How to get a Turkmenistan Visa
Known to be the most complicated and most frequently-rejected of all the Central Asian visas, the Turkmenistan visa is actually usually fairly straightforward.
Getting the Turkmenistan visa is simply a matter of following procedure and letting a reputable, experienced, and reliable travel company (such as Koryo Tours!) do the work for you.
The Turkmenistan visa is easier than you would either expect or be led to believe by most of the information you can find online.
Unlike the other regions ‘stans, Turkmenistan is not a completely open country for tourists.
However, movement around most cities is free for anyone.
But there are certain rules regarding what services need to be provided to tourists by the company that invites them to the country (some of which are enforced, some of which are not) so there is basically a minimum amount of services that need to be arranged for you.
The rest of the time you can do what you want (more or less anyway!).
There are in fact two main types of Turkmenistan visa;
Turkmenistan Visa: Tourist visa
Turkmenistan Visa: Transit visa
For the tours we operate we secure tourist Turkmenistan visas for our travellers.
These can be for as long as the tour lasts and how to obtain one is listed below.
A Turkmenistan transit visa at first seems like a good option (as it means you can go completely freely in and around the country) but the downside is they are usually too short to do very much (usually up to 3 days only).
Also, many embassies simply refuse to issue them at all.
We strongly recommend going for the former option of a full Turkmenistan visa to make the most of the amazing Turkmenistan experience!
In almost all cases; yes.
Tourists from almost every country in the world do indeed need a visa to enter Turkmenistan.
The price varies depending on your nationality.
The higher prices (over $100) cover Brits, many other Western People too.
The prices fluctuate over time and are payable usually only in USD cash.
We always suggest our travelers have a couple of hundred $ on them when they go to collect the visa.
Letter of Invitation (LOI)
As with a handful of other former-Soviet counties, Turkmenistan has kept the Letter of Invitation (LOI) system alive.
It is in fact the LOI which can be difficult to get.
Once this document is secured, it acts as a guarantee of visa and the actual issuance of the visa itself is a matter of procedure.
To get the LOI a legal and official organisation must issue one for you.
They have to make an application to the relevant authority within the country (for tourists this would be the ministry of tourism and foreign ministry) and those organs make the determination as to whether you can receive the LOI or not.
Once it is approved you can be emailed the document and use a print out of the LOI to either,
The second option is by far the most convenient and simple.
Just make sure you have some $, a spare page in the passport, and you’re good to go!
Issuance of the visa takes a little time and at Ashgabat airport you need to line up, hand over the LOI and passport, then go to the next window and pay, then go back for the visa issuance.
It can take 10-20 mins but fear not!
Unloading of the luggage from the plane usually takes longer than this so you wouldn’t actually be slowed down at all!
Koryo Tours will obtain the LOI for you, we have worked with a reliable and amazing local partner since 2005 and they are authorised to issue these documents.
In the past, the original document was needed, now a printout is sufficient for all you nee the LOI for (always print more than one though, just in case you mislay a copy!)
All you need to do is to book a tour via our website and provide the personal information needed for the visa application;
You will also need to upload a colour scan of your passport ID page, very clear and without any of the details obscured.
Koryo Tours will not need your actual passport at any point during the visa process.
This is always possible and nobody will guarantee that you will receive the LOI until it actually happens.
However, it is much rarer than the horror stories online would have you believe.
We have heard many times of LOI refusals from travellers and companies but this is not something we have ever had a huge problem with.
Usually, refusals will be because some information was given incorrectly or unclearly, it is usually a matter of doing it correctly and in time and then the LOI is issued.
In the recent past, (up until around 2014) it was more difficult to get LOI for people of certain nationalities (basically anywhere not part of the traditional ‘west’ or Japan).
Since then to get a Turkmenistan LOI for visitors from many more countries has become a simpler process.
Still, in any given year, we do experience on average one refusal.
Luckily, it is possible to immediately apply again and usually, the second time around it is granted.
Our advice: apply in good time, so it can be done again if a refusal occurs.
Unfortunately, there are still some people who will find it very hard to receive a Turkmenistan LOI so for anyone who fits the following characteristics we would suggest being prepared for a heightened chance of refusal;
While things are getting better with applying for a Turkmenistan visa LOI there is still a bit of a regressive trait in some areas of authority in Turkmenistan and some assumptions about people from certain areas can still be expressed through delays or refusal of LOI.
This is not a hard & fast rule though, and success can be had, so it is worth a try at the very least!
Tourist visas are supposed to be for tourists only.
Member of the media and journalists, in general, are not supposed to apply for tourist visas.
Sadly authorised entry for journalists is exceedingly rare in Turkmenistan.
Do feel free to contact us if you have questions about this though.
Visiting Turkmenistan does not cause any issues with any future visits to any other country.
Neither are there any regulations against going to Turkmenistan after visiting anywhere else.