Turkmenistan Basics

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The Basics

Time: GMT +5

Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin attachment plugs are in use.

Money: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin attachment plugs are in use.

Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Turkmen is the official language of Turkmenistan. Russian is widely spoken in cities though as a "language of inter-ethnic communication". Turkmen is spoken by 72 percent of the population, Russian, Uzbek, other languages by a lesser degree.

Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens require a valid passport. Visa required.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: UK citizens require valid passport. Visa required.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens require valid passport. Visa required.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens require valid passport. Visa required.

Entry requirements for South Africans: SA citizens require valid passport. Visa required.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: NZ citizens require valid passport. Visa required.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens require valid passport. Visa required.

Passport/Visa Note: Visitors to Turkmenistan and transit passengers are required to hold sufficient funds and onward/ return tickets and documentation for the duration of their stay in the country. Tourists visas can be obtained through embassies or consulates of Turkmenistan, or on arrival at the Ashgabat airport. These visas can be obtained for a maximum stay of 10 days provided the visitor has a letter of invitation from a travel company licensed in Turkmenistan. Visas obtained on arrival are generally more expensive than other visas. Visas issued are for the whole of the territory of Turkmenistan, however special permits are required for the following places: Atamurat, Cheleken, Dashoguz, Serahs, and Serhetabat. Valid visas in expired passports are accepted provided that the passport holder also has a valid passport for the same nationality. Immigration authorities in Turkmenistan simply transfer the visa into your new passport on arrival for a fee. All visitors to Turkmenistan are required to fill out a landing card which incurs a USD 12 fee. Furthermore, visitors must register themselves with the police department within three days of arrival. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: No vaccinations are required by visitors to Turkmenistan. However, outbreaks of Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, meningitis, and diphtheria occur, and there is a risk of malaria, so the relevant vaccines are recommended. It is also recommended that all travellers to the country get vaccines for Rabies, especially for those spending a lot of time outdoors, as well as for measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), and typhoid. For any adult traveller who completed the childhood series of vaccines for polio but never had the polio vaccine as an adult, a booster is recommended. Visitors should only drink bottled water. Hospitals offer adequate basic medical care but serious cases will usually be treated outside of the country. Visitors should ensure that they have comprehensive medical insurance.

Tipping: Tipping is common in restaurants and bars, and is usually 5-10 percent. Some tourist hotels, restaurants, and upmarket institutions will usually include service charge in the bill.

Safety Information: Travel to Turkmenistan is generally problem-free. But foreigners should take normal safety precautions, such as avoiding travel after dark or in deserted and unfamiliar areas. Occasional muggings do occur. A general threat of terrorism exists, particularly in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Planned demonstrations should be avoided and it must be noted that visitors should carry passports/identity documents with them at all times. Otherwise, there is a chance of detention.

Local Customs: Etiquette in Turkmenistan is governed by Islamic principles, though the state is officially secular. Conservative dress is required at all times and neither women nor men wear shorts. Respect for elders is considered very important. Do not refer to Turkmens as Russians or Soviets and avoid criticising the country in front of locals.

Business: Office hours are generally Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm. Men greet each other with handshakes.

Communications: The international dialling code for Turkmenistan is +993. The outgoing code is 8-10 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 8-10 44 for the UK). City codes are in use, e.g. (12) for Ashgabat. International taxophones, using phone cards, are the cheapest way to make calls. A GSM mobile network covers the cities, and Internet usage is growing in the major cities.

Duty Free: Travellers to Turkmenistan over the age of 21 years can import 2 litres of any alcoholic beverage without paying duty; those over 16 years of age may import 200 cigarettes or 200g of tobacco and personal belongings up to a reasonable value. All narcotics, firearms, ammunition and accessories, and antiquities are prohibited from either import or export. The customs declaration, filled out upon entry to Turkmenistan, should be retained. When leaving, this form may be used to audit items for export.