|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 $22.00!
For a quick review: it took us 6 hours to clear customs and we ended up
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 a dime.
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
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
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.