Uzbekistan will abolish visa regime for citizens of 15 countries and citizens aged over 55 from 12 countries starting from 1 April 2017. A corresponding decree was signed on 2 December by then acting President and now President-elect Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

The move is aimed at speeding up the development of the tourism sector, which — despite the country’s enormous potential — lags behind average world indicators, turning tourism into a strategic sector of economy and improving Uzbekistan’s image as an attractive center of tourism.

Visas will no longer be required for tourists coming to Uzbekistan for less than 30 days from Australia, Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Canada, Luxembourg, Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore, Finland, Switzerland and Japan.

Additionally, tourists aged over 55 from Belgium, Indonesia, China (tourist groups only), Malaysia, USA, France, Vietnam, Israel, Poland, Hungary, Portugal and the Czech Republic will also not be required to obtain visas for stay under one month.

To enter Uzbekistan, citizens from the mentioned states will have to pay a fee of USD 50, which will be considered a basis for entering the country.

Besides, the government plans introducing uniform tourist visas for all countries, issued for up to 30 days, and significantly ease visa issuing process (including transit visas) at international airports, railway stations and border crossing points.

Moreover, the country plans to expand the online visa application system, thus eliminating the need to visit Uzbekistan’s embassies abroad, as well as introducing electronic visas from 1 January 2018.

The national company Uzbektourism has been transformed into the State Committee for Tourism Development, which has been entrusted with supporting entrepreneurship in tourism, boosting competition and eliminating all barriers in the sector, as opposed to controlling and administrative functions.

According to the decree, international airports in the capital city Tashkent, as well as historical centers Samarkand, Bukhara and Urgench should introduce green corridors for foreign tourists arriving and departing from the country, as well as simplified procedures for passport and customs control.

All airports and railway stations will also introduce separate passport control zones for residents and non-residents, a decision aimed at increasing conveniences for foreigner citizens.