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Northern Asia Topics specific to Russia, Central Asia (also known as "the 'stans"), Mongolia, Japan and Korea
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Old 11 Jan 2011
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Obtaining my visas for iran and central asia

I understand you guys must be sick to death of people asking the same question but i've done my research and am still a little perplexed. I'm looking to be arriving in at the Iranian border probably end of April first few days of march this year, coming from turkey.

The Iranian visa has a 3 month validity from date of issue so i ideally want to be applying for my visa in the first week of February, but then i want ideally i'd like to have a few central Asian visas under my belt. I plan on visiting Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, so i just attempt to get the Turkmenistan visa here in England and the rest onroute?

Thank You

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Old 12 Jan 2011
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Hi Alistair,

Yes, it is a regular question, but many of us have been in the same shoes and have still had questions even after all the research has been done so don't worry about it too much.

We're in south east asia now but we left the UK in april 2010 and did a very similar route to you to reach Kyrgyzstan.

We left the UK with just a China & Pakistan visa in our passports and got the rest enroute (often much cheaper/quicker), applying for the majority whilst in Istanbul, where several of the embassys are known for being a lot more friendly/likely to give you a visa.

We ended up bing rejected 3 times for Iran so had to go via Georgia and Azerbaijan. Kyrg has a lovely friendly girl working at the embassy in Istanbul, is dead easy who let us keep our passports so we would apply for Uzbek at the same time (took 4 days in total).

I'd definitely recommend doing your Turkmen one there too. Assuming you're applying for a transit (alot cheaper and no guide), you just pop down, fill out a form and ask if you can collect it further down the road (Baku in our case, Tehran in yours). That way, you can ensure that your entry/exit dates in your passport match your date of arrival at the border (very important - you'll have enough admin/bureaucracy to deal with without the extra hassle of having an expired visa). You don't have to hand your passport in at all if you do do it this way, so can also be done at the same time.

We got our Kazahk visa (30 day) in Tashkent, it took just 24 hrs and cost $20.

This way of doing it would require a few days in Istanbul, but that's not such a problem. It's a lovely place and your chance for a final decent service/access to parts.

I should also ask, how are you travelling? Bike? car? Eastern Turkey can be bloody cold early in the year.

Anyway, hope that helps. If you want for info check out the 'border info' on our blog where i've tried to record as much info as possible on each crossing we've done. Failing that, feel free to PM me.
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Old 13 Jan 2011
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What exactly are you asking?

Getting an Iranian visa, you need to apply for authorisation from the Iranian Foreign Ministry, via a travel agent such as Iranian Visa,Iranian tours,travel & tourism guide,traveling to iran

It doesn't really matter where you want to pick it up. I have had an Iranian visa from Bishkek, and I know someone who got one from Tashkent. You need to apply for the invitation about 1 month before you expect to collect it. You then need to wait 2 to 10 days to get the visa, depending on the whim of the particular embassy.

You will need to leave with more than a Turkmen visa. If you are getting a transit visa for Turkmenistan, you NEED another visa (i.e. UZ or IR). If you're on a tourist visa, you wont want to be paying $$$$$$$ to hang around in Ashgabat waiting for a visa.

I would get the Iranian, Turkmen and Uzbek visas in advance, and the rest en-route. Or get TM and UZ, and arrange to collect the IR visa in Turkey somewhere.

If you are a UK citizen, you stand a fair chance of being rejected for the Iranian visa, so better to find out in the UK if you'll have to alter your plan.

I take it you have a carnet for Iran?

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Old 13 Jan 2011
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If you contact us when you are in istanbul, we can go to the consulates together and make applications.sometimes you can get easily and sometimes
they make you wait for 3-4 days. never been refused before. most of the officiars like adventure men.
Mehmet Zeki Avar
''Friendly Pit-Stop in İstanbul'' https://www.facebook.com/mehmet.avar.12?ref=tn_tnmn
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Old 26 Jan 2011
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thank you all for you information, it has helped put my mind at ease. I will ring each consulate with my last few question but i'm read now to start applying for my visas in the next couple of weeks
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Old 29 Jan 2011
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Generally speaking, the visa is valid for 90 days from the date of issue at the embassy / consulate, certainly not the date the original application was approved by the MFA.

Once the embassy has received your visa authorisation, it will hold onto it for 1 to 2 months.

I have occasionally seen visas which are valid for only one month from the date of issue, though this is the exception rather than the rule.

Also beware that the embassy / consulate may take it upon themselves to issue you a visa for less than the 30 days you presumably applied for. They may give you as little as 10 days, though this too is unusual. However, so long as it is a tourist visa, you can extend it easily in Tehran for $20 (2010 price).

All the best, enjoy Iran, it's an awesome country.

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