Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Turkmenistan International Travel Information
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Turkmenistan for information on U.S.-Turkmenistan relations.
See the Embassy of Turkmenistan’s website for visa information.
Turkmenistan’s Law on Citizenship does not recognize dual citizenship for its citizens. Consequently, U.S.-Turkmen dual citizens are often denied departure from the country until they renounce their Turkmen citizenship, a process that can take several months. The ability of the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat to assist such dual citizens is very limited. We strongly urge all dual U.S.-Turkmen citizens to contact the Embassy for more information before traveling to Turkmenistan.
Requirements for Entry:
Letter of Invitation: The person or organization inviting you must submit a request to the State Migration Service (SMS), along with a copy of your passport ID page. Allow at least 15 business days for approval. After receiving the letter of invitation, apply for a visa at the Embassy of Turkmenistan in D.C. or at the airport in Ashgabat upon arrival.
If you apply for a visa upon arrival in Turkmenistan, you must possess a valid Letter of Invitation and pay a visa sticker fee which varies depending on duration of stay. For example, for a 10 day, single entry visa fee is $70.
We cannot help private citizens obtain letters of invitation.
If you arrive without a visa or certified letter of invitation, authorities may hold you at the airport until you arrange transportation out of Turkmenistan.
Transit visas are of very short duration and are difficult to extend, therefore we suggest that you travel on a tourist visa.
Visa extensions: Apply for visa extensions with the SMS in Ashgabat. If your visa expires, you face fines and possible arrest/deportation.
Required Registration with State Migration Service (SMS). If you are in Turkmenistan more than three working days, you must:
Failure to register properly can result in fines, arrest, and/or deportation.
If you are deported for these violations, authorities will bar your return to Turkmenistan for up to five years.
HIV/AIDS Information: Foreign workers may be required to undergo HIV testing in Turkmenistan for business visas. Please verify visa requirements with the Embassy of Turkmenistan before you travel, as they are subject to change. Please review the Health Section of this website for current health conditions in Turkmenistan.
Potential for Terrorist Activity: While there has been no known terrorist activity in Turkmenistan, travelers should be aware of the continuing threat that exists in Central Asia.
Extremist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and al-Qaida remain active in Central Asia, and the Turkistan Islamic Party remains active in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. These groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. government or private interests in the region.
Restricted zones: Foreigners are forbidden to travel to “restricted zones” without special permission from the SMS. These areas include:
The SMS takes at least 10 working days to process requests for special travel permits to restricted zones. Turkmenistan Airlines (the national airline) requires proof of SMS permission before selling tickets to people traveling to a restricted zone.
Police and military are present in all regions of Turkmenistan. Security personnel maintain checkpoints on major roads and may place visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones, e-mail, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched.
Carry your passport at all times; otherwise, you may be detained. Police asking to see identity papers can be aggressive and have been known to solicit bribes. Ask for identification if you are unsure the person requesting to see your documents is an official.
Crime: The OSAC Annual Crime Report provides an overview of crime in Turkmenistan.
There are limited reports of violent crime in Turkmenistan. Take normal safety precautions, such as avoiding travel after dark or in deserted/unfamiliar areas.
Prostitution is illegal. The definition of a prostitute is subjective and law enforcement entities are known to conduct prostitution raids at local establishments.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at 03 and contact the U.S. Embassy at the following numbers. Local calls: 940045; When calling from the U.S.: +(993) 6304 7683.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. Tourists are considered to be participating in activities at their own risk. Emergency response capabilities are limited or unreliable, and urgent medical treatment can be inappropriate or not available in-country. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. Ask before taking pictures of anything of possible military or security interest, including government buildings and food markets.
If you stay overnight in a location other than the one where you are registered with the SMS, you may be arrested.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Money: Turkmenistan has a cash economy. Most businesses, including airlines and hotels, do not accept credit cards. While there are some ATMs in Ashgabat, getting personal checks cashed can take up to two months.
The official currency in Turkmenistan is the Turkmen Manat. It is illegal to use foreign currencies and to exchange money on the black market. You can obtain Manat in ATM machines.
Customs: Customs regulations are strict, particularly regarding carpets, jewelry, musical instruments, art, archaeological artifacts, antiques, and protected animals. Before purchasing such items for export, see the Embassy of Turkmenistan website for their customs information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual contact between men is illegal and carries criminal penalties. Social norms in Turkmenistan are extremely conservative, and harassment, detention, and prison sentences are possible.
The Embassy cautions both homosexual and heterosexual couples against displays of affection in public.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Public transportation, sidewalks, many buildings, and public areas are not wheelchair accessible.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Medical care is limited and well below U.S. standards. U.S. citizens in Turkmenistan often travel to other countries for medical treatment, including many routine procedures.
Basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics, are often in short supply. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens not undergo invasive procedures in Turkmenistan. Undergoing any such procedure may place you at risk of serious illness. If you have a serious medical condition, check with your physician before planning travel to Turkmenistan.
Prescriptions: If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Government of Turkmenistan to ensure that the medication is legal in Turkmenistan. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Road Conditions and Safety: Traffic accidents involving serious injury to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are common. Many city roads are hazardous because of potholes, uncovered manholes, poor lighting, and pedestrians ignoring oncoming traffic. Most roads outside of major cities are narrow, not lighted, and lacking road signs. Avoid driving at night on rural roads.
Traffic Laws: If you drive while intoxicated, you may be fined, imprisoned, and have your license revoked. You may be fined if you don’t use seat belts or if you drive while using a cell phone. Police at checkpoints (where cars are required to stop and register) may arbitrarily fine motorists.
Driving Requirements: You must have a valid international driving permit. Foreigners residing in Turkmenistan must apply for a local driver’s license with the Road Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Turkmenistan. For more specific information about driving in Turkmenistan, contact the Embassy of Turkmenistan at 202-588-1500.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Public Transportation: Most taxis are not regulated and lack basic safety features. Always negotiate fares in advance with unregulated taxi drivers.
Travel by Ferry: “Ferries” crossing the Caspian Sea are cargo ships that also take on passengers as space permits. Food and water is not typically provided, and sleeping and sanitary facilities are basic. Ships arriving in Turkmenbashy may take a week to find a vacant dock.
Airlines: If you transit through Turkmenistan, but miss your connection, you will have to purchase a ticket for on onward flight before being allowed to leave the arrival area.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Turkmenistan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Turkmenistan’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page. However, in January 2019, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) suspended Turkmenistan Airlines flights to and from European Union airports pending confirmation that it meets international air safety standards. In light of this ban, the U.S. Embassy recommends that travelers consider the EASA suspension when booking flights.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Turkmenistan should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website (click “Broadcast Warnings”).