Tajikistan travel information: Safety and security
Safety and security section, Terrorism section and summary - addition of information and advice following an armed attack on a Tajik security checkpoint on the Tajik/Uzbek border on 6 November 2019
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Advice current as at 4:00 am 20 Jan 2020.
Dushanbe is relatively secure, but there have been occasional muggings and petty crime against foreigners. Women should avoid going out alone at night, and may suffer harassment even during the day.
There have been instances of sexual assault, including rape, reported to the British Embassy. This has included suspected use of ’date-rape’ drugs targeting foreigners. Don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.
You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK. Alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit. Don’t accept lifts from strangers or passing acquaintances at any time.
There are sporadic clashes between border forces and drug traffickers along the Afghan border, particularly in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast. The most recent incidents during 2018 resulted in a number of injuries.
Tourist facilities are under-developed and goods and services taken for granted in the UK may not be available.
On 6 November 2019, it was reported that 17 people were killed in an armed attack on a Tajik security checkpoint in Rudaki District on the Tajik/Uzbek border, approximately 60km south-west of Dushanbe. The Tajik Government has said that Daesh/ISIS is responsible. Dushanbe remains calm, and there is no special police presence on the streets or at checkpoints. You should exercise caution and vigilance, particularly if travelling near or across the Tajik/Uzbek border.
The Tajik-Kyrgyz border is disputed. Localised violence erupts occasionally and the border can be closed at short notice, particularly near the Vorukh enclave. There were clashes between Tajik and Kyrgyz border guards and civilians in June 2018 and there have been a number of security incidents in recent months. Previous incidents have involved firearms. There’s a risk of further localised violence and border closures at any time. You should remain vigilant in border areas and check local media reports before travelling.
Don’t venture off-road in areas immediately adjoining the Afghan, Uzbek and Kyrgyz borders, as there are both marked and unmarked minefields.
Tajikistan’s borders with neighbouring countries are subject to closure without notice. Check in advance which border posts are currently open.
The crossing points on the Tajik/Kyrgyz border at Guliston (Isfara region), Avchikalacha (Sughd region) and Kizil Art (Gorno-Badakhshan region) are open to British nationals. The border at Karamik (Jirgatol region) is currently only open to Tajik and Kyrgyz nationals, although this may change in the future following talks between the two countries.
The crossing points on the Tajik/Uzbek border at Bratstvo (Tursunzade region), and at Fotehobod and Patar/Rabot (Sughd region) and the Panjakent-Samarkand border are open to British nationals holding visas.
Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast
The government of Tajikistan sometimes suspends issuing permits for travel to the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) by foreign nationals who enter Tajikistan on a tourist visa. This can happen at short notice, depending on the security situation in the area. If you’re considering travel to the GBAO you should contact the Embassy of Tajikistan for up to date information on whether permits are being issued.
On 13 January a clash in the regional capital Khorog between local youths and the security forces resulted in the use of non-lethal weapons and 1 person was hospitalised. There is a possibility of further unrest.
Tensions in Khorog have risen since September 2018. In November and December 2018 there were small scale clashes between local youths and the security forces.
If you’re travelling in the region, you should remain vigilant in public places and be alert to any security announcements by the Tajik authorities.
Several areas of the GBAO and other parts of the country are damaged by flooding in the spring and winter seasons and roads are often closed. Most of the infrastructure has been repaired, but many roads, including the Pamir Highway, are currently open but not fully repaired.
Take local advice in the Tavildara region of central Tajikistan as there are a few minefields dating from the civil war in the mountains. Medical and rescue facilities are unreliable where they exist at all.
You need to have a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Tajikistan. You can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.
Roads outside the main towns are poorly-maintained and often only accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles. Conditions are particularly treacherous in spring due to the risk of avalanches and landslides. Many interior roads are only open in the summer months. It is possible to drive from Dushanbe to the north and Tajikistan’s second city, Khujand, via a tunnel, but this road is particularly dangerous in winter due to icy conditions and drivers can be trapped for a long time if caught in an avalanche because of the remoteness. The roads to GBAO are often closed in the winter. Check local road conditions prior to travel..
Local vehicles are poorly-maintained and driving standards are basic. Petrol stations are rare outside towns and there are no breakdown companies. Make sure you take all you need for your journey, allowing for delays. Emergency communications such as satellite phones are advisable for travel outside towns. Neighbouring countries may close borders temporarily.
Flights in Tajikistan may be cancelled at short notice or substantially delayed. Overloading on local flights is not uncommon.
Instances of harassment by officials at Dushanbe International Airport have been reported to the British Embassy. This typically involves requests for payment for allegedly incorrect documentation or other offences. Some reports state that airport officials have acted in an intimidating manner. You should ensure, through your hotel or directly with the Tajikistan Office of Visas and Registration (OVIR) that your documentation and papers are in order before passing through border control at the airport. If you suffer harassment or intimidation at the airport you should report this to your travel agent and/or the consular bureau at the airport.
The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Tajikistan.
A list of incidents and accidents in Tajikistan can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
It is now 20 years since the Tajik civil war ended. The political situation is generally stable, but you should remain vigilant in public places and be alert to any security announcements by the Tajik authorities.
You should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people.
Quick Facts Tourist Information for:Tajikistan
Drive on the: right
Visitors/Tourists: 183,000 in 2011
Dushanbe (also largest city)