Entry & Exit
Overall Afghanistan is an unsafe travel destination. Ongoing terrorism and insurgency activity and high crime rate coupled with poor infrastructure intensify the risk to visitors.
A passport valid for at least six months beyond the intended date of departure as well as a valid entry visa is required. Entry visa is not available at Kabul International Airport or any other entry points into the country.
Travelers may be asked to register with a representative of the Ministry of Interior’s Foreigners’ Registration Office upon arrival at Kabul International Airport. The traveler will be issued a card that he or she should surrender upon departure. Immigration authorities have also implemented a fingerprinting system for all foreign visitors, with the exception of diplomats and holders of foreign official passports.
As entry and exit requirements are subject to change, travelers are advised to contact the Afghan consulate or embassy at the country of their origin.
Decades of war, a harsh climate and neglect left the infrastructure throughout Afghanistan in poor conditions. Most rural villages lack electricity, running water, or linking roads making many of them inaccessible. Infrastructure in Kabul is slightly better when compared to the rest of the country.
Ongoing power cuts continue to occur, including in Kabul. Power lines and service stations are frequently targeted by insurgents, intensifying the electricity problem in the country.
Internet services are extremely limited outside of Kabul. While mobile phone services are reportedly growing rapidly, landline telephone services are limited.
- Air Travel
Afghanistan's main airport is Kabul International airport, also known as Khwaja Rawash, is located about 16km/ 10 miles north of the city center. The facility was badly damaged in the Afghan civil war and during the US-led invasion is operational and is currently being renovated.
The airport remains below the standard expected of an international airport facility.
Officials may ask for bribes, which should be met polite but firm refusal.
A limited number of international airlines currently operate from Kabul, including Ariana Afghan Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines, Air India, Iran Air, Iran Aseman Airlines, Kam Air, Pakistan International Airlines, Pamir Airways and Safi Airways.
Domestic air travel in Afghanistan is unsafe and should be avoided. The EU currently blacklists all air carriers under the supervision of the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority due to safety concerns.
The facility is regarded as a terrorist target and consequently may close at short notice; travelers should confirm flights with their airline before arriving at the airport and minimize their stay at the airport.
As the roads connecting the airport and the city are frequently targeted by militants, travel from the facility to Kabul should be conducted with the use of a low-profile armed escort arranged ahead of arrival in Afghanistan. Travelers should travel during daylight hours to further minimize their exposure to risk.
- Ground Transportation
Though buses and taxis are available, due to security concerns and poor maintenance they should be avoided.
An experienced driver an armed escort should be used at all times.
When planning a trip, travelers should expect significant travel disruptions due to numerous checkpoints and roadblocks across the country, particularly in large urban centers, such as Kabul and Kandahar, and along major roads linking towns and cities.
Due to the reasons mentioned above, main roadways and large urban centers often becomes congested with traffic.
The local currency is the afghani (Af). Notes are available in denominations of 1, 2 , 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 afghani and coins in 1, 2 and 5 afghani. United States dollars are widely accepted and are preferred by many business owners over the local currency.
ATM facilities are extremely limited and unreliable.
- Credit cards
Credit and debit cards are generally not accepted.
- Business hours
Business hours are generally from Saturday to Wednesday from 08:00 to 12:00 and 13:00 to 16:30, and Thursdays from 08:00 to 13:30.
- Banking hours
Banks are usually open between Saturday to Wednesday from 08:00 to 12:00 and 13:00 to 16:30, and Thursdays from 08:00 to 13:30.
Afghanistan is a predominantly Muslim country. Travelers are encouraged to respect local religious and cultural sensibilities.
Travelers should dress conservatively. Men clothing should cover arms and legs. Women should wear loose clothing that covers the arms and legs and wear a veil across their hair as a sign of respect, while in public. Women should avoid direct eye contact with men, as this could be interpreted as an attempt to seduce. Both men and woman should take of his shoes prior to entering a mosque.
- Homosexuality is illegal and a cultural taboo.
- The importation and use of narcotics, alcohol and pork products are forbidden.
- Smoking is very common among men
Medical facilities and care in Afghanistan is limited across most of the country, including in Kabul. Both private and government medical facilities routinely experience shortages of medical supplies and the standard of training for staffers is low. Although private medical facilities are available in Kabul, these are restricted to basic health care. Serious injuries or medical conditions are likely to require evacuation to a country with better facilities.
Travelers should be aware that most clinics in the country require an upfront payment before providing assistance.
As language may also be a problem, the use of a translator is recommended. Comprehensive medical insurance, which includes the provision for medical repatriation or evacuation, is strongly recommended.
Travelers are advised to visit a doctor or clinic at least four to six weeks prior to their intended departure to allow any necessary vaccinations to take effect.
Comprehensive medical insurance, which includes the rider for medical evacuation, is strongly recommended. Travelers are also advised to take an appropriate supply of any prescription medication; this should be accompanied by a written doctor's instruction, explaining the need for the medication and justifying the quantities required.
It is also important to ensure that routine vaccinations are up to date for diseases including influenza, chickenpox (or varicella), polio, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.
- Pre-travel recomanded vaccinations:
Hepatitis A (recommended)
Hepatitis B (recommended)
Yellow fever (required for travelers arriving from a country where yellow fever is present)
- Significant diseases:
Malaria is a life-threatening parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes. The malaria risk in Afghanistan is prevalent between April and September; areas situated more than 2,000 meters above sea level are generally not affected by the disease.
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, also known as Central Asian hemorrhagic fever and Congo fever, is a viral haemorrhagic fever that is spread by ticks. Outbreaks of this disease are reported regularly in Afghanistan's western Herat Province.
- Recent outbreaks
Measles: An outbreak in February 2012 resulted in the deaths of at least 20 children in Ghor and Badghis provinces.
Cholera: An outbreak in July 2011 left 14 people dead in Kandahar and Zabul provinces.
Polio: According to local officials, at least 18 polio cases were recorded during 2010 with infections reported in Kandahar, Helmand, Farah, Urozgan, Nangarhar and Kunduz provinces.
- Food and water safety
Tap water is generally unsafe to drink. Travelers are advised to consume only sterilized or bottled water. This applies to water used for brushing teeth, making ice or washing foods. Unpasteurized milk and related products should be avoided. Food from street vendors should be avoided as this carries a higher risk of causing infection; raw or undercooked food should not be eaten.
Afghanistan is in an active earthquake zone and frequently experience earthquakes.
The rainy season lasts from October through April. Although rainfall usually is scant, periodic heavy rains combined with melting snow have caused flooding and landslides. Some mountainous areas are subject to deadly winter avalanches.
International dialing code: +93
International dialing prefix: 00
- Emergency numbers
Afghanistan does not have any dedicated emergency numbers.
Diplomatic representation in Afghanistan:
Tel: +93 700 284 032
Wazir Akbar Khan
Tel:+93 700 210 1512/13/14/15
Fax:+93 700 177 518
Roundabout Wazir Akbar Khan
Tel: +93 700 102 000
Fax: +93 700 102 250
The Great Masoud Road
Tel: +93 700 108 001
Fax: +93 700 108 564