This is an annual report produced
in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in
Tashkent. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Uzbekistan.
For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s country-specific page
for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some
of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
The current U.S. Department of
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Uzbekistan at
Level 1, indicating that travelers should exercise normal precautions. Review
OSAC’s report, Understanding
the Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Tashkent as being a MEDIUM-threat
location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
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 2019,
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 homes in the United States.
Nightclubs frequented by foreign
clientele are targets for illicit activity, and have previously been the focus
of law-enforcement operations. Simultaneous raids on these and similar establishments
occurred frequently up until early 2018; authorities used a loosely enforced curfew
to detain patrons for document verification and questioning, often taking
several hours. In 2018, there were several violent 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 reject 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 does occur.
Corruption is endemic in the public
and private sectors, and often closely involves criminal mechanisms. Criminal
links exist throughout Uzbek society.
Other Areas of
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 without incident. Authorities may consider
crossing the border in this manner, even inadvertently, as an immigration
Review OSAC’s reports, All
That You Should Leave Behind, The
Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud, Hotels:
The Inns and Outs and Considerations
for Hotel Security, and Taking
Road Safety and Road
Traffic safety is a major concern.
Roads suffer from poor maintenance, with uneven surfaces and large potholes.
Traffic lights malfunction frequently, and street lighting is poor to
non-existent, particularly on secondary roads where driving at night is unadvisable.
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, including disregarding lane
markings, driving on the opposite side of the street, and 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. Uzbekistan allows a
blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.3 for drivers. Drunk drivers are also a
concern, although there is technically a zero-tolerance policy.
Pedestrians have the right of way.
Vehicles will often stop abruptly to allow pedestrians to cross at designated
areas. While crosswalks are common, pedestrians do not always use them. 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 radar and cameras on roads and intersections are able to detect speeding
and traffic light violations. The speed limit is generally 70km/hr in towns and
100 km/hr on highways outside towns.
Depending upon security
conditions, U.S. nationals may experience restricted personal movement to
certain parts of the country, including the temporary closing of roads to
traffic, and frequent vehicle and personal identification checks.
For more information, 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.
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
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
For more information, review
OSAC’s Report, Security
in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
Islam Karimov Tashkent
International Airport (TAS) maintains relatively robust security. Travelers
should prepare for long lines, line jumpers, and a 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 charges. 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 fares are unreasonably
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.
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Tashkent as being a MEDIUM-threat
location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government
interests. 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 2016, the Reina nightclub in Istanbul in 2017, in
Sweden in 2017, and in the United States in 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
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Tashkent as being a LOW-threat
location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S.
While Uzbekistan’s constitutional
provisions afford its citizens the right to hold rallies, meetings, and
demonstrations, authorities can ban or suspend these rights 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. For
more information, review OSAC’s report, Surviving
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 website. 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
LGBTI rights are 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. Review
the State Department’s webpages on security for LGBTI+
travelers and for female
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. Review
OSAC’s report, Freedom
to Practice, and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
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 is present.
Local public transportation and
the majority of buildings in Uzbekistan are not easily accessible for disabled
individuals. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
Penalties for possessing, using,
or trafficking in illegal drugs in Uzbekistan are severe; convicted offenders
can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. There is a risk of
narco-terrorism issues, given geographic proximity to Afghanistan and the
country’s 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 actually 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 community. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping:
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 the
reestablishment 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.
The risk of abuse while in police
custody is a potential danger. If police harass or detain a U.S. citizen, or if
a U.S. citizen is the victim of a crime, immediately report the incident to the
American Citizen Services Unit (ACS) at +998-78-120-5450.
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,
health care system is not adequate to meet the needs of many serious
emergencies. There is a lack of basic supplies and limited modern equipment.
Emergency medicine is very basic. Some medication sold in local pharmacies may
be 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
reach emergency medical services locally by dialing 103.
Emergency dispatch services will likely speak only Russian or Uzbek, not
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. Review OSAC’s report, Traveling with
Find contact information for
available medical services and available air ambulance services on the U.S. Embassy
The U.S. Department of State
strongly recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling
internationally. Review the State Departments webpage on insurance
Tashkent International Clinic (TIC) (Tel: +998-78-291-0142/0726) is a primary
care facility that 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 minor to moderate emergencies. More severe emergencies
require treatment at government hospitals and/or air evacuation. For mass
casualty scenarios, authorities have identified Tashkent Emergency Situations
Hospital as the receiving institution for trauma care.
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 are strongly encouraged to obtain medevac insurance coverage.
Medicare, Medicaid and most private health insurance policies do not apply
Food and water borne
communicable diseases are prevalent in Uzbekistan, and include hepatitis,
giardia, and viral/bacterial diarrheal diseases (including typhoid). Drink only
boiled or bottled water and avoid undercooked meat or seafood. Thoroughly clean
fruits and vegetables appropriately with chlorine solution, due to widespread
contamination with night soil. Avoid eating unpasteurized dairy products and
most food sold in the street. Review OSAC’s
reports, The Healthy Way,
I’m Drinking What in My
Water?, Shaken: The Don’ts of
Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad
In addition to routine
childhood and adult immunizations, consider the following vaccines before
travel to Uzbekistan: typhoid, influenza, and rabies (for some longer-term
visitors). There is the risk of exposure to multidrug resistant tuberculosis
(MDR TB). The CDC offers additional
information on vaccines and health guidance for Uzbekistan.
OSAC Country Council Information
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.
U.S. Embassy Contact Information
3 Moyqorghon Street, 5th Block,
Yunusobod District, Tashkent 100093
Hours: Monday-Friday 0900-1800
Main Operator: +998-78-120-5450
Regional Security Office: +998-78-140-2347
Consular Affairs: +998-78-140-2215
Before you travel, consider the
Department Traveler’s Checklist
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
Department Country Information Page for Uzbekistan