Afghanistan border crossings

Afghanistan shares borders with Tajikistan, China, Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. To see the location of the border posts, check the Silk Road border crossing map. For more info on visa requirements, check out the Afghanistan visa chapter. The borders are open for Mujahideen Victory Day.

Afghanistan – Tajikistan border crossings

bridge over pyanj

Bridge over the river Pyanj

Scams

Quite a few scams are being pulled by Tajik border guards. They can ask for a fee for the health declaration and customs forms coming into Tajikistan. When exiting, it is common they ask for an immigration card which does not exist. Cyclists will be asked on exiting where their import document is for the bicycle – you do not need one, of course. Just smile and pretend that it’s all a joke, but don’t pay the bribe. Stand your ground. Afghan formalities should be fast.

Ishkashim: Coming from Afghanistan, you will need to show a GBAO permit to enter Tajikistan. Coming from Tajikistan, you will need a Wakhan permit if you plan to travel past Sultan Ishkashim, which can be arranged by a tour operator once inside Afghanistan. A tour operator can also pick you up from the border if you don’t have your own transport.

The Tajik border opens at 0800-12.00 and then opens again at 14.00. The Afghan border is closed on Sunday. Opening times 09:00 – 11:30, 14:00 – 16:00.

Beware that it can get very hot there in summer, and the border is a 3km walk out of town on the Tajik side. Ishkashim is about 3 hours from Khorog. On the Afghan side, the border is about 5 km from the city of Sultan Ishkashim. To get the latest on this border, which has closed frequently in the past for different reasons (cholera, violence, mudslides), see this forum post for updates and ask around in Khorog.

Shir Khan Bandar – Panji Poyon: The Friendship Bridge connects Dushanbe with Kunduz. It’s an important crossing for freight coming from China through Tajikistan into Afghanistan (and then to Iran). There has been talk about a railroad connecting Kashgar in China through Dushanbe with Kunduz, but it has not materialised yet. Public transport should be available on both sides.

July 2015: crossing the border is possible but not recommended. Kunduz is very unsafe at the moment. Better to head to Uzbekistan and cross from the Termez border. Two friends of mine paid $80 for a private taxi from Panji Poyon all the way to Kabul.

Khorog – Shegnan: A bridge connects Tajikistan with Afghanistan here, also known as the Tem – Demogan bridge. The border opens Monday to Friday from 9am-12am and 1pm-4pm. The road goes on to Shegnan Bazaar, and from June to the start of the winter snows, you can drive down to Shiva Lake  in about 2 hours and then onwards to Baharak (another 4 hours from Shiva to Baharak, bypassing Warduj)…again, only when the snow melts after June.

Langar: Not open for foreigners.

Darwaz: Bridge over the Pyanj river connecting Afghanistan with Tajikistan. Not open to foreigners.

Afghanistan – China border crossing

wakhjir-pass

Fortress on the Wakhjir pass

Wakhjir pass: At 4,923 m (16,152 ft), the only pass between Afghanistan and China is not an easy one. It is difficult to assess how the infrastructure situation is on the Wakhjir pass now, but China has finished building a road across the pass, it seems. It is mostly used as a low-intensity drug-smuggling corridor to bring opium to China during the summer. Not open to foreigners.

Afghanistan – Pakistan border crossings

khyber-pass

The Khyber pass

Khyber pass (Torkham):

March 2013: Commenter Emmeff says that Torkham border is not open to foreigners unless they make complicated arrangements beforehand.

28 december 2012: Pakistan has reopened the Torkham border. Foreigners and goods trucks are allowed to pass, according to one journalist.

Previously: permits to go overland have not been given to travelers without their own transport since 2008 because of security concerns. However, if you have your own car, the authorities (FATA secretariate in Peshawar) will consider your request. Foreigners have been known to sneak across to the famous Arms or Smuggler’s Bazaar. An unwise idea, endangering many people’s lives.

Chaman – Spin Boldak crossing: Closed for foreigners. According to commenter Emmeff, this crossing will never open.

Other border crossings: Dorah pass, Peiwar Kotal pass, Ghulam Khan pass, Angoor Ada – Shkin crossing, Gumal pass, Brogol pass. All are closed.

Afghanistan – Uzbekistan border crossings

Termez – Hayratan: On the main road to Mazar-i-Sharif. Since some time now, this border has been functioning normally, although reportedly, the border guards can be a pain in the ass. Others report quick and friendly treatment. From the border, it’s about 1 hour to Mazar-e-Sharif, and another 8 to Kabul.

Nothing special to report on the Uzbek side, very efficient. It’s a relatively easy walk to the Afghan border. As soon as you enter into Afghanistan, most soldiers and policemen will ask for some bribes, just kindly refuse and everything will be fine. To get to Mazar-e Sharif, walk a little further, until you see yellow parked taxis on your right side; a shared taxi should cost no more than $4.

Afghanistan – Iran border crossings

Islam Qala – Taybad: Main Iran – Afghanistan crossing between Mashad and Herat. The security situation in Afghanistan is of course subject to change, but the border crossing is definitely open for foreigners, operating during daylight hours only. It’s busy. The Mashad – Herat road is in good condition. Shared taxis are the quickest way to get to/from the border to Mashad on the Iranian side (4 hours), with a possible stop-over needed in Torbat-e-Jam. On the Afghani side, it’s about 2 hours driving from the border to Herat, with lots of shared taxis and minibuses willing to take you there.  Latest we heard, a shared taxi from Herat to Mashad cost 30$ (2010).

Alternatively, there are also buses from Mashad to Taybad, and even to Herat, but not much cheaper than the shared taxis, and definitely slower at the border than walking across and taking another transport. If you would like to take the bus in Mashad, or in the other direction from Herat, get there early in the morning and wait for the bus to fill up, since there is no way of knowing when it will leave.

Milak – Zaranj: This is officially a multilateral border crossing open to foreigners. The reality is that it is a dirt track rather than a road, and the dangerous situation in Afghanistan makes that there have been no reports of any foreigner crossing this road and having lived to tell the story.

Afghanistan – Turkmenistan border crossings

On entering Turkmenistan you have to pay 12$ entry tax, to be paid in dollars only.  The borders are usually closed for lunch. Take about 2 hours to cross any border.

bala murghab

Bala Murghab, near the Turkmen border

Torghundi (Tawraghudi ) – Serkhetabat (Kushka): The main border between Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, on the road to Herat. Of course the security situation in Afghanistan is unstable, so if you decide to take this route,  do it in daylight hours and make yourself known to the police. The road is perfect asphalt, but in the winter, it may be closed because of snowfall.

A shared taxi from Herat to the border cost anywhere between 200 afghanis and 30$ in 2011, depending on haggling skills. From the border to Herat, it is unsure if transport will be waiting for you (mixed traveler reports), but maybe the border guards will take care of you. On the Turkmen side, it should be no problem to find a shared taxi heading to Mary, if you are on a transit visa.

Imam Nazar – Aaqina: A remote border crossing near Andkhoy that sees little traffic, but is definitely open to foreigners. The road is a dirt track that will require a 4WD and good preparation. There is no settlement on either side of the border, so you will likely continue straight to Atamyrat (previously Kerki) or Andkhoy, if you find transport quickly. There is no public transport going to the border.

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