Kazakhstan Travel: Trains To Astana And Immigration Requirements

January 24, 2023 6:03 pm25 commentsViews: 100

Travel to Kazakhstan – The Paperwork

Foreigners coming to Kazakhstan must register with the immigration authorities if they plan to stay longer than five days. Every foreign citizen receives an immigration card at the entry border crossing, which is stamped and dated. They are then required to register with a local immigration office. In practice this is a service usually undertaken by hotels and host businesses, but can involve a trip to the authorities with one’s host if staying in private accommodation. The process is not onerous and travellers have not reported any problems.

Kazakhstan Travel, Trains To Astana, Immigration Requirements

One small aspect of the process does require some care, however, namely the requirement to enter a departure date from Kazakhstan. This article is a continuation of Train Travel From Russia To Kazakhstan In 2010, providing information on a recent journey from Yekaterinburg to Astana in December 2010, where a mistake on this form caused one passenger considerable distress and a not inconsiderable financial penalty.

With the train journey from Astana to St. Petersburg taking sixty-four hours, confusion over dates does occur, and the mistake the passenger made was to enter the date of leaving the capital of Kazakhstan, not the country itself. The error was first noted by a policeman at point of departure, but it was too late to change anything. Panicking about what fate might await her, she spent the next fifteen hours sharing her fears with anyone who would listen.

Beware the Fake Official

As the train pulled in to Kustanai and another protracted stop (the 1000 km journey takes 27 hours, including almost three hours at the border), a uniformed man put his head into the compartment and checked documents. The woman was taken to a nearby vacant compartment and soon summoned her hitherto relaxed husband, where heated discussions took place about the size of the bribe to be proffered. The thousand rouble note ($US33) was deemed sufficient and they returned to the compartment, telling fellow passengers that the officer had threatened to take her off the train unless she paid an acceptable ‘fine’.

All was well until they reached the border, at which point a couple of tired-looking border officials expressed their exasperation at the woman, asking why she had not simply filled in a later date. They were not looking for a bribe, rather her mistake meant that they had to bury themselves in that great Soviet legacy, reams of paperwork. Having filled in the paperwork, the couple were reprimanded in front of the other passengers and warned against future border violations.

The actions of the border guards were more official and professional than the first officer, and for a very good reason – the ‘policeman’ was nothing of the kind, merely an opportunist imposter, something not uncommon in the region. The Georgians dealt with the problem by changing the official uniform overnight, thereby exposing the fake officials.

Train travel in Russia and Kazakhstan is long, colourful and eventful, and it pays to ensure your paperwork is in order prior to departure.

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