Status Update:

Current location: Bochum / Germany

50 countries, 1226 days, trip mileage: 124200 km

22 Feb 2008

4 Turkmenistan Embassies - 4 different answers

Over the last few days I inquired for a Turkmenistan transit visa. One would think this is reasonably straight-forward to obtain, given the fact that I've got plenty of time (about 2 months) to sort out "all things visa". Well... here's a bit of "entertainment" for you: In order to get a TKM transit visa, I need visa from the bordering countries – in my case Iran and Uzbekistan. Problem is: The Iranian visa is only valid for 3 months. As I'm intending to leave the UK beginning of May & want to enter Iran beginning of July, I can't apply for Iran any earlier than April – and the visa application takes up to 3 weeks (with my passport being at the Iranian embassy for those 3 weeks). However, processing time for the TKM transit visa is up to 2 weeks (in which case I'd get my passport sent back home when I'm actually on the road already).To cut a long story short: I phoned up 4 different TKM embassies in Europe, trying to juggle dates around. And I got 4 different answers. I don't want to go into too much detail about their Berlin, London & Brussels embassies (going anywhere from unfriendly to actually being helpful).

Top jigger (and my advice if you intend to do a similar trip): the Turkmenistan embassy in Vienna/Austria. VERY friendly, VERY helpful and it completely fits the "overlander's bill": apply any time in advance & wait for the result after 2 weeks (even without leaving your passport or having obtained the Iranian visa). Once the visa is granted: make an appointment, go to Vienna, pay the money, present the passport (with Iran/Uzbekistan visa stamped in now), get the TKM visa – job done. According to the Vienna embassy it is "very rare that a transit visa doesn't get granted".

The whole Turkmenistan thing gave me a bit of a headache, because it's the only way to connect the Silk Route from Iran to Uzbekistan. (Only other option being Afghanistan, which is not on my list of preferred countires, given the current political situation).