Trans Eurasia travel

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Turkmenistan is one of the most closed countries at former post-Soviet space with complicated visa regime. All foreign nationals require a visa. With the single exception of transit visas, all visas are issued on the basis of a Letter of Invitation (LOI) from your hosts in Turkmenistan. As from February 2005, the LOI must be approved by the State Service for the Registration of Foreign Citizens (the task previously fell to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). State Service approval takes at least ten working days, though you should allow three weeks. Approval is not always forthcoming, and explanations for refusal are rarely offered. If your application is refused, you are not permitted to apply again within the next six months. The LOI is valid only for three months from the date of certification by the State Service. Be aware that the Turkmen visa is date-specific, meaning it has fixed start and expiry dates. You cannot enter Turkmenistan before the start date or leave after the expiry date.

LOIs for business visitors to Turkmenistan will normally be issued by the firm's local business partner or inviting ministry. Where the foreign firm has not as yet established a local partner, LOIs can be sought from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Chamber has, however, become more reticent of late about taking responsibility for foreign business visitors, and may be willing to issue invitations only to firms attending exhibitions organised by the Chamber. For tourist visitors to Turkmenistan, the basic options are to seek either a transit or tourist visa.

Travelers from countries, which have a Turkmenistan embassy, consulate or diplomatic representative, must purchase their visa in their home country or in any Turkmen embassies located close to your home country/location before departing for Turkmenistan. Otherwise, they will be sent back on the next available flight.

All other visitors can purchase a visa from the local authorities on arrival. Again, however, a letter of invitation from a company registered in Turkmenistan, endorsed in writing by the Turkmen Immigration Office, is required and must be presented to the immigration officers on arrival.