2 MAY 2011
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If you are travelling to Kazakhstan from the United Kingdom, and we gather other countries too, getting a visa can be purgatory.
Firstly you have to find a sponsor. Now that is not too difficult and for leisure travellers wanting to visit a fascinating country hotels and tour operators are more than happy to furnish letters free of charge. For British visitors you need to go on-line to check requirements, then go personally to the Kensington Embassy and submit an application (£35/£50 which can be by credit card) and visit an uninspiring basement office. At this point you are told that you can collect in three days, but also, which is not noted on the web, the Embassy will put the completed passport in the post. Most applicants do not just happen to have a stamped addressed envelope with them!
The good news is Kazakhstan has instigated a border (ie airport) visa office which will deal with you on the spot. It is a little more expensive (US$85) but virtually instant. Air Astana will allow travellers with the necessary invitation to board the aircraft at the outbound airport. www.kazembassy.org.uk/visa_information.html
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