Local laws and customs

Most of the population of Azerbaijan is Muslim. Azerbaijan is a largely secular society, and religion is usually considered a private matter. Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

It is illegal to proselytise.

In Baku local and foreign women usually dress in western-style clothing. It is now more acceptable for men in Baku to wear shorts in the summer months but outside of Baku it can be frowned upon and attract unwelcome attention.

Possession or use of illegal drugs of any kind carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms. The usual penalty for smuggling drugs is a prison term of between 3 to 7 years and/or a heavy fine.

Police sometimes carry out checks of identity documents. You should carry your passport at all times. Keep it secure and leave a photocopy of the details page separately in a safe place.

While homosexuality is not illegal, LGBT people in Azerbaijan tend to keep a low profile as it is not acceptable to a large part of society. This is particularly true outside Baku and among the older generation. Public displays of affection are frowned upon, especially outside of Baku. Physical contact between men (holding hands, embracing etc) is usually a sign of friendship. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

You need an export certificate to take antiques or art like carpets, samovars, copperware or paintings out of Azerbaijan. These are available from the Carpet Museum or through the seller. Catalogue and declare to Customs any carpets or anything antique looking – even if clearly from a different part of the world - that you bring to Azerbaijan with you. Your relocation company should be able to offer you advice on this.

Military bases, equipment and installations in whatever condition are considered sensitive areas, and visitors have been detained and questioned while attempting to visit or photograph them. Be aware of cultural sensitivities when photographing mosques, churches and other religious sites. If in doubt, seek permission.