Getting a Uzbek visa
Getting a visa for Uzbekistan isn’t difficult, although you may need to fork out for a costly letter of invitation, either from your home embassy or a travel agent.
This requirement varies from embassy to embassy so ask before you apply.
You should allow one week for processing the visa. We were charged $75 U.S. for a 30-day tourist visa. Two-week visas were also available for about half that price but if you plan to cycle through even a little of the country and apply for onward visas in Tashkent you’ll need the better part of a month.
Renewing your visa is next to impossible. Many travellers just leave the country and apply for a new one from nearby capitals like Almaty or Bishkek. A double-entry visa will make things easier if you know you’re likely to visit the enclaves in Tajikistan or just want to do a round-trip of Central Asia, flying in and out of Tashkent.
Once in Uzbekistan, you have the fun of thinking about registration. You should register within 72 hours of your arrival and any hotel you stay in should do this for you. You will receive a small piece of paper with your name and dates you stayed at the hotel.
After the first three days, things get a little more confusing. We spoke to many people and couldn’t reach a clear consensus on what did or didn’t have to be done. Our impression was that we should be registered every night, other people said only once every three nights and some people said they didn’t need to be registered at all. Unfortunately, this is one area where we can’t give clear guidance. It’s your call.
Most people don’t get checked at the border but some do and if the officials find you were unregistered, they can fine you. Penalties start at $120 U.S. and stories of travellers paying upwards of $300 U.S. are not uncommon.
This is a real frustration for cyclists as not all distances are easily covered in a day and worries about being registered take all the fun out of wild camping.
If you have registration questions, try contacting either Alitour hotel or the English-speaking Airat and Alex at AROSTR travel agency (+998 90 186 86 48) in Tashkent. They are excellent sources of information on what you need to do.
Some travellers note that hotels don’t always fill in your departure date when they give you the registration slip at arrival. They suggest telling your hotel that you have lost your registration slip when you check out. Obtain a replacement and then use the duplicates to fill in missing dates. If the police call to check the information (as they sometimes do) then you may still be fined if the hotel doesn’t verify the information on your slips.
We were told that hotels would fill in missing dates in our registration if we asked nicely and perhaps paid a small fee. We never found one that actually agreed to do this but we met other travellers who were successful so it’s always worth asking.
The best practice is to avoid any gaps in your paperwork if at all possible. Otherwise, just cross your fingers at the border and hope you aren’t one of the lucky ones to be checked.