Visas are required for travel to Tajikistan; in addition a special permit
is required for travel to the Pamirs (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast - GBAO)
and other border areas. Additional permits are required for travel to Lake Sarez
(and probably to Zorkul in the Great Pamir, although this is subject to confirmation
locally). With patience and determination you
can do most if not all of it yourself - or you may prefer to use a Tajik tour operator: see
Tour Operators page.
I apologise for the length of the following text, but the situation is not simple -
Please read carefully!
Entry to Tajikistan - and especially to border areas such as the Pamirs -
may be subject to temporary restrictions for security and other reasons, even for holders of valid
visas - check the various Embassy travel advisories, such as
For visa formalities, you may also want to check the following very useful website
Caravanistan as well as the website of your Foreign Ministry or Embassy in Dushanbe (for example
here) and of the Tajik Foreign Ministry (here).
UPDATE - 3 June 2014
Many thanks to Huw Thomas for obtaining from the Tajik Consulate in the UK confirmation that
applications for tourist visas NO LONGER need to be accompanied by an invitation letter issued
by a Tajik travel agency. This is one less hassle for visitors to the Pamirs. Feed-back on your experience with different
consulates will be very helpful please. Huw also asked
about the GBAO permit but got no reply - perhaps they were embarrassed: N.B. In view of the reports about non-availability of GBAO
permits at Tajik consulates (see above) this is a very small consolation.
UPDATE - 15 October 2013
I am indebted to Pawel Palucha for the following practical information on obtaining a GBAO permit in Dushanbe:
"a) Generally you need to go to OVIR (Department of Visa and Registration), which is situated
in Dushanbe at 5 Turzunzade Street.
b) But first you need to go to the nearby AMONATBONK bank branch, which is situated at Bukhoro Street 30
- N38.57126, E068.7972. You need to fill in the short form (sometime bank workers can help you with this,
you need only to write your name) and pay 25 Somoni (about 5$). You will get your form stamped.
c) With filled form you go to the OVIR and give it together with your passport to the guy in the first
window on the left. He will give it back with some additional papers, you give it to another guy in
the third window on the left ;-)
d) If you do it before noon, you should be told that the permit will be ready at 4 pm the same day.
No more payments are necessary; also currently you don't need to state the regions you want to visit."
UPDATE - 25 April 2011
I give below (with my comments) a statement (as official as I could get)
of the present situation.
The Tajik government decree No. 122 of 22 February 2009 provides that citizens
of the following countries may apply for a tourist visa or any other visa to
enter Tajikistan at Dushanbe International Airport (and Khujand) upon arrival.
N.B. According to information from the Official Tajik Tourism Committee in
December 2011, a double-entry visa (essential for travel from Tajikistan to
Afghanistan and back) can be obtained at Dushanbe airport for travellers of
Europe: Austria, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Hungary, Greece, Ireland, Iceland,
Italy, Cyprus, Estonia, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Latvia,
Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Croatia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Great Britain,
Germany, Finland, France, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Andorra, Vatican, Liechtenstein, Monaco
Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, South Africa, Senegal
Americas: Argentina, Canada, Mexico, USA, Brasilia, Bolivia, Cuba, Chile
Asia: Vietnam, Brunei, Israel, China, Iran, Qatar, Japan, Bahrain, Jordan,
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, South Korea,
Indonesia, Singapore, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Philippines, Pakistan (only diplomatic and service visa),
India, (only diplomatic and service visa), Yemen, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
(only diplomatic, service, investment, free zone, transport, sportsman, artist visa), Mongolia
Oceania: Australia, New Zealand
Others: Stateless persons who are former citizens of the Republic of Tajikistan.
NO "invitation letter / visa support letter" is required for visa issue at the
frontier for citizens of the above mentioned countries. A visa obtained at the airport
costs 25 USD for individuals (a 50% discount is available for tourist groups) - the
same price should be applicable for single- or double-entry visas. N.B. If you plan
to travel to Afghanistan (or another neighbouring country) and return to Tajikistan
you will need a double or multiple entry visa.
N.B. The GBAO permit cannot be obtained at the frontier and must be applied for at the
Dushanbe Office of Visas and Registration (OVIR) at Mirzo Turzunzade Street 5,
Tel./Fax 227 67 22 (only Russian and Tajik spoken), 8am-5pm, this formality costs
15 Somoni and should be completed in one day.
If you are planning to travel to the Pamirs, it is advisable to get your GBAO permit
with your visa in advance - this will save hassle in Dushanbe.
There is officially a uniform pricing system for the issue of visas at Tajik consulates
(US$25 for individuals, 50% discount for groups), all Tajik consulates are authorised to
issue the GBAO permit and officially no "invitation letter / visa support letter" is
required for nationals of the above-mentioned countries.
However, current policy is not consistent and hardly helps simplify the procedures,
because if you read some Embassy websites carefully you will see that to
benefit from the $25 (sometimes €25) visa fee you may actually have to obtain a visa
support letter, which entails contacting a travel agency in Tajikistan and paying whatever
fee they apply for this service - but see 3 June 2014 UPDATE at the top of this page.
Without a visa support letter, a one-month visa costs $65 (sometimes €65).
In other words, the waiving of the requirement for a visa support letter is,
at best, misleading. It is worth checking the prices and policy of each consulate
on its website or by telephone - but forget the much-trumpeted reduced price: in order to avoid unnecessary
hassle you will end up paying less in total by applying directly to the consulate and paying the higher fee.
If tourists are being requested to pay a visa fee at this level, it should at least include the GBAO permit -
better still, the permit should be abolished - this would really show that the Tajik government was
serious about promoting tourism!
Taxes and permits
The GBAO permit can cover all areas of GBAO, but this must be specifically requested
in the application - to cover all possibilities, put the following on the form: Khorog,
Murghab, Darwaz, Ishkashim, Vanj, Rushan. Once you are in possession of the complete GBAO
permit, you can travel freely (except for Sarez and perhaps Zorkul - see below); any
attempt by over-zealous or greedy officials should be resisted - self-confident bluff is a good weapon.
Apart from the GBAO permit, special permission is required for travel only for Sarez
All other areas should be covered by the GBAO permit, although it is prudent to check
with the Tajik border guards or local travel agent in Khorog before travelling to Zorkul.
There is also a fee of 10 Somoni payable on entering National Parks and other protected areas.
However, beware of scams: some unscrupulous individuals pose as Park rangers at places where
there is definitely no National Park and try to collect much higher fees (the National Parks
and other protected areas are clearly marked on Markus Hauser's maps). Some border guards and
local police may try the same trick. Ask for documentary proof that an individual is authorised
to collect fees and threaten to go to the police - again, bluff is a good weapon. N.B. Loic Paulet
reports that in 2016 there were no official checks on tourists entering the "Pamir National Park", the
boundaries of which - despite UNESCO recognition - exist on paper but not on the ground.
Finally, beware of scams on exit from Dushanbe: some corrupt officials at the airport try to
extort money from tourists claiming that they have not registered with OVIR (this is not the
same thing as the GBAO permit). If they have been in the country for thirty days or less,
travellers with a tourist visa (see below) are NOT required to register with OVIR. Claiming a fine from tourists on these
grounds is therefore illegal and should be vigorously refused, threatening if necessary
to report the official concerned to the head of airport immigration or to the Tourism Minister Mr. Lochin Faizulloev.
N.B. It is very important that you check your visa immediately on getting your
passsport back from the consulate to be sure that it is indeed a tourist visa: a tourist
visa is indicated by the category "T" (or cauëxu, tourism in Tajik). Travellers
with a private or business visa MUST still register with OVIR.
Addresses of some Tajik consulates:
Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan in the Swiss Confederation
Chemin William Barbey 37
Tel. +4122 734 1140
Fax +4122 734 1158
One-month tourist visa Euro 25 plus Euro 20 for GBAO permit - delivered in three working
days - for further details see -
Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan in Brussels
Consul, Anzor Tanibekov
Boulevard General Jacques 16
Tel : +32 (2) 640 6933
Fax : +32 (2) 649 0195
Email : taj-emb(at)dpnet.be
Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan in Berlin
Contact Sohibnazar Gayratshoev
Perleberger Str. 43,
Tel : +49 (0)30 347 9300
Fax : +49 (0)30 347 93029
Email : info(at)botschaft-tadschikistan.de
A list of Tajik Embassies and their website links and addresses can be found
here. A downloadable visa application form can be found
Loic Paulet from France reports that in July 2011 he obtained a 45-day Tajik visa with GBAO permit at
the Tajik consulate in Bishkek for $75 plus 50 Kyrgyz som - the whole operation took only
15 minutes, which must be a record.
I welcome first-hand accounts by
travellers of how this works in practice but as noted above, on the basis of the current
information (April 2011), my best advice is to send your visa application to the Geneva or Brussels
consulate in good time before your departure, asking for the GBAO permit at the same time.
Travel via Osh
Kulma Pass to or from China
Despite official confirmation that it is possible for foreign tourists to
cross the Kulma pass into or from China, it seems (19 July 2013 - see
that this is not the case.
(If anyone has done so successfully, please send me an e-mail via the link on the
N.B. Another scam by Tajik border guards - when going through the Kara Kul checkpoint
on your way out of the Pamirs to Osh be careful to get back your immigration/landing card from the border guards.
Otherwise, it has been reported, their colleagues at the exit checkpoint at Kyzylart will impose
a heavy fine because you don't have it. I have written to Lochin Faizulloev, Deputy Minister
of tourism on this issue asking that the persons concerned be punished as it will destroy tourism.
Access to Lake Sarez is now permitted (since 1 July 2015 - see
here). The Sarez permit can be
obtained at the Committee for Emergency Situations
at Lohuti Street in Dushanbe, opposite the Tajik Sodirot Bank. There is no fee - N.B.
if you use the services of any tourist company, they will charge a fee.
As with many things in Tajikistan (and especially the Pamirs) the reality on the ground is very different
from what is officially announced (and with a little skill and bluff much can be negotiated
on the spot, but don't count on it).
In theory the permit is supposed to cover the area from Barchidev to Irkht
and there are employees of the Committee for Emergency Situations who are supposed
to check all foreign travellers. However, they are not always around. N.B. No permit is required for local people.
It may be easier to travel to Sarez via Bachor or Yashil Kul - in 2016 the employee at Irkht
was reported to be happy to see tourists, with or without a permit. N.B. On the way down towards Barchidev,
it is possible to avoid the village by turning off right just before the bridge over the Murghab river
and following the path to Savnob and the Bartang valley.
[Many thanks to Loic Paulet for this first-hand account]
Karamyk Pass (Daroot Kurgan) crossing from the Alai valley in Kyrgyzstan to the Rasht valley (Garm) in Tajikistan
To the best of my knowledge, this crossing is not open for tourists. The Kyrgyz
border guards have recently strengthened their presence on the Kyrgyz side to prevent
drug trafficking, smuggling and terrorism. Don't even try to cross here. See reports
If anyone has relevant personal experience, please send me an e-mail via the link on the
All text and
photographs (c) Robert Middleton 2002
Web master Romanyuk