Kazakhstan Continues Liberalising Visa Regime, Works to Facilitate EU Entry for its Citizens

ASTANA – First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Rapil Zhoshybayev said Kazakhstan was both moving forward with further liberalisation of its visa regime for foreigners and working to facilitate travel for its own citizens to European countries.

First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Rapil Zhoshybayev discusses changes to Kazakhstan's visa system in Astana on July 9.

First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Rapil Zhoshybayev discusses changes to Kazakhstan’s visa system in Astana on July 9.

“In accordance with the government decree, the citizens of Australia, Hungary, Italy, Monaco, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, the U.K., the U.S., Germany, Finland, France, Switzerland and Japan will be exempted from visa requirements for up to 15 calendar days from the moment of crossing the state border of Kazakhstan in the period from July 16, 2015, until Dec. 31, 2017,” Zhoshybayev announced on July 9 at a press conference at the Central Communications Service.

During this period, citizens of the mentioned states holding all types of passports recognised by Kazakhstan may repeatedly enter, leave and transit through the territory of Kazakhstan without a visa for up to 15 days from crossing any state border open to international traffic. Moreover, the number of visits to Kazakhstan will not be limited, he explained.

The registration of foreigners will be made directly at local border crossing points at the time of their entrance to the territory of Kazakhstan.

According to Zhoshybayev, this initiative is aimed at strengthening Kazakhstan’s bilateral partnerships, as well as creating favourable conditions for potential investors, foreign businesses and tourists during their stay in the country.

This project will also have a positive impact on the flow of foreign tourists during the major international events planned for the next two years, among which are EXPO 2017 and Winter Universiade 2017, he added.

It was also announced that as of Jan. 1, 2017, Kazakhstan plans to abolish visa requirements for citizens of the 34 member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as well as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Malaysia and Singapore.

In May, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree on issues related to establishing the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC), one of the points of which is the introduction of a visa-free regime for up to 30 days for citizens of the OECD and the three mentioned countries.

“According to the action plan on implementation of the decree, introduction of the visa-free regime for citizens of these countries is scheduled for Jan. 1, 2017,” Zhoshybayev said.

The establishment of the AIFC, which is to become a financial hub for the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as well as all of West and Central Asia, is planned to be created using infrastructure built for EXPO 2017.

Today, the OECD includes Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

During the press conference, Zhoshybayev also revealed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently negotiating with the European Union to simplify visa requirements for Kazakh citizens.

In his words, the European side is also working in this direction and will be ready to conclude an agreement with Kazakhstan on a simplified visa regime and readmission if the legislation of Kazakhstan is synchronised with European standards on illegal migration and organised crime, the return of persons, border control management and combating drug trafficking, strengthening protective characteristics of passports and protecting personal information stored in biometric documents.

To this end, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry has prepared a draft Action Plan on visa facilitation between Kazakhstan and the EU. Currently, this plan is being reviewed by the government of Kazakhstan, Zhoshybayev informed.

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