Last month I traveled to Uzbekistan with One Mile at a Time. I was traveling with a U.S. passport and a visa was needed prior to arrival. Ultimately, I had to go through some interesting hoops to get one. Here’s my story and a guide on how to obtain a tourist visa to Uzbekistan.
First, there are a handful of countries that qualify for visa-free travel to Uzbekistan or a visa on arrival. Some of these are nations with no Uzbeki diplomatic mission. Others are politically-friendly nations like Russia and other former CIS countries. Unfortunately, citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and all countries in Western Europe require visas in advance.
Uzbekistan has an embassy in the United States and consulate in New York City. Don’t be fooled by the fees posted on its website. Although not listed on the embassy website, U.S. citizens pay $160 for a visa (confirmed by the New York consulate) or $240 for rush processing.
- Embassy of Uzbekistan, Washington, D.C.
- 1746 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
- (202) 887-5300
- Hours: Monday – Thursday 10am-12pm
- Uzbekistan Consulate General of New York
- 801 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10017
- (212) 230-1341
- Hours: Monday – Thursday 10am-1pm (drop-off) // 3pm-5pm (pick-up)
New York or Washington?
Citizens of the following states may request a visa from the Embassy in Washington, DC:
- United States
- Washington DC
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Residents of all other U.S. states and territories should request visas from New York.
Those are the rules…but my experience (below) suggests that you probably can visit either New York or Washington DC.
What You Need for an Uzbekistan Visa
The following four items are required for a tourist visa to Uzbekistan:
- One duly completed and signed Visa Application Form (must be typed)
- Valid original passport
- Copy of passport (copy of pages with personal data, visas, stamps and other records)
- One passport size color photo
Letter of Invitation?
Note that even the Uzbekistan Embassy website has conflicting information on whether a letter of invitation is needed.
This page states—
Invitation of travel agency in Uzbekistan is required (except for citizens of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland) for the issuance of tourist visas.
While this page states—
For US tourists an invitation letter from Uzbekistan is NOT required.
I’m pleased to report that I was not asked for an invitation letter.
My Issue: Summering in Germany
Unfortunately, I spent July nowhere near New York or Washington, DC. Instead, I was in Germany. Thankfully, there was a consulate in Frankfurt within walking distance of my apartment. But would they accept my passport?
I showed up at the gate of the consulate and was buzzed in. Downstairs I took a seat and waited, soon discovering that I just had to muscle my way to the front window to receive any attention.
The staff did not speak English: only Uzbek or German. My German was more than sufficient to communicate with them and I was relieved to find out they would process my U.S. passport. I still had to pay the U.S. price…more in fact…they demanded 180EUR…but that was fine with me.
I had brought cash with me, but they insisted upon a bank transfer or debit card payment. Thankfully I still had my Deutsche Bank account and a valid debit card that did the trick. Had I not, I was given the following transfer info:
The Uzbek man working the counter told me to come back in “three or four” days. That was be perfect, because I was only in Frankfurt for four more days.
That was a Tuesday. On Friday I returned to the consulate. At first the team could not find my passport. Literally 10 minutes later, they remembered that I had an American passport and fished it out of a separate pile. They had not touched it and told me to come back next week.
I told them I was leaving Frankfurt and would not be back. They shrugged. I pleaded with them to get the passport done and they finally told me to take a seat.
Five minutes later, the visa was done and affixed to my passport…
Hopefully your visa experience will be less dramatic than mine. Get started as early as possible–had they not been so kind in Frankfurt I would have been forced to make a special trip to New York and drop another $240 for rush processing.
The no-cash rule is fairly common for visa processing at consulates, particularly for former Soviet Union countries. I applied for a visa for Belarus with a non-US passport at the consulate in New York. The rule I believe was money order or cashier’s checks only – no cash, credit card, or personal checks. They told me that because I was not an American, I would pay less in visa fees ($75 instead of $140). Alas, because my cashier’s check was for $140, they rejected my application, and I had to go get another cashier’s check for the right amount before they would accept my application.
Same experience at the Uzbek consulate in singapore; had to pay via bank transfer.
Caravanistan is a great resource for all things Central Asia visa.
The 160 fee is a reciprocity fee.. its how much Uzbeks get charged to get a US visa so US citizens have to pay the reciprocity fee even if they charge less for a visa for citizens of other countries.
This practice is fairly common to several other countries where what they charge for visa fees change based on the passport you’re applying on.