Kazakhstan Travel Information
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. The European round two-pin plugs are standard (Type C & F).
Kazakh, spoken by about 65 percent of the population, is the state language and Russian is an official language used for business, administration, and cross-cultural communication.
Tipping is not customary in Kazakhstan, as a service charge is included in hotel and restaurant bills. However, as more tourists arrive tipping is becoming more common. There is also a fixed charge on taxi and railway transport, so many taxi drivers won't take tips unless travellers insist repeatedly.
The general rules of safety in Kazakhstan are the same as in any other developing country. There are the normal risks of pickpockets and petty crime, and travellers are advised to be cautious of corrupt police. Travellers are advised to be cautious at night in and around clubs and bars. Kazakhstan is generally a very friendly country and foreigners are respected. However, following attacks by Islamic extremists in 2012 in western Kazakhstan, the US government advises that travellers be vigilant.
Kazakh people are known for their hospitality, respect for elders, as well as a peaceful and tolerant nature. Generosity and cordial behaviour are common in both social and business fields. Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative and travellers should take care not to offend. Greetings between opposite genders should remain verbal and same sex friends may shake hands, or if very close, greet one another with a hug.
Possession and use of drugs is illegal and if found guilty, could bring about a lengthy prison sentence. Same sex couples are discouraged from openly showing their affection, because, while same-sex relations are legal, cultural norms prohibit and even actively discriminate against homosexuality.
An experienced and proficient interpreter can be of great assistance at business meetings. Kazakhstan's hierarchal social structure translates into the business environment, so high ranking officials and partners will wish to meet with their equals. It is customary to shake hands and call people by their first names and last names at business meetings, as well as at informal gatherings and small talk commonly precedes any business negotiations.
Business attire is generally a suit and tie for men, and a suit or business dress for women; even at informal gatherings formal attire is often expected. The respective parties often give small gifts (pens, company logo pins or books) at the end of an initial meeting as a token of appreciation. Business cards are widely distributed, with Russian and English translations. Many people in Kazakhstan are Muslim and therefore often take breaks from work during the day for prayer; so consider prayer times when scheduling meetings.
The international dialling code for Kazakhstan is +7. The city code for Astana is 7172. Inexpensive SIM cards are available and are an easy way to communicate both locally and internationally. Free wifi is available in cafes, restaurants and hotels in main towns and cities, alternatively, internet cafes are not hard to find.
The following goods may be imported into Kazakhstan without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 200g of tobacco products; three litres of alcoholic beverages; a reasonable quantity of perfume for personal use and gifts to the value of US$500 for personal use only. On entering the country, tourists must complete a customs declaration form, which must be retained until departure. This allows the import of articles intended for personal use, including currency and valuables, which must be registered on the declaration form. They must be exported at the end of the stay. Customs inspections can be long and thorough. It is advisable to keep receipts for items bought in Kazakhstan in order to avoid difficulties on departure.
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