How to get a Turkmenistan visa in Iran
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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)
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.
- 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).
written by: Jon.