What is a Turkmenistan Letter of Invitation (LOI)?
A Letter of Invitation (LOI) is a relatively normal process around the world. Usually a tour company, a hotel or some sort of authorised body writes a letter that an individual will present to an embassy as part of the visa process. In Turkmenistan it is completely different.
An LOI in Turkmenistan is something that is issued by government and signifies you have been approved for a visa. It is more important than the visa as it is only the LOI which can be approved or rejected, not the visa.
How do you apply for an LOI?
You don’t. A tour company needs to apply for you. You can’t apply yourself.
Do I need to be booked on a tour?
Yes. In order to apply for an LOI, you must be booked on a tour. What constitutes a tour can be anything from an organised group tour to travelling privately by yourself, but you must have all necessary services such as accommodation and transport organised and booked before the application can be submitted.
What information does a tour company need for your LOI application?
Mostly normal information such as a scan of your passport, name, address, work details.
Do LOI applications get rejected?
Most definitely! Turkmenistan is famous for rejecting LOI applications. There are many reasons why an LOI can be rejected, however there are no steadfast rules, and each situation is different. The best thing to do is discuss your own personal situation with the tour agency organising your LOI. Having dealt with these applications for over a decade, we’re pretty versed at the process and can generally give you a good indication of your chances of approval.
How long does the approval process take?
The approval process usually takes roughly 2 weeks. During more sensitive times of year it can take up to 4 weeks.
Is an LOI for specific dates?
Yes. An LOI is approved for your exact travel dates. The accommodation and transport you’ve booked as part of your tour indicates the dates your LOI is approved for. You cannot use the LOI for any other dates.
What happens once your LOI is approved?
When you’re approved you’ll be send your LOI by the tour agency you have booked your tour with. The piece of paper will have your name, passport details, the dates and the length of visa you’ve been approved for. You then have two options. You can go to an embassy or consulate, where for some reason they treat it like a new visa application and insist on forms being completed as well as passport copies and photos being required, even though now that the LOI is approved, the visa can’t be rejected. Normal processing time is around 1 week.
The second option is you can present your LOI at either the airport or land border along with your passport and you’ll get a visa sticker put in your passport there and then. Almost everyone opts for this method and it’s pretty clear why. The visa sticker itself is the same, so it’s not even like you get something more interesting by going to the embassy.
What happens if your LOI is rejected?
No official reason is ever given for a LOI rejection. However sometimes certain issues may be hinted at, and we usually have a very good idea why it’s happened. In some cases we may be asked to resubmit the applications with changes or we can ask to appeal the decision explaining why we think it was rejection. Most tour companies do not do this as it can be a difficult process.
If you were rejected, as it stands you may have problems in future attempts. There is a high chance that once you’re rejected you will continue to be rejected for future applications. We have however had guests who were rejected 2 or 3 times previously, who we were then able to get approved.
Is an LOI needed for a Transit Visa?
No. An LOI is only for tourist visas. You need to apply for a transit visa yourself and unfortunately there isn’t any help that can be offered in this process.
Read more about the different types of visas here .