Turkmenistan travel advice

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Risk level

Turkmenistan - Exercise a high degree of caution

Exercise a high degree of caution in Turkmenistan due to heightened tensions throughout the region and crime.

Border areas with Afghanistan - Avoid all travel

Avoid all travel to border areas with Afghanistan due to ongoing conflict in that country.

 

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Safety and security

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.

Border with Kazakhstan

The border between Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan is currently closed to traffic.

Crime

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. Dont 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

Demonstrations occur. regularly.

Participants to minority religious gatherings have been the target of police raids, arbitrary arrests and beatings.

Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation. 

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Identification

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.

Chesckpoints

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. 

Curfews

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’s safety

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.

Advice for women travellers

Tourist facilities

Tourist facilities are limited, especially outside Ashgabat. Many goods and services are not available.

Telecommunications

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.

Road safety

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.

Public transportation

Don’t travel or use public transportation after dark.

Taxis

Use only officially marked taxis and pre-negotiate the fare. Avoid shared taxis.

Trains

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.

Air travel

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

Information about foreign domestic airlines

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Entry and exit requirements

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.

Passport

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.

Official travel

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.

Useful links

Visas

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).

State Migration Service of Turkmenistan

Migration card

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.

Registration

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.

Border areas

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. 

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.

Children and travel

Learn more about travelling with children.

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

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Health

Relevant Travel Health Notices

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Routine vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccinations, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date before travelling, regardless of your destination.

Some of these vaccinations 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 may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

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.

Risk

  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.

Recommendation

  • 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.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada

Hepatitis A

There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.

 

Practise safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.

Measles

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

 Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus.  Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.

COVID-19

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.

Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Influenza

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 The flu occurs worldwide. 

  •  In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to   April.
  •  In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and   October.
  •  In the tropics, there is flu activity year round. 

The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.

The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Rabies

In this destination, rabies is commonly carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions, including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.

If you are bitten or scratched by a dog or other animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. In this destination, rabies treatment may be limited or may not be available, therefore you may need to return to Canada for treatment. 

Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals). 

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

Travellers' diarrhea

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

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.  

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •  washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.  

Tuberculosis

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

Avoid medical clinics as they often lack basic drugs and equipment and have poor hygiene standards. Most health-care providers only accept cash payments.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

Medications

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.

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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.

Drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and heavy fines. 

Drugs, alcohol and travel

Smoking

It is against the law to smoke outside in Turkmenistan, except in designated smoking areas.

Prostitution

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.

Lèse-majesté

Avoid publicly discussing politics or criticizing the country’s current and previous leaders.

Photography

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.

Communications

Satellite phones and other forms of communication are illegal. 

2SLGBTQI+ travellers

The laws of Turkmenistan prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex.

2SLGBTQI+ travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Turkmenistan.

Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics

Dual citizenship

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.

Travellers with dual citizenship

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.

Useful links

Ramadan

In 2024, the lunar month of Ramadan is expected to begin on or around March 10.

In public, between sunrise and sunset, be discreet when:

  • drinking
  • eating
  • smoking

Exports

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.

Driving

Drinking and driving is strictly forbidden. Drivers may be fined or jailed if any amount of alcohol is detected.

You should carry an international driving permit.

Foreigners residing in Turkmenistan must apply for a local driver’s licence with the Road Police Department. 

International Driving Permit

Ministry of Internal Affairs of Turkmenistan

Money

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.

You must declare all foreign currency you bring into the country.

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Natural disasters and climate

Turkmenistan is located in an active seismic zone.

Heavy rains may trigger floods and landslides.

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Need help?

Local services

Emergency services

In case of emergency, dial:

  • police: 02 (002 from mobile)
  • medical assistance: 03 (003 from mobile)
  • firefighters: 01 (001 from mobile)

Consular assistance

There is no resident Canadian government office in Turkmenistan. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the Embassy of Canada to Kazakhstan, in Astana.

Astana - Embassy of Canada
Street Address13/1 Kabanbay Batyr avenue, Astana, Kazakhstan, Z05H0A5Telephone+7 (7172) 47 55 77 / 78 / 79 / 80Fax7 (7172) 475 587Emailastna-consular@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.Canada.ca/Canada-And-KazakhstanFacebookEmbassy of Canada to KazakhstanTwitterCanada in KazakhstanOther social mediaKazakhstan Canada
Consular district

Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Kazakhstan, in Astana, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

Disclaimer

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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