Getting a Turkmenistan tourist visa is not possible without booking a tour. You don’t need to be accompanied all the time though, which can seriously lower the costs of visiting Turkmenistan on a tourist visa. Getting a transit visa requires 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 maximum 5 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.
Turkmenistan transit visa
The Turkmenistan transit visa is issued for 3-5 days (not in 3-5 days!). How many days you get is essentially up to the whims of the official granting the visa. A few years ago, cycle tourists traveling to Turkmenistan reported getting a 7-day transit visa, but this option has evaporated.
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.
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.
And don’t exit from a different border crossing than the one stated on your visa!
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 in Ashgabat and other cities, where some companies leave you to explore freely without a guide, and only use the tour company for visits outside of the capital.
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.
Letter of invitation and travel agents
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. At the moment, Dushanbe is by far the quickest embassy – 1 week turnaround.
The best way to apply for your transit visa 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$.
Attention! Recently, the embassies of Tashkent and Dushanbe 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 until now, for most, but at least one report has reached us of someone not receiving anything and being refused at the border, getting sent back to Uzbekistan with no other country to exit to and 24 hours left on his visa. So this tactic, although tremendously timesaving, comes with 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 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.
If you want to pick up your Turkmen visa from the same embassy where you applied, take the following into account:
From the north: Dushanbe issues transit visas in 5-6 business days, while Tashkent now takes two weeks minimum.
Turkmen embassy in Dushanbe
Opening hours: 9.30-12.30 and 14-?
Address: Akhunbabaeva St, dom 10. Посольство Туркменистана в Республике Таджикистан 734000, Душанбе, ул. Ахунбабаева, дом 10. It is located in the northern part of the city, off Karamov Street (map).
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 $55. When you return to the embassy with the payment slip you get the visa in your passport.
Turkmen embassy in Tashkent Address: Afrosiab street 19 Phone: +998-71-2569406
Opening hours: 10am-1pm (play safe, come very early to put your name on the waiting list! 6am is already late in peak season!) Visa pick-up at 4pm. Only open Monday to Wednesday? Don’t know.
Crazy, busy embassy, with long waiting times and frustration build-up, but staff is correct and even quite lenient sometimes, if we piece all traveler reports together. Important to have 2 colour copies of your passport and Uzbek visa, they don’t keep it.
April 2014: I went there on a monday (20th april), arrived at 6.30 was 16 in the list, entered at 11.30 (but things were wierd and I’m not sure they really follow the list). I asked to get my visa at the border in 15 days, they told it was possible but they might problem from the uzbek side, blabla, since I had enough stress with the visas, i asked to pick it up in Tashkent with the urgent process (same price) in a week. I went back the next tuesday (you have to go in the morning to give your passport first), arrived at 9, was 15th on the list and entered at 10.30! There were way less people than the previous monday. My visa was ready at 4 the same day. I got 5 days transit and the entrance and exit I asked. 55 dollars.
December 2013: new evolution, perhaps because of the low season. British national applied and got a transit visa application number in 5 days. He then collected the visa at the Al Farab border crossing for an extra 10$.
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$/Person, we got only 3 days (applied for 5) and not the exit point we applied for (Sarahs instead of Gaudan, they don’t want people to go to Ashgabat).
June 2012: Arrived 10.30am. There was a list but it was redundant as a new list was being used. People are let in 5(ish) at a time, man with list accompanies them inside office. Wait until he comes back outside then go up to him and explain that you want a transit visa. He will get a form for you to fill in, check you have an onward visa, photocopy of passport and onward visa plus 1x photo. If you don’t have onward visa you won’t even make it inside (they don’t accept a photocopy of your passport stamped by onward consulate saying they are issuing you a visa). Need to/ from entry points and exact days. At present they are advising everyone (Iranian, Italian, Japanese, British, Australian) to come back in 20 days (maybe you can check after 18 days but apparently forms are sent to Turkmenistan for processing). No option for express. Friendly enough but very little english spoken. Arrived at 10.30, in and out by 11.00.
Embassy of Turkmenistan in Almaty
New address: Furmanova, 137, corner of Kalinina & Furmanova, entrance on the backside. New tel: (727) 272-69-44, 272-69-92 (no English spoken). Opening hours: Monday to Thursday, closed on Friday and every last Monday of the mpnth 10:00 – 13:00.
April 2014: Failed to get a visa for unknown reasons.
May 2012- September 2013: Various reports – applied in Almaty, pick up in Tashkent after 10 working days. Staff friendly and helpful.
From the south: Embassies in Iran and Turkey are straightforward when you follow the rules.
Turkmen consulate in Mashhad Opening hours of the embassy are 8:30 – 12:00. Open every day except Friday. Tourists can only apply Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Address: Do Shahid St. off Dah-e-Dey Sq (next to Afghan Embassy)
May 2014: 55$, lots of pictures, after application in Tehran.
May 2012: The consulate is open to individuals, or you can use the agent Vali. Either way, it should take 5 to 6 days.
May 2012: Australian traveler used Vali. Cost was 10$ + 55$ visa fee. Emailing the documents 3 weeks in advance, on arrival in Mashad he got the visa same day.
Turkmen embassy in Tehran
The correct location is on Barati street, off Vatanpour, off Lavasani street (map). 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. A 2014 embassy report can be found here.
Embassy of Turkmenistan in Baku
Adress: Jalil Mammadguluzadeh 85/226a, Nasimi Baku. The bank to pay the visa fee is a few km away: Narimanov’s branch of International bank of Azerbaijan, Hasan Alieva 94, Baku.
Open only Monday and Friday 9-12am Apparently, the Turkmenistan embassy has moved in Baku. It is now close to the Europa hotel take number 65 bus if staying at hostel in old town. The Kazakh embassy is in the same area.
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 u must make sure to get right direction (crossing street when exiting metro).
You must have to take in account that: you better go first hour in the morning as after he checks everything is all right (after giving printed letter, photos and photocopy of passport) you need to pay. Bank used to be next to the Embassy but now they didn’t change it so… you need to take the bus back to where the metro “20 janviar” and ask for the bank, it’s close to it. Once you get the paper of the payment he will glue in your visa. The process can be done in one day, but you must arrive early and hurry up or you’ll have to wait until next time the embassy opens.
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.
Embassy of Turkmenistan in Ankara Address: No. 28, Koza Sokak, Chankaya, Ankara (how to get there) Opening hours: 9am-12am, closed on Wednesday.
May 2014: LOI, 1 passport photocopy, 1 passport picture, $115 paid to IS bank plus 5TL fee to bank
Arrived shortly after 9am. Whilst I was let into visa section, there was nobody there until 10am when the shutter was opened. Given form to complete. Nothing unusual on it for normal visa application. Difficulty was being sent to IS bank to pay. He didn’t speak much English. Fortunately a Turkish man took me with his driver, told me who to pay and got receipt. He took a copy of my passport to show teller as name needs to be on receipt. On returning this to the embassy the visa was issued on the spot. Total time about 2h inc 45mins waiting to open. Opening times are M, T, T, F 9-12
To get to the bank from embassy – turn right out of embassy gate and then left down steep hill. Follow this down and to right where you hit main road. Bank is on left side. Probably about 400-500m away from embassy. Address is Kuleli sk no 48.
May 2013: Applied from Ankara, requesting to pick up in Baku (no “buts” and they agreed). They seem to speak no english. They request a letter explaining why you need the visa but the format must be done the way they specify there (on a noteboard) so you need to go once first to check there. In the letter you MUST say which day you enter and it can NOT be moved in any way. We received the letter one week later. With the printed letter you can go to whichever Embassy you request to pick it up (in our case Baku) and only then you have to pay.
July 2012: Lodged application in Ankara for collection in Mashhad. 10 days later they sent us an email with letter and authorisation code which we gave to embassy in Mashhad. Filled in the form again, one photo, copy of uzbek visa and photopage of passport and 85US paid directly to the embassy, took only 20 minutes.
Feb 2012: A British traveler applied in London and picked up a 5-day transit visa in Ankara after 1 day waiting for 55$.
Turkmen Consulate General in Istanbul
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
Fees: USD 55 for a 5 days transit visa
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.
Embassy of Turkmenistan in Beijing
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.
Visa requirements and registration
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 travelled to/from
- 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 with a transit visa do not need to be registered with Migration Police (OVIR). Travelers on a Turkmen tourist visa do need to be registered with OVIR either, this will be handled by the tour company who is arranging your visit.
Visa extension and overstaying
Visa extension and overstaying
What happens if you don’t make the deadline and end up overstaying your visa? Recent 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. That’s just one traveler tale, of course, the next one might not be so lucky.
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. Don’t count on it, though.
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