|How it went
Bring a lot of time, a lot of patience, a sense
of humor and a lot of money in the form of USD!
All but one of the offices you have to go to are in the main customs
building where they will direct you once you leave the ship. Here
is what it takes:
Passport and/or Visa:
In order to get your passport stamped you have to pay an entry
fee which is $10 per person plus $2 bank charges. We also picked
up our visas right here at the border since there is no Turkmen
Embassy in Azerbaijan. We paid $51 per person for the visa and $2
each for handling fees. The visas were issued on the spot. (Actually
not really: first we had to wait an hour for the Consul to drive
out to the port from his residence in Turkmenbashi. His car broke
down en route, so we had to arrange for him to be picked up. When
he finally did show up and wanted to print out the visas, he noticed
that the printer was out of ink, so we had to send a cab into town
to pick up a new toner for the printer. Needless to say that this
took another hour!)
In any case, check the visa to make sure it covers all the places
you want to go!
At the Customs Office we have to fill out a customs form. They
are too lazy to walk out to the bike to check the luggage, so this
goes pretty smooth and to our astonishment without additional charges.
First we had the official route document filled out. This document
is used to calculate the road tax, insurance and various other miscellaneous
charges. There is a map of Turkmenistan on it and they mark the
exact route you are planning to take. We later have to show this
document at every checkpoint. So make sure the route on it is correct
and don’t loose it! Based on the route they will calculate
the road tax, insurance and other charges you owe.
Once we had this document we visited various officials who put their
stamp on it and passed us on to the next post. After the document
had all the requisite stamps, we then had to pay said document:
We paid $182 for the two of us, so $91 each. The various charges
added up to $89 (road tax, insurance, disinfections fee) and of
course the $2 bank charge.
Once the fee was paid there was a last stop at the insurance booth,
where they filled out an additional document as proof of insurance.
We were then waved back to the customs office where they entered
the bike data in a big book. Then they sent us with another document
to a different lady who put a stamp on it, no idea what that was.
Then we were sent to the police who also entered the motorcycle
data in a book, put another stamp on another piece of paper, and
with that we were through.
In our hands was no a lot of papers and receipts. The only paper
out of that which our will need later on is the travel document
which shows your route!
We got sent to the port authority office, where they filled out
a paper. Sent us to a cashier who gave us a different piece of paper
and handed us an invoice. With this invoice, we were sent back inside
to pay the port tax at the bank window. The port tax was $10.00
per bike plus of course again $2 bank charges. So the charge was
For a quick review: it took us 6 hours to clear customs and we
ended up paying:
Entry Fee: $12
Road tax, insurance: $91
Port tax: $12
Total: $ 168 per person and bike
|How it went
It was pretty straightforward. A young gentlemen
who spoke a little English let us know that we had to clear two
stations: First we had to go to an office in front of the customs
house. There our bike papers were checked.
After that we went into the main building, where we got cleared
by customs and then had to get our passports stamped.
Back in front of the building the bikes and passports were checked
by two more officers and then we were free to go.
As I said, pretty straight forward, especially if you consider all
the work it took coming in. Also exiting the country did not cost
Getting the visa:
In 2006 getting a visa for Turkmenistan was a bit of a problem.
There are two kinds of visas: Transit Visa and Tourist Visa.
You can apply for a Transit visa, which may or may not be granted.
It will be granted for three or five days. They decide. We tried
to get a Transit visa in Ankara Turkey.
GPS point for Turkmen embassy in Ankara: N39 53.337 E32 52.353
They wanted the following documents:
- 2 filled out application forms
- 2 passport pictures
- 2 copies of passport
- copy of visa for next destination (Uzbekistan or Iran)
- letter for recommendation from our embassy
They said it would take around 15 days to get an answer and they
wanted to keep our passports during this time. The reason is that
they have to send all the applications to Ashgabat for approval.
We did not feel like sitting around Ankara for another two weeks
and so looked for another solution.
A ten-day tourist visa might be issued if you book a tour with an
agency. This way the agency can arrange for a letter of invitation
with which you can then apply for a tourist visa at a Turkmen embassy.
This is the way we ended up doing it. We contacted David Berghof
at Stantours in Almaty.
As all the fees at the border have to be paid in USD there is no
need in getting Turkmenistan currency beforehand. Once in Turkmenistan
it is easy to change money on the black market (check at the market
or in front of big stores). Don’t change money in the banks
for they will of course only give you the official rate, which is
only 1/5 of black market value.
On both sides of the border to Uzbekistan you can convert left over
Turkmenistan manat or US dollars into Uzbekistan sum. However the
ladies on the Turkmenistan side can be very aggressive and are more
likely to cheat you than the more laid back male counter parts on
the Uzbekistan side.