COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Azerbaijan is a constitutional republic with a developing economy. Western-style amenities are found in the capital, Baku, but infrastructure and access to goods and services outside the city, while improving, are less well developed. Read the Department of State’s Factsheet on U.S.–Azerbaijan relations for further information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Azerbaijan, please take the time to inform the U.S. Embassy about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. Enrolling will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
U.S. Embassy Baku is located at 111 Azadlig Prospekt
tel. (994-12) 498-03-35, 36, or 37
Emergency after-hours telephone: (994-12) 498-03-35, 36, or 37
Facsimile: (994-12) 465-66-71
Email: Consular Baku
Website: US Embassy Baku, Azerbaijan
If you have registered with the embassy and are leaving Azerbaijan permanently, please check out by sending us an email.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: You need a passport and a visa to enter Azerbaijan. Get your visa before you travel, and make sure the visa validity dates correspond with your travel. With limited exceptions (persons with invitations from high-ranking officials of the Government of Azerbaijan), you cannot get a visa at the airport, nor can you get a visa at the land borders with Georgia, Russia, Turkey, or Iran.
Currently, U.S. citizens may apply for a single- or double-entry tourist or visitor visa valid for 90 days (cost: $160), or a one-year multiple-entry business visa (cost: $160). U.S. citizen tourists booking accommodations through a licensed Azerbaijani travel agency may receive a voucher that entitles them to receive a tourist visa for $20. The Embassy of Azerbaijan in Washington, D.C. uses a visa courier service that charges $21 for processing and service fees in addition to the basic cost of the visa. Visa applicants are required to use this service. Please see the website of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington, D.C. for more details. The Embassy of Azerbaijan states that visas take 10 business days to process, but travelers are encouraged to apply for their visas early to avoid possible delays in the summer months.
Azerbaijan enacted a new law on April 1, 2013 that requires all foreign visitors, regardless of their length of stay, to register with the State Migration Service of Azerbaijan within three days of arrival. You must submit a completed registration form, a copy of the biographic page of your passport, and a copy of your visa to the State Migration Service either in person, via mail, or e-mail. Licensed hotels may assist their guests register, but travelers staying in personal homes, private apartments or un-licensed hotels must register themselves. Every individual traveler is responsible for ensuring that the registration has been done.
Registration is free, but failure to register or registering late may result in a fine of between 300-400 AZN ($380-$500). Travelers may be made at the Azerbaijan, denied permission to depart Azerbaijan until the fine is paid and they have secured an exit permit from the main branch of the State Migration Service of Azerbaijan, 202 Binagadi Highway, 3123 Block, Binagadi District, Baku; tel (994-12)562-56-23. It is not possible to pay the fine at Heydar Aliyev International Airport or any other border crossing.
More information about the new registration process may be found at the website of the State Migration Service (SMS). The required form (available only in Azerbaijani for now) should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and can be found at on the SMS website.
If you are planning to stay in Azerbaijan longer than 90 days, you must apply to the State Migration Service for a Temporary Residency Permit. Please find more information about the requirements, you can visit the SMS website.
A valid visa is required in order to depart Azerbaijan. If your visa is expired, or you have exceeded the duration of stay authorized by your visa, you must pay a fine between 300 – 400 AZN ($380 – $500) and get an exit permit. This is only done at the main branch of the State Migration Service of Azerbaijan listed above. You will be denied permission to depart Azerbaijan until the fine is paid and you have secured an exit permit.
We recommend you carry at least a photocopy of your current passport and valid visa with you at all times if you do not normally carry your passport.
If you plan on staying in Azerbaijan more than 90 days or wish to work in Azerbaijan you must apply for a residency permit and work authorization card requires an application with the State Migration Service. Part of the application process is the submission of translated copies and originals of many civil documents like birth certificates, marriage certificates, and university diplomas. In order to translate such documents, local notaries require an apostilled copy of any state issued civil documents like marriage certificates and birth certificates. Each state has its own procedures for providing an apostille, and the U.S. Embassy is unable to provide such an apostille.
U.S. citizens of Armenian ancestry - or even those with Armenian last names – have had their visa applications denied by the Government of Azerbaijan on the grounds that their safety cannot be guaranteed. Recently, a traveler with an Armenian visa in his passport had his Azerbaijani visa application refused to be accepted for processing.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any restriction on entry to Azerbaijan for travelers with HIV/AIDS. However, medical tests, which must be performed at designated clinics in Azerbaijan, are required for those applying for temporary or permanent residence permits. The applications by people with health issues, including HIV/AIDS, are reviewed by the State Migration Service and approved on a case-by-case basis.
Information about dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. Azerbaijan does not recognize dual citizenship, and dual U.S.-Azerbaijani citizens could encounter problems living and traveling in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has compulsory military service for males ages 18 to 35. Men who currently have U.S. citizenship and who previously held Azerbaijani citizenship and have not completed their military requirement could face fines or arrest unless they have officially renounced their Azerbaijani citizenship. Dual citizens may renounce their Azerbaijani citizenship at any Azerbaijan Embassy or Consulate.
For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: In light of ongoing global and regional threats against U.S. and foreign interests, the U.S. embassy has recently released several Emergency Messages to U.S. citizens advising them to remain vigilant, particularly in public places associated with Western and Israeli communities. In January 2012, the Azerbaijani National Security Ministry disrupted a terrorist plot, reportedly backed by Iran, to attack prominent foreigners in Baku.
You should avoid travel to the region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding occupied areas, as well as regions along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian positions. Because of the existing state of hostilities, we cannot offer consular services to U.S. citizens in Nagorno-Karabakh.
U.S. citizens of Armenian ancestry considering travel to Azerbaijan should remain particularly vigilant when visiting the country, as the government of Azerbaijan has claimed it is unable to guarantee your safety. However, the U.S. Embassy is unaware of such U.S. citizen travelers recently experiencing threats to their safety based solely on their Armenian heritage or name.
Traveling to the region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding occupied areas via Armenia without the consent of the Government of Azerbaijan could make you ineligible to travel to Azerbaijan in the future.
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CRIME: Most of the crime in Baku affects local residents, with burglary and assault being the most common crimes. Foreigners are at a greater risk in areas attracting large crowds or in very isolated areas. Although not common, petty theft and assault against foreign citizens do occur in Baku. Pick-pockets tend to frequent tourist sites, public transportation (especially minibuses), and pedestrian streets or large public squares where people congregate. Travelers should be mindful of their wallets, purses, and computer bags, as they make for tempting targets.
Avoid traveling alone at night. Late-night targeted attacks against lone males, while not common, are the most common crimes committed against foreigners; these usually involve victims who have been drinking.
There have been several reports from individuals who have been victims of crimes occurring late at night in bars frequented by Westerners. The crime occurs when a male patron is approached by a young woman who asks the individual to buy her a drink; after buying the drink and talking for a while, the customer is presented with an exorbitant bill. When the customer protests, he is approached by several men, detained, and forced to pay the full amount of the bill under threat of physical violence.
You should be very cautious about allowing unknown people to enter your hotel room or apartment.
Several Western women have reported incidents of unwanted male attention, including groping and other offensive behavior while walking on the streets alone or with only female companions. Travelers should remain alert when visiting tourist areas in Baku, such as Fountain Square and the Maiden’s Tower. We recommend that you avoid traveling alone in these areas after nightfall.
There have been reports of vehicle break-ins at regional tourist sites outside Baku. Whenever possible, vehicles should be parked in guarded or controlled parking lots, and valuables should never be left in plain sight.
There are instances of U.S. citizens being asked by new Internet friends to help pay a “return guarantee fee” to the Azerbaijani Immigration Service before a short trip abroad. There is no such law requiring Azerbaijani citizens to post a deposit for foreign travel, and the Internet friends were later determined to have fraudulent Azerbaijani identification cards. Please see this website for information about avoiding Internet financial scams.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, but purchasing them may also be against local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
The Ministry of Internal Affairs established a special Office of Crimes By and Against Foreigners at which English-speaking officers are available until 8:00 PM at (994 12) 590-99-66. The Ministry of Internal Affairs also has a Duty Officer available after hours, at 590-93-31 or 590-94-31.
The local equivalents of the “911” emergency lines in Azerbaijan are: 101 - Fire Brigade; 102 - Police; 103 - Ambulance; 104 - Gas services; and 112 - Ministry of Emergency Situations. English speaking operators are on duty 24 hrs at 102 - Police.
Please see our Information on Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Azerbaijan, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws, legal systems, and criminal penalties can be vastly different from our own; for instance, religious proselytizing is illegal in Azerbaijan, and possession or use of illegal drugs of any kind carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms. There are also some things that might be legal in Azerbaijan, but still illegal in the United States; for instance, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Azerbaijan, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know the local laws of your destination.
Azerbaijan’s security apparatus is sensitive to photography, so both professional and tourist photographers have been stopped for taking photographs of facilities that may not appear to be sensitive, including oil fields, buildings, and public squares. It is strictly forbidden to take pictures of military installations and of military equipment. Photographing or visiting military depots or equipment can lead to arrest. If police stop you for taking photographs, you should cooperate. If your photographic equipment is confiscated, you should contact the Embassy Consular Section to report the incident.
Azerbaijan is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. If you are arrested in Azerbaijan, the authorities are required to notify the embassy of your arrest and to have communications from you forwarded to the embassy.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: The Republic of Azerbaijan has a mostly cash economy. Traveler’s checks are accepted only in some hotels and banks. Credit
cards are becoming more widely used, but you should be aware of using freestanding ATMs. Always pay close attention to the
ATM and your surroundings. Do your automated banking in a public, well-lighted location that is free of shrubbery and decorative
partitions or dividers. Maintain an awareness of your surroundings throughout the entire transaction. Be wary of people trying
to help you with ATM transactions. Be aware of anyone sitting in a parked car nearby. When leaving an ATM, make sure you are
not being followed. Do not use an ATM that appears unusual looking or offers options with which you are not familiar or comfortable.
Azerbaijani customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Azerbaijan of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities (including carpets), medications, and caviar, and any amount of currency over $1,000 USD. Visitors who purchase carpets will generally require an export permit issued by the State Museum of Azerbaijan Carpet and Applied Art; many carpet-selling shops will obtain that permit for the buyer for a fee. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Please see our Customs Information for additional information.
Accessibility: While in Azerbaijan, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different
from what you find in the United States. Accessibility for those with disabilities, including stores, foot paths, road crossings,
most tourists spots, and on public transportation is lacking throughout the country. There are no laws mandating access to
public or other buildings, information, and communications for persons with disabilities.
LGBT RIGHTS: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals are not specifically enumerated in antidiscrimination laws. While there are no legal impediments to the organization of LGBT events, strong societal discrimination prevents these events from being organized. LGBT individuals have reported that although the law prohibits dismissal of employees for reasons related to sexual orientation, employers find other reasons to dismiss them. The sole Azerbaijani NGO working on LGBT issues in the country has not experienced official harassment of its work, but reported 70 police raids directed at LGBT persons during last year. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: There is one Western-type medical clinic operating in Baku, run by International SOS, which provides 24-hour care of quality comparable to that in Western countries. It is adequate for urgent care and minor acute medical problems only. Surgeries, unless urgent for life-saving problems, are not advisable here. There is often a shortage of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles and vaccines. Bring adequate amounts of prescription medicines for the duration of your visit, as pharmacies often do not carry all brands or doses.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information. Tuberculosis (TB), especially in multi drug-resistant forms, is an increasingly serious health concern in Azerbaijan. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
Doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may reimburse you for medical expenses incurred overseas with the proper submission of claims once you return home, but you should not expect insurance to cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. Cash is almost always the only accepted form of payment. If your policy does not provide international coverage, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip to allow you to claim reimbursement at a later date. It is advisable to purchase medical evacuation insurance, if not included in your medical insurance policy, in case urgent medical evacuation by air ambulance is needed. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Azerbaijan, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Fatalities from traffic accidents are high and continue to rise each year. The information below concerning Azerbaijan is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Azerbaijan is rebuilding its roadway system. Although the newer sections of the road system are a marked improvement, the older sections are poorly constructed and poorly lighted. There are unfinished road sections that are extremely dangerous due to lack of proper construction and hazard signage.
Driving hazards, such as open manholes, debris, sinkholes, and potholes, are common in Baku. Many drivers do not pay attention to traffic regulations, signals, lane markings, pedestrians, or other drivers. Drivers often travel at extremely high speeds, and accidents are frequent and often serious. Pedestrians do not use crosswalks to cross the street and often stand in the median between lanes of traffic, even at night. Driving in Baku should be considered extremely hazardous. Outside the city, even where roads are present, conditions are similar. Roads are often in poor repair and unlighted, and they lack lane markings, traffic signs, and warnings. Many rural roads are largely unpaved.
Throughout Azerbaijan, traffic police enforce traffic laws inconsistently, and routine traffic stops are common. If stopped, drivers should have all required documents with them, including passport or local registration documents, driver’s license, vehicle registration documents, and proof of insurance. Talking on the cell phone while driving carries a fine of AZN 50 (about $64 USD). Driving under the influence carries a fine of AZN 80-100 (about $102-$128 USD) and 5 points. If you get 10 points in one year, the fine is AZN 120-150 AZN (about $153-$191 USD) and 2 years’ suspension of license.
Most taxis in Baku are neither metered nor regulated. Older Russian-produced cars used as private taxis are widely regarded as unsafe. Visitors must negotiate the fare before entering a taxi. Recently, a fleet of new, London-style taxis have been deployed in Baku. They are metered and can be found near most places catering to tourists.
Although the city of Baku has invested in new buses and the quality of its underground metro system is very good, public transportation throughout the remainder of the country remains overcrowded and poorly maintained.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Azerbaijan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Government of Azerbaijan’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Travelers on regional airlines in the Caucasus may experience delays and sudden cancellations of flights. Even basic safety features such as seat belts are sometimes missing. Air travel to Azerbaijan on international carriers via Europe is typically more reliable.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Azerbaijan dated August 7, 2012 to update Entry/Exit Requirements for U.S. Citizens, Threats to Safety and Security, Crime, Special Circumstances, and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.