Kazakhstan expat guide



Kazakhstan is a very beautiful country, one that experiences the joy of all the seasons fully and has beautiful mountains and hiking trails. Although it gets quite cold in winter most expats acclimatize and become experts at layering their clothing. If you’re moving to this super country check out our expat guide below.

Kazakhstan Astana

Expat Clubs

Almaty International Women's Club

An English language social organisation supporting the expatriate community - both women and men alike - living in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Helping expatriates with social engagement, community service and cultural adjustment in Kazakhstan.

Website: www.almatyclub.org

The Astana International Club

This is the largest expat club in Astana.  They meet every few weeks and there are a lot of smaller interest groups that have developed so there is something for everyone. 

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AIWC.KZ/

International Schools 

Haileybury Almaty

Haileybury Astana follows the standards of the English educational system and National Curriculum of England and Wales in Pre-Prep and Key Stages One, Two and Three, taught by teachers from some of the best universities in the UK.

Curriculum: English National Curriculum

Address: 4-43a Street, Astana

Tel: +7 7172 55 98 55/54

Fax: +7 7172 55 98 53

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.haileyburyalmaty.kz


Haileybury Astana

Haileybury Astana follows the standards of the English educational system and National Curriculum of England and Wales in Pre-Prep and Key Stages One, Two and Three, taught by teachers from some of the best universities in the UK.

Curriculum: English National Curriculum

Address: 4-43a Street, Astana

Tel: +7 7172 55 98 55/54

Fax: +7 7172 55 98 53

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.haileyburyastana.kz


Kazakhstan International School

KIS was founded in 1999 and we have been busy growing, developing, and learning since then.

KIS is one of only two international schools in Almaty authorized to offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IB PYP) preschool through grade 5. KIS is adding a grade 8 class and introducing a middle school program for grades 6 and 8 for 2013 – 2014.

Currently, KIS offers programs for preschoolers (3 and 4-year-olds) and reception (5-year-olds) at our KIS Early Years Campus at Edelweiss.

In addition to being an authorized IB PYP school, KIS is a member of the Council of International Schools (CIS), an international school accrediting body. 

Curriculum: IB PYP

Address: 102a Utegen Batyra, 050062, Almaty

Tel: +77273953354

Fax: +77272436102

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.kisnet.org


Almaty International School

QSI Almaty International School, is a private non-profit institution that opened in September of 1993 and offers a high quality education in the English language for elementary and secondary students. The warm and welcoming school community makes it an ideal place to receive a quality education from QSI.

Curriculum: International Curriculum

Address: 185 Auezov Street, 050006 Almaty

Tel: +77273818709

Fax: +77273818611

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.qsi.org


Tien Shan International School

Tien Shan International School (TSIS) is an international day school located in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Tien Shan offers a high-quality English-medium Christian education from kindergarten through twelfth grade, with one hundred and fifty students of eleven different nationalities.

Curriculum: Kindergarten to Grade 12

Address: OPS No 36, Almaty

Tel: +77273441266

Website: www.tienshanschool.org


During the Soviet Era everyone was ‘encouraged’ to speak Russian and this was the language that was taught in schools.  Approximately 30% of the Kazakhstani population are ethnic Russians and live in the north of the country.  Since independence, the native Kazakhs have reclaimed their own and Kazakh is now the official language of the country with all young Kazakhstanis, regardless of their ethnic origin, being required to learn it.  Nevertheless Russian is, for the time being, acknowledged and protected in the constitution as the ‘language of businesses.  As an expat it is better to learn Russian as it is the language most likely to be of use in other postings and is spoken by everyone (some older Kazakhstanis do not speak Kazakh as they were not taught at school).  If you make the effort to learn a few words of Kazakh, however, it will be hugely appreciated by all you meet.*

*Contributed by Nerissa 

Local News in English

Astana Times

The Astana Times is published by Svezhaya Pressa LLP. It is registered with the Ministry of Communications and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan under the registration number N 11208-G of 1 November 2010.

The newspaper is published biweekly.

The Astana Times is printed at “Media Holding “ERNUR” LLP, 30 Sileti Street, Astana.

Website: www.astanatimes.com

Country Information 

Location: Asia

Capital City: Astana

Other Important Cities: Almaty

Currency: Tenge (T) (KZT)

Language: Russian and Kazakh

Calling Code: +7

Internet TLD: .kz

Electricity: 220V 50Hz

Emergency Numbers:


Country Information



Country Study


Kazakhstan is a land that most of the people heard about or knew quite recently. The fact is that it's the 9th largest country in the world and covers few geographic areas and time zones. Personally I am from the Northern Kazakhstan, small city Petropavlovsk, where we have winter for 8 months and live around pine-trees, feed squirrels on the way to school and have giantic ice-lands all over the winter. It's only in the North of the country which is part of Siberia and the usual temperature is around -40C. The country also have vast flatlands, steppe, canyons, hills, deltas, deserts and snow-capped mountains. Yet, the population is only apprx. 17 million and it's decreasing due to the severe economical situation currently in the country. The country that has unlimited resources of any mineral you can name, including rare ones, oil and gas discovered and undiscovered sites, gold, mine, etc cannot however provide the basic monthly living for it's citizen. This creates a lot of crime, corruption, political and economical concerns and unknown future for the locals.


The territory of Kazakhstan has historically been inhabited by nomads. It has also been the part of the Great Silk Way road thus the art, science and culture was one of the highest in the region at ancient times. The national heritage of the proud Nomads, whom even Chingis Khan couldn't conquer is now can been seen at heritage fair and exhibitions.*

*Contributed by Karina Agel 


Kazakhstan is a multicultural society in which 70% of the population are (at least nominally) Muslim with the remaining 30% being mostly Orthodox Christian.  Religion is not an important aspect to the lives of many Kazakhstanis as it was actively discouraged during the years of Soviet occupation resulted.  Post-independence Kazakhstan remained secular but guaranteed freedom of worship in most situations (although it is forbidden to proselytise).  Schools are completely secular.  Both major religions are given a bank holiday for their major celebrations (such as Eid and Christmas). 

Because Kazakhstanis tend not to talk about their religion you should check, in the event that you ask them to your home, if they have any dietary restrictions you should be aware of.  You should also check with any domestic staff you employ and, if they are Muslim, make sure that you clean all cookware, plates etc that have been used for pork yourself. Alcohol is readily available.**

**Contributed by Nerissa 
Dress in Kazakhstan

One of the things that most Expatriates, particularly Americans, British and Australians notice, is that Kazakhstanis dress very smartly.  Women wear heels even in the middle of winter (useful as ice-pics in the pavements), makeup and smart clothing is de-rigeur.  Men are also a lot more formal.  Dressing casually will, in most situations, identify you as an expatriate straight away. 

Astana has a temperature range of up to 80°C and locals take the weather very seriously.  Warm clothes are worn until May, whether the temperature is warm or not and locals will be very surprised to see expatriates dress for the actual temperature not the season.  If your children are perceived as ‘underdressed’ it will be commented on, a lot!  Winter clothes aside women face very few restrictions on dress and can wear as much or as little as they feel comfortable with.

Festivals and Information

Kazakhstanis love to celebrate just about everything. Malls put up seasonal decorations and hold events and the city may put on a fireworks display or a parade. The website of the City Mayor is a good place to find out what is going on at any one time. Key festivals and events include:*

January: New Year (the only day the malls and shops are closed), 

March: Women’s Day, Nauruz (Kazakh New Year)

May: International Unity Day, Defenders of the Fatherland (Men’s Day), Victory Day

July: Astana Day

August: Constitution Day

December: President’s Day, Independence Day.

Variable: Eid al Adah.  

Note that neither Easter nor Eid al Fitir are currently Public Holidays.  In the event a public holiday falls on a weekend the government will grant a day off in lieu.  Sometimes days between holidays that fall close together (eg 8 May is a normal day between Defenders of the Fatherland on 7 May and Victory Day on 9 May) will be gazetted as a holiday to give people a longer break.  If that happens a weekend day will be declared a working day in lieu.  

*Contributed by Nerissa 

Embassy Information


Residents Visa and Work Permit information

If you are planning to visit Kazakhstan, tourist visas are valid up to 60 days without a letter of invitation and up to 90 days with a letter of invitation. For expats applying for work permit, you have to come to the country with a work permit sponsored by an employer. It also nearly impossible to have a permanent residence granted.

The first exposure any expat has to the system will be the 2 page, closely typed visa application form.  Your employer should talk you through it but you may need to visit an Embassy in person in order to get it stamped in your passport.  The London embassy takes between 5-6 working days and has very short working hours.  Colleagues of ours found the embassies in Dubai and Paris far more accommodating and we heard good things about the embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (most western passport holders do not require a visa to visit Kyrgyzstan so it is a useful short hop from Astana for last minute or short notice visa renewals or exchanges).  Trailing spouses and children will be granted a dependant visa that prohibits any work.  Should you find employment when you are in Astana you will need to travel abroad to exchange your visa.

All foreigners have to register their presence in country within a few days of arrival and renew their registration every 3 months.  This is typically managed by the employer.  Foreigners should carry a passport with them at all times.  This appears to be more strictly enforced in Almaty than Astana as we carried a notarised copy and our photocard driving licenses instead and never had any complaints.

Because foreigners are still relatively rare in Astana (although this is changing by the month) a lot of the officials you come across may not be aware of any specific rules that apply to expats (ie the procedure to register a car to foreign ownership etc).  If you do need to attend an official or a ministry it is worth bringing along a local colleague or friend to translate, even if your Russian is ok as the language of officialdom gets complex.  It is also worth having a legal advisor or someone who is aware of the specific requirements of whatever you are trying to get do on speed dial.*

*Contributed by Nerissa 


Kazakhstan is the business hub and economic powerhouse of the Central Asia region. New apartment buildings are springing up all over the place the most common areas remains in Soviet-era blocks. Most apartment buildings have underground parking, children's playground and a shop. Astana has decent sized apartments and if you move into a new apartment, you can ask your landlord to provide furniture to order. One to three bedroom apartments are common but four bedroom apartments are still available.

Importing and Exporting Pets

It is relatively easy to import a pet into Kazakhstan.  You will need to fill out import papers and fax them to the relevant ministry, together with your vet certificate and export papers from your country of origin.  The government veterinary services in your country of origin should be able to help you source the paperwork.  If not I have copies that I can send on to you.  Your pet should be microchipped, vaccinated against Rabies and all other relevant diseases and should be de-wormed and de-ticked prior to the flight.

In theory the government vet should be at the airport to meet you and check the animal complies with the paperwork.  In practice our dog (and those of all our friends) met us in baggage reclaim and we were not required to submit for physical checks.

Export is a little more complex.  The process starts by obtaining the initial paperwork from the ministry 10 days before flying.  This is then used to obtain a vet certificate of health which is returned to the ministry who issue the export certificate 24 hours before flying. The certificate is in Russian and some parts are also in English.  Your country of destination may require you to provide a notarised translation. The process is complex, time-consuming and rather frustrating.  I can provide more detailed help if required. 

If you rescue a stray that you want to export from Kazakhstan make sure that you get a microchip, full vaccinations and a pet passport written in both Russian and English.  The vets, Zoosphera, at 1 Petrov Street near Eurasia Shopping Mall are knowledgeable about this process and can help you meet all necessary requirements. *

*Contributed by Nerissa 

Driving License

Expats wishing to drive in Kazakhstan needs to have a valid international driver's license. It is permitted to drive under the International's up to six months. Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited. Speed limit in residential areas is 20km/h; 60km/h in urban areas; 90km/h outside urban areas and 110km/h on main roads. When driving in the country, please take note you have to bring with you passport and car documents all the time.

Astana is an easy city to walk around, particularly in late spring and early autumn when the temperatures are extremely pleasant.  Even in winter, however, the roads are clear enough that you can walk some distance if you have the right clothes.

Some companies provide a car as part of the employment package; some come with drivers others are self-drive.  Driving in Astana is relatively easy once you get used to the rather liberal interpretation other drivers have of road rules.  Speeds are slow, no more than 60km even on the widest roads.  Watch out for the Zhol (road) police who will, without warning, take over a traffic light junction and control it manually.  They use lightsabre wands and rather Delphic gestures which do more to snarl up junctions and make people late for appointments than anything helpful like ease the flow of traffic. 

It is possible (but expensive) for expats who do not have a company car to purchase their own vehicle but be prepared to deal with a mountain of bureaucracy to get it registered to your name.  The process is slightly easier and cheaper for diplomats who do not pay import tax on their cars.

If you do not want (or cannot afford) to drive yourself, you can use the extensive bus system which is cheap and relatively efficient, or you can use a cab.  Official cabs are quite expensive and you need to be able to speak Russian to order them.  Alternatively hail a ‘gypsy cab’; just stick your hand out, palm down and someone will stop.  Tell them where you want to go and negotiate a suitable fee.  They will usually try to ask for more from a foreigner so ask colleagues what the current going rate is and use that to counter offer. * 

*Contributed by Nerissa 


Most expatriates in Astana have health insurance provided by their employer. Here’s a list of few hospitals as well. Health care facilities are largely owned and controlled by the public sector represented by the Ministry of Health. There are several hospitals being built at the moment. Here’s a list of hospitals and clinics.

AEA International Clinic

Address: Abaya Street 22, Atyrau

Tel: +7 3122255000


AEA International Clinic

Address: 11 Luganskovo Street, Almaty

Tel: +7 3272581911

Fax: + 7 3272507335


Almaty First Aid Hospital

Address: 93 Tole Bi Street, Almaty

Tel: +7 3272627071

Fax: +7 3272677055



Address: Druzhbi Narodov 2 Street, Aksai 2, 418440, Burlinski Region

Tel: +7 5171288143

Fax: +7 5171288143


Emergency First Aid Hospital

Address: Zhamakaev Street 100, Semipalatinsk

Tel: +7 3222622744


Kazak Scientific Research Institute of Paediatrics and Children’s Surgery

Address: Al-Farabi Avenue 146, Almaty

Tel: +7 3272488121

Fax: +7 3272488635


Oblast Children’s Hospital

Address: Sechenov Street 1a, Semipalatinsk

Tel: + 7 3222630715