Currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand (06/12/2013) - 31200km cycled

2 Mar 2013

Getting a visa for Turkmenistan in Mashhad, Iran

Posted by Will

Turkmenistan (Jan 2013 – Mashhad Consulate, Iran – Vali Ansari)
N.B. Visa information falls out of date quickly so check a number of different sources. I am a British citizen travelling with a British passport. Visa rules and costs many be different for your nationality.

p1040620-800Tricky. For cyclists, tourist visas are out of the question as it requires a fully-fledged package tour with little room for independent travel. Almost everyone applies for a transit visa which are only issued nowadays for 3 or 5 days. I only received a 3 day visa despite doing everything similar to everyone else. To apply for a transit visa you MUST already have visas of the two countries either side of your travel to Turkmenistan (usually Iran and Uzbekistan).

I used unofficial agent Vali Ansari, an English-Farsi speaking owner of a Lonely Planet recommended home-stay in Mashhad. Vali has acquired quite a reputation for sorting out cyclists heading through Turkmenistan from west to east. It works like this. 7-10 days before you intend to arrive in Mashhad send Vali a scan of your passport, a scan of your Iran visa, a scan of your Uzbek visa, a short letter of requesting a visa addressed to the Turkmen consulate in Mashhad, and the dates you wish to enter and exit Turkmenistan. Vali will then process everything for you while you continue cycling. When you arrive in Mashhad, he will guide you to the consulate and fill out all the paperwork on your behalf. His services cost 20USD but may be worth it for the peace of mind.

Alternatively, you can apply for a visa at any Turkmenistan embassy or consulate. Many travellers are successful but there are stories of bureaucracy ‘losing’ an application or ‘not having heard’ of your application when you come to collect your visa. That’s unlikely to happen of course.

Be aware that the embassies and consulates of Turkmenistan have odd opening house/visa processing hours/visa pick-up hours. Be sure to look these up before you make a visit.

No hotel bookings, tours or flight tickets required.

Documents required: passport, passport copy (x2), passport photos (x2), Iran visa copy, Uzbek visa copy, visa application form filled-in (x2), short letter of request for visa
Cost: 85USD (British citizens), 55USD (European citizens), 20USD (Vali service)

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