If you want to travel in the Pamir region, you need to get a GBAO permit. This will be checked on various military checkpoints along the Pamir Highway.
Permit duration is maximum 60 days. Don’t forget, you are likely to also need a visa for Tajikistan. To find out where you can cross into the Pamirs, see border crossings of Tajikistan.
For people traveling to Afghanistan: if you exit Tajikistan and re-enter, you will need another GBAO permit.
Where to get a GBAO permit
A GBAO permit can be obtained
online when applying for the e-visa (20$)
at most embassies (see below), also when you do not need a Tajik visa (2$-60$ depending on embassy)
in Dushanbe at the Migration Police (OVIR) (20 somoni)
in advance through a tour operator (40$) For the budget conscious, following the DIY procedure at the Dushanbe OVIR, rather than checking the box on the e-visa page, is a great money saver.
If you do not need a visa, you cannot apply for the GBAO permit online. You will need to go to an embassy or do it in Dushanbe, or through a tour operator.
Address: Mirzo Turzunzade Street 5 (map) – N38.57126, E068.7972 or 38.571829, 68.796566. Tel. 227 67 22 (no English). Opening hours: 8am-5pm. Amonat Bank (Gmaps) is just round the corner on Bukhoro St, (GPS: 38.5739224, 68.7928644). Updates in the GBAO permit in Dushanbe OVIR forum topic.
July 2018: No bribes needed, quick and easy, 20 somoni.
May 2017: 40 somonis, they refused to do it unless 10 somoni bribe was paid to the guy who filled out the form.
September 2016: 20 somoni and 1 day turnaround. Bit messy but doable with help from locals.
May 2015: A friend and I got our GBAO permits without any hassle in Dushanbe yesterday. We applied Friday afternoon (just after their lunchbreak ended at 1pm) and picked it up on the following monday (also 1 pm – could have been earlier but we were busy). As far as we can tell it is valid from the day of application until the expiry of our Visa.