In 2016 there was an incredible improvement in that Tajikistan started offering an online visa application portal. It’s even user friendly! Check this out: https://www.visa.gov.tj
As a starting point, your passport should have a minimum 6 months left on it before it expires when applying for your visa dates.
I’ve kept some of the older information lower down on this page around GBAO permits – just in case it’s still useful.
A major point to remember if you are planning to visit the GBAO / the Pamirs (aka the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast ) is to make life simple and apply for the GBAO Permit at the same time as your Visa. The GBAO is a large rectangular stamp that will take up another passport page. Update: Be aware that should there be military action in the GBAO, e.g Khorog, such as in August 2012, the Government can choose to stop providing GBAO permits to travellers applying for them and shut down access to the region.
Alternatively, you can pick up a GBAO in Dushanbe which is likely to take at least a couple of hours. There is a very useful post on Lonely Planet forum detailing how independent travellers have worked out the process, see here. In summary, over the last couple of years, travellers have gone to the Amonat Bank in Dushanbe, mentioned the magic words ‘Gorno Badakshan’ paid 15 somoni and got a receipt they have then taken to OVIR office on Mirzo Tursunzoda (near Asia Grand Hotel), presented the receipt, paid another 5 somini and returned after an hour to collect the GBAO. Lake Sarez is excluded from the GBAO.
You can now obtain a Tajik visa upon arrival at Dushanbe airport on incoming flights – however this is only for citizens of countries that DO NOT HAVE a Tajik Embassy in their home country. For example the Tajik Embassy in London has assured me that it is ‘virtually impossible’ for a UK citizen to get a Tajik visa on arrival. Please remember to check all visa requirements and regulations with your local embassy.
If you wish to sort out your own visa – rather than pay a premium to go through an agency, then cross reference these websites:
Pamirs website – Up to date visa info! Latest info as of March 4, 2011. Visa advice
Wiki Travel Guide – well worth a look for practical and advice and usually up to date.
Letters of Invitation
If the Visa requirement involves an LOI then check out these links:
Stantours – This agency probably gets the best reviews from travelers for Central Asia for efficiency.
Tajikistan Visa Company – Tajikistan LOI (12Euros)
Somon Travel (London based agency)
Hamsafar Travel, based in Dushanbe.
Tajikintourservice, based in Dushanbe.
If you are interested in volunteering for an NGO it would be worth asking them to see if they can issue you with an LOI.
Registering with the OVIR
It used to be that tourists would need to get themselves to an Ovir office to register themselves in Tajikistan within 3 days. This rule has been relaxed. Tourists no longer need to register with the OVIR unless they are going to be in the country over 30 days.