Getting the Visa for Travel to Turkmenistan

Rumours about the difficulty of getting a visa for travel to Turkmenistan and the low approval rate are abundant on the internet. But it’s really not as hard to acquire as some people would have you believe. Below are accounts of the visa application process from the recent experiences of 10 travellers that were granted both tourist and transit visas in July 2019.

Tourist Visa for Travel to Turkmenistan

As stated above, there are 2 visa options for travel to Turkmenistan; a tourist visa and a transit visa. The tourist visa is issued for up to 30 days but comes with a huge caveat. A certified guide must accompany for your whole trip. As you can imagine, that will get expensive. Three of the ten people, who coincidentally happened to be European, went for this option. They paid around US$150-200 a day for their guide, including the guide’s accommodation, food and fuel. That was without their own food and accommodation expenses. Applicants must state their entry and exit point when applying.

All 3 chose a 6 day itinerary, as that was about the limit of what they could afford to spend. One of them chose to take flights between some cities, to maximise their time. That meant that they met different guides in different cities. While guides are being hired by tourists, they can’t officially have anyone else in the car with them. All their paperwork shows the name of the tourist/s allowed in their car and the dates they can carry them. There are many police checkpoints along Turkmen roads and they often check, so guides will always err on the side of caution.

Documents Required and Payment

For this visa, you need proof that you’ve hired a local guide or joined a local tour. Normally the travel agent would take care of the visa application for you as they would be the ones with the documents. From what I can gather, this visa can be picked up at the border upon presentation of an invitation letter and US$50. This letter is either emailed to you or given to you by the travel agent. There may be delays at the border and you may have to hand over more money. The 3 people I met on tourist visas spent around 3 hours at the border waiting for paperwork. That could’ve possibly been because the travel companies they booked through missed something.

Transit Visa for Travel to Turkmenmistan

The second option, the transit visa, is said to be one of the hardest visas to attain. Seven people managed to get this visa from both the Bishkek and Tashkent Turkmenistan Embassies in the first 3 weeks of July 2019 with no problems. This visa is issued for 5 days. It is valid for transit through any Turkmenistan border with Uzbekistan to Azerbaijan via the Caspian Sea or Iran via Artyk. No other exit points, ie: Afghanistan or Kazakhstan, are accepted. Entry and exit points must be listed on your application and will be stated on the visa placed in your passport.

Getting the Transit Visa for Travel to Turkmenistan in Tashkent at the Embassy of Turkmenistan in the Republic of Uzbekistan

Discussions online indicate that you need to get to the Embassy of Turkmenistan in Tashkent, (found at Afrosiyob Street, 19, about a 400m walk from the Kosmonavtlar Metro station), at 7am. Then put your name on a waiting list and wait for the embassy to open at 9am. This actually isn’t necessary. As long as you arrive at any time before 1pm, they will see you and let you submit your application. Even if you end up leaving after 1pm. Some waiting outside the embassy could be required. No more than 20 minutes worth. The processing officer will come out to guide you in. You can wait in a nice shaded area across from the embassy so that you don’t melt in the Uzbek heat.

Once the officer comes out, you must leave your mobile phone with security. You’ll get a numbered tile so you can claim your phone back on the way out. They will also ask if you have any other cameras, but they won’t check. There’s a big sign out the front saying that no photos are allowed. I guess they want to make sure you don’t have the chance to break their rules. This Turkmenistan embassy only requires you to fill out 2 one page forms. The first form is the application form, in English and Uzbek. You need to attach a passport-sized photo to the top right-hand corner of it. The second form is completely in Uzbek, but the staff will guide you. Both forms are available at the embassy.

Documents Required and Payment

The documents required for submitting your application for a transit visa for travel to Turkmenistan in Tashkent are –
* Colour copy of the information page of your passport
* 2 passport size photos with a white background
* Copy of visa for country of transit, ie: Azerbaijan or Iran

Upon submission of your documents, you need to pay a US$10 fee to the embassy. Staff will give you a receipt. They will tell you that you will need to bring that receipt with you when you pick up the visa. I wasn’t asked for it when I returned though. Staff initially told me to come back in 10 working days. I managed to convince them to have it ready in 10 days/a week and a half.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel to Turkmenistan - Getting the Visa. Tashkent Turkmenistan Embassy Visa Application Fee

I had heard that they can email the visa approval letter to you so that you don’t have to physically attend the embassy again. The first staff member I spoke to said that they could email the visa approval letter to me and I could pay the visa fee at the border. The officer who took my application said that wasn’t possible anymore, so I would have to attend the office. Three other people were given similar information by the embassy in Tashkent.

Picking Up the Visa

When you pick up the visa, you’ll need to pay the US$45 visa fee directly to the embassy. They will ask you what your exact entry date is. That is the date that they will put on the visa. The visa is valid for five days including the day of entry and exit. Make sure you’ve allowed enough time to get yourself to the border you want to use to enter Turkmenistan. Keep in mind that the closest Uzbek/Turkmen border to Tashkent is about 10 hours away by car, with the most popular entry point, Nukus, being a 16-20 hour drive from Tashkent. The Tashkent Turkmenistan Embassy website is here

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel to Turkmenistan - Getting the Visa. Tashkent Turkmenistan Embassy Visa Fee Receipt

Getting the Transit Visa for Travel to Turkmenistan in Bishkek at the Embassy of Turkmenistan to the Kyrgyz Republic

The Embassy of Turkmenistan to the Kyrgyz Republic in Bishkek, located on Baytik Baatyr Street, opens at 10am. It is a lot quieter than it’s counterpart in Tashkent. Do take note that it appears to be closed on Wednesdays. There’s no need to rush as you will most likely be the only one there at the time of application.

Like the embassy in Tashkent, there’s a big sign saying that no photography is allowed, but they do allow you to keep your phone on you when you enter the building. There’s no waiting at this embassy, you can just go straight to the window and submit your application. This Turkmenistan embassy requires you to fill out 2 application forms, one with 2 pages and one with 1 page. Both forms are in Russian and English. They also require a hand-written letter stating the visa you’re applying for and a detailed itinerary. A sample letter for you to follow is available at the embassy. The application forms can be downloaded from the embassy website, or are available at the embassy.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel to Turkmenistan - Getting the Visa. Turkmenistan Visa Application Hand Written Letter

Documents Required and Payment

The documents required for submitting your application for the visa to travel to Turkmenistan in Bishkek are –
* Colour copy of the information page of your passport
* 2 passport size photos with a white background
* Copy of your visa for the country you’re transiting to, ie: Azerbaijan or Iran

Before you can lodge the forms with the embassy, you will have to go to the KICB bank to pay the US$10 application fee. It’s a 3km Mashrutka (minivan) ride from the embassy. When done, take the receipt for the transaction back to the embassy, as proof of payment. The processing time for the visa at this embassy is one month, unless you write ‘urgent’ on your hand-written letter. In that case, the processing time will be 10 working days. They will email the invitation letter for the visa to you on the 10th working day.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel to Turkmenistan - Getting the Visa. Turkmenistan Visa Invitation Letter to Present at the Border

This invitation letter will be valid for entry for up to 3 months, but you still only have 5 days, inclusive of your entry and exit dates, once you enter. When you present the letter at the border, you will need to pay a US$55 visa fee and they will place the visa in your passport with a validity of 5 days, including your entry and exit dates.

Pros and Cons of Getting the Visa for Travel to Turkmenistan at Each Location

Acquiring the visa for travel to Turkmenistan at the Turkmenistan Embassy in Tashkent is US$10 cheaper. That could be negated by the fact that you will either have to wait in Tashkent for 10 days or re-enter Uzbekistan later to collect the visa. Getting the visa through the Turkmenistan Embassy in Bishkek is US$10 more expensive, but not having to return to the embassy later could save some time.

Now that you know that the application process for the visa for travel to Turkmenistan is relatively painless, what are you waiting for?

Check out my next post to see what the north of Turkmenistan had to offer.

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

If you enjoyed this post, please share it :o)

14 Replies to “Getting the Visa for Travel to Turkmenistan”

  1. Wow, never thought about traveling to Turkmenistan. It does seem a bit difficult to travel there, but you certainly have broken down that myth with your informative post.

    1. It’s clearly set up to make the maximum amount possible out of visitors to the country. Prices are set by guides though, not the government.
      This is why people, like myself, opt for the transit visa.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *