Kazakhstan was well known for having a difficult visa process until only a few years ago. Like many former Soviet countries, a Letter of Invitation (LOI) was required to obtain a visa. You required a full itinerary and most of your services pre-booked. That was until 2014 when Kazakhstan began trialling a visa free programme for ten selected countries. This was extremely successful in increasing visitors, and as such was increased to 19 countries in 2015, 43 countries in 2017, and then 54 in 2019.
One of the great benefits of the Kazakhstan visa system was that one was essentially allowed unlimited new visa free periods providing they made a quick border run to reset the time period. Like much of the world this was stopped in 2020 and now one can only stay in Kazakhstan for 90 days out of any 180 day period.
Visa free entry
The following passport holders can visit Kazakhstan for 90 days without applying for a visa due to reciprocal agreements:
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia and Ukraine.
The following can visit Kazakhstan for 30 days without applying for a visa:
Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Serbia, South Korea, Tajikistan, Turkey, UAE and Uzbekistan.
Hong Kong passport holders can enter for 14 days without a visa.
Visa free programme
The visa free programme is a unilateral policy introduced by Kazakhstan to promote tourism and business, allowing the following countries visa free access to Kazakhstan for 30 days. It was originally 15 days but was increased to 30 days in 2017.
Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, European Union, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapire, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United States.
If you’re not on the visa free list, you will need a visa to visit Kazakhstan. Luckily in 2019 Kazakhstan introduced an e-visa for all other nationalities.
The e-visa can be used for both tourist and business visas but unfortunately those in possession of the Kazakhstan e-visa must arrive at either Almaty or Nur-Sultan international airports. If a holder of a passport which isn’t eligible for visa free travel wishes to cross a land border, they must obtain a visa in their passport beforehand at a Kazakhstan diplomatic post.
Visa free transit
Visa free transit is available for Chinese and Indian passport holders if they are transiting through Almaty or Nur-Sultan international airports, also providing they are flying on a Kazakhstan airline.
Turkmen access to border areas
Although it won’t be relevant to any of our guests, it is interesting to note that residents of the Balkan region of Turkmenistan (in the west of Turkmenistan on the black Sea coast) can access Atyrau and Mangystau provinces in Kazakhstan for up to 5 days without a visa.