The process for getting a tourist visa is that you book a tour through a tourism agency, then they will apply to the State Migration Service for your Letter of Invitation (LOI). Dependent on your nationality and the specific information that you provide them with, the approval rate for most Western passports is about 90%. Once you have the LOI, you can get the visa at any embassy, the airport on arrival, or most land borders on arrival, and there are no further checks or possibilities of rejection – the LOI is the key.
“What counts as a tour?” you may ask. Within Ashgabat only your accommodation needs to be booked, you can then have “free time” to explore the city by yourself. So if all you want to see is Ashgabat, the definition of “tour” is actually quite relaxed. However, outside of Ashgabat you must have all your transport booked as well, and have an “escort” with you. If you're travelling by car, the driver counts as your escort, though many people choose to also have an English speaking guide with them as well.
How it works when you book a tour
Booking a tour is the easiest and most effective way to get a visa. All you need to do is book your tour and send us a few documents which we'll ask you for. We then do all the hard work by putting together and submitting your LOI application. All you need to do is sit back and wait for us to get back to you with the results of your application. Assuming your application is approved, the easiest thing to do is just get your visa on arrival at the airport, or at a land border, depending on where you’re arriving.
What if your LOI is rejected
There are many reasons your LOI application could be rejected, such as nationality, type of work, social media presence, and many other things. If there’s anything about your application that makes you seem high risk we will let you know and work with you to make your chances of approval as high as possible. There is unfortunately always a risk of rejection though, and can be completely random. If that happens we can re-apply for you, either for the same tour, or for a future tour, depending on the exact circumstances of your rejection.
Please be honest with us on your application and give us as much chance as possible, so that we have the best possible chance of getting you approved.
Read more about LOIs here .
Transit visas have the advantage of not requiring a Letter of Invitation (LOI) from a tourism agency, and therefore you don't need to be accompanied by an escort while you're there. However, it comes with several disadvantages as well. It is only for upto 5 days, often 3, and you must be transiting through the country ie. travelling between two countries that don't share a border, for example Uzbekistan to Iran, or Azerbaijan to Uzbekistan. You must have the visas for both of those countries already approved before you can even apply for a Turkmen transit visa. Transit visas also take 2-4 weeks to process at most embassies, and unfortunately about 80% of transit visa applications get rejected, and this number has been steadily rising over the past several years.
It was a long wait, and they ended up being closed for 3 years for COVID, but the borders have finally re-opened. Read more about it here .