Turkmenistan travel advice
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- Risk level
- Safety and security
- Entry and exit requirements
- Laws and culture
- Natural disasters and climate
- Need help?
Safety and security
COVID-19 - Preventative measures and restrictions
COVID-19 preventative measures and restrictions are still in effect in some destinations.
These could include:
- curfews, movement restrictions, or lockdowns
- mandatory mask use
- required proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test result to access public and private services and spaces
Before travelling, verify if specific restrictions or requirements are still in effect.
Border areas with Afghanistan
The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan border has transit points for drugs and other smuggled goods. The security situation in Afghanistan is extremely unpredictable due to ongoing insurgency, terrorist attacks, kidnapping and a high crime rate. You should not travel near or attempt to cross the border.
Street crime, such as mugging and pickpocketing, occurs. Acts of banditry occur in remote areas. Remain vigilant and ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure. Don’t travel alone, and avoid showing signs of affluence. Alcohol-related incidents, including bar fights and drunk driving, are common. At nightclubs, drinks should never be left unattended, and drinks should never be accepted from unknown people.
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Also avoid minority religious gatherings, whose participants have been the target of police raids, arbitrary arrests and beatings.
Curfews may be imposed, and areas may be cordoned off on short notice. The violation of a curfew can result in immediate deportation and a ban against returning to Turkmenistan for five years.
Women should not travel alone in Turkmenistan.
There are sensitivities around relationships between foreign men and local women, and Turkmen authorities are known to take action against both.
Driving standards are poor. Rural roads are often in disrepair and unlit. Animals frequently wander onto the road. Random traffic police checks and roadblocks are common.
There is no roadside assistance in Turkmenistan.
Don’t travel or use public transportation after dark.
Use only officially marked taxis and pre-negotiate the fare. Avoid shared taxis.
Avoid travel by train, as service is slow and crime is prevalent. If you must travel by train, store your personal belongings in a safe place and do not leave the compartment unattended. Secure your door from the inside.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
The border between Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan is currently closed to traffic.
General safety information
There is a significant police and military presence throughout Turkmenistan. Carry your original passport, a photocopy of the passport or other photo ID at all times, as officials frequently request proof of identity. Cooperate with police authorities if stopped for questioning. Leave a photocopy of your passport with a relative or a friend at home.
Security personnel maintain checkpoints on major roads and may place visitors under surveillance. Foreigners are often subjected to questioning and car and home searches. Hotel rooms, telephones, e-mail and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Some foreigners have been detained.
Tourist facilities are limited, especially outside Ashgabat. Many goods and services are not available.
Entry and exit requirements
COVID-19 - Entry, exit and transit restrictions and requirements
Most governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions and requirements for their territory due to COVID-19. These measures can be imposed suddenly and may include:
- entry or exit bans
- mandatory proof of vaccination or COVID-19 testing
- suspensions or reductions of international transportation options
Foreign authorities might not recognize or accept proof of vaccination issued by Canadian provinces and territories. You may need to obtain a translation, a notarization, an authentication, or the legalization of the document.
- verify if the local authorities of both your current location and destinations have implemented any restrictions or requirements related to this situation
- consider even your transit points, as there are transit rules in place in many destinations
- monitor the media for the latest information
- reconfirm the requirements with your airline or tour operator
The situation could disrupt your travel plans. You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance to change your travel plans.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Turkmen authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date on your letter of invitation.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Passport with “X” gender identifier
While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit Turkmenistan.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Letter of invitation
You must present a letter of invitation in support of your visa application. Obtain this letter from the person you intend to visit, from the company for which you will be working, or from an authorized travel agency in Turkmenistan. The person/organization inviting you must submit a request to the State Migration Service of Turkmenistan (SMS).
You must complete a migration card and pay a migration fee upon arrival at an airport or border crossing. Border officials will provide you with a copy of this card, which you must carry with you and return to border officials upon departure. Failure to produce the card or return it on exit can result in fines and departure delays.
If you plan to stay for more than three working days, you must register your arrival with the SMS. You must also deregister with the SMS prior to departure. Failure to register properly can result in fines, arrest and/or deportation. If you are deported for these violations, authorities will bar your return to Turkmenistan for up to five years.
Areas bordering Iran, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, including the city of Dashoguz and areas of the Caspian coast, are restricted zones. You must obtain permission from the Government of Turkmenistan to travel to these areas. Submit applications to travel to these areas at least 10 working days before your intended date of travel. See the Government of Canada’s travel advisory for travel to the border with Afghanistan.
Health entry requirements
You must produce a negative result on an HIV test certificate if you intend to remain in Turkmenistan for longer than three months.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines are right for you.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air..
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.
For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements section.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Central Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in Central Asia, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
COVID-19 - Testing
Contact local health authorities, or the nearest Government of Canada office abroad to find out where you can get a COVID-19 test.
Avoid medical clinics as they often lack basic drugs and equipment and have poor hygiene standards. Most health-care providers only accept cash payments.
If travelling with prescription medication, check with the Government of Turkmenistan to ensure that the medication is legal in Turkmenistan. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
In 2023, the lunar month of Ramadan is expected to begin on or around March 22.
In public, between sunrise and sunset, be discreet when :
You should carry an international driving permit.
Foreigners residing in Turkmenistan must apply for a local driver’s licence with the Road Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Turkmenistan.
Drinking and driving is strictly forbidden. Drivers may be fined or jailed if any amount of alcohol is detected.
Illegal or restricted activities
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and heavy fines.
It is against the law to smoke outside in Turkmenistan, except in designated smoking areas.
Prostitution is illegal. Authorities will generally consider any Turkmen woman leaving a club with a foreign man late at night to be a prostitute. On that basis, the foreigner may be detained.
Avoid publicly discussing politics or criticizing the country’s current and previous leaders.
Photography of military installations, police stations, airports, government buildings and other sensitive sites may result in a penalty. Seek permission from local authorities before taking photographs.
The laws of Turkmenistan prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Turkmenistan.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Turkmenistan.
If local authorities consider you a citizen of Turkmenistan, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.
Canadians with Turkmen citizenship may be subject to national obligations, such as taxes. Check your status with the Embassy of the Republic of Turkmenistan in Washington, D.C., prior to departure.
Dual Turkmen–Canadian citizens are likely to have a difficult time returning to Canada after visiting Turkmenistan, and it might be necessary for them to renounce Turkmen citizenship in order to be allowed to depart. The renunciation process can take six months or longer.
International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. The convention applies between Canada and Turkmenistan.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Turkmenistan, and if the applicable conditions are met, you may apply for the return of your child to the Turkmen court.
If you are in this situation:
- act as quickly as you can
- contact the Central Authority for your province or territory of residence for information on starting an application under The Hague Convention
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in Turkmenistan to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
- report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre
If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.
Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.
- List of Canadian Central Authorities for the Hague Convention
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- The Hague Convention - Hague Conference on Private International Law
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
Declare all foreign currency you bring into the country.
Cultural objects, such as woven carpets and artefacts, must be authenticated by the Ministry of Culture prior to departure. Failure to do so will result in confiscation and/or a fine that may be greater than the value of the item in question.
The currency is the new Turkmenistan manat (TMT). The economy is primarily cash-based. A few hotels and restaurants in Ashgabat accept credit cards (specifically American Express and Visa) and traveller’s cheques in U.S. dollars. U.S. currency and euros can be exchanged into the local currency at banks and exchange bureaus. Since there are few international ATMs in the country, you may find it difficult to obtain cash.
Satellite phones and other forms of communication are illegal. Cellular reception is poor outside of major cities. Internet connections outside the larger hotels can be unreliable and many social media sites, including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, are blocked. Some messaging Apps, such as WhatsApp, are also blocked.
Natural disasters and climate
Turkmenistan is located in an active seismic zone.
Heavy rains may trigger floods and landslides.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 02 (002 from mobile)
- medical assistance: 03 (003 from mobile)
- firefighters: 01 (001 from mobile)
Due to the ongoing pandemic, our consular services could be limited. Contact us by email or telephone before visiting our offices.
There is no resident Canadian government office in Turkmenistan. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the Embassy of Canada to Turkey in Ankara.
Ankara - Embassy of Canada
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkmenistan. Offering consular services to Canadians in Iran.Appointment Book your appointment online
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Ankara, Turkey, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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