FCO TRAVEL ALERTS

THE SOS GROUP
SOS-BANNER-SWADV

BodyGuard / Medical Courses from the SOS GROUP

Click on the Logo !

STREIT Armored Cars

Streit-Armored-Logo

Global Leader in Armored Transportation !!!

ADT Home Security
The Security Website : ADT Alarm Systems

For Specialised ADT

Home Security Solutions

Please Click HERE

SIRAS ACADEMY

Siras-Academy-RSBanner-

Close Protection Courses from the SIRAS ACADEMY

Click on the Logo !

University of St Andrews

St_Andrews_CT_Course_Banner

Terrorism Studies Course from The University of St Andrews ENROLLING NOW !!

TTF DIRECTORY

THIRTYTF_LOGO

 

Aviation Security Directory from TTF

Click on the Logo !

Travel Security Advice

Sub Menu

Banner
Travel Security Advice for Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan_National_Flag

turkmenistan_mapTurkmenistan_Cartography


 

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:  

Turkmenistan is a Central Asian nation roughly the size of California.  It shares borders with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.  Turkmenistan gained its independence in 1991 during the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  Primarily a desert country, it has a population of around six million people. Tourist facilities, especially outside of the capital city of Ashgabat, are not highly developed.  Many of the goods and services taken for granted in North American and Western European countries are not yet available. Travel within the country can be difficult due to limited infrastructure and government-imposed internal travel restrictions.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Turkmenistan for additional information.



REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Turkmenistan are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at the Department of State’s travel registration page in order to obtain updated information on local travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency. 

Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.

 

United States Embassy Ashgabat

9 1984 Street (formerly Pushkin Street)
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Telephone: (993-12) 35-00-45
Consular Information Line: (993-12) 35-00-49
Facsimile: (993-12) 39-26-14



ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: 

American citizens must have a valid passport and visa and/or letter of invitation from the Government of Turkmenistan to enter and exit Turkmenistan.  To apply for a visa, all U.S. citizens must complete an application and have a letter of invitation approved by the State Migration Service (SMS), formerly known as the State Service for the Registration of Foreigners (SSRF), in Ashgabat.  An individual or organization in Turkmenistan must submit the letter of invitation on behalf of an American citizen to the SMS accompanied by a copy of the traveler's passport ID page.  Each traveler’s passport must be valid for at least 6 months following the date of the application.  The SMS requires at least 15 working days for approval.  The U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat does not issue letters of invitation to citizens interested in private travel to Turkmenistan.  Applications for a visa can be submitted to the Embassy of Turkmenistan in Washington, D.C., or directly to the SMS in Ashgabat.  Under local law, a traveler with a stamped and approved invitation letter may also obtain a visa at the Ashgabat International Airport upon arrival in Turkmenistan; however, some travelers have reported difficulties with airlines not boarding passengers who only have approved invitation letters in lieu of a visa for onward travel to Turkmenistan.  Travelers are strongly recommended to obtain a visa before traveling.

The price for the visa will vary according to the intended length of stay.  For an additional charge, the SMS can extend a visa in Ashgabat beyond its initial validity.  Any traveler arriving without a visa or without the documents necessary to obtain a visa will be denied entry and may be held at the airport or border until the traveler has secured transportation out of Turkmenistan.  Based on past incidents, the Embassy discourages travelers from planning to use transit visas in lieu of obtaining tourist visas through a travel agency.  The U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat is unable to intervene with Turkmenistani authorities regarding the admission of private travelers to Turkmenistan.  Travelers departing Turkmenistan must have a current valid visa or they will be denied exit until they have extended the validity of the visa through their departure date.  In addition, U.S. citizens traveling in Turkmenistan should be aware that they need special permission from the SMS to travel to areas of the country that have been restricted by the Government of Turkmenistan, including almost all border areas.

Upon arrival at an airport or border entry point, foreigners will be charged approximately $12 for an immigration card issued by Turkmen authorities.  All foreigners are required to carry this immigration card for the duration of their stay in Turkmenistan.  Authorities will collect the immigration card upon departure.  Those departing Turkmenistan from the Ashgabat airport and flying with a non-Turkmenistani flagged carrier are required to pay a $25 departure fee.

In addition to the immigration requirements mentioned above, foreigners are subject to local registration requirements.  Americans who plan to stay more than three working days in Turkmenistan must register with the SMS.  SMS offices are located in all of Turkmenistan's five major cities: Ashgabat, Dashoguz, Mary, Turkmenabat and Turkmenbashy.  Foreigners who plan to travel outside of the city in which they will register must inform the SMS in advance; otherwise travelers will face fines or deportation.  One day prior to their departure from Turkmenistan foreigners must return to an SMS office to register the departure.  Foreigners should be registered and deregistered at the SMS in the city in which their sponsoring organization is located.  Foreigners who fail to register their departure may be prevented by immigration authorities from leaving the country until they have done so.  The penalties for remaining in Turkmenistan with an expired visa or for failing to register with SMS include fines, arrest, and/or deportation.  Foreigners who are deported for these violations may be prohibited from returning to Turkmenistan for up to five years.  American citizens in Turkmenistan are strongly urged to ensure that their visas do not expire and that they register with SMS upon arrival and upon departure.

Visitors holding tourist visas organized by a travel agency must stay in hotels; other visitors may stay in private accommodations whose owner must register the visitor's presence.  Visit the Embassy of Turkmenistan web site for the most current visa information.

Several popular travel guides discuss traveling by “ferry” across the Caspian Sea from Baku, Azerbaijan, to the port of Turkmenbashy in western Turkmenistan.  Some travelers have faced problems attempting to travel to Turkmenistan by boat.  Travelers should be aware that these “ferries” are in fact cargo ships that take on some passengers incidental to their primary function.  Passengers are generally not provided food or water on these ships, and sleeping and sanitary facilities are likely to be rudimentary.  Travelers should be aware that ships arriving at the port of Turkmenbashy often wait days offshore for outgoing ships to vacate the dock to allow incoming ships to disembark.  Some travelers have spent more than a week offshore while their ship awaited permission to enter the port, and they have run out of stores of food and water, or had their Turkmen visas expire before they could be used.  For this and other reasons travelers, especially those who plan to enter Turkmenistan by boat, are discouraged from using transit visas to enter Turkmenistan.

At Ashgabat International Airport, most airlines do not accept payment for tickets by credit card, or in any currency other than US dollars or Turkmen manat.  Travelers planning direct transit through Turkmenistan en route to another country should be aware that if they are stranded due to a missed connection, they will not be allowed to leave the arrival detention area until they are able to buy a ticket for an onward flight out of Turkmenistan.  For this reason, the Embassy discourages travelers from planning to directly transit through Ashgabat International Airport.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.



THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY:   

Those considering travel to Turkmenistan should take the country's proximity to regions of past and current instability into account before making any plans.  The Government of Turkmenistan has designated many areas throughout the country as “restricted zones,” particularly the border areas next to Iran, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan, the entire region of Dashoguz (including Dashoguz city), and areas of the Caspian coast.  Travel to these areas by foreigners is forbidden without special permission from the Government of Turkmenistan.  Turkmenistan Airlines, the national airline, will not sell a ticket to any traveler who intends to travel to a “restricted zone” without proof of permission from the government.  Travelers who wish to visit a “restricted zone” must have a valid passport and visa and must apply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a special permit.  There is a minimum processing time of 10 working days for these permits.

Visible police and military presence in Turkmenistan is common.  Both uniformed and plainclothes officials frequently ask to see passports, visas, migration cards, and SMS registrations.  Travelers should ask to see identification if they are not certain that the person requesting the information is an official.   These documentation checks, and residence and vehicle searches, are common.  Security personnel maintain checkpoints on major roads.

Security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance.  Hotel rooms, telephones, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched.  Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest, such as government buildings, may result in problems with authorities.  Visitors should ask whether buildings may be photographed.

Supporters of extremist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Al-Qaeda, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement remain active in Central Asia.  These groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. Government or private interests in the region, including in Turkmenistan.  Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.  Because of increased security at official U.S. facilities, terrorists are seeking softer civilian targets such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, hotels, schools, outdoor recreation events, resorts, beaches, maritime facilities, and commercial aircraft.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs' website, which contains current the Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.



CRIME:  

Although the government's official policy is to report that there is no violent crime, there are incidents of assault, rape, and murder sometimes directed at foreigners.  Prostitution, heroin use, and economic conditions are all factors contributing to the incidence of violent crimes.  Petty theft is common in crowded public places such as the local bazaars.  Visitors should take appropriate measures to safeguard their passports and valuables in such areas.  Also, visitors should not leave their valuables in plain view within a parked vehicle.  Several recent cases suggest that there has been an increase in theft from parked vehicles.

Foreign visitors, including American citizens, present an attractive target for criminals.  Travelers should exercise the same common sense, good judgment, and caution as they would in any major U.S. city.  For instance, one should avoid carrying large sums of money in public.  Travelers should avoid walking alone after dark, and women specifically should avoid being alone in isolated areas.  Most taxis are not regulated by any government licensing agency and drivers are usually private citizens looking to make money.  The majority of cars will not have seat belts or other safety devices, and drivers may not have had any formal driver training.  For safety reasons, visitors should strongly consider hiring a private car and driver through their travel agency or hotel.  There is one government-owned and regulated taxi company, operating in Ashgabat, which charges a flat fee of 8 Denominated Turkmen Manat (about $ 2.80 at the September 2009 exchange rate) for a one-way trip within Ashgabat city limits.  Its telephone number is: (993 12) 32-97-75.  If using local unregulated taxis, passengers should always negotiate fares with taxi drivers in advance, and extreme caution should be used when using taxis after dark, especially when there are other passengers in the vehicle.

Prostitution is illegal, and prostitutes have been known to accompany men to their residences or hotel rooms in order to steal from them, sometimes with the help of an accomplice.  The authorities will generally consider any woman leaving a discotheque with a foreign man late at night to be a prostitute, and on that basis, the foreigner may be detained.  In recent years, at least one foreigner was kept in jail for fifteen days on charges of soliciting prostitution.  Travelers should be aware that U.S. law provides for criminal prosecution in U.S. federal courts of American citizens who have solicited a prostitute under the age of 18 while traveling abroad.

Police can ask anyone to present identity papers at any time, but authorities are especially aggressive late at night.  Even if valid papers are presented, the police may ask for a bribe.  For this reason, those going from place to place late at night should consider using a trusted driver.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing these products back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.



VICTIMS OF CRIME : 

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Turkmenistan is 03.

Please see our information on Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.



CRIMINAL PENALTIES: 

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.



SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:   

Turkmenistan has a cash-only economy.  However, several new hotels accept credit cards.  Vnesheconombank and the National Bank of Pakistan cash traveler’s checks and personal checks for a fee, although cashing a personal check is a lengthy process that could require up to two months.  Vnesheconombank also accepts Visa for cash advances, for a fee. 

Although the manat is the official currency, U.S. dollars are widely accepted and are required as payment for certain goods and services.  Travelers may wish to bring sufficient U.S. currency to exchange into manat to cover expenses not payable in U.S. Dollars.  Old U.S. dollar bills (issued before 1990) and/or those in poor condition (with tears, writing or stamps) are not acceptable forms of currency in Turkmenistan.  Banks frequently do not have small bills for change.

In 2008, the government of Turkmenistan unified its dual currency exchange rate by bringing the commercial and governmental exchange rates together.  This change occurred incrementally, contributing to wild currency speculation by average citizens, many of whom keep their savings in U.S. dollars in their homes, rather than in bank accounts.  As a result, the banks, at times, have imposed limits on the amount of currency that could be exchanged by an individual on a particular day.  Travelers should check with their travel agencies to discuss options for currency exchange if a limitation should happen during their visit to Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Turkmenistan of items such as carpets, jewelry, musical instruments, pieces of art, archaeological artifacts, antiques, protected animals, etc.  It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Turkmenistan in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements.  Travelers who wish to take carpets out of Turkmenistan must obtain a certificate from the Carpet Museum in central Ashgabat indicating that the carpet is not of historical value.  Some private shops may have carpets for sale for which they have already obtained certificates; buyers should be sure to ask about customs certificates before purchasing any carpet.  In addition, buyers may have to pay a tax calculated according to the size of the carpet.  Travelers who have purchased other items that could be perceived to be of historical value, such as jewelry, have also reported difficulties in taking these items out of Turkmenistan.  Turkmenistan's indigenous dog, the Alabay, is considered a national treasure and is banned for export without prior permission.  American citizens should also check to ensure that any item they intend to bring into the United States is permitted by U.S. customs regulations.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports and visas with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship, are readily available.

Travelers to Turkmenistan should be aware that there are several types of poisonous snakes and insects indigenous to the country. Even in cities, it is common to encounter cobras and scorpions, especially in areas covered with tall grass.  Travelers are advised to be alert to these dangers to avoid being bitten or stung. Please see our Customs Information sheet.



MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: 

Medical care in Turkmenistan is limited and well below North American and Western European standards.  All visitors are strongly advised to purchase medical evacuation insurance to cover costs associated with transporting them to adequate medical facilities in the event of serious illness or injury.  Such travel can be expensive if undertaken under emergency conditions, and absent this insurance, medical evacuation travel may be logistically impossible on an emergency basis.  Travelers with medical conditions should consult their regular physician to determine whether travel to Turkmenistan is advisable in light of the level of available health care.  Resident American citizens travel to Western Europe or North America for treatment of any serious medical condition.  The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of public hospitals and English-speaking physicians in the country, however the standard of care at these hospitals cannot be considered comparable to Western standards.  Basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics are often in short supply.  Two private clinics have foreign medical practitioners (generally Turkish) who may be available for consultations and treatment; these clinics, however, have refused in some cases to admit patients with serious conditions, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay for treatment.  Even at these hospitals, the standard of care is low compared to Western standards.  Travelers requiring prescription medications should bring sufficient supplies of all necessary medications and appropriate documentation to ensure no problems with customs officials upon arrival.

Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Turkmenistan.  Currently, HIV tests are not required for applicants requesting tourist visas; however, should an individual be discovered to be HIV positive, that status would be grounds for denial of a visa or deportation.  All individuals requesting residence visas are required to submit to an HIV test.  Please verify this information with the Embassy of Turkmenistan before you travel.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC websiteFor information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) websiteThe WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.



MEDICAL INSURANCE: 

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to determine whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.



TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: 

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  The information below concerning Turkmenistan is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Road conditions in Turkmenistan make driving difficult and sometimes dangerous.  Most roads outside of major cities are narrow, riddled with potholes, unlit at night, and without proper road signs.  Driving at night on these roads should be avoided.  City roads are better in comparison to rural routes but may be hazardous due to potholes, uncovered manholes, poor lighting, and heavy pedestrian traffic.  Pedestrians frequently cross against traffic and create dangerous conditions.  Traffic accidents involving serious injury to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are common.

In general, visitors should use caution when driving in Turkmenistan.  Drivers pay little attention to lanes and other road markings, with weaving and sudden lane changes a common occurrence (usually without use of a turn signal).  Drivers will often encounter cars going the wrong way on one-way streets or divided highways.  Cars also frequently make left-turns from the right lane and vice-versa.  Pedestrians regularly walk or stand in the middle of busy streets during the day and night, often without paying attention to oncoming traffic.

Roadside assistance does not exist in Turkmenistan, where vast stretches of highway are often unmarked.  Police checkpoints (where cars are required to stop and register) are a common feature on major routes between cities.  The U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat has received reports that police stationed at checkpoints may arbitrarily fine motorists.  Local law requires that traffic fines be paid within 12 hours.  If a fine is not paid within that period, the amount may double every 12 hours up to 72 hours, after which time the vehicle in question may be seized.

Travelers who wish to drive in Turkmenistan must have a valid international driving permit.  Foreigners who plan to reside in Turkmenistan must apply for a local driver's license with the Road Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Turkmenistan.  American citizens who want more specific information about driving in Turkmenistan should contact the Embassy of Turkmenistan at 2207 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC  20008, telephone (202) 588-1500.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  For specific information concerning Turkmenistan driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Turkmenistan National Tourist Organization offices at its Permanent Mission in New York.  The address is: 136 East 67th Street, NY, NY 10021.  The phone number is 1-212-472-5921.



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.

Travelers may experience significant delays, unexpected re-routing, and sudden cancellations of flights, including those of Turkmenistan Airlines (Turkmenhowayollary), the national airline.  Travelers have reported difficulties securing reservations and purchasing tickets from Turkmenistan Airlines on both domestic and international flights, which are routinely overbooked.



CHILDREN'S ISSUES: 

Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Turkmenistan dated March 2, 2009 to update the section on Crime.

 


 

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth office also has information regarding travel to Turkmenistan HERE.....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassies Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens).......

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a Malaria Warning for Turkmenistan HERE.....

Regards

The SW Team..........

 

Direct Gov Travel News and Alerts