In order for US citizens to travel to Turkmenistan, they need a valid US passport, a visa and a letter of invitation certified by the Government of Turkmenistan. Please note that the US Embassy in Ashgabat cannot assist private US citizens with letters of invitation to Turkmenistan.
US citizens interested in traveling to Turkmenistan should make sure they have passports which are valid for at least 6 months at the time of applying for a letter of invitation. If an applicant is visiting friends and/or family in Turkmenistan or traveling for business, their contacts in Turkmenistan will need to submit a letter of invitation along with a copy of the applicant’s passport ID page, on behalf of the applicant, to be certified by the State Foreign Citizens Registration Service. Those traveling as tourists and have no friends or family in Turkmenistan must contact any of the travel agencies to lodge a letter of invitation on their behalf.
Once the US citizen has obtained the granted letter of invitation, they must then lodge an application for visa at the Embassy of Turkmenistan in Washington, DC. Visas may also be applied for at the Ashgabat International Airport upon arrival; however, US citizens are strongly advised to obtain a visa and not just a printed letter of invitation before traveling to avoid difficulties and delays.
- 2 fully accomplished and duly signed visa application forms with recent passport size photographs glued to each form. Do not staple the photographs to the form. In the application, dates should be supplied in this format: day-month-year.
- US passport with validity of 6 months beyond the date of departure from Turkmenistan together with a photocopy of the passport ID page, bearing the applicant’s details and photograph.
- Letter of invitation from the person or company to be visited or a travel agency in Turkmenistan, certified by the State Foreign Citizens Registration Service of Turkmenistan. This invitation is valid for only 3 months from the date of approval.
- If staying for more than 3 months in Turkmenistan: Certificate from a doctor detailing that the applicant does not have HIV/AIDS.
- For legal resident aliens: Valid visa for re-entry into their country of residence and a copy of their Resident Alien Card.
- For applications lodged by mail: Self-addressed, stamped envelope or prepaid courier package for the return of the passport.
- Money order payable to “Embassy of Turkmenistan”. Declined money orders will be subject to a $35 Return Fee. See Visa Cost Schedule for a list of the applicable fees.
- Visas are processed within 5-10 business days. Expedited processing is possible (3 business days) for an additional 100% of the cost of the visa, provided that the application is complete and the paperwork is in order.
Upon arrival at an airport or border entry point, visitors will be issued an immigration card and charged around $12 for it. The immigration card will have to be carried for the duration of their stay in Turkmenistan and then surrendered to authorities at the airport upon departure. Those leaving the territory on a non-Turkmen flagged airline will need to pay a departure fee of $25.
An extension of stay may be applied for at the State Migration Service (SMS) in Ashgabat in advance of the visa’s expiry date.
Those staying in Turkmenistan for more than 3 working days will have to follow this procedure:
- Register with one of the SMS offices, depending on the location of the sponsoring person/organization/travel agency: Ashgabat, Dashoguz, Mary, Turkmenabat, Turkmenbashy;
- In case the visitor is traveling outside the city in which they are registered in, they must inform the SMS in advance or else risk paying fines or deportation;
- One day before departure from Turkmenistan, the visitor must return to the SMS to register their departure. Registration of departure must be done at the same SMS office where they registered their arrival.
Those who fail to register their departure might not be allowed my immigration authorities to leave until the requirement has been fulfilled.
US travelers are warned against traveling by ferry across the Caspian Sea from Baku, Azerbaijan, to the port of Turkmenbashy in western Turkmenistan as discussed in several popular travel guides. These ferries are in fact cargo ships taking on passengers and do not provide food and water. Upon arrival, these ships often wait up to a week for a vacant dock and during this time, the passengers’ visa may expire, as well as run out of food and water.
Visitors are also advised that most airlines at the international airport in Ashgabat do not accept credit cards or any currency other than US dollars or Turkmen manat. Additionally, most vendors in the territory operate on a cash-only basis.
The information provided here concerning visa, entry and exit regulations for Turkmenistan are subject to change at any time. US citizens intending to travel to the area must first confirm the above-mentioned in advance of travel to avoid facing difficulties.