Visas for the Mongol Rally

Applying for visas can be nearly as fun as the Rally itself; everyone likes stamps in their passport and receiving packages. Additionally it is a chance to get some of that money out of your bank account that has been weighing you down. During the application process you may even make some friends at embassies to meet on your trip.

You have the choice of either using a visa service such as The Visa Machine or Real Russia, or you can organise everything yourself. We went for a bit of a mixture. Organising your own visas takes time, but once you have figured it out, it is very quick to fill out a second application. Because there were four on our team we thought it would definitely be worth applying ourselves as we would save the administration fee times four! Getting visas directly yourself is significantly cheaper in most circumstances.

It is important to always double check any information you find online  against the official embassy website, visa applications procedures seem to change nearly every year, this account is accurate to the procedures as they were in 2014. Additionally our team is all British and this advice may not be relevant to other nationalities. There may be extra requirements, or fewer!

Before you start:

  1. Make sure you have a fair number of empty pages in your passport (at least 1-2 per visa).
  2. You are going to need a good amount of time, around 2 weeks per visa (some need to be done by April, e-visas can be done at the same time as others).
  3. Ensure you have at least one year left on your passport.
  4. You should scan all of the used/marked/personalised pages in your passport, these are necessary for some forms, and will be useful when you are filling out applications and your passport is away at an embassy.
  5. For some of the visas you need to have a fairly good idea of your planned entry dates, therefore you need to have a pretty good route plan before you begin applying for visas.
  6. If you are applying for a few visas you are going to need a bunch of passport photos. We  saved a fair bit of money by printing these ourselves. You will need a couple of these to apply for your international driving licences also, so it is worth printing a couple spare.
  7. A printer and scanner.
  8. Ensure you have a thoroughly sharpened pencil or your quill and ink set to hand.

These are not full guides, typically some of the areas of the application that were unclear to us are highlighted and omitted when obvious. So, only use this article in addition to carefully reading the application instructions given on the embassy website.



The visa application process for Turkey is VERY EASY. It couldn’t be more straight-forward. British citizens (and many other nationalities also) only require an E-Visa to enter turkey for up to 6 months.  The process is completed entirely online so you do not need to travel to an embassy or send your passport away. Additionally at the time of writing, the cost of the visa was only $20 making it one of the cheapest we bought.

We found the process so user friendly that we sent the Turkish embassy a congratulations message, and true to their impeccable service standards we received this reply within minutes.


It is well worth completing this one yourself. Visa services charge between 50-100% mark-up to cover administrative costs for this particular visa. This may not be too much for an individual visa but for the whole team you can make a big saving getting this one on your own.

The visa will allow you to stay in Turkey for a total of 90 days in any period of 180 days.

Get your Turkish visa here:


Visa Duration: Up to 90 days

Visa cost: $20

Level of difficulty: EASY



This year it was easiest to get this one through the Visa Machine since they have just been authorised to provide Azerbaijan e-visas. These last for 15 days, and are issued by the Azerbaijani government to a limited number of tourist agencies. They are cheaper and less time consuming than standard tourist visas. Once you apply through the visa machine they will send you a how to guide for filling out the form.

As with the Turkish e-visa you do not need to send away your passport to complete the application process, everything is done via e-mail. This means you can get this visa while other applications are processing; just make sure that you already have high quality scans of your passport.

This visa requires proof of hotel bookings during your intended stay. is a great website for booking hotels in central Asia and has the additional benefit of allowing you to cancel most bookings without paying any fee up until the day before your arrival. Check on the specific hotel to ensure that you can cancel, that they don’t charge you and that a deposit and credit card is not required.


Visa Duration: 15 days

Visa cost: £92.53

Level of difficulty: MEDIUM



We haven’t technically gotten this visa yet. We have only applied for a Letter of Invitation for a visa. We then take this to the Turkmenistan embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan where we will be given a letter of permission(not a visa) which allows us to board the ferry into Turkmenbashi. From what we understand, the embassy is only open between 9.30am until 12.30pm on Mondays and Fridays so we need to time our arrival accordingly.

Update: When we got to Baku this year we found that the Turkmenistan embassy now opens 5 days a week especially for the Mongol Rally. Hopefully this continues! (2014)

We’re then hoping to take the Caspian sea ferry to Turkmenbashi and when we get there, we should then be able to exchange our second invitation for a transit visa giving us 5 days to cross the country. If you don’t get out in time, you will incur impressive fines.

More information here:

Again we chose to use the visa machine for this one, the LOI needs to be acquired from a tour company in Turkmenistan and the VM sorts this out for you. The deadline for the VM application for the 2014 rally was April 1st.


Visa Duration: 5 days (from entering the country)

LOI cost: £39.11

Level of difficulty: MEDIUM



The form is completed on the website and then you print out a pdf copy and sign it. We were able to send off all of our applications in one envelope, putting each in a separate plastic sleeve.

There were a couple of things about this one that we weren’t sure on which we eventually got answers from the embassy after countless failed attempts at reaching them by phone (only open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 10am and 1pm).

  1. For inviting party, if you are from the UK you can put none
  2. For place of visa issuance put London (if that is where you are applying)
  3. For address in Uzbekistan just put down the address of a hotel on route
  4. For purpose of visit we put down: Auto tourism. Travelling by car for Charity Rally
  5. For passport issuer put IPS
  6. Create a totally new application for each member of the team
  7. Compile the separate applications into separate packages and post altogether

When you arrive in Uzbekistan you need to register. Bear in mind that during your time in Uzbekistan you need to stay at a hotel at least once to be registered. The registration also needs to be done within 3 days of your arrival (Saturdays and Sundays count as part of the three days).

We followed the Uzbek embassy on twitter to ensure fast processing of our applications.

visa mongol rally uzbekistan

Visa Duration: 30 days

Visa cost: £67

Level of difficulty: MEDIUM



For Kazakhstan, we got a 30 day tourist visa and all was fairly straight forward.

It was also the first visa which required proof of travel insurance. We used Campbell Irvine who are aware of the rally and cover its participants.

The main point of confusion on the visa application was the questions about transit. This is specific to transit visas so we put the great abbreviation N.A in these fields.

We’ve recently found out that the Kazakhstan government have issued a statement saying that British citizens will not require a visa for a stay of up to 15 days between 15th July 2014 and 15th July 2015. Check the website if this will stand in the future.

This application required hotel bookings. We booked 3 hotels in Kazakhstan adding up to 30 days of stay on We then cancelled the bookings when we successfully received our visas back. We’re starting to feel sorry for the hotels that think they’re receiving our business and probably many other ralliers.


Visa Duration: 30 days

Visa cost: £35

Level of difficulty: MEDIUM



For the Russian visa you need to acquire a Letter Of Invitation first before you can apply. We did this through Real Russia as it seemed to be the cheapest and most well renowned. This was very straight forward and the website tells you everything you need to know. We opted for a 30 day double entry visa as we hope to drive back. The 30 days starts from the first date of entry on your visa.

The visa application form is an online one that is then printed and is the lengthiest one we’ve filled out for the trip. It includes such questions as:

  1. Have you ever been afflicted with a communicable disease of public health significance or a dangerous physical or mental disorder?
  2. Do you have any specialized skills, training or experience related to firearms, explosives, nuclear, biological or chemical substances?
  3. Are/were you a member of a professional, civic or charitable organizations or do you cooperate/cooperated with any of these organizations?

We applied for a general tourism visa. There is also an option for auto-tourism which you need to provide a V5 for. We are still unsure whether using a general tourism will be fine, although it appears that the Visa Machine advises people applying through them to select tourism, so it is probably fine. You need to list hotels but don’t have to provide booking confirmations for them. You also need to include details of your travel insurance but don’t need to post it with your application.

It is also important that you register when you enter Russia. Extensive information here:


Visa Duration: 30 days

Visa cost: £107.20

Level of difficulty: TRICKY (although easy enough if the lights are on and somebody is home)



In 2014, the Ministry of Foreign affairs announced that all British passport holders do not require a visa when travelling for tourism or business for up to 30 days. This policy was new to this year and isn’t guaranteed to continue so check the following link to see if this is still the case:


In Conclusion

Organizing visas yourself is really not so hard, using a visa agency doesn’t really reduce the amount of paperwork all that much, trust me do it yourself for the easier ones and save the money! If this helped you out or if you have any new information that could be helpful for future adventurers post below!

That excellent feeling of having your passports back in your hands, priceless:

mongol rally visas turkmenistan uzbekistan russia