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Country Guides for Asia

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan Annexed by Russia between 1865 and 1885, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic in 1925. It achieved its independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. President NIYAZOV retains absolute control over the country and opposition is not tolerated. Extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas reserves could prove a boon to this underdeveloped country if extraction and delivery projects can be worked out.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. Travelers’ diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout Eastern Europe and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal. Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. All travelers to malaria-risk areas in Eastern Europe, including infants, children, and former residents of Eastern Europe, are at risk for malaria. Parts of the countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have malaria risk.. Travelers to malaria-risk areas in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan should take the antimalarial drug chloroquine to prevent malaria. For additional information on malaria risk and prevention, see Malaria Information for Travelers to Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (NIS).

In Uzbekistan, the risk of malaria is low and varies along its border with Tajikistan; travelers to Uzbekistan or their health care provider should contact CDC (Malaria Hotline, 770-488-7788) for risk and prevention advice.

An outbreak of diphtheria is occurring in all the states of the former Soviet Union. Travelers to these areas should be sure that their diphtheria immunization is up to date.

Tickborne encephalitis, a viral infection of the central nervous system occurs chiefly in Central and Western Europe. Travelers are at risk who visit or work in forested areas during the summer months and who consume unpasteurized dairy products. Vaccine for this disease is not available in the United States at this time. To prevent tickborne encephalitis, as well as Lyme disease, travelers should take precautions to prevent tick bites.

Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid nighttime travel if possible and always use seat belts.

There is no risk for yellow fever in Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (NIS). A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.

CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):

See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
  • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
  • Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for 11– to 12-year-olds who did not receive the series as infants.

To stay healthy, do...

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an “absolute 1-micron or less” filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. “Absolute 1-micron filters” are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
  • If you are going to visit risk areas for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
    • Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
    • Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
    • Read and follow the directions and precautions on the product label.
    • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
    • Do not put repellent on wounds or broken skin.
    • Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product, apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands and rubbing the product carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
    • Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin. Or, spray the bed net with one of these insecticides if you are unable to find a pretreated bed net.
    • DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
    • Children under 10 years old should not apply insect repellent themselves. Do not apply to young children’s hands or around eyes and mouth.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
  • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

SAFETY AND SECURITY:   Turkmenistan's proximity to regions of past and current instability should be weighed carefully by travelers to the country.   The Government of Turkmenistan has designated many areas throughout the country as "restricted zones", particularly the border areas next to Iran, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.   Other areas have also been designated as "restricted zones," including the city of Dashoguz and areas of the Caspian coast.   Travel to these areas is forbidden without special permission from the Government of Turkmenistan.   Turkmen Air, 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.   There is a minimum processing time of 10 working days.

The November 25, 2002, attack on the motorcade of the President of Turkmenistan led to a heightened state of security.   Visible police and military presence in Turkmenistan is not uncommon.   Both uniformed and plainclothes officials frequently ask to see passports, visas, migration cards, and OVIR registrations.   Travelers should ask to see identification if they are not certain that the person asking is an official.   In addition to the questioning of foreigners, home and car searches are not uncommon.   Security personnel man checkpoints on major roads.   Foreigners have sometimes been singled out for harassment.

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, and planes.

For additional regional security information concerning Central Asia, U.S. citizens should check the Consular Information Sheets and current Travel Warnings or Public Announcements for nearby countries, including Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan on a regular basis.   The U.S. Embassy in each of these countries can provide up-to-date information about local crime and safety issues.   Information about how to contact each Embassy directly is available on the Internet at the Consular Affairs home page, http://www.travel.state.gov , or by calling the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat.   For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas.   This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).   Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

CRIME:   Turkmenistan has a low rate of violent crime, but ordinary street crime is common.   Foreign visitors, including American citizens, present an attractive target for criminals.   Travelers should exercise the same common sense, good judgment and caution in their activities as they would in any major U.S. city.   There is a high incidence of petty theft and pickpockets in crowded public places, especially in the local bazaars.   Visitors should take appropriate measures to safeguard their passports and valuables in such areas.

The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that Americans avoid carrying large sums of money on the street.   Travelers, especially women, should not take public transportation or walk alone, after dark.   Taxi service should be used with caution.   Unregistered taxis should be avoided.   Visitors in bars and restaurants, particularly men, should be aware of women who may attempt to steal money and valuables.   It is not advisable to go alone to unpopulated locations with an unknown person.   The U.S. Embassy has received reports of police asking to view passports, and refusing to return the passports until the owner has paid a "fine."  

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, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to 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.  

Additional information on the region can be found in the brochure, "Tips for Travelers to Russia and the New Independent States."

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a trouble-free journey.   The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.



Source: U.S. Department of State

subtropical desert

Source: CIA World Factbook

Turkmenistan's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.

To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:   American citizens must have a valid passport and visa 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 Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Ashgabat.   The letter of invitation on behalf of an American citizen must be submitted to the MFA by an individual or organization in Turkmenistan.   The MFA requires at least ten 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 Turkmen visa can be submitted to the Turkmen Embassy in Washington, D.C. or directly to the MFA in Ashgabat.   Recent travelers to Turkmenistan have found it difficult to secure visa issuance from the Embassy of Turkmenistan in Washington, D.C.   A traveler with a stamped and approved invitation letter from the MFA may also obtain a visa at the Ashgabat Airport upon arrival in Turkmenistan.  

The price for the visa will vary according to the intended length of stay.   For an additional charge the visa can be extended at the MFA in Ashgabat from its initial validity.   Any traveler arriving without a visa or without the needed documents 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.   Travelers departing Turkmenistan must have a valid visa or they will be denied exit until they extend the validity of the visa.   In addition, U.S. citizens traveling in Turkmenistan should be aware that they may require special permission from the MFA to travel to some areas of the country that have been restricted by the Government of Turkmenistan.

Upon arrival at an airport or border entry point, foreigners will be charged $10 for a migration card issued by Turkmen authorities.   All foreigners are required to carry this migration card for the duration of their stay in Turkmenistan.   The migration card will be collected by authorities upon departure from Turkmenistan.

There are local Turkmen registration requirements.   Americans who plan to stay more than three working days in Turkmenistan must register with the Office of Visas and Registration (OVIR).   OVIR offices are located in all of Turkmenistan's five major cities: Ashgabat, Dashoguz, Mary, Turkmenabat and Turkmenbashi. Prior to departure, foreigners must return to an OVIR office to register their departure.   Foreigners who fail to register their departure may be prevented from leaving until they have done so.   The penalties for remaining in Turkmenistan with an expired visa, and for failing to register with OVIR, include fines and arrest.   Foreigners may also be deported and not allowed to return to Turkmenistan for up to five years.

American citizens in Turkmenistan are strongly urged to ensure that their Turkmen visas do not expire and that they are registered with OVIR upon arrival and upon departure.

According to a decree issued December 10, 2002, by Ashgabat city authorities, foreign guests in Ashgabat for temporary stays are required to stay in hotels. Unless they are legally resident in Turkmenistan, foreigners may not rent or buy private residences and may not stay at the private residences of Turkmen citizens in Ashgabat. Similar decrees have not been issued for other areas in Turkmenistan.   Hotels will not allow foreign guests to stay if they do not have valid visas and OVIR registrations.

For complete information concerning entry and exit requirements, as well as internal travel restrictions, U.S. citizens should contact the Embassy of Turkmenistan at 2207 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 588-1500.   The Embassy may also be reached at its homepage on the Internet: http://www.turkmenistanembassy.org.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points.   These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present.   Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.



Source: U.S. Department of State

The time zone for Turkmenistan is 5 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Turkmenistan would be 10:00 pm

The unit of currency in Turkmenistan is the Turkmen manat (TMM).

Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter

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