Azerbaijan Travel Information
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round, two-pin attachment plugs and 'Schuko' plugs are in use.
Azerbaijani, or Azeri, is the official language. Turkish and Russian are widely spoken; few people speak English.
Service charges are usually included in bills and tipping is not compulsory. However, taxi-drivers, waiters and hotel staff are commonly given some small change.
The crime rate is relatively low, but muggings do occur in central Baku, particularly at night. Political gatherings and demonstrations should be avoided as these have become violent in the past. Unlicensed taxis should be avoided. Corruption is widespread. The area around Nagorno-Karabakh has long been the subject of dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia and most foreign governments advise against travel to the region due to ongoing outbreaks of violence -- despite the ceasefire.
Most of the country is Muslim and visitors should respect religious customs, particularly during the month of Ramadan, when eating, drinking, and smoking during daylight hours should be discreet as it is forbidden by the Muslim culture.
Travellers should dress modestly, especially when visiting mosques or religious shrines. More specifically, women should cover arms and legs, and men should not wear shorts, even in summer.
Although homosexuality is legal in Azerbaijan, public displays of affection will cause offence, especially outside the capital. Foreign nationals are routinely subject to police checks and it is advisable to carry identification at all times.
Personal contact and relationship-building is critical in Azerbaijan, which means that meetings are more effective than long-distance communication. It is common to exchange business cards in meetings, and these should be in Russian or English and have an Azeri translation on the reverse.
The language of business is Azeri or Russian, and translators will be required for those who don't speak either language. Azeris tend to be polite and visitors should be aware that a 'yes' might actually mean 'no'.
Culturally, there is a strong emphasis on not causing 'loss of face' publically. Azeris should not be rushed into making a business decision. Gender roles are traditional and businesswomen might be met with scepticism.
The international dialling code for Azerbaijan is +994. Area codes are in use (e.g. 12 for Baku). There are few telephone lines outside of the main cities, and international calls usually require the use of operators, many of whom do not speak English. Mobile coverage is modernised and extensive, and service-provider branches are easily available in towns and cities. Roaming charges are high and it is best to buy a local SIM card. Internet access is increasing.
Travellers older than 18 may bring 600 cigarettes, 3 litres of alcohol, 10kg of food products and goods up to the value of US$1,500 without paying customs duty. Banned items include weapons, narcotics and material encouraging terrorism or violence. Permission must be granted by the government before cultural artefacts, such as antique carpets, are exported from the country.
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