The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Heightened tensions throughout the region, together with increased threats globally from terrorism, may put you at risk. Maintain a high level of caution at all times.
Violent crime is low. However, mugging and pickpocketing do occur. 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.
Exercise caution on intercity roads, as driving standards are poor. Rural roads are often in disrepair and not lit. Animals frequently wander onto the road. Random traffic police checks are routine.
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.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
You may encounter difficulties and processing delays in obtaining official permission to travel outside Ashgabat. Areas bordering Iran, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, including the city of Dashoguz and areas of the Caspian coast are restricted zones. Travel to these areas is forbidden without prior permission from the government of Turkmenistan.
General safety information
The Embassy of Canada in Ankara, Turkey, has consular responsibility for Turkmenistan. Entry visa policies and procedures restrict Canadian officials’ access to Turkmenistan, significantly limiting the ability of the Canadian government to provide prompt consular assistance in this country, even in emergencies. Register with the Embassy of Canada in Ankara or contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre at 613-996-8885.
Police and military officials are prevalent throughout Turkmenistan. Carry a photocopy of your passport, the original, 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.
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 upon 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.
Dial 01 for the fire department, 02 for the police and 03 for an ambulance.