Living in Kazakhstan
Essential information for British nationals living in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
This guide sets out essential information for British national residing in Kazakhstan, including advice on residence requirements, health, education, benefits and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our information on what consulates can and cannot do for British nationals.
The British consular section in Astana/Kazakhstan offers consular support and assists British citizens who face serious difficulties such as hospitalisation, detention or death of a British national overseas or instances where a British National overseas is the victim of a serious violent crime.
Our consular guide
Information on the kind of help we can provide to British nationals who find themselves in difficulty overseas is set in our publication Support for British nationals abroad: A guide.
Kazakhstan travel advice
You can receive email alerts on the current situation in Kazakhstan or how to stay safe by signing up for Kazakhstan Travel Advice which is updated on a regular basis. This way you will be kept up-to-date with official embassy advice. Alternatively, you may follow the British Embassy Kazakhstan on Facebook and/or TWITTER to stay updated.
Make sure you have the right visa for the purpose of your travel, especially for business visas or work permits. Check the validity dates of your visa and any associated restrictions carefully before you travel.
If you violate the conditions of your visa, you could face a short term of imprisonment and/or a ban on entry to Kazakhstan for up to 5 years. Overstaying the date written on your white immigration card may result in similar penalties, regardless of the validity of your visa.
Don’t cross the border into or out of Kazakhstan illegally.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of your request for a visa. Your passport should also have at least 1 blank page for your visa.
The authorities in Kazakhstan have confirmed they will accept British passports extended by 12 months by British embassies and consulates under additional measures put in place in mid-2014.
Foreigners are required to carry a valid passport while in Kazakhstan.
Registering with the Kazakh authorities
For most visits, British passport holders don’t need to register with the local authorities providing you arrive at one of the 12 international airports. Check with local oblast authorities as some oblasts still insist on the registration requirement for visitors even for short stays.
If you don’t need to register with the local OVIR office (the Department for Visas and Registration under the Ministry of Internal Affairs), you must keep your white immigration card stamped by Kazakh immigration throughout your journey and present it on departure. If you intend to enter through a land or sea border point check with the British Embassy Kazakhstan to see whether registration is required.
For visits of more than 90 days you will need to register with the local authorities OVIR. Your travel company or employer may do this for you.
The medical facilities – List of local hospitals (PDF, 525KB, 18 pages) , in Kazakhstan are not as advanced as those in the UK. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad, evacuation by air ambulance and repatriation. Contact your travel health insurance company in advance to find out whether they have a recommended or restricted list of hospitals to use. Local hospitals insist on cash payment method. English speaking doctors/nurses are very rare.
Contact your GP around 8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices.
If you have retired, and you live in Kazakhstan, you could claim your pension from the UK. For detailed information on how to claim your state pension, please check the Pension Service or the Department for Social Development.
If you spend time in both the UK and another country, and are unsure about how this affects your UK pension, benefit and healthcare rights, always consult the relevant UK authority. If you have received a life certificate from the UK Pension Service it is important that you reply as quickly as possible otherwise your benefit may be stopped.
Driving in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan has a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol. A driver may be detained by police and convicted of drunk driving for driving a vehicle after consuming one drink of alcohol, regardless of whether the driver is actually intoxicated.
If you wish to drive in Kazakhstan you should apply for an International Driving Permit
Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus are a single customs union so if you’re planning to travel overland in your own vehicle make sure your customs declaration and temporary import licence are valid for the entire period of stay in all 3 countries. Your import licence can be extended for up to a year if necessary by contacting the customs authorities in any of the 3 countries.
Sending money overseas
Money can be transferred by Western Union or MoneyGram in an emergency. The list is presented here: Money transfer information for Kazakhstan (PDF, 587KB, 12 pages) .
ATMs are present throughout the country. Kazakhstan is mainly a cash society, however, credit cards are accepted in big shops and supermarkets.
Taxation in Kazakhstan
UK/Kazakhstan Double Taxation Convention signed on 21 March 1994 as amended by a Protocol signed on 18 September 1997: HMRC website.
As an embassy we are unable to become involved with tax matters, as we do not have the specific or relevant expertise.
Employment in Kazakhstan
Working in Kazakhstan In accordance with Kazakh law, foreign nationals can work in Kazakhstan under permits granted by the designated authority.
Permit to employ foreign workers shall be granted to the following classes:
- Chief executives with higher education and at least 5-year service in managing positions in their respective sector
- Managers and specialists, meeting qualifying requirements set-out in The Qualifying Sourcebook of Executive, Specialist and Other Worker Positions
- Skilled workers with the respective professional training and service in accordance with The Single Rate and Qualification Sourcebook of Worker Positions and Skills and the Rate and Qualification Descriptions of Worker Positions
- Workers involved in seasonal agriculture under international agreements on cooperation in labour migration and social protection of migrant workers
At the same time, Kazakh law sets forth classes of foreign nationals that can be employed without special permit:
- Chief executives of branches or offices of foreign corporations
- Individuals on business trips lasting not more than 60 calendar days in one calendar year. More than 60 days shall be allowed if the Kazakh staff is seconded in order to take professional training, or refresher training and advanced training in specific occupations in a foreign corporation, which seconds the same number of foreign workers for a similar period, or if the same number of Kazakh nationals are sent for study at educational institutions in a country where the foreign corporation is based. In doing so they should not be seconded for more than 180 calendar days;
- Individuals seconded under contract for more than 60 days to a Kazakhstan corporation, branches and offices of foreign corporations;
- Chief executives of companies that entered (with the Kazakhstan government) into contracts for investment worth over 50 million US Dollars, and chief executives of the Kazakhstan corporations investing in priority sectors, who entered into contract with the respective authority responsible for investment
- Staff of diplomatic missions and international institutions, and staff of consulates, accredited in Kazakhstan
- Those arriving under international agreements on charity, humanitarian aid and grants signed by Kazakhstan
- Media, accredited in Kazakhstan
- Members of crews of river vessels, air, rail or motor transport vessels, owned by foreign entities
- Artists, directors, conductors, choir masters, choreographers, painters, coaches, sportsmen and trainers
- Individuals, permanently residing in Kazakhstan
- Those who gained the refugee status or political asylum in Kazakhstan
- Those studying and working at Kazakhstan educational institutions
- Those who teach at general secondary, vocational, professional, post-secondary and higher educational institutions (under international agreements) on cooperation on education projects authorized by Kazakhstan (staffing of which does not exceed a 25 percent staff quota)
- Individuals, specialising in developing space rocket infrastructure and operating ground space infrastructure to be employed under international agreements on cooperation in aerospace signed by Kazakhstan
- Managers and specialists with post-secondary and higher education (with document confirmed under Kazakh law) working at the Regional Financial Centre in Almaty
- Please note that every year the Kazakhstan government sets limits on foreign workers to be employed
Other useful links
This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCO and the British Embassy will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.