I want to share some recent embassy reports. I’m right now in Kyrgyzstan after having been in the last two months through Iran, Georgia, Armania, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. If you have any further questions about visas, border crossings or whatever, you can visit my website on www.earthlooping.com or just ask me. I’m planning to go further into Kazakhstan, China, Tibet, Nepal, India, etc, so more reports will be coming on the website (http://www.earthlooping.com/visas-information.html) as well as travel guides and some stuff. Feel free to visit. Here are the reports, hope they help! (all the visas have been applied within the last two months)
Iran Visa applied in Trabzon (Turkey)
Very easy to get if you do it in Trabzon (Turkey), but you have to be lucky to be there on the right day and at the right time.
Went there on a Wednesday and it was closed due to unknown reasons. Went back again on the following day. Make sure you are there at or before 9am, when they open, not later (a guy showed up at 9:55 am and the consul told him to come back next day because it was full).
They don't ask you for any number, any LOI, anything. You just have to fill in an application form, give them 2 pictures and your passport. Then go to a nearby bank to pay the visa fee (75 €) and collect your visa next day at 4:30pm.
This of course is the theory. In reality it was like this but when we went to the embassy to pick up the visa they said they had not got any answer from Tehran and we should come back next day, which was on Monday as there was a weekend in between. On Monday we finally got our 30 day single entry visa to Iran (having 3 months to enter the country). All in all we can say we got the visa for 75€ in 2 working days with no reference number, no insurance, no nothing.
Turkmenistan Visa applied in Tehran (Iran)
Quite easy to get in Tehran (Iran) if, as with all the Central Asian embassies, you are in the right place at the right time.
You can only visit Turkmenistan on your own on a transit visa. For a normal visa you have to join a tour.
The embassy in Tehran opens from Sunday till Thursday from 9:00 to 11:00. Went there and surprise: the embassy closed the day before for one week due to, as usual, unknown reasons. A girl there told us we had to go to Mashhad to apply for the visa. I couldn't believe my eyes. Extremely luckily, a guy told us to go to a window and there we met the consul, a really nice guy who surprisingly gave us the application form and told us we could apply for the visa there. We gave him all the documents: a letter saying when are you going to Turkmenistan, your entry and exit points, your name and so on, the application form, 2 copies of your passport, 2 pictures and a copy of your Uzbek visa. Of course there was a problem: the copies of the passport and the Uzbek visa must be in color! He said he would wait so we went in search for a place to make color photocopies. One hour later back to the embassy, handed in all documents and he said we could pick up the visa in Mashhad in one week.
After one week, in Mashhad, we went to the consulate, gave 2 more pictures, another copy of the Ubek visa and the passport (this time no color), another application form the consul gave us in Tehran and 55 USD to be payed on the spot. He told us to come back in two hours and we got our 5-day Turkmen transit visa with specific entry and exit dates as well as border points.
Uzbekistan Visa applied in Tehran (Iran)
Expensive and time-consuming to get in Tehran (Iran). If possible, try to get it somewhere else. Same price for transit or for 30-day visa.
The embassy in Tehran is supposed to be opened from Sunday till Thursday from 9:00 until 12:00. Of course, as in all Central Asia embassies they have their own timetables and on Sundays they are closed or the consul is not there (it happened to us twice).
Went there on a Sunday morning, the consul was not there so no option of applying. Anyway, there was a woman who gave us information: a letter from your embassy saying you can go to Uzbekistan, 2 copies of passport, 2 copies of the visa application to be filled in through the website and printed, 2 pictures, a copy of the country to visit after Uzbekistan (in this case Tajikistan) if you are applying for a transit visa and 75 USD for normal service (from 8 to 14 working days). If you are applying for a 30-day visa, the procedure is the same one except from the copy of Tajik visa. Depending on your nationality, you can apply for normal visa without any LOI or if you need LOI it would cost you some additional 75 USD and it can only be obtained through a travel agency and it takes time. Note that you have to say the entry and exit points in Uzbekistan.
Next day went there again around 10:00 and there were some 10 guys outside the door, most of them from travel agencies, so they were carrying a lot of passports. There's a list where you have to write your name and wait for your turn to enter the embassy. After waiting around 3 hours, finally we got into the embassy, gave all the documents to the woman we met the day before and she told us to call in 8 working days and maybe the visa would be ready.
We called in 8 days and of course the visa was not ready. Finally it was in 9 working days and we got a 3-day transit visa. We went there at 8:00 and there was nobody there although the list was already with some 9 names on it. These agency guys must have written their names the day before. We were not in the mood of waiting again 3 hours so we just got into the embassy when they opened (a guy who was first in the list complained and tried to pull me out of there but of course I got inside, I didn’t wake up at 6 in the morning to wait 3 hours when I was the first one at the embassy). The money is to be paid there and in some 15 minutes we got the visa.
Tajikistan Visa applied in Ankara (Turkey)
Easy to get if you go to the right place on the right day, otherwise it can be a nightmare.
We went to the Tajik consulate in Istanbul, but couldn't find it. We went to the address that appears on the official website, but once there, they told us there is no Tajik consulate there anymore. After 9 hours following wrong directions around Istanbul, we gave up and assumed that right now it is impossible that there is any Tajik consulate in Istanbul, so we decided to go to Ankara.
In Ankara first try was useless. You need the consul there and when we went he was out, so we had to go back to the embassy the following day. Once you meet the consul (at 11am), he gives you an application form, he asks you for a copy of your passport and one picture. You leave everything there and you can come back to pick your visa up in 2 days.
When you come back after 2 days (again at 11am), the consul tells you to go to a bank nearby and pay the visa fee, in this case 54 USD for a one-month visa with specific entry date, bring him back the bank receipt and come back at 4pm to finally collect your Tajik visa.
Kazakhstan Visa applied in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)
Easy, quick and cheap to get in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan). The only pain is that the embassy and the bank to pay the fee are on opposite sides of town, so it's a bit time-consuming going back and forth.
The embassy opens Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:00 to 12:00. Visa pick-ups are at 18:00.
Went there half an hour before they opened on a Tuesday. We were the first ones and at 8:55 they opened. We applied for a 30-day tourist visa and the documents required were: a copy of your passport (it must be A-4 size, they rejected smaller sized ones), a visa application form they provide, one picture (no matter the size), your original passport which they keep until the visa is ready and 30 USD to be payed in a bank in the center of town, which is something like 40 minutes away by marshrutka from the embassy.
Went to the bank to pay, got the bank receipt and back to the embassy. We handed in all documents and the guy told us visas would be ready on Friday at 18:00, that is in 3 working days.
Went back there on Friday and we got our passports back with a nice 30-day Kazakh visa on them to be used within the next 3 months.
China Visa applied in Tehran (Iran)
Really easy and straightforward to get in Tehran (Iran).
Probably one of the easiest and cheapest places to obtain the Chinese visa. It was not in the plan to apply for this visa in Tehran, but as the embassy is really close to the Uzbek one, we went there to try our luck and it turned out to be a great decision.
The embassy opens on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 9 to 12 in the morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon. There's a really nice English speaking girl there. No queues no waiting at all.
You need a letter from your embassy saying you can go to China (easy to get at the Spanish embassy in Tehran), two of pictures, a filled in application from their website and 40 USD to get a single entry 90-day visa.
The most difficult part was the application form. We went to an internet cafe and it was impossible to find the form on the address the girl gave us. Instead, we downloaded one from the Internet and filled it in.
When we went back to the embassy we found out the applications were not valid. The girl there said we could go to a nearby building where, for a fee, a girl can give us the correct applications and fill them up for us. As we had no choice there we went and after one hour we got our new applications filled in. Back into the embassy and the girl gave us the paper to go to a nearby bank to pay the visa fee and told us to come back in 4 working days.
After 10 days we went back (we were travelling in Iran and we had to wait for the Uzbek visa) and we got our passport with a nice Chinese visa in it.
Note that the embassy keeps your passport for these 4 days, so you better photocopy it together with your Iranian visa (we did that and had no problems travelling 10 days around Iran with copies instead of passport).
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