A virtual guide to Azerbaijan. The former Soviet republic is an independent state since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The country is situated in southwestern Asia with the Great Caucasus Mountains to the north.

Historically, the name Azerbaijan refers to a larger region that formed part of Persia (Iran). Azerbaijan is bordered by the Caspian Sea in east, by Iran in south, by Armenia in west, and Georgia and Russia in the north. The Azeri autonomous republic of Nakhchivan forms an enclave within the Republic of Armenia, in a narrow part in west it borders Turkey. Its highest mountain is Bazarduzu Dagi with 4,485 m.

With an area of 86,600 km² the country is slightly larger than Austria or slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Maine.

Azerbaijan has a population of 9.7 million people (in 2016). Main religion is Islam, Azerbaijan is one of the few countries with a majority Shiite population.

Capital and largest city is Baku. Spoken languages are Azeri 90% (official), Russian 2%.

Read on and get an overview of Azerbaijan’s art, culture, people, environment, geography, history, economy and government.


YearGross domestic product PPPPer capita income
(as % of USA)


Tourism is an important part of the economy of Azerbaijan. The country was a well-known tourist spot in the 1980s. However, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the First Nagorno-Karabakh War during the 1988–1994 period, damaged the tourist industry and the image of Azerbaijan as a tourist destination.

It was not until the 2000s that the tourism industry began to recover, and the country has since experienced a high rate of growth in the number of tourist visits and overnight stays. In recent years, Azerbaijan has also become a popular destination for religious, spa, and health care tourism. During winter, the Shahdag Winter Complex offers skiing.

The government of Azerbaijan has set the development of Azerbaijan as an elite tourist destination a top priority. It is a national strategy to make tourism a major, if not the single largest, contributor to the Azerbaijani economy. These activities are regulated by the State Tourism Agency and the Ministry of Culture. The Formula One Grand Prix is held in Baku, the capital city and has been held here for years.


In the 2000-2001 school year, 1,591,000 Azerbaijani students were enrolled in a total of 4,486 general education schools operated by the Ministry of Education covering grades 1 through 11, the years of compulsory education where most fees are covered by the government. Gross enrollment in the primary classes (grades 1 through 4) and the main classes (grades 5 through 9) averaged 97 percent for boys and 96 percent for girls that year (with net enrollment rates of 89 percent for boys and 90 percent for girls). At the secondary level gross enrollment rates were 73 percent for boys and 81 percent for girls. General education in Azerbaijan is divided into three stages: 1) four years of primary education, where students in each class are taught by a teacher who progresses with them each year up through the four primary grades, 2) main education, consisting of five years of schooling, and 3) secondary education, where students receive their final two years of state-provided schooling.

The violent conflict in the late 1980s and early 1990s exacted a heavy toll on Azerbaijani students and the education system in Azerbaijan. 616 general education schools reportedly were captured and destroyed by Armenian forces. This led to the displacement of over 100,000 pupils and 10,000 educational staff members, according to the government of Azerbaijan, with 85,000 displaced children served by 707 schools established in the densest areas of refugee and IDP concentrations.


Embassies and Consulates

111 Azadliq Prospecti
AZ1007 Baku, Azerbaijan
Telephone: +(994) (12) 488-3300
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(994) (12) 488-3300
Fax: +(994) (12) 488-3695

Destination Description

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements


You need a passport and a visa to enter Azerbaijan. Acquire a visa that covers the dates of your trip before you go. Visit the Embassy of Azerbaijan’s website for the most current visa information.

  • Electronic visas (E-Visas) are available through the “ASAN Visa” system. This system can be accessed online at
  • An E-Visa is typically issued within 3 (three working days of the online application, is a single-entry visa, and is valid for 30 days. The E-Visa fee is $20 USD, paid electronically. Once approved, the E-Visa is sent to the applicant via email. Travelers must print this information and present it to border security officials on arrival in Azerbaijan.
  • You must register with the State Migration Service (SMS) within 15 calendar days of arrival if your intended period of stay is more than 15 days. Visit the State Migration Service website for the most current registration information.
  • Residency applications by people with health issues, including HIV/AIDS, are reviewed by the State Migration Service and approved on a case-by-case basis. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Azerbaijan before you travel.
  • Law enforcement officials have at times detained individuals from Armenia or with Armenian surnames for questioning or denied them entry into the country. Such individuals may encounter anti-American sentiments while in Azerbaijan
  • Please be aware that traveling to the region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding territories via Armenia could make you ineligible to travel to Azerbaijan in the future.

Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to, and foreign residents of, Azerbaijan. Medical tests are required for those applying for temporary or permanent residence permits and must be performed at designated clinics in Azerbaijan.

For immunization information, please visit the Traveler’s Health page on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites

Safety and Security


Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, vehicles and rudimentary IEDs– to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:

  • High-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.)
  • Hotels, clubs, and restaurants frequented by tourists
  • Places of worship
  • Schools
  • Parks
  • Shopping malls and markets
  • Public transportation systems (including subways, buses, trains, and scheduled commercial flights)

For more information, see our Terrorism page.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Area and Conflict:

  • The U.S. Government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • Casualties continue to occur in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Avoid travel near the conflict zone and line of contact and exercise caution near the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Despite the declaration of a cessation in hostilities, the danger posed by intermittent gunfire, land mines, and poor road conditions continue. Roads near the conflict zone may be controlled by checkpoints or closed to travelers without notice.
  • Traveling to Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding territories from Armenia could make you ineligible to travel to Azerbaijan in the future.
  • Engaging in commercial activities in Nagorno-Karabakh. For more information regarding such commercial activities, please visit the Country Commercial Guide.
  • U.S. citizens of Armenian descent may encounter anti-Armenian sentiments in Azerbaijan.

Exercise caution in the region of Nardaran, located approximately 28 miles (45 km) from Baku on the Absheron Peninsula. Nardaran is culturally conservative and has been the site of several anti-United States and anti-Israel protests. It has also been the subject of government raids, which have sometimes resulted in violence.

Crime: Crime is relatively low. The majority of reported crimes involve burglary, assault, or petty crime such as pickpocketing.

  • Be careful in areas that attract large crowds or are very isolated. Criminals have targeted foreigners walking alone, late at night, or under the influence of alcohol.
  • Some women have reported incidents of unwanted male attention while walking alone and taking taxis. Sexual assault may be underreported due to cultural stigma.
  • Financial scams are increasingly common. While the majority involves internet dating, there are reports of scams related to fraudulent real estate deals, licensing requirements, and travel advertisements.
  • There are reports of increased credit and bank card fraud, such as credit card skimming.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Avoid demonstrations and riots, which police have previously suppressed with force. Demonstrations occur periodically. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events. 

  • Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly become violent. 
  • Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations. 
  • Check local media for updates and traffic advisories.

International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information.

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizens who are victims of crime should report crimes to the local police and then contact the U.S. Embassy. Contact the local police by dialing 102 and contact the U.S. Embassy at (+994 12) 488 3300. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes. The U.S. Embassy cannot investigate crimes, provide legal advice, or represent U.S. citizens in court.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas

We can:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • Provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
  • Provide a list of local attorneys
  • Provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance identifying local resources for victims of domestic violence, which can include shelters, medical assistance, and legal aid. Victims may contact the State Committee for Family, Women, and Children Affairs by telephone at +994 12 498 00 92 or for assistance.

Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in Baku. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of Baku and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage 

Local Laws & Special Circumstances


Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Your U.S passport will not prevent you from being arrested or prosecuted. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.

Furthermore, some crimes are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. There are often delays in consular notification after arrests of U.S. citizens. See our webpage for further information.

You can be legally detained in jail for up to three months during an investigation. 

It is illegal to take photographs of military installations and equipment. Police may stop you even if you take photographs of non-military sites, like oil fields, buildings, and public squares. Cooperate with the police.

Special Circumstances: Azerbaijan has mandatory military service for male citizens ages 18 to 35. If Azerbaijan considers you a citizen, you could face fines or arrest if you have not completed your military service. Dual citizen males ages 18 to 35 have reported being unable to depart Azerbaijan – regardless of whether they entered Azerbaijan as U.S. or Azerbaijani citizens – because a prohibition was placed on their exit due to non-service. In such cases, the individual’s travel back to the United States is often delayed until they resolve the matter with the relevant Azerbaijan government office. The U.S. Embassy in Baku cannot resolve this problem for affected individuals. Information regarding Azerbaijan’s mandatory military service, including contact information, can be found on Azerbaijan’s State Service for Mobilization and Conscription website. Those who wish to renounce their Azerbaijani citizenship may seek to do so at any Azerbaijani Embassy or Consulate, and can read about the process here.

Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.

Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals are not specifically protected by antidiscrimination laws. Societal intolerance, discrimination, and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity remain a problem in Azerbaijan. It is not illegal to organize LGBTI events, but societal intolerance generally prevents LGBTI events. LGBTI individuals have reported that employers sometimes find other reasons to fire LGBTI employees due to their sexual orientation. One of the main concerns for the local LGBTI community is the perceived failure of law enforcement agencies to act on violations of LGBTI individuals’ rights and indifference to investigating crimes committed against the LGBTI community in Azerbaijan. The Department of State’s most recent Human Rights Report documents incidents of police brutality against individuals based on sexual orientation and noted that authorities did not investigate or punish those responsible.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section six of the Human Rights Report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Azerbaijan enacted a national law protecting the rights of persons with disabilities in 2018 however accessibility for persons with disabilities is limited throughout the country.

Many older buildings, tourist shops, stores sidewalks, roads crossings and public transportation are not accessible. Other than in major international hotels in Baku, there are few handicap-accessible toilets.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers