Work and Travel in Azerbaijan
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN AZERBAIJAN FOR TRAVELLERS
Azerbaijan is a country few tend to know exist let alone visit. Nestled on the border between Europe and Asia, this oil-based country used to be difficult to get to. Liberalisation of their visa policies means that a new generation of travellers are able to work and travel in Azerbaijan.
If somewhere different is on your travel list this year, then travel in Azerbaijan. Let’s take a look at the volunteer opportunities in Azerbaijan and how you can go about getting there.
Read through our travel guide to Azerbaijan to get started (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/azerbaijan).
1. Lend Your Artistic Skills in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan is an oil rich nation. Baku is an extremely modern capital with incredible shows of wealth. Like most countries in this position, art and culture is a big priority. With the Azeri people’s rich history, there are lots of projects for artists throughout the country.
Whether it’s painting murals at a guesthouse to joining major international NGOs who want to revitalise poorer areas, painters, sculptors, and graphic designers are all in high demand.
Look for these positions in Baku.
2. Join the Growing Conservation Movement in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan’s oil wealth has come at a costly environmental price. It’s not uncommon to see vast oil puddles across the countryside as you cross the country by train.
Only now have charities and government organisations started to realise the importance of preserving the Land of Fire. From the Burning Mountain to the famous mud volcanoes, major efforts are being made to help protect them from the expanding oil industry.
If conservation is close to your heart, join one of these projects as you travel in Azerbaijan.
3. Revitalise Poor Areas of Azerbaijan
Despite Azerbaijan’s wealth, the country still has a huge problem with poverty outside of Baku. Smaller villages see communities living in extreme poverty.
Search for projects that focus on helping orphaned children, providing a good education to young people, and offering sanctuary to the thousands of abandoned dogs and cats.
These projects are ideal for people who want to get away from the traditional tourist sites and see the real side of Azeri culture and tradition.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR AZERBAIJAN
Travel in Azerbaijan used to be difficult due to their strict visa policies. Today, the new e-visa system (https://evisa.gov.az/en/), known as ASAN, has made things much easier for most nationalities.
The only countries who can enter without a visa are a number of former Soviet Union countries and certain Central Asian nations (http://www.mfa.gov.az/en/content/189). Everyone else must apply for an Azeri visa in advance to work and travel in Azerbaijan.
All of Europe, other than Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus, have to apply for an e-visa. This process usually takes three working days and requires a small online payment. The same applies to North American countries, Australia, and New Zealand.
The US can enter visa-free under special conditions, but this will only apply to a small segment of people and you should contact the Embassy of Azerbaijan first.
Japanese, Chinese, and South Korean citizens need an e-visa only if entering by land. A visa-on-arrival can be obtained if entering by air. For work and travel in Azerbaijan, it’s likely better to get the e-visa as the visa-on-arrival is only valid for 30 days (http://www.azconsulatela.org/Visas-and-Travel/Getting-Visa-at-Airport), when compared to the e-visa’s 90 days.
Russian citizens can enter without a visa, whereas South African citizens must get the e-visa.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN AZERBAIJAN
Azerbaijan rarely gets snow outside of the mountains. Its position on the Caspian Sea means that the temperature on the coast is usually temperate, although it does get cold at night.
The spring in Baku is a time where a number of international events come to the country. It’s possible to become a volunteer if you apply far enough in advance. Just some of the events Baku has hosted during spring in the last few years include Eurovision, the European Games, and Formula 1.
Summertime in Azerbaijan is the main season for backpackers. There are a growing number of hostels around the country, as it begins to reap the benefits of the tourism boom in neighbouring Georgia.
Many of these hostels take on volunteers for short periods of time. If you want to work in Azerbaijan and get free accommodation, a hostel job could be the right option for you.
It’s also a good time to help with poverty programs. Summer is often the hardest time of year for poor families with young children because these are the school holidays. Get out to the small towns and villages and give back to the Azeri people.
Backpacker skills in autumn are much the same as the rest of the year. However, language teaching programmes in smaller skills become popular in autumn.
Apply in summer and by the autumn you could find a job as an English teacher. Azerbaijan is increasingly looking outwards and most young people are eager to learn English.
If you can’t teach English in Azerbaijan through a school, consider becoming a private tutor. A lot of schools don’t offer language teaching in English, so parents employ private tutors instead. You don’t need any prior qualifications as long as you’re a native English speaker.
There are few volunteering opportunities in Azerbaijan during the winter months. Tourists are few and there are few established locations for winter sports. Away from the mountains, you’ll likely find little to do, unless you already have a position carried over from a previous season.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN AZERBAIJAN
Azerbaijan is rich, modern, and is increasingly becoming less isolated. But bear in mind that Azerbaijan is still a dictatorship and even minor crimes are punished. For example, you can be arrested for littering. You should also refrain from talking about politics in the country, as well as anything to do with Armenia.
Even though Azerbaijan refers to itself as democratic, this is only in name only. The country has been controlled by the same family for decades.
You should also take care to respect Islam. Although customs aren’t as strict as the Middle East, people can take great offense when Islam isn’t given the right amount of respect.
Are you prepared for work and travel in Azerbaijan?
- Edited on Sep 20 2018 by Mariia