International Travel

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Country Information

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Exercise normal precautions when traveling to Turkmenistan.

Exercise normal precautions when traveling to Turkmenistan. 

Please read the Safety and Security section on the Country Information page. If you decide to travel to Turkmenistan:

  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Turkmenistan.

U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations.  Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


6 months. Because dual citizenship is not recognized, dual nationals are often denied departure from the country.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


One page per entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Yes

VACCINATIONS:


None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


$3,000

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Ashgabat

9 1984 Street (formerly Pushkin Street)
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan 744000
Telephone:
 +(993)(12) 94 0045
Consular Information Line:
+(993)(12) 94 0049 (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 11am – 1pm)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone:  Local calls: 940045;
When calling from the U.S.: +(993) 6304 7683
Fax: +(993)(12) 94-26-14

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Turkmenistan for information on U.S.-Turkmenistan relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

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 six months to a year or more. 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.

Please see our Travel.State.Gov website and our Embassy's page on dual citizenship for additional information.

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport valid for at least six months past the date on your letter of invitation
  • Letter of invitation certified by the Government of Turkmenistan
  • Visa
  • $12 registration fee upon arrival

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.

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:

  • Register at an SMS office in Ashgabat, Dashoguz, Mary, Turkmenabat, or Turkmenbashy, depending on where your sponsoring organization is located.
  • Inform the SMS in advance of travel outside the city where you are registered. You face fines and deportation if you fail to do so.
  • Register your departure with the SMS one day before you leave. You must register and de-register at the same SMS office.

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: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Turkmenistan.  

Additional Information: Find information on dual nationality, the prevention of international child abduction, and customs regulations on Travel.State.gov.  

Safety and Security

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:

  • Border areas with Iran, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan
  • All of Dashoguz, including Dashoguz city
  • Some areas along the Caspian coast

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 are especially aggressive at night and may ask for a bribe. Ask for identification if you are unsure the person requesting to see your documents is an official.

Crime: The 2017 OSAC Annual Crime Report provides a comprehensive 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. Authorities will generally consider any woman leaving a club with a foreign man late at night to be a prostitute, and on that basis, the foreigner may be detained.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at 03 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +99369-540011 (local number). Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes. Do not expect international standards of care from responding or investigating police officers.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. 

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

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 Manats in ATM machines.

Customs: Customs regulations are strict, particularly regarding carpets, jewerly, 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 harrassment, detention, and prison sentences are possible.

The Embassy cautions both homosexual and heterosexual couples against displays of affection in public.  

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Public transportation, sidewalks, many buildings, and public areas are not wheelchair accessible.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

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 abroad for medical treatment, including many routine procedures.

Basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anaesthetics, and antibiotics, are often in short supply. If you have a serious medical condition, check with your physician before planning travel to Turkmenistan. Some private clinics have refused to admit patients with serious conditions, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

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:

Travel and Transportation

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.

Drive defensively and use an abundance of caution. Driving practices differ from those in the United States, and can include drivers going down the wrong way on one-way streets or divided highways, sudden lane changes, left-hand turns from the right lane, etc.

There is no roadside assistance in Turkmenistan.

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. If you do not pay traffic fines within 12 hours, the fine will double every 12 hours up to 72 hours, after which time police may seize your vehicle.

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.

Avoid taking taxis after dark or sharing a taxi with other passengers. When traveling at night, hire a driver through your travel agency or hotel.

The only government-owned/government-regulated taxi company operates in Ashgabat (telephone 993-12-760501)

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.

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Turkmenistan. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

Last Updated: February 9, 2018

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Ashgabat
9 1984 Street (formerly Pushkin Street)
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan 744000
Telephone
+(993)(12)94 0045
Consular Information Line:
+(993)(12)94 0049 (Monday, Wednesday Friday, 11am – 1pm)
Emergency
Local calls: 940045;
When calling from the U.S.: +(993) 6304 7683
Fax
+(993)(12) 94-26-14

Turkmenistan Map