Getting a Turkmenistan tourist visa is not possible without booking a tour. Getting a transit visa might require a long wait, but you do not need to book a tour and do not need visa support (LOI). A transit visa allows for a visit of 3 to 7 days.
Be aware that the Turkmen visa is date-specific, meaning it has fixed start and expiry dates. You cannot enter Turkmenistan before the start date or leave after the expiry date, but you can enter after the start date and leave before the expiry date.
Since summer 2015, random rejections for transit visas have become common. Based on anecdotal evidence, we estimate the rejection rate now at 20-50%. It’s really a lottery. No embassy, nationality or itinerary seems to be excluded. Tourist visas also get refused, although the rejection rate here is much, much lower. Learn about your options if you have been refused while on the road.
2 especially inauspicious moments to put on your visa application are the periods (let’s say 1 week, but could be more) around Independence Day (October 27-28) and Flag Day (February 19). You have a very high chance of being rejected.
Turkmenistan transit visa
The Turkmenistan transit visa is issued for 3-7 days. How many days you get is essentially up to the whims of the official granting the visa, but 5 days is standard. 7 days was impossible for a long time, but now possible again in Tehran on a regular basis. Perhaps elsewhere too? Try!
Note that it is a transit visa: this means you need to go from one country to another through Turkmenistan. You cannot go back to the same country you came from on a transit visa. Flying in and out is possible. Transiting Uzbekistan – Turkmenistan – Kazakhstan has been refused in the past, seeing you don’t have to cross Turkmenistan for that, but Afghanistan – Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan has been granted before, so it might be a consular whim.
To apply for a transit visa, go to a Turkmen embassy with the documents listed under Visa requirements and registration. If you are applying on the road, additionally see Embassy reports.
The transit visa has a set start and expiry date, so it is essential to be ready to enter the country when the visa starts. The cost is around 55$ (155$ for Russians). Note also that you need to enter your entry and exit points on the visa application form. When you get back your passport, check which entry/exit point you got, it might be different from what you asked for. Don’t exit from a different border crossing than the one stated on your visa, it will not be fun!
If you get a 7-day visa, you need to register with OVIR. See the registration chapter for more on that.
Transit visa LOI
Recently, the embassies of Tashkent, Dushanbe and Vienna have started handing out transit visas, saying they can be picked up at the border with Uzbekistan after you get a code e-mailed to you. This has worked well for most, but some people get stuck at the border with nowhere to go after their code did not arrive. Stamped out of Uzbekistan, not allowed into Turkmenistan. One man spent 3 days in no man’s land. So this tactic, although tremendously time-saving, comes with serious risks.
Azeri customs do not allow passengers on the Caspian Sea ferry without having the actual visa in their passport, be it a transit or a tourist visa. Letters with a visa reference number will no longer do.
If you are coming on a regular transit visa on the Caspian Sea ferry, and you happen to arrive early, you can avoid trouble two ways: either a bribe to put the date stamp a day forward or, you will be let to linger in the terminal before customs. Similarly, if your visa is running out in Turkmenbashi and the ferry has not arrived yet, customs might stamp you out earlier and leave you to hang out in the terminal past customs until the boat shows up. Bring enough food.
Turkmenistan tourist visa
Getting a Turkmenistan tourist visa ìs expensive. You need to make a booking for a tour through a tour company. Prices range from 120 to 250 USD per day, including guide, driver, accommodation and food. However, you can cut your costs considerably by sharing with other people. You need to find them yourself though, it is not possible to go on a standard tour with a bunch of strangers.
To receive your visa, your tour company will tell you what to do.
Turkmenistan visa on arrival
It is possible to get a Turkmenistan tourist visa on arrival in the airport of Ashgabat, as well as on the land borders. You will need a letter of invitation from a tourist agency, which means a booking with them. The Turkmenistan visa on arrival is valid for 10 days, with extensions possible based on the duration of the booking.
Transit visas are not available at Ashgabat airport, however, there is a transit area in the airport for passengers in transit for which no special visa is required.
Turkmenistan letter of invitation (LOI)
Looking for the letter of invitation to lengthen your stay in Turkmenistan? Seeing how many requests we get from people who still want to get an LOI without booking a tour, I feel the need to repeat myself: if you want to get an LOI to stay more than 5 days in Turkmenistan, you need to book a tour! Sorry, not my rule. If you are a budget traveler, you will have to get the transit visa.
Turkmenistan visa application on the road
You are most likely to apply for a Turkmenistan transit visa in either Turkey, Iran or Azerbaijan coming from the south, or in Tajikistan or Uzbekistan coming from the north. From the south, you can apply for your visa in Istanbul, Ankara, Baku, Teheran or Mashhad. From the north, in Dushanbe, Almaty or Tashkent.
The best way to apply for your transit visa if you are short on time and want to keep moving is to hand in all documents in one embassy/consulate (for instance Istanbul), and pick up your Turkmen visa later in another embassy (eg. Tehran).
This is a route many people on the Silk Road are following these days with great success. You can keep your passport with you, only a copy of your passport is needed by the embassy. Urgent processing takes 5 working days (meaning 1 week), normal procedure takes up 10 working days (express processing doesn’t cost extra, so no need to use the normal procedure if asked for). Cost is 55$.
New address: Furmanova, 137, corner of Kalinina & Furmanova, entrance on the backside.
New tel: (727) 272-69-44, 272-69-92 (no English spoken).
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday, closed on Friday and every last Monday of the month 10:00 – 13:00.
August 2015: We applied in Almaty on Monday 17th August and collected our ‘application code’ the next morning (Tues 18th). They would only issue Farab to Sarahs and told us it would take 10 working days (maybe less). It was fine to request to collect the visa in Tashkent. We took a risk and went early to the embassy in Tashkent (Monday 24th August)- visa was approved and ready- 5 days transit Farab to Sarahs, $85 each (Britith Passport). Total processing time was 7 days (including weekend).
No problems, went at 9am this morning (were 2nd in the queue after putting our names on the list at 6am!) and collected at 4pm.
June 2015: Consul would only give Farab to Serakhs (Bukhara to Mashhad) border crossings, not via Dashoguz border.
April 2014: Failed to get a visa for unknown reasons.
May 2012- September 2013: Various reports – applied in Almaty, pick up in Tashkent after 10 working days. Staff friendly and helpful.
Address: No. 28, Koza Sokak, Chankaya, Ankara (how to get there)
Opening hours: 9am-12am, closed on Wednesday.
May 2015: the Uzbek embassy is about 20 minutes’ walk apart, so it’s possible to collect one visa and apply for the next in the same morning. There’s a shop just round the corner from the Uzbek embassy which does photocopying, so I went there for the necessary (colour) copies of the photo page and the “before and after” visas. As mentioned in the previous report, you don’t need any other form, just the brief one they give you at the embassy, along with a letter (following a standard format which they give you to copy from) stating your intended arrival and departure points and dates, and any other places to be visited in between.
I requested to collect it in Baku, and they said they’d email me when it was available – estimated 7-10 days. Payment is due at the time of application, but was only US$10 – and I didn’t have the same problem at the bank. I went along with my UK passport, and the bank had no problem accepting the payment with that.
March 2015: Easy procedure. One problem here is that you cannot pay unless you are a Turkish citizen – you need a Turkish ID number. Advice is to tell the cashiers and say that if anyone else comes in to pay the Turkmen embassy could you ask to use their number. It took me ten minutes to find someone and he was fine with helping out, even though he spoke no English.
We did not need the application form, in fact he handed these back to me, allowing me to use the photos from the application form for the questionnaire. Not sure if this is standard practice or just Ankara. Specified for five days, and told us we could pick up in Baku – we will receive an email telling us when this is available.
May 2014: LOI, 1 passport photocopy, 1 passport picture, $115 paid to IS bank plus 5TL fee to bank
Arrived shortly after 9am. Whilst I was let into visa section, there was nobody there until 10am when the shutter was opened. Given form to complete. Nothing unusual on it for normal visa application. Difficulty was being sent to IS bank to pay. He didn’t speak much English. Fortunately a Turkish man took me with his driver, told me who to pay and got receipt. He took a copy of my passport to show teller as name needs to be on receipt. On returning this to the embassy the visa was issued on the spot. Total time about 2h inc 45mins waiting to open. Opening times are M, T, T, F 9-12
To get to the bank from embassy – turn right out of embassy gate and then left down steep hill. Follow this down and to right where you hit main road. Bank is on left side. Probably about 400-500m away from embassy. Address is Kuleli sk no 48.
May 2013: Applied from Ankara, requesting to pick up in Baku (no “buts” and they agreed). They seem to speak no english. They request a letter explaining why you need the visa but the format must be done the way they specify there (on a noteboard) so you need to go once first to check there. In the letter you MUST say which day you enter and it can NOT be moved in any way. We received the letter one week later. With the printed letter you can go to whichever Embassy you request to pick it up (in our case Baku) and only then you have to pay.
July 2012: Lodged application in Ankara for collection in Mashhad. 10 days later they sent us an email with letter and authorisation code which we gave to embassy in Mashhad. Filled in the form again, one photo, copy of uzbek visa and photopage of passport and 85US paid directly to the embassy, took only 20 minutes.
Feb 2012: A British traveler applied in London and picked up a 5-day transit visa in Ankara after 1 day waiting for 55$.
The Turkmen authorities opened a consulate office in Astrakhan. No news so far, let us know if you found it!
Adress: Jalil Mammadguluzadeh 85/226a, Nasimi Baku. GPS coords 40.395437, 49.826532. Easiest way to find it is to go to intersection of Mammedgulzade and Academician Hasan Aliyev (Bus 61 goes from the blocks west and south of 28 May Square to this intersection), head south along Mammedgulzade, it is about 100m down the 1st or 2nd lane to your right (west). It is identified by a plaque and maybe the queue in the lane. Orrr, take number 65 bus if staying in old town.
The bank to pay the visa fee is a few km away: Narimanov’s branch of International bank of Azerbaijan, Hasan Alieva 94, Baku. It’s straight down east almost 3km flat walk on the south side of Hasan Aliyev, just pass a major highway/underpass, easy to find. Even signposted at the underpass. The Kazakh embassy is in the same area. Open only Monday and Friday 9/10am-12am/1pm. The consul sometimes does not show up.
Another way to find it: Take the metro up to “20 janviar”(red line). Here is where it used to be. But now you must take an extra bus (or taxi but many believe it’s still where it used to be) not too far and at least the following go: 69, 83 and 128, only thing is that you must make sure to get right direction (crossing street when exiting metro).
Come early, as you need to pay in the bank before you can pick up the visa. Updates can be read and posted here.
June 2015: The consul was not there for weeks. Could not pick up the visa.
June 2014: Confirmed, you can only pick up transit visas in Baku that have been applied for elsewhere. You cannot apply for a transit visa in Baku.
May 2014: We have just picked up our 5 day transit visas in Baku, we applied for them in Ankara requesting pick up in Baku.We had an email 7 days later confirming acceptance. We took this and 2 photos each with our passports to the embassy. Fairly straight forward process 85$ each. Embassy staff helpful with good english.
March 2014: A traveler reports applications for transit visas are no longer accepted in Baku, only pick-up.
July 2012: Tourist visa cost for Americans: 10 day single entry is $35 for normal service (one week) or $55 for express (3 day/weekend) service in USD only. They will keep your passport the entire time (so have a copy for yourself as that is against Chinese law). There is a Bank of China down the road on Tian Ze Lu that can exchange RMB for USD. Keep in mind the consulate is closed on Wednesdays (and at 12:00 (at least on the door), not 13:00 as listed on the website). We went with the express option and dropped ours off Friday morning at 11:30am and it was ready Monday at 15:00.
2 weeks standard delivery, 5 days urgent processing. Standard docs and prices. You can apply via post. Updates can be read and posted here.
9, Baitik Baatyr Street (south of the city, Google Maps is wrong). tel: +996 312 881 232, N42.8125 E074.59353.Consular hours: Mon, tues, thurs, fri 10-12 and 15-17. Updates found here. Urgent processing takes 7-10 days.
July 2015: we just went up to the embassy and via the guard we got an appointment that same day at 15.00 h.
May 2015: Has recently opened and issues transit visas. Met a French couple who were the first who applied. The lady in the office told them they can not pick up the visa at a different embassy but must return.
Opening hours: 9.30-12.30 and 14-?
Address: Akhunbabaeva St, dom 10.
Посольство Туркменистана в Республике Таджикистан
734000, Душанбе, ул. Ахунбабаева, дом 10.
Tel: +992 37 224 26 40
It is located in the northern part of the city, off Karamov Street (map).
Stable embassy. below info has been accurate for past few years, although some people have been refused (June 2015). The man working at the embassy is a very friendly and funny guy and speaks Russian, no English.
To apply for the (transit) visa you need to submit a completed application form (provided at the embassy), write a letter of request for a transit visa (he gives you a sample to copy out), one passport photo, a COLOUR photocopy of your passport, and a photocopy of your onward visa.
The time for processing the transit visa is 1 week. You keep your passport during the process. On the day of collecting your visa you should turn up in the morning, you get the payment slip which you pay at a bank on the other end of town (take a taxi). The visa costs USD $55. When you return to the embassy with the payment slip you get the visa in your passport.
See the warning above with e-mailing the visa code. Usually it works, but to be safe, get the visa in your passport in the embassy.
Address: Gazi Evrenos Caddesi, Baharistan Sok. No. 13, Yesilköy, Istanbul
Opening hours: Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri 9-12.30am (for visa application) and 5-6pm (only for visa pickup!)
Phone: (+90) 212 662 02 21 (or ..2 and ..3)
Required documents: 1x Visa application (the correct form will be provided by the consulate), 1x photo, 2x b/w passport copy, 1x copy of the visa of the countries from/to where you enter/depart, 1x motivation letter (template and form will be provided by the consulate)
How to get there: From Eminönü, bus BN2 takes you to Yeşilyurt in 30 minutes, there it takes 5 minutes on foot to the consulate. Alternatively there is a bus 72T from Taksim to Mecidiye Camii – a long trip, but a reasonable option if you are based in the Beyoğlu region. Find and post updates here.
July 2015: You can still get a tourist visa (not transit visa) reliably, same-day process.
June 2015: Transit visa not possible anymore, confirmed by several posters.
July 2013: We asked for visa pickup at the embassy in Ankara. They said we should call in 7 days. After 7 days, we called in Istanbul several times, but no one answered. We then went to the embassy in Ankara where they contacted the consulate in Istanbul. Nothing was ready and we asked for a pickup in Tehran at a later date.
131 Holland Park Ave, London.
April 2015: Quiet and quite formal embassy but fairly relaxed. You will however need to have all your documents in order and form neatly stapled (there was a notice for this), I didn’t have my Azeri visa (entry country for transit visa). You need application form, 2 photos, questionnaire, cover letter (describing travel plans), copy (colour?) of passport and visas of incoming and destination country.
June 2015: After I finally got my Azeri visa (entry country), I got someone in London to submit my documents in person (you can mail but I wanted to be sure they got it), requesting invitation letter for maximum 5 day transit visa to be emailed to me. Was advised it would take 3 weeks, which was slightly past my visa start date and sure enough was emailed the invitation just under 3 weeks later (with Ministry letterhead and the all important ID number like AS-xxxxxx, invitation actually was dated 10 days after I applied which could have made a big difference for me). Eventually I collected the visa in Baku.
December 2015: Was closed on a Monday. Lots of random rejections. The letter you have to write and submit with the application must NOT include the word TRAVEL at all, instead the word must be TRANSIT. I.e. when you state your route you must say “Transit from Mary to Turkmenabat”, etc. It must also include your requested entry and exit dates as well as the entry and exit border points.
June 2015: applied and picked up in Mashad. 7 days turnaround for 5 day transit visa.
March 2015: Pick-up after application in Tehran, 55$ as before. See link for picture and copies needed..
May 2014: 55$, lots of pictures, after application in Tehran.
Paris embassy, France
Address: 13, rue Picot, 75116, Paris. The closest metro station is Victor Hugo.
May 2015: The consular is really kind, perfect English and French. He actually told me that with the invitation letter I can get the visa in the airport but I chose not to risk it. He just asked me some general questions and we chatted a little bit and I complained how difficult it was to get the visa. In general, he will help you with everything. Normally it takes 5 days to process it but I told him I would only be in Paris for 3 days and he agreed to give me the visa in 2 days! I think I paid 55 euros and you can pay with cash.
Address: Afrosiab street 19
Opening hours: 10am-1pm (play safe, come very early to put your name on the waiting list! 6am is already late in peak season!) Visa pick-up at 4pm. Only open Monday to Wednesday? Don’t know.
Crazy, busy embassy, with long waiting times and frustration build-up, but staff is correct and even quite lenient sometimes, if we piece all traveler reports together. Important to have 2 colour copies of your passport and Uzbek visa, they don’t keep it.
September 2015: Easy process, got it in 1 week.
August 2015: Applied in Almaty. We took a risk and went early to the embassy in Tashkent – visa was approved and ready- 5 days transit Farab to Sarahs, $85 each (Britith Passport). Total processing time was 7 days (including weekend).
No problems, went at 9am this morning (were 2nd in the queue after putting our names on the list at 6am!) and collected at 4pm.
June 2015: Requirements didn’t seem to change. One week turn over for a five day transit visa on a German passport (rush processing/55$). However they don’t send the visas to the border anymore. They said it’s because the Uzbeks wouldn’t let me through. But when I picked my visa up there was a German woman who said they were sending hers to the border. When I went in to pick up together with a French guy who was applying, they refused to give him this service with the same explanation though.
April 2014: I went there on a monday (20th april), arrived at 6.30 was 16 in the list, entered at 11.30 (but things were wierd and I’m not sure they really follow the list). I asked to get my visa at the border in 15 days, they told it was possible but they might problem from the uzbek side, blabla, since I had enough stress with the visas, i asked to pick it up in Tashkent with the urgent process (same price) in a week. I went back the next tuesday (you have to go in the morning to give your passport first), arrived at 9, was 15th on the list and entered at 10.30! There were way less people than the previous monday. My visa was ready at 4 the same day. I got 5 days transit and the entrance and exit I asked. 55 dollars.
December 2013: new evolution, perhaps because of the low season. British national applied and got a transit visa application number in 5 days. He then collected the visa at the Al Farab border crossing for an extra 10$.
June 2013: Still as before. Came at 5.30 to be number 3 in line. Came back at 9.30 to be called in. 55$ for Europeans, 85$ for British. 20 days was reduced to 16 after pleading.
May 2013: Took only 7 days for Australian passport holder to get a transit visa.
October 2012: applied in Almaty (see below). There was a list before 10 o`clock which was administrated by the policeman in front of the embassy. At 10, the assistant appeared from inside and copied this list. If you arrive after this, you’ll have to tell him your name and he’ll put you on his new list. Old list is then obsolete.
On the first day we arrived, the visa wasn’t ready yet, but the day after it was ok. They kept the passport in the morning and we could pick up the visa at 4pm.
There were around 20-30 people waiting, but there was no need to be there before 10, waiting time around 1 hour. This is probably different during high season… 55$/Person, we got only 3 days (applied for 5) and not the exit point we applied for (Sarahs instead of Gaudan, they don’t want people to go to Ashgabat).
June 2012: Arrived 10.30am. There was a list but it was redundant as a new list was being used. People are let in 5(ish) at a time, man with list accompanies them inside office. Wait until he comes back outside then go up to him and explain that you want a transit visa. He will get a form for you to fill in, check you have an onward visa, photocopy of passport and onward visa plus 1x photo. If you don’t have onward visa you won’t even make it inside (they don’t accept a photocopy of your passport stamped by onward consulate saying they are issuing you a visa). Need to/ from entry points and exact days. At present they are advising everyone (Iranian, Italian, Japanese, British, Australian) to come back in 20 days (maybe you can check after 18 days but apparently forms are sent to Turkmenistan for processing). No option for express. Friendly enough but very little english spoken. Arrived at 10.30, in and out by 11.00.
June 2015: It exists but there is no consular i.e. visa service.
The correct location is on Barati street, off Vatanpour, off Lavasani street (map). The embassy is not far from Tajrish metro station. In front of the metro exit next to Tajrish bazar, get on a bus checking with the driver that it goes to Lavasani street. Jump at the stop called « Ghahveh Khaaneh » about 15 minutes from Tajrish, the embassy is then in the first street on your right.
Opening hours: Sunday from 09:30-11:00 and Mon-Thu from 09:00-11:00. Tel: 222 06 731, Fax: 222 06 732
If you want to start and finish the application process in Tehran, count on 10 days. Most people move on and get it in Mashad (7 days). Note: passport copies and copy of onward visa should be in colour. Bring fresh dollar bills (and perhaps glue for the pics?)!
September 2015: Got 7 days in Tehran with pick up in Mashad.
May 2015: If you ask for 7 days on your transit visa in Tehran when a certain Mr Elias is in the office, he will allow it. Other people in the office will ask you to correct it.
January 2015: 1 week turnaround, pick-up in Mashad. Extra copies of passport and onward visa needed.
September 2014: 1 week pick-up in Mashad.
Another 2014 embassy report can be found here.
Washington, DC, USA embassy
July 2015: You have to be in the States when you apply for the visa. You can send everything by email to the embassy, no need to mail your passport yet. They will inform you when they hear from the MFA in Ashgabat. I sent all documents on the 22nd of April and got a reply saying it was approved on the 14th of May. If you would like to get the visa in Washington DC, you then need to send passports, application form to the embassy. If you would like to get it somewhere else, you can ask the embassy to send you the invitation letter, print it out and take it to the embassy where you wish to get it.
Turkmenistan visa requirements
Visa requirements for transit visa application:
- 1 filled out Turkmenistan visa application form (download here)
- 1 passport-sized photo
- 1 passport with minimum 6 months validity after the expiry of the Turkmen visa and 2 empty pages
- 1 letter from yourself stating your purpose of transit and route
- photocopies of your main passport page and of visas of the two countries to be traveled to/from (some embassies may not require the visa for the country you are traveling from, only the visa of the country you are traveling to)
- photocopies of your airline ticket, if applicable
- You do NOT need an LOI for a transit visa
If you do not need a visa for the countries you are going to next, explain that to the embassy staff and they will understand.
Registration in Turkmenistan
Travelers on a Turkmen tourist visa need to be registered with OVIR, but this will be handled by the tour company who is arranging your visit.
Travelers on a transit visa do not need to be registered with Migration Police (OVIR), unless they have a 7-day visa. In this case, the procedure is as follows:
First, you need to stay at a hotel in Ashgabat. Not all hotels are allowed to give registration to foreigners. In general, it seems the backpacker joints are not counted as a valid address. One hotel we know delivers is Aşgabat Mynmanhanasy, but it is not the cheapest. More tips for budgeteers welcome!
Having settled in, the registrations stamp is obtained easily and for free at OVIR on Gogol Street. They just need a copy of your passport (main page and visa of the country you are traveling to next) and a passport picture. A copy service can be found inside the building.
Registration in other cities should be possible too, but we have no info so far.
Visa extension and overstaying
What happens if you don’t make the deadline and end up overstaying your visa? Traveler reports indicate that first a huge fine will be asked, and if you don’t pay you will be deported, which seems to mean you cannot enter the country for 1 year. If you are coming into the country by Caspian sea ferry from Baku, you will be taken back to Baku on the next boat.
Can you get your transit visa extended if you get stuck on the boat for too long? I had never heard of a Turkmen visa extension before, but these people did it. Another report tells of the following scenario:
It is early on a weekday, Ashgabat central immigration ministry is working and they are in a good mood. They offer you a visa extension (3 to 5 days) where you write a letter to the head of the relevant ministry requesting an “exit visa” of a few more days. If it is accepted you pay for visa again ($55) and are cleared to carry on. From a blog it seems this may also happen if your visa has run out before entry.