|Visa Restrictions:Note that if your passport shows any evidence of travel to the separatist republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, such as a Nagorno-Karabakh visa, you will be denied entry even if you already have an Azerbaijani visa. If you do intend to visit Nagorno-Karabakh, the authorities there can issue the visa on a separate piece of paper at your request. Insist on this to the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities, otherwise you will permanently be refused entry to Azerbaijan. Entry will be refused to citizens of Armenia and to all foreign citizens of Armenian descent and ancestry and those with Armenian names and surnames, as well as any products made in Armenia and with Armenian labeling, etc. If you have a visa from Armenia proper in your passport, you may also expect border hassles. The best practice is to visit Armenia after you have visited Azerbaijan. See here. Travellers have reported border guards and police confiscating guidebooks which include info about Nagorno-Karabakh, especially the Lonely Planet Georgia, Armenia, & Azerbaijan guidebook, because Nagorno-Karabakh is introduced as separate from Azerbaijan.|
The primary international gateway is Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku, with additional international airports whose international routes are basically just Moscow & Istanbul found in Nakhchivan City, Ganja, & Lankaran.
National air company AZAL Azerbaijan Airlines is the main carrier which flies to Ganja, Nakhchivan, Yevlakh, Lenkoran, Tbilisi, Aktau, Tehran, Tel-Aviv, Ankara, Istanbul, Trabzon, Antalya, Aleppo, Dubai, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kiev, Nizhniy Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Urumqi, Mineralniye Vodi, Milan, London and Paris. BMI flies seven days a week to Baku. Lufthansa also has a couple flights a week to Baku which continue onwards to Ashgabat. Turkish Airlines is another carrier connecting Baku with and via Istanbul. Also, there are several Russian, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Iranian, and Austrian airlines connecting Baku with several cities of the world.Qatar Airways will start flying to Baku from 1st February 2012 with 2 flights a day, one to Tbilisi and one to Doha connecting to their global network.
Foreign nationals of the following countries can enter Azerbaijan visa-free:
For up to 90 days: Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan
For up to 30 days: China, Turkey
For up to 15 days: Iran
All other travellers who require a visa for entry into Azerbaijan can obtain single-entry visas by mail or in person from any Azerbaijani embassy offering consular services. Apart from certain exceptions during the month of May, 2012 because of Eurovision, travellers are no longer able to obtain visas at Heydar Aliyev Airport in Baku. Multiple visas are generally not issued for tourists outside of Azerbaijan. EU nationals generally pay 60AZN while U.S. passport holders pay US$160 based on reciprocity for any visa from 1 to 3 months length. For Information on visa requirements visit the relevant page in the web site of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry. (http://mfa.gov.az/eng/ind...).
A letter of invitation from a contact in Azerbaijan is required. Travellers have reported, however, that the embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia does not require LOIs, with a turnaround time of 1-3 days. UPDATE APRIL 2012: Since July 2011, this has now changed. LOIs ARE required in Tbilisi, and transit visas are no longer issued. Around the corner from the embassy, MEDEA TRAVEL will organise a visa within 3 days, priced 80 euro in total which covers everything. The embassy of Azerbaijan in Washington, D.C. will issue visas without a LOI, provided your stay in Azerbaijan is no longer than a few days. According to Azerbaijani law, foreign nationals intending to remain in Azerbaijan for more than 30 days must register with local police within three days of their arrival. Foreign citizens should approach the passport section of the local district police office and fill out an application form. The registration fee is 9.90AZN. If you should fail to register within the first three days of your arrival, you are liable to a fine of 300AZN. If you are still within the 30 days and happen to have a double or multi entry visa, an option is to hop over to Georgia and the period will start over.
There is currently no ferry or cruise service with any other country on the Caspian. Be forewarned that the much talked about "ferries" on the Caspian are simply cargo ships with some extra space to take on passengers. Getting a ride on one of these "ferries" is no easy task. First you must find the notoriously difficult to find ticket office, which basically keeps track of ship which are departing. If you manage to find the ticket office and manage to get a booking, you still have little idea of when the ship will depart. Give them a phone number to reach you and be prepared, they may call you an hour or two prior to departure...two days after the first departure the office gave you and the day before the second departure date they gave you! This is only the first of you troubles. After paying for your place on the boat about US$50-100, the captain and perhaps other crew members will expect an additional amount to get a bed and a shower. You are expected to bring your own food. The crossing will only take 1 day Turkmenistan or 2-3 days Kazakhstan. Most ships go to Turkmenistan, where ships must wait for an open berth...so you can wait 2-5 days on the boat just waiting for a place to dock! Unless you are on a very small budget or have a bike and especially if you are on a short timeschedule, you should pay twice as much ~US$200-250 for a one way airfare to Kazakhstan, Russia, or Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Trains connect Azerbaijan with Georgia & Russia. The Russian border is closed to non-CIS passport holders with no change likely in the foreseeable future they don't want foreigners seeing what they're up to in the Caucasus, so the weekly trains to Moscow via Mahachkala are not a viable option for most.
There is an overnight train connecting Tbilisi, Georgia and Baku. Heading out of Azerbaijan, this costs 26AZN and departs nightly from Baku at 20:00. The time of the trip varies considerably based on how long is spent at the border longer when entering Azerbaijan. This segment of track is currently being modernized as part of a project, financed in part by Azerbaijan, which includes the construction of a rail segment from Akhalkalaki, Georgia with Kars, Turkey. Originally scheduled to open in 2010, it is now planned to finish in 2012 connecting the railroads of Azerbaijan with Turkey via Georgia. Look out for Baku-Istanbul service once completed!
There is a domestic train line running from Astara on the Iranian border to Baku and there are high hopes to get a 300km connector line built from Astara to Qazvin, Iran to connect the Azerbaijani and Iranian rail networks. Rail service to Iran, which once existed from Nakhchivan after crossing through southern Armenia, was severed after the border with Armenia was closed.
There are roads to all cities of Azerbaijan. They are not really wide and most of them have only two lanes. Local travel agents can arrange private cars to the borders. Some Georgian travel agents such as Exotour can arrange pickup in Baku to delivery in Tbilisi. Although more expensive than bus or train, it will be faster and can be combined with sightseeing along the way. Pay attention to the fact that Azerbaijani customs will request you to pay a deposit of several thousand US dollars for your car.