How to get a Turkmenistan visa in Iran

Turkmenistan visa in Iran - header

Applying for a tourist visa for Turkmenistan is an expensive and tricky process. Citizens of every country need to book a tour and organise a LOI (letter of invitation) which is not great for the budget traveller. A transit visa on the other hand allows you to visit Turkmenistan for 3-5 days without the need for a guide. Here we explain in simple and easy steps all you need to know about visas in Turkmenistan and how to apply for a transit visa in Iran.

How to organise your Turkmenistan visa in Iran

Visa Policy of Turkmenistan

Tourist Visa 30 days

Citizens of all countries require a visa to visit Turkmenistan. To apply for a tourist visa all foreign national must supply a letter of invitation issued by a travel agency listed in Turkmenistan. It is not possible to get a LOI without booking a tour.

Transit Visa 3-5 days

Applying for a transit visa can be done in a citizen’s home country or in any Turkmenistan embassy or consulate in a 3rd country. No letter of invitation is necessary.

 ⓒ Special visa exemptions

Kazakhstan — residents of Atyrau Province and Mangystau Province have visa free access for up to 5 days.

Uzbekistan — residents of Xorazm Province and Bukhara Province as well as residents of Amudaryo, Xo‘jayli, Shumanay, Qo‘ng‘irot districts and Taxiatosh city of Karakalpakstan and residents of Dehkanabad, Guzar, Nishon, Usmon Yusupov and Baxoristan districts of Qashqadaryo Province and residents of Sherobod and Muzrabot districts of Surxondaryo Province have visa free access for up to 3 days once a month.

During Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha the access is allowed twice a month.

Jon and Ruhnama, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Tourist Visa for Turkmenistan

If you really are desperate to explore all Turkmenistan has to offer then there are some things that you must bear in mind.

Tours are expensive – costing anywhere from 150-250 USD a day! You will need to pay for a driver & guide as well as food and accommodation for them and yourself.

– You can save money by sharing the costs but again be warned that you will need to apply as a group beforehand. There is no scope for sharing a tour with strangers as there are no tours that cater to individuals wanting to join a pre-existing group.

– You must register upon arrival in Turkmenistan but this will be organised by your tour.

Visa application will be organised by your tour.

Ania and a Turkmen man, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Transit Visa for Turkmenistan

Quite simply, if you are a budget traveller and you want to travel independently in Turkmenistan then you will be applying for a transit visa:

IMPORTANT REGULATIONS!

  • The length of the transit visa is 3-5 days (we got 5), that is the maximum amount of time you can spend in the country
  • It cannot be extended
  • It is date specific (meaning that when you make the visa application you must specify what day you intend to enter the country. You cannot enter before this date!)
  • You must specify your entry and exit points (you will be refused entry if you turn up at a different border crossing and you will have a world of problems if you try and leave in another place to which you have stated)

Turkmen warriors, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Getting a Turkmenistan Transit visa in Iran

The best, and most time efficient way to get a Turkmenistan visa in Iran, is to make the application in the capital, Tehran, and pick up the visa in the closest city to the border, Mashhad.

Price: It depends on your nationality. In March 2015 for Polish citizens – 55$, British – 85$. Money is paid directly to the Turkmenistan consulate in Mashhad.

Waiting time: From the moment you apply for the visa in Tehran you must give 7-10 working days until you can collect it in Mashhad.

Addresses: Tehran: No 5, Barati Street, Vatanpour Street Dr. Lavasani , Tehran, Iran (+98 22206731)

The embassy is located close to Tajrish metro. From there it is a 25 minute walk or you can take a bus heading towards Lavashini street (check with the driver). You need to get out at Ghahveh Khaaneh and the embassy is on the first street on the right.

Mashhad: No.34, Konsoolgari Alley,10th Day Sq (tel: +98 511 8547 073)

The consulate is located in an alley off the main road, Emam Khomeini, to the west of the Holy Shrine, near the larger Afghanistan consulate. The nearest metro stop is Emam Khomeini or alternatively it can be reached by a slightly longer walk from Shohada metro.

Opening Hours: Tehran: Mon – Thu: 9.00-11 a.m. Sun: 9.30-11 a.m

Mashhad: Mon-Thu & Sat: 8.30 a.m.-midday (note: although the consulate is open all week except Friday and Sunday, tourists applications are only dealt with on Tuesday & Wednesday).

How the visa application process works: Firstly, in Tehran you must wake up very early as the embassy is located in the north of the city and getting around Tehran by public transport is a real pain and it can take you even two hours! (see instructions above).

When you get to the embassy there is a small window perched up high. Explain that you want to apply for a transit visa to pick up in Mashhad. The man (who speaks some English) will give you two different application forms, complete them and hand them back to him. You get no note or confirmation which made us a little nervous but it will work out fine, trust us :) If you are in a hurry, you can call the embassy in Mashhad a week later to check if your visa is ready to collect.

Note, that while we were there the embassy closed for 1 hour in the middle of its very limited opening times. In essense, a joke, as it’s only open for one and a half hours but there you go.

In Mashhad things are a little easier. Locate the consulate, give them your passport and they will stick in the visa. You will have to pay directly to the staff here and you can only pay in unmarked, new looking dollars.

Documents required:

  • Your passport (you keep it during the processing)
  • 1 passport photo
  • 1 completed visa application form
  • 1 additional visa application form if planning to pick up visa in alternative location
  • Copy of passport (in colour, although they may accept black & white copies)
  • Copy of visa for country you are transiting to – for us Uzbekistan (also in colour)
  • Letter stating purpose of trip
  • Must be addressed to the visa section of the Turkmenistan embassy
  • Must include: full name, entry date, exit date, entry & exit points (names of border crossings).

Nasiba in a traditional Turkmen dress

written by: Jon.


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11 comments

  • despite all this i am really keen to visit one day. I hear people can have transit visas refused and I’d want to stay at least a week so I guess saving will be in order! but probably i would be going for a few years anyway! thanks for sharing!

    • We haven’t heard about anybody being rejected out right but I’m sure it could happen. We have heard cases of people only being given 3 days which I suppose is tantamount to the same thing. We definitely would recommend going though as it’s a really interested experience (if a bit too short).

  • Hi Ania and Jon, thanks for the tips! Do you know if there’s any time limit between the moment of issuing the visa and entering the country? I’m wondering if you have to follow almost straight to the border or can still travel for some time before heading to Turkmenistan.

    • Also, the letter stating purpose of trip has to be written by ourselves or you get a form in the embassy?

      • Hey, The visa is date specific, meaning that you have to declare on what exact day you will enter Turkmenistan. So, if you plan well enough this should give you some time to explore the country you are in (probably either Iran or Uzbekistan) before entering. As for the letter – all you have to do is write it yourself, it’s very simple. We did it on a blank piece of paper whilst sitting outside the embassy. All we wrote was a couple of sentences saying our names (with passport numbers), that we would be entering from Iran and leaving to Uzbekistan, the border crossings we would be entering and leaving by and the dates of those crossings. We also addressed the letter to the Visa section of the Turkmenistan embassy in ____ . If you have any further questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.

  • We just applied and color copies were required.

  • Hi, very useful post!!

    Just one question, you know if it’s possible than other people do the visa for you?…because we travel with our dog, and we prefer to stay in rural zones than in the huge city of teheran, so we are thinking to contact with a local agent just for go to embassy and leave there all the documentation.

  • Andreas Schneider

    Just as a warning for travellers in future:
    I did all that mentioned aboved, my documents are all ok (citizenship Austria) and today in Mashhad they told me my visa application is rejected, no reason, no written statement, no option to talk to anybody there.

    • Sorry to hear that, Andreas. We mustn’t forget that Turkmenistan remains a dictatorship and the decision of granting or rejecting a visa is often made on a whim. My prediction is that, since they don’t want too many foreigners visiting their country, they must have reached their quota for the year and will reject anyone without any apparent reason. If you can stey in Iran a bit longer, I would suggest contacting an Iranian travel agent to see what they can do, they often have contacts and may be able to help you.

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