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Turkmenistan - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Turkmenistan. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to heightened tensions throughout the region and crime.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Border areas with Afghanistan
These areas are transit points for drugs and other smuggled goods. The security situation in Afghanistan is extremely unpredictable due to an 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. Do not travel alone and avoid showing signs of affluence.
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.
Women should not travel alone in Turkmenistan. Consult our publication entitled Her own way: a woman’s safe-travel guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.
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.
Do not 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 travel by train is necessary, store your personal belongings in a safe place and do not leave the compartment unattended. Ensure that your door is secured from the inside.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
General safety information
There is a significant police and military presence throughout Turkmenistan. Carry your original passport, a photocopy, or other photo-identification at all times, as officials frequently request proof of identity. Leave a photocopy of your passport with a relative or a friend at home.
Avoid minority religious gatherings, whose participants have been the target of police raids, arbitrary arrests and beatings.
Foreigners are often subjected to questioning and car and home searches. Some have been detained.
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.
Tourist facilities are limited, especially outside Ashgabat. Many goods and services are not available.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Turkmen authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Turkmenistan for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Turkmenistan, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit Turkmenistan.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
You must obtain a letter of invitation from the person you intend to visit, or from the company for which you will be working in Turkmenistan. This letter must be certified by the State Foreign Citizens Registration Service of Turkmenistan.
If you are travelling as a tourist and will not be meeting anyone in Turkmenistan, you must contact the State Tourism Corporation of Turkmenistan “Turkmen Siyahat” to plan your visit and obtain a certified letter (tel.: 993-12-35-47-77 or 993-12-39-86-91/fax: 993-12-39-67-40 or 33-77-71).
You must complete a migration card and pay a migration fee upon arrival at airports and border crossings. 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 Turkmenistan State Migration Service. You must also deregister with that service office prior to departure.
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 a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) test certificate if you intend to remain in Turkmenistan for longer than three months.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
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.
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.
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.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
There is a risk of polio in this country.
- Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up to date. Polio is part of the routine vaccine schedule for children in Canada.
- One booster dose of the polio vaccine is recommended as an adult.
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 (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
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.
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 for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, 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 provider.
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.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), use discretion when drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2017, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 27.
An international driving permit is recommended.
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.
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.
See Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Turkmenistan. If local authorities consider you a Turkmen citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Turkmen passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
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.
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 Turkmen manat (TMT). The economy is primarily cash-based. A few hotels and restaurants in Ashgabat accept credit cards (Visa and American Express) 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.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Turkmenistan is located in an active seismic zone.
Heavy rains may trigger floods and landslides.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 02
- medical assistance: 03
- firefighters: 01
There is no resident Canadian government office in Turkmenistan. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the Embassy of Canada in Ankara, Turkey.
Ankara - Embassy of Canada
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. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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