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Uzbekistan Moves Forward On Possible New Foreign-Travel Documents

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyaev
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyaev

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyaev has signed an executive order on the possible introduction of new passports for citizens traveling abroad.

Uzbek state media reported on July 13 that the order signed the previous day required the government to create a plan to introduce the new travel documents within one month.

The move is viewed as a possible step toward abolishing exit visas for Uzbek citizens.

Currently, Uzbeks use a single identification document, known as a "common civil passport," to travel abroad. The document has special pages for external trips to which a special exit visa or permission to travel abroad is affixed.

The exit-visa system inherited from the Soviet era has been a major barrier for Uzbeks seeking to leave the country. It has also become a source of illegal income for officials who expedite the process in exchange for bribes.

On July 8, Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov and other government officials discussed the possible abolition of the exit-visa system.

The move is one of a number of initiatives that appear aimed at opening up the country under Mirziyaev, who was elected after the death of longtime autocrat Islam Karimov last year.