I recently had to apply for a visa for my upcoming trip to Uzbekistan, which was not the most straightforward task, so I thought I would put together my own ‘how to’ guide for anyone else out there who might need it.
There are companies who you can pay to arrange your visa, but when I looked into this it seemed very poor value for money. Although the visa requirements appear slightly daunting at first, it really isn’t that hard to do it yourself, and it will save you a significant amount of money provided you do it right. In the end it cost me about £65 for a 15-day single entry visa, whereas a company like VisaSwift will charge you £200 for what is essentially just a bit of photocopying and a trip to the Post Office.
Update: The Uzbek government has announced that travel to Uzbekistan will be visa-free for UK citizens from April 2017, so this guide will soon be out of date.
The information below was correct for UK citizens at the time of writing (July 2015), but visa regulations can and do change without notice, so please make sure you check with the Uzbek Embassy for the most up-to-date requirements and fees before completing your application.
Here’s a list of the documentation that you’ll need for your visa application…
Completed application form (2 copies)
First you will need to fill out and print the visa application form on the Embassy website. You can apply for more than one person at a time; simply click ‘Add next person’ to add another traveller’s details to the form. Make sure you pay particular attention to the following details:
- Duration of stay: Even if you are booked on a fixed tour, it’s worth allowing an extra day on your visa at the end of your stay in case of flight delays.
- Number of entries: In some border areas, such as the frontier with Tajikistan, certain road or rail journeys could result in you briefly leaving and re-entering the country, and you may need a multiple entry visa if you’re planning on taking one of these routes, even if you don’t plan to stop in the neighbouring country.
- Route for transit through Uzbekistan: Tick the places you plan to visit; it doesn’t matter if your plans are still subject to change.
- Purpose of visit: If you’re travelling to Uzbekistan on holiday then it’s sufficient to just write ‘tourism’ in this box.
- Inviting party: A letter of invitation is not currently required by UK citizens visiting for the purposes of tourism; business travellers and other nationalities should check with the Uzbek Embassy for the latest requirements.
- Address in Uzbekistan: Give the address of the first hotel you’re staying in if you know it, or just pick somewhere plausible if you’re yet to book accommodation at this stage.
- Occupation: The list of occupations on the form is a bit odd, and does not appear particularly comprehensive to western eyes. If you can’t find anything that seems to describe what you do for a living, you can just do as I did and pick ‘Representatives of business groups and persons engaging in individual enterprise’.
It’s always a little nerve-wracking sending off your passport, but the Embassy will need to affix your visa to one of the pages. Make sure you have at least one completely blank page in your passport for this purpose, and that your passport is valid for the duration of your stay.
Two recent passport photos
As well as your passport, you will need to enclose two recent passport-style photos.
Photocopy of each page of your passport
It isn’t clear from the Embassy website whether they require a photocopy of every single page, or simply those that already have a stamp or visa attached, but to be on the safe side I enclosed a photocopy of every single page, including the photo page and inside covers.
Postal order covering the visa fee
For some reason the Embassy will only accept payment via the somewhat antiquated method of Postal Order. To acquire one of these, you’ll need to go to a Post Office, and they have to be paid for in cash, though it’s possible to withdraw cash using the card machine at the Post Office counter with most UK debit cards, which means that effectively you can pay by card. The Post Office also slaps a hefty 12.5% charge on the value of the Postal Order (capped at a maximum of £12.50).
It’s fine to send one Postal Order to cover the cost of multiple visas if you’re applying for more than one person, and it should be made out to the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the United Kingdom (or whatever you can fit into the space).
Your visa fee will depend on your planned length of stay and number of entries; please consult the Embassy website for the latest costs.
Self-addressed Special Delivery envelope
This is so that the Embassy can return your passport(s) to you, and can be easily obtained from the Post Office. Again, only one envelope is needed for multiple passports, but make sure you’ve paid for the correct weight ( a UK passport weight about 35 grams), and make sure you’ve filled out your address on the front of the envelope. It’s fine to use your work address if that’s more convenient.
Once you’ve done all of the above, stick it all in a Jiffy bag and post it to the Embassy in London, or you can take it in yourself, though their opening hours are pretty restricted. See here for the current contact details and opening hours.
The Embassy currently advises that applications take up to 10 working days to return, although I got mine back a bit quicker than that. There was no supporting documentation or covering letter enclosed, just the passports with the visas affixed.
Hopefully this guide will help you navigate the application process, but if you have any suggestions on how I could improve this article to make it clearer, or you think there are any innaccuracies, please do let me know in the comments below. Good luck getting your visa, and I hope you have a great time in Uzbekistan!