, not English.
The health care system is not adequate to
meet the needs of many serious emergencies. There is a lack of basic supplies
and little modern equipment. Emergency medicine is very basic. A large percentage
of medication sold in local pharmacies counterfeit. Elderly travelers and those
with pre-existing health problems may be at particular risk due to inadequate
medical facilities. Most resident U.S. citizens travel to North America or Western
Europe for their medical needs.
You can reach emergency medical services locally
by dialing 103. Emergency dispatch
services will likely speak only Russian or Uzbek, not English.
Uzbek customs authorities strictly control the
importation of controlled pharmaceuticals and psychotropic medicine for
personal use. Even arriving with personal prescriptions of common medicines can
meet unexpectedly stringent requirements. For more information, refer to travel.state.gov, the U.S. Embassy website, and OSAC’s report, Traveling with
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
The Tashkent International Clinic (TIC) (Tel:
+998-78-291-0142/0726) meets Western standards. There is a physician on-site
during the day and on-call during non-working hours. TIC has basic diagnostic
equipment and can handle some trauma emergencies. More severe injuries require
air evacuation. For mass casualty scenarios, authorities have identified Tashkent
Emergency Hospital as the receiving institution for trauma care.
Available Air Ambulance Services
Air-ambulance response times can easily
stretch beyond 24 hours. This is mostly due to the bureaucratic process for
obtaining aircraft clearances and visas. If an expatriate patient needs an air
ambulance, TIC should be their first contact. Because of the high costs
associated with an emergency medical evacuation (medevac), travelers should obtain
medevac insurance coverage. Medicare and Medicaid do not apply overseas.
Country-specific Vaccination and Health
only boiled or bottled water, peel fruits and vegetables, and avoid undercooked
meat. Avoid eating unpasteurized dairy products and most food sold in the
is the risk of exposure to multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB). The CDC offers
additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Uzbekistan.
Country Council Information
The Tashkent Country
Council has 50 member organizations from the private sector and ten member
organizations from the diplomatic community attending meetings. The main point
of contact for OSAC issues is the Assistant Regional Security Officer. Contact
OSAC’s South & Central Asia team with any questions.
Embassy Location and Contact Information
Embassy Address and Hours of Operation
3 Moyqorghon Street, 5th Block, Yunusobod
District, Tashkent 100093
Hours: Monday-Friday 0900-1800
Embassy Contact Numbers
Main Operator: +998-78-120-5450
Regional Security Office: +998-78-140-2347
Consular Affairs: +998-78-140-2215
are encouraged to check their visa to ensure it is valid through the length of
their stay and should register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler
Enrollment Program (STEP).