Moving to Kazakhstan with your family

Hello everybody,

When settling abroad with your spouse and children, the expatriation process requires an extensive preparation.

What are the considerations to take into account when moving to Kazakhstan with your family? What challenges have you faced? How did your children adapt to their new environment?

What is your recipe for a successful family expatriation in Kazakhstan?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience,


Be very careful about what books/media you bring with you. Your shipping company should give you a list of items that you cannot bring in addition to certain "unspecified" publications "... books published prior to 1961 are prohibited ..." as is the extremely vague "... any information which can cause harm to politic, economic interests of Republic of Kazakhstan, its state security, health and morals …"

You will be required to send a list of all items which will be submitted to the Kazakhstan "authorities" who will then send the list back to your shipping company with any items that are not allowed in ...

In my instance, a book by Alexi Sayle about his childhood, "Stalin Ate My Homework" (the name of his dog was Stalin), was banned, as was a BBC comedy/drama Sleepers, a French comedy, Tout le monde n'a pas eu la chance d'avoir des parents communistes, starring Josiane Balasko, a German film about a female dancer in the 1920, Anita, Tanzer des Lasters ... amongst many other items in addition, of course, to my books that were published prior to 1961.

It is my belief that the reason that many of these items were banned is not that they are actually banned, but that, typically for Kazakhstan, the bureaucrats will just look at a name and decide to take offence ...

When your items do arrive in the country, especially if you are not in either Almaty of Astana, you will need to be especially careful about who will deliver them and regardless, have the items insured for full value. Care is generally not the watchword amongst many of the people that will be contracted to do the moving.

Document any damage photographically and do not sin off on the delivery until all items damaged or missing are accounted for.

Oh, and if you bring any of antiquity or antique item (painting, jewellery, furniture, pottery, anything), make sure you have it's provenance completely documented, because you will be asked to show this when you attempt to move back to your original country.

Failure to be able to prove it is yours will mean that you run the the very real risk that it will be confiscated from you.

If you have ever experienced the performance at Almaty or Astana if they think that you have something of value with you when you pass through security, you will have some idea of the levels of madness they will go to to try to prove that you are "smuggling" items.

Several times I have been stopped and had to account for the small change in my hand luggage, which now I helpfully place into labelled plastic Zip-loc bags labelled with the country and currency (because I travel regularly to several different countries and need the small change for simple items such as 'phone calls at airports or a drink or coffee).

They have threatened to confiscate this and have said they would only return it after sending them to be analysed by a government verified antiquities dealer ... just madness ...

Interesting comments about the country's officialdom.
It's difficult to understand why they are behaving the way they do. It almost sounds like the government is trying to prevent visitors to the country.
I wonder, are the people at large also wary of foreigners?

"I wonder, are the people at large also wary of foreigners?"

Some are, some aren't ... there is a degree of "nationalism" present in the country in addition to the sometimes overblown patriotism that they indulge in, some of it is also fueled by a reliance on state controlled media and the acceptance of often quite weird and wild conspiracy theories promulgated by a certain "near abroad" country.

English language is not common here (despite it being a language now taught in school, there are few English teachers able to actually speak it) and people are not likely to search for information on sites that are not in either Russian or Kazakh language.

The bureaucracy is a nightmare to negotiate, it is why there are notarius (public notaries) every 10-20 metres here, the population would not be able to function without them.

If you are going to do anything with the bureaucracy here, have a plan B, because whilst one area of bureaucracy will say one thing, another will contradict it.

There was a scandal here earlier when it was discovered that, in addition to the problems with much of the former CCCP-era laws/rules et cetera, the bureaucracy was just copying and pasting laws lifted from other countries into the laws of Kazakhstan, making complete and arrant nonsense of those "new" laws ...

" It almost sounds like the government is trying to prevent visitors to the country. "

They have an extremely punitive visa system that will fine you US$5 000 and gaol you if you do not leave the country by the expiry date of your visa (even if you overstay by one minute or one hour). The only exception is if you are younger than 16.

If you lose your "migration card", a tiny flimsy piece of paper that you must carry everywhere (with your passport), the problems that you will encounter are immense.

The bureaucracy is still running in the old CCCP system of top down command and control ...

For most western nations, you can arrive at one of the international airports (generally Almaty or Astana) and receive 15 days entry without a visa (although you still must have the risible "migration card"), longer visas have to be applied for at KZ embassies elsewhere.

Regardless of which tourist visa you receive, you must leave Kazakhstan within 30 days, so a 60 day visa (you have 2 entries allowed), you must leave before the 30 days before you can return, same for the 90 day visa (you have 3 entries allowed).

It pays to be careful with your  "migration card" if you come in through a land border (such as Kordai from Kyrgyzstan) because you will only receive one stamp on your  "migration card" (two are required) so you need to go to the migration police department in the city you are staying and they will register you, thus giving you two stamps on your piece of paper ... however, some may not give you the full 30 days, some may only give you, say 10 days ... there is no appeal and you cannot extend a visa in Kazakhstan.

Kyrgyzstan, just next door has a far more open policy and if Kazakhstan is not careful, Kyrgyzstan will (is already) eat their touristic lunch so to speak  ... Kyrgyzstan is also a country that is closer to an actual democracy than any of the others in central Asia ... the rest try to argue that theirs is "special" central Asian democracy ...

Dear Bhavna,

There is a company in Astana that helps foreigners with all their questions, e.g. accomodation, transfer, recreation, household problems, formalities, etc. It is called Guestlight. It is their official Facebook page . They could help you with absolutely anything 24/7. You can send your email to this address: yerkinova.dina[at]

Hi everyone,

Thank you for your feedbacks.

@ Guestlight, since you are providing professional services, could you please register in the business directory under your category so that members may easily find your contact details ?

- Kazakhstan business directory

Thanks in advance,

Only 1 month experience at few cities / villages there .
Its not a country for foreigners to live .

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