TurkeyOfficial Name: Republic of Turkey
Recommended eight months beyond date of entry into Turkey
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
110 Atatürk Blvd.
Kavaklidere, 06100 Ankara
Telephone: +(90) (312) 455-5555
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(90) (312) 455-5555
Fax: +(90) (312) 468-6131
U.S. Consulate General Istanbul
Istinye Mahallesi, Üç Şehitler Sokak No.2
Istinye 34460 - Istanbul
Telephone: +(90)(212) 335-9000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(90)(212) 335-9000 (ask for American Citizen Services)
Fax: +(90) (212) 335-9102
U.S. Consulate Adana
Girne Bulvari No. 212,
Güzelevler Mahallesi, Yüregir
Telephone: +(90)(322) 455-4100
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(90)(322) 455-4100
Fax: +(90)(322) 455-4141
Telephone: +(90)(232) 464-8755
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.
Fax: (232) 464-8916
For appointments please call (232) 464-8755 between 09:30-11:30 a.m. Mondays and Tuesdays. The Agency is closed to the public on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as well as on American and Turkish public holidays.
Many of Turkey's regions are well-developed with a wide range of tourist facilities of all classes in the main tourist destinations. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Turkey for additional information on U.S–Turkey relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
You need a passport and visa to travel to Turkey. As of January 1, 2015 foreigners wishing to enter Turkey must carry a passport or travel document with an expiration date at least 60 days beyond the expiration date of their visa, visa exemption, or residence permit. Therefore, as Turkish tourist visas are generally valid for 6 months, U.S. citizens should have a passport that is valid for eight months beyond entry date. Passports should have enough blank space to allow for Turkish entry and exit stamps. If there is not enough space for entry and exit stamps in your passport, you will be denied entry into Turkey. There is one exception to the visa requirement: U.S. citizens who are traveling to Turkey by cruise ship are allowed to enter Turkey without a visa for a maximum period of 72 hours, with permission given by the local security authorities at the port of entry. For additional information, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
On April 11, 2014, the Turkish authorities announced that they would phase out the practice of providing visas upon arrival at points of entry in Turkey by the end of 2014. Once this program is phased out, all foreigners will have to obtain their Turkish visa from Turkish missions abroad or from the e-Visa application system, depending on eligibility. If you are traveling for tourism or commerce for up to 90 days within a 180 day period, you can apply for an e-Visa online at www.evisa.gov.tr or at any Turkish Embassy or Consulate. The multiple entry e-Visa, which is valid for 180 days, costs US$20 while visas obtained at a Turkish Embassy or Consulate cost more and have different validity periods: $60 for single entry visas valid for one year and $200 for multiple entry visas valid for five years. For a transitional period during the 2014 tourism season foreigners arriving in Turkey without visas will be able to obtain e-Visas via interactive kiosks at Turkish airports. The fee for an e-visa upon arrival for U.S. citizens is US$30.00. Information regarding Turkish e-Visas and the application process can be found at e-Visa website .
PLEASE NOTE: The e-Visa system is only usable for travelers entering Turkey for tourism or commerce, and entering for up to 90 days within a 180 day period. If you are planning to work, study, or conduct academic or scientific research in Turkey, you should apply for a visa from a Turkish Embassy or Consulate before arriving in Turkey. Doing these activities while on a tourist visa in Turkey could lead to deportation. Additional information can be found at the Turkish Consular Information website and at the Frequently Asked Questions page of the website.
Official and diplomatic passport holders traveling on official business must obtain a visa from a Turkish Embassy or Consulate before arriving in Turkey. If traveling as a tourist, you may obtain a visa at e-Visa website.
Student Visas: Visit the website of the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey to learn more about the process and requirements to apply for visas for study or research in Turkey. A letter of acceptance from an accredited Turkish educational institution is required.
Volunteer Work with Religious Groups: If you intend to serve as a religious missionary, or as a volunteer, with a church or other religious group organized in Turkey as an “association” (dernek), please contact the nearest Turkish Embassy or Consulate to learn about the specific requirements to apply for the appropriate visa and related permits. Individuals who have not obtained the appropriate visa prior to travel to Turkey have been denied residence permits and have been forced to leave Turkey. The U.S. Embassy has received reports that Christians from non-traditional denominations sometimes have encountered difficulties acquiring appropriate visas and permits, especially if they attempt to change status in Turkey from “tourist” to “religious worker.” Although there is no specific law against religious proselytizing, some activities can lead to your arrest under laws that regulate expression, educational institutions, and religious meetings. The State Department’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom contains additional information on religious freedom in Turkey.
Syria: On March 3, 2015, the U.S. Department of State updated the Travel Warning for Syria. This travel warning remains in effect. The U.S. Embassy in Damascus closed in February 2012. If you are in Syria holding an expired U.S. passport and need to enter Turkey, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Ankara for assistance.
Residence Permits: U.S. citizens planning to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days within a 180-day period must get a Turkish residence permit. U.S. citizens who enter Turkey with a tourist visa and who wish to stay in Turkey for tourism purposes for longer than 90 days are now able to get a residence permit for tourism for a maximum period of six months. This will allow U.S. citizens to stay in Turkey for tourism for up to a total of nine months.
In order to obtain a tourist residence permit, or any other class of residence permit, please contact the nearest Foreigners Police office in Turkey. The U.S. Embassy strongly urges U.S citizens not to overstay their visas and to maintain valid residence permits at all times. Turkish authorities do enforce the laws, by imposing fines, deporting violators, and banning future travel to Turkey for people who overstay their visas or do not maintain valid residence permits.
Foreigners who have overstayed their visas, residence permits, or visa-exempt periods and are subject to a fine can use the residence permit procedure to extend their stay, but only if they pay their outstanding fines and approach the foreigner’s police voluntarily.
Requirements for Work Visas and Work Permits: U.S. citizens who would like to work in Turkey should first contact their prospective employer before arriving in Turkey. It is the responsibility of the employer to obtain approval from the Turkish Ministry of Labor and Social Security to hire foreign employees and also to obtain the specific employee’s work permit. Employers must obtain work permit application forms at the Turkish Ministry of Labor and Social Security. Completed applications should be returned to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security at Inonu Boulevard No. 42, Eskisehir Yolu Uzeri, Emek, Ankara, tel. 0-312-296-6000.
Upon approval from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the prospective employer should notify the U.S. citizen candidate and send the work permit and all appropriate documents to the individual. The U.S. citizen should then apply for a Turkish work visa at a Turkish Embassy or Consulate outside of Turkey. Work visa requirements, instructions, and application forms are available at the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey website.
For further information, travelers in the United States should contact the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey at 2525 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone: (202) 612-6700, or the Turkish Consulates General in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, or New York. Overseas, U.S. travelers may contact a Turkish Embassy or Consulate abroad.
You should get Turkish entry stamps on the passport page containing your visa at the first Turkish port of entry before transferring to domestic flights. Failure to obtain these stamps may cause serious difficulties when you leave Turkey. On multiple occasions, Turkish authorities have detained travelers overnight in such situations. You should also get an exit stamp in your passport when leaving Turkey. Otherwise, you may face difficulties re-entering Turkey and be subject to a fine on your next visit.
Check with the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey for the most current visa information.
Crossing the border with Iraq can be time-consuming as the Turkish Government tightly controls entry and exit.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any specific HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or for foreign residents of Turkey; however, Turkey will generally deport foreigners once HIV-positive status is discovered.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international parental child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about U.S. customs regulations, please read our customs information page.
Safety and Security
Information about specific safety and security issues can be found under “Messages for U.S. Citizens” at each of our respective Mission websites:
There have been violent attacks in Turkey, and the possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests, from both transnational and indigenous groups, remains high.
The Kurdistan People's Congress (also known as Kongra Gel or KGK, better known as the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK) has been the most active terrorist organization in Turkey. However, PKK activity has almost exclusively targeted the Turkish Government, and a cease-fire called in March 2013 has largely held. Regardless, the possibility of collateral damage to U.S. or Western personnel cannot be ignored. (The U.S. government has designated the PKK as a foreign terrorist organization.) Terrorism and violence emanating from other sources continue to be causes for concern.
On January 6, 2015, a female suicide bomber entered a police station in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul near the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia Museum. After claiming she had lost her wallet, she detonated explosives, killing herself and one policeman and leaving another officer injured. Although an indigenous terrorist organization known as the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) claimed responsibility for this attack, it later withdrew its claim.
On January 1, 2015, a member of the DHKP/C threw a grenade which failed to explode at the police honor guard outside of Dolmabahce Palace, the site of the Prime Minister’s Istanbul office. The attacker then drew a pistol, but it misfired. The honor guards subdued and arrested the attacker.
On February 1, 2013 the DHKP/C attacked the U.S. Embassy in Ankara using a suicide bomber; a member of the Embassy’s local guard force was killed (in addition to the suicide bomber) and several others were injured. The DHKP/C also carried out attacks against Turkish Government targets in March and September of 2013 using shoulder-fired rockets, improvised explosive devices (IED), and small arms. Designated as a terrorist organization by the United States in 1997, the DHKP/C has existed since the 1970s with a network of Turkish expatriates throughout Europe. The DHKP/C has stated its intention to commit further attacks against Turkey, NATO and the United States, to include private sector organizations with a U.S. affiliation, though Turkish law enforcement actions have weakened the organization.
A Syria-based group, Mukaveme Suriyyi (Syrian Resistance), under the leadership of Mihrac Ural (formerly head of the Turkish People’s Liberation Party/Front – THKP/C), is believed by Turkish authorities to be behind the two largest terrorist attacks of 2013 in Turkey.
While al-Qa’ida maintains a presence in Turkey, it has not staged attacks there for more than a decade. Groups and individuals imitating al-Qa’ida might attempt to do so, however, placing U.S. and Turkish interests at risk. In an incident in central Turkey in March 2014, three men of Balkan origin believed to who have fought in Syria with the forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were arrested after a confrontation in which a policeman, a gendarme and a civilian were killed. The threat of violence associated with foreign fighters transiting through Turkey to and from Syria and Iraq appears to be increasing.
Terrorist organizations may attempt to conduct new attacks on anniversaries or other dates they deem as historically significant or symbolic. The DHKP/C considers the period beginning with the group’s founding on March 30 and ending three weeks later is recognized as a period with several significant anniversary dates. The DHKP/C considers December 19th as a significant day to protest past treatment of DHKP/C personnel in jail as well as attaching significance to April 17 and July 12. Likewise, the November 27 anniversary of the founding of the PKK, the August 15 anniversary of the first PKK attack against the Turkish Government, the February 15 anniversary of the arrest of PKK’s founder and the mid-March celebration of the Kurdish holiday of Nevruz stand out as dates with an elevated potential for terrorist action. Nevruz celebrations, generally held in cities and towns throughout southeastern Turkey and in other major cities in mid-March, have been combined with political rallies in the past, and have turned violent and involved clashes with police.
U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. You should follow local news sources during your stay to remain abreast of any potential areas, dates, or times of concern, and enroll in the STEP program.
Wherever you are in Turkey, do not accept letters, parcels, or other items from strangers for delivery either inside or outside of Turkey. The PKK has attempted to use foreigners to deliver messages and packages. Individuals acting or seen to be acting as "couriers" could be arrested for aiding and abetting the terrorist organization.
In addition to terrorist activities, there have been instances of religious violence targeting individuals in Turkey working as religious missionaries or viewed as having proselytized for a non-Islamic religion. Threats and actual instances of crime have targeted Christian and Jewish individuals, groups, and places of worship in Turkey, including several high-profile murders of Christians over the last decade.
Turkish officials expressly said they excluded Jewish people, in Turkey and elsewhere, from their criticism of the Government of Israel in the wake of the intervention by Israeli Defense Forces on the Free Gaza Flotilla in May 2010. Despite this, the level of anti-Israeli/anti-Semitic sentiment remains significant following Israel's 2008 and 2014 Gaza offensive. Unidentified protestors in Diyarbakir in July 2014 ransacked the venue of a municipal Ramadan community meal (Iftar) sponsored in part by the U.S. Consulate in Adana. No U.S. officials were yet present, but seven municipal employees (Turkish citizens) were injured as they were setting up for the event. Protestors burned American flags, and chanted anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans.
In May 2013, public anti-government demonstrations that began in the Taksim and Besiktas areas of Istanbul soon grew into widespread demonstrations throughout all of Turkey. The demonstrations started at varying times and often with little notice, and lasted throughout June and much of July, with flare-ups again later in the year. Violent altercations between the protestors and Turkish law enforcement occurred in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, Adana, Mersin and dozens of other cities nationwide. These altercations resulted in thousands of injuries and six confirmed deaths of protesters. Hundreds were detained for their participation in protests, with prosecutors asking for decades-long prison sentences. Some individuals who were not part of the demonstrations but were caught in the vicinity of violence were injured and detained.
Exercise caution and good judgment, keep a low profile, and remain vigilant with regard to your personal security. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. As security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists may seek softer targets. These may include facilities where U.S. citizens and Westerners are known to live, congregate, shop, or visit. Be especially alert in such places.
International and domestic political issues sometimes trigger demonstrations in major cities in Turkey. Demonstrations can occur with little or no advance notice. However, even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable; they should be avoided. Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to what local news media say. Obey the instructions of Turkish security personnel at all times.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Turkey on Twitter and visiting the Embassy’s website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
Past terrorist activity and other threats to safety and security in major cities and regions in Turkey include:
Ankara: In March and September 2013, the DHKP/C used rocket propelled grenades during attacks against Turkish government buildings in Ankara. In February 2013, a DHKP/C suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest in a side entrance to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, killing himself and an Embassy guard. Several other people were also injured in the attack. On March 19, 2013, three members of the DHKP/C coordinated hand grenade attacks on the Ministry of Justice and used a light anti-tank weapon (LAW) on the headquarters of the ruling party. There were no casualties. On September 20, 2013, two members of the DHKP/C attacked the Turkish National Police (TNP) headquarters and a police guesthouse with LAWs. There were no casualties at the scene, but one of the attackers was killed while attempting to flee. The other attacker was wounded and arrested.
Istanbul: On February 28, 2013, the Turkish National Police (TNP) arrested several alleged al-Qaida members. In September 2012, a PKK suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device in the Sultangazi Police Department, killing one and injuring seven. In March 2012, a PKK suicide bomber detonated explosives alongside a riot police bus in the Sutluce District injuring 16 people, ten of whom were police. In May 2011, a bomb believed to have been placed by the PKK to target a nearby police facility exploded in a residential area, injuring eight. Small-scale bombings, violent demonstrations and vehicle arson occur on a regular basis. Most incidents have happened in neighborhoods not generally frequented by tourists.
Kastamonu: In May 2011, terrorists launched an attack on a convoy of election campaign vehicles belonging to the Prime Ministry, resulting in the death of one police officer.
Mediterranean/Aegean Regions: This region of Turkey has seen both traditional terrorist bombings against the Turkish Government designed to injure, and others designed to intimidate tourists. In August 2012, the PKK attacked a Turkish military bus near Foca using a roadside bomb resulting in ten casualties, including one death.
Eastern and Southeastern Provinces (including Adana): Due to heightened security concerns, the Government of Turkey has closed its border with Syria for all foreigners, including U.S. citizens, to enter/exit Syria. At this time, only Syrian nationals may exit legally to Syria. While commercial and aid deliveries continue to flow into Syria, currently no one is allowed to cross from Syria into Turkey unless seeking emergency medical treatment, or those seeking refuge from imminent danger. Exceptions may be granted by the Turkish government but require advance administrative processing and are not easily granted.
U.S. government employees are subject to travel restrictions. They must obtain advance approval prior to official or unofficial travel to the provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Sirnak, Diyarbakir, Van, Siirt, Mus, Mardin, Batman, Bingol, Tunceli, Hakkari, Bitlis, and Elazig. U.S. military and Department of Defense civilians have additional restrictions and should consult their local area commander to obtain the latest travel guidance. Official travel to these locations may be temporarily curtailed due to security conditions. Mount Ararat, in Ağri province, is a special military zone and access permission must be obtained from the Turkish Government through a Turkish embassy or consulate before coming to Turkey. U.S. citizens traveling in southeastern Turkey, as well as to Mt. Ararat, should exercise extreme caution. On February 11, 2013, a car bomb exploded at Hatay’s province’s Cilvegozu international border crossing between Turkey and Syria, killing 13 people, including three Turkish citizens. At least 28 others were injured in the blast, which occurred after a Syrian-registered minivan was detonated close to a customs building on the Turkish side of the border. Mihrac Ural, an Alawite Turk from Hatay Province who has been an important pro-Damascus militia figure in the conflict in Syria, was widely blamed for the bombing. On May 11, 2013, Turkey suffered the deadliest terrorist attack in its modern history when 52 people were killed in twin car bombings in Reyhanli, a town in Hatay Province close to the Syrian border. Turkish authorities strongly believe that Mihrac Ural was also responsible for these bombings.
In addition to the threat from the PKK, other violent extremists have transited Turkey en route to Syria. Since mid-2013, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also referred to as The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), formerly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), made substantial military gains in northern Syria along the Turkish border. Additionally, starting in May of 2014, ISIL began military campaigns in Iraq and by mid-June 2014, had control of much of the northern portion of the country, including the cities of Mosul and Tikrit. In June 2014, ISIL captured the Turkish Consulate in Mosul and took the Consul General and his staff hostage. In the end of June 2014, ISIL announced the establishment of a new caliphate and named their leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi as their Caliph. Turkey’s southern border with Syria remains porous, potentially allowing members of ISIL and other Islamic extremist terrorist groups to travel with ease between Iraq, Syria and Turkey, possibly bringing with them weapons and explosives. The deteriorating security situation along the southern border has intensified opportunities for criminal smuggling groups to illegally move goods ranging from cigarettes to crude oil and gasoline to small arms. While there have been no reported kidnappings involving of Americans in Turkey, our Worldwide Caution continues to warn travelers that various terrorist organizations continue to finance their operations through kidnapping for ransom operations. ISIL, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are particularly effective with kidnapping for ransom and are using ransom money to fund the range of their activities. Kidnapping targets are usually Western citizens from governments or third parties that have established a pattern of paying ransoms for the release of individuals in custody. We recommend that U.S. citizens take precaution in any meetings with individuals claiming to represent or be affiliated with anyone involved in the Syrian conflict.
The Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens avoid areas in close proximity to the Syrian border. Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria, Turkish towns located along the border with Syria have been struck by bullets and artillery rounds that originate in Syria, some resulting in deaths or injuries. On October 3, 2012, a mortar round from Syria landed in the Turkish border town of Akcakale, killing five Turkish citizens. On July 17, 2013 stray gunfire from Ras al-Ayn in Syria caused one death and several injuries to Turks across the border in Ceylanpinar. Two rocket shells from Ras al-Ayn dropped onto the Sanliurfa/Ceylanpinar border post security wall and garden. Fighting between different armed groups near Ras al-Ayn and Ceylanpinar is not uncommon. Turkish government forces have also engaged smugglers and other criminal elements at numerous areas along the border, resulting in casualties. Travelers are also specifically advised not to photograph Turkish military operations or installations near the Syrian border or anywhere else in Turkey.
Turkey also has an increasing number of Syrian refugees located in refugee camps and unofficial shanty-towns throughout the country, with the largest population located in southern border provinces. In some cases, Syrian refugees and Turkish citizens have clashed in cities with large refugee communities, either in organized demonstrations or as a result of a perceived provocation.
On March 3, 2015, the U.S. Department of State updated the Travel Warning for Syria. This travel warning remains in effect. The U.S. Embassy in Damascus closed in February 2012.
The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that the situation in southeast Turkey, while usually calm, can change without warning.
In May 2012, in Kayseri province, two PKK terrorists detonated a car bomb in front of the police station in Pinarbasi resulting in the death of one police officer and injuring 17 other civilians among them. In October 2011, during a pro-PKK rally in Adana, an improvised explosive device was detonated and six police officers and three civilians were seriously wounded. In June 2010, an assailant shot at a U.S. citizen in Adana. Reports indicate that extremists initiated the attack based solely on his U.S. citizenship and the fact that he resided in Turkey. In January 2010, the U.S. Consulate in Adana was fired upon during nighttime hours, although there are indications the Turkish police standing guard outside may have been the actual targets. There have been anti-U.S. demonstrations and efforts by some groups to encourage the departure of U.S. Air Force personnel from Incirlik Air Base, just outside Adana.
Turkish police regularly mount major operations against the PKK and other terrorist cells throughout the southeastern provinces. Operations have been launched to prevent what were believed to be imminent terrorist attacks, as well as to cripple terrorist cells' fundraising and recruiting capabilities. Some disrupted cells have had strong links to al-Qaida. The PKK conducts operations primarily focused on security personnel throughout southeastern Turkey; though attacks occasionally injure or kill civilians. Travel is difficult and should be considered dangerous in some portions of this region.
Roadside explosions caused by remote-controlled land mines or other improvised explosive devices have occurred several times in the past year in the Batman, Sirnak, Hakkâri, Siirt, Mardin, Diyarbakir, and Tunceli provinces, as have small-scale attacks with Molotov cocktails and other home-made weapons. These attacks usually target Turkish military or police personnel, but occasionally harm innocent bystanders. Attacks are more frequent before major political events and anniversaries associated with the PKK terrorist movement. Small "sound bombs,” producing only loud noise, are frequent events throughout the region. There have also been a number of PKK raids on Jandarma (rural police) posts and ambushes of Turkish security force vehicle patrols in many of Turkey's rural southeastern areas. Access to the southeastern provinces of Sirnak, Hakkâri, and Siirt along the Iraqi border, are controlled by the security forces.
Use commercial air travel whenever possible while traveling to southeastern Turkey. If road travel is necessary, drive only during daylight hours and on major highways. The Turkish Jandarma and police forces monitor checkpoints on roads throughout the southeastern region. You should cooperate if stopped at any checkpoint. Be prepared to provide identification and vehicle registration if stopped. At these checkpoints, roll down the driver's side window (the passenger side also, in vehicles with tinted windows) when stopped by security force officials. Security forces can then safely inspect the vehicle and its occupants. Remain calm, do not make any sudden movements, and obey all instructions immediately. Security officials may restrict access to some roads at times, and security force escort vehicles may be required to "convoy" visitors through troublesome areas. In some cases, this must be arranged in advance. We strongly discourage the use of public transportation at any time in the southeastern region.
CRIME: The rate of street crime remains relatively low in Turkey. In Istanbul, petty street crime is most common in tourist areas such as Taksim Square, Sultanahmet, and in the areas around the Grand Bazaar and Spice (Egyptian) Bazaar. Carry only what you need when in these areas. You should carry a copy of your passport and visa with you and leave your U.S. passport in your hotel safe.
As in other large metropolitan areas throughout the world, common street crimes include pick pocketing, purse snatching, and mugging. Often the crime is preceded by some sort of diversion such as an argument, a fight, or someone bumping into you. Residential crime is an issue in major cities, with criminals targeting ground floor apartments for theft. Do not be complacent regarding your personal safety. You should use the same precautions you would in the United States.
The Embassy and consulates have received reports of crimes against women. In January 2013, a U.S. citizen female tourist traveling alone was murdered in Istanbul. Female travelers are urged to exercise caution and use common sense, especially when alone. Female travelers should request a female attendant in the "mixed" Turkish baths (hamams). Incidents involving the use of "date rape" drugs (Nembutal and Benzodiazepine) have been reported.
Do not buy counterfeit or pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are bootleg copies of copyrighted goods illegal to bring back into the United States, if you purchase them, you are breaking local law.
U.S. citizen tourists sometimes report a particular kind of confidence game in Turkey, mainly in Istanbul, that targets lone male tourists. The con induces unsuspecting men to patronize certain eating and drinking establishments where the costs for food and beverages are hyper-inflated. Generally, an inside person associated with one of these establishments, usually another unassuming male, will befriend a target and invite him to visit a bar that he knows. Once at the bar, drinks are brought to the table and the target is usually joined by one or more females and others who work there. The target is unaware of the costs of food and drinks that are either ordered or simply delivered to the table until after the bill arrives. Since the prices are not clearly marked in menus, patrons generally have little recourse but to pay the final bill, no matter how outrageously high the total is. People who refuse to pay are intimidated to do so, and sometimes forcibly taken to an ATM to withdraw money. When dining out, patronize well established restaurants, and if you are off the beaten path, always ask to see a menu before ordering anything.
The Embassy and consulates have received e-mail complaints from U.S. citizens about online scams – ranging from fraudulent awarding of diversity ("lottery") visas to fronts for Internet dating and romances to scams about purchasing pets – and were subsequently defrauded of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Be very careful about suspicious requests for deposits and various types of registration fees. The State Department’s International Scams webpage has a section detailing some of the more common scams. You should also exercise due diligence when purchasing real estate in Turkey. For more information please visit the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Guidance for Foreigners website. Please carefully research the background of any property in order to ensure that everything is legal.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport;
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape;
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, contact family members or friends; and
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent of the "911" emergency line (for police, fire, or ambulance) in Turkey is 155. The emergency number for ambulance assistance only is 112.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While traveling in Turkey, you are subject to Turkish laws. Foreign laws and legal systems differ from ours. Criminal penalties vary from country to country. There are also some things that, while legal in the country you visit, are illegal in the United States; for instance, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or possessing or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime that is prosecutable in the United States. Please visit the Department of State’s Criminal Penalties webpage for more information.
Penalties for similar offenses can be more severe overseas than in the United States. Below are some Turkish laws of which you should be aware:
Drug Offenses: Turkish law enforcement agencies are very aggressive in combating illegal drugs. The penalties for violating Turkish laws, even unknowingly, can be severe. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in Turkey are particularly strict, and convicted offenders will receive heavy fines and jail sentences of between four and twenty years in some cases.
Insulting The State: It is illegal, under Turkish law, to show disrespect to the name or image of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the modern Turkish Republic. It is also illegal to insult the Turkish Government, flag, or security forces. Senior government officials regularly and successfully file lawsuits in response to statements, including via social media that they deem insulting to themselves or to Islam.
Religious Proselytizing: Although there is no specific law against religious proselytizing, some activities can lead to your arrest under laws that regulate expression, educational institutions, and religious meetings. The State Department’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom contains additional information on religious freedom in Turkey.
Cultural Artifacts: Turkish law has a broad definition of "antiquities" and makes it a crime to remove any from the country. Offenders are prosecuted. All historic sites, and everything in them, on the grounds, or in the water, are the property of the Turkish Government. If you buy antiquities, use only authorized dealers and obtain museum certificate for each item they are authorized to sell. At departure, you may be asked to present a receipt and the certificate. Failure to have them can result in your arrest and jail time. Contact the Embassy of Turkey in Washington or one of Turkey's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Dual Citizenship: The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause. Please see our information on dual nationality. U.S.-Turkish dual nationals may be subject to laws that impose special obligations on Turkish citizens. Male dual citizens over the age of 18 may be subject to Turkish conscription and compulsory military service. Those with questions are strongly advised to consult with officials at Turkish embassies or consulates before entering Turkey. Turkish authorities may not inform U.S. officials of dual nationals arrested in Turkey or may refuse to allow U.S. officials to visit or provide consular assistance to U.S. -Turkish dual nationals arrested in Turkey.
Arrest Notifications in Turkey: Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Turkey, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Judicial Assistance: Judicial assistance between the United States and Turkey is governed by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. For more detailed information, please see the State Department’s Turkey Judicial Assistance webpage.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: On January 1, 2009, Turkey introduced a new, smaller-sized currency referred to as Turkish Lira. For more information, please see the website of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey.
Disaster Preparedness: A seismically active country, earthquakes regularly occur throughout Turkey. A major earthquake east of Istanbul in 1999 killed approximately 18,000 people. You should make contingency plans for your travel in Turkey and leave emergency contact information with family members outside of Turkey. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and at Ready.gov. For more information on disaster preparedness, please click on the following links:
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips on the Women Travelers page on our website.
LGBT RIGHTS: Intolerance towards homosexuality and homophobia continues to be widespread throughout Turkey, even if annual Gay Pride parades are held peacefully in Istanbul. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals are not protected by anti-discrimination laws and have been the targets of violence in recent years. While the Turkish constitution forbids discrimination against LGBT individuals, references in the law relating to “offenses against public morality,” “protection of the family,” and “unnatural sexual behavior,” are sometimes used as a basis for abuse by law enforcement officials. In addition, the law states that “no association may be founded for purposes against law and morality,” a clause which has been used by authorities in attempts to shut down or limit the activities of associations working on LGBT matters. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page.
ACCESSIBILITY: Individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different in Turkey from what you find in the United States. The Turkish constitution prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of state services, employment, education, and access to health care, and the government generally enforces the law effectively. However, the law does not mandate access to buildings and public transportation for persons with disabilities, and access in most cities is quite limited.
Persons with disabilities generally find that Turkish airports and metro stations are easily accessible, but other public transportation, such as buses or taxis are not. There are reserved seats for disabled, pregnant, or elderly people in public buses, but neither the roads nor the buses are designed for easy access for the disabled. In a few big cities, some traffic lights have sound systems for the visually impaired, but these are uncommon. The pedestrian crossing rules and their enforcement are different than in the United States. Cars rarely stop when they see a pedestrian, and may not stop when the traffic light is red or at a pedestrian crosswalk. Sidewalks and footpaths are at times high and uneven. Overpasses and underpasses are generally not designed for the disabled. Roads and footpaths are frequently under construction and may contain extensive obstructions. In addition, vehicles may park on footpaths or otherwise obstruct access to footpaths. While some accessible hotels and restaurants exist in tourist destinations, in general, accessibility for people with disabilities in Turkey is poor.
You should drink only bottled water or water that has been filtered and boiled. Bottled beverages are safe to drink. Most local dairy products, including milk, yogurt, and cheese, are safe to consume. Take care when buying perishable products to be sure vendors use adequate refrigeration. Wash vegetables and fruits carefully and cook meat thoroughly before eating it.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website or at the CDC's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747). For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
The care provided in Turkish hospitals varies greatly. New private hospitals in Ankara, Antalya, Izmir, and Istanbul have modern facilities and equipment, numerous U.S.-trained specialists, and international accreditation. However, some still may be unable to treat certain serious conditions. While the State Department prefers medical evacuation for its personnel who will be giving birth, there are private hospitals in Ankara and Istanbul that meet Western standards of obstetric care. Pregnant women should consult the Turkish Airlines website for more detailed and updated information regarding travel restrictions.
Those planning prolonged stays in Turkey should bring or secure a supply of necessary medications (e.g., heart medications, birth control pills). Certain medications are difficult to obtain in Turkey. Nursing care and diagnostic testing (including mammograms) meet U.S. standards at specific institutions in the larger cities. Unlike in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, and Adana, health care standards are lower in small cities in Turkey.
U.S. Citizens who live in Turkey: Turkish General Health Insurance (GHI) law allows U.S. citizens living in Turkey to enroll in and receive GHI coverage; you may do so as long as you meet the administrative requirements described below:
- Present a valid residence permit and show that you have resided in Turkey for one year.
- Register within one month of completing one year of residency in Turkey.
- Fill out and submit an application.
- Pay the individual monthly premium, which is approximately 213 Turkish Lira (approximately US$117 subject to change).
Since enrollment in GHI is optional for U.S. citizens, if you decide at first to not participate but then later change your mind and decide to voluntarily enroll more than one month after completing one year of residency in Turkey, the following will happen:
- You must pay an administrative fine equal to one month’s minimum wage, which is approximately 886 Turkish Lira (approximately $490). Please note the minimum wage is subject to change twice yearly.
- You must pay the insurance premiums and interest retroactively from the date that you completed one year of residency in Turkey up to the time of enrollment.
If you are considering enrolling in Turkish GHI you should carefully research what is covered and what is not covered, because once you enroll in GHI your coverage can only be canceled if your residence permit expires or if you move away and no longer reside in Turkey.
H1N1 and other Influenza: The U.S. Government remains concerned about the possibility of a severe influenza pandemic resulting from changes in the 2009-H1N1 virus or the emergence of a newer influenza virus that may affect U.S. citizens abroad. Both H1N1 and H5N1 (avian influenza), have been reported in Turkey. Avoid poultry farms and contact with animals in live food markets. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has developed plans for individuals and groups to protect themselves against infection during a pandemic. They include simple techniques such as washing your hands, practicing cough etiquette, staying home when you or family members are sick, limiting contact with others, and avoiding public gathering places. For the most current information see the State Department’s Pandemic Influenza Fact Sheet.
Tuberculosis is a health concern in Turkey. For further information on tuberculosis and other illnesses, please click on this link to the CDC’s Traveler’s Health webpage.
Death Abroad: In the event of the death of a loved one in Turkey, please click here for more information. When a U.S. citizen dies in Turkey, the public prosecutor may require that an autopsy be performed and may refuse to release the remains until after the autopsy is completed. Turkey does not have any cremation facilities.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Turkey, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
Drive defensively at all times and take every precaution while driving in Turkey. Drivers routinely ignore traffic regulations, including driving through red lights and stop signs, and turning left from the far right lane. These and other similar driving practices cause frequent traffic accidents. Drivers who experience car troubles or accidents pull to the side of the road and turn on their emergency lights to warn other drivers, but many drivers place a large rock or a pile of rocks on the road about 10-15 meters behind their vehicles instead of turning on emergency lights. The use of a cell phone while driving is strictly prohibited by Turkish law, however this law is not routinely enforced. Driving while using a cell phone can lead to a fine of 72 Turkish Lira (TL) (approximately $40) fine.
Be extremely cautious while driving at night. We recommend that you not drive after dark outside of major cities. Some local drivers drive without their lights on or with very low lights, making it difficult to see them. It is not unusual to find hazardous objects in roadways such as dead animals, large rocks, missing sewer covers, deep holes, or objects that have fallen from vehicles. Live farm animals can also be found near or in the roadway in rural areas.
Roads in Turkey run the full gamut from single-lane country roads to modern, divided, trans-European motorways of European standard. Highways in the tourist-frequented western, southwestern, and coastal regions of Turkey are generally in good condition and are well maintained, while conditions in other areas vary. The legal limit for alcohol is 0.50 promil (100 milliliter blood and 50 milligram alcohol), which is approximately 0.05 percent. Penalties for driving drunk include a fine of 650 Turkish Lira (TL) (approximately $365) and the individual’s license will be confiscated for 6 months.
To enter Turkey with your own vehicle you will need your passport, driver’s license, car registration (note: if the vehicle belongs to another individual, a power of attorney is needed), international green card (insurance card) with the "valid in Turkey" sign visible, and, for those who wish to proceed to Middle Eastern countries, a "carnet de passage" transit book. A vehicle can be brought into Turkey for up to 6 months. Extensions can be obtained if one applies before the end of the initially declared and approved period. Applications should be sent to the Turkish Touring and Automobile Club: Türkiye Turing ve Otomobil, 1. Oto Sanayi Sitesi Yani, 4. Levent, Istanbul, Tel: (212) 282 81 40 or Fax: (212) 282 80 42), or to the General Directorate of Customs: Gümrükler Genel Müdürlügü, Ulus, Ankara Tel: (312) 306-8000, Fax: (312) 306-8995, 306-8965 or 306-8195.
A valid U.S. driver’s license is accepted in Turkey for a short-term visit up to 90 days. For stays up to one year, a U.S. driver’s license is valid as long as it is accompanied by a notarized Turkish translation. An International Driving Permit is accepted but must be accompanied by your U.S. driver’s license for stays up to 90 days. For stays of up to 1 year your U.S. driver’s license and a notarized Turkish translation are required.
If you will live in Turkey for more than one year, you will need to obtain a Turkish driver’s license from the Turkish Security Directorate, Traffic Department (Emniyet Müdürlüğü, Trafik Hizmetleri Başkanlığı). If you wish to apply for a Turkish driver’s license, below is a list of the necessary documents:
- Original and notarized translation of your Driver's License (original driver's license will be returned to you after the application process)
- Drivers application forms and record from Drivers Association (Şoförler Derneği)
- Residence permit (original and a copy)
- Four photographs
- Original criminal check record (should be valid for one year)
- Original health report from state hospitals or private medical clinics
- Your blood type card
- Receipt from the tax office showing that you paid the related fee (updated fee schedule can be checked with the Traffic Departments (Trafik Hizmetleri Başkanlığı).
- Card fee (77.50 Turkish Lira -TL please click here for updated fees)
- Copies of your passport and residence permit
The above information is taken from www.trafik.gov.tr.
To obtain a Turkish license, you will have to attend private driving lessons for 6 weeks before the final exam, which is administered in Turkish. On average, to obtain a Turkish driver’s license takes 8 weeks.
In Case of Accident: For accidents involving only vehicular damage, the drivers may exchange insurance information and depart if both sides agree. New Turkish traffic rules do not require a call to the police in cases where no injury or death occurs, but instead require drivers to fill out a form and provide pictures of the car damage. As the form is in Turkish only, it is the best for non-Turkish speakers to call and wait for the police; otherwise, drivers may be held liable for the accident. If anybody has been injured or if there is disagreement about the accident, the drivers must remain at the traffic accident site, and are not to move their vehicle — even to move it out of the way — until the Traffic Police arrive. The accident should be reported to the Traffic Police (Tel: 155) or Jandarma (Tel. 156) and you should obtain a certified copy of the official report from the Traffic Police office. This can take up to several days to receive. The owner should also apply to the customs authority with his passport and accident report. If the vehicle can be repaired, it is necessary to inform the customs authority first and then take the vehicle to a garage. If the vehicle is not repairable and if the owner wishes to leave the country without his vehicle, he has to deliver it to the nearest customs office, and the registration of his vehicle on his passport will be cancelled. Only after this cancellation can the owner of the vehicle leave the country. When in doubt, it is best to call the Traffic Police or the Jandarma in the event of an accident.
Please visit the State Department’s Road Safety webpage and U.S. Embassy Ankara’s Driver Safety webpage for more information.
Train Travel: There have been several train accidents on the popular Ankara-Istanbul train route that have led to loss of life and injury; two large accidents in 2004 on the line resulted in 45 fatalities and scores of injuries.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Turkey's Civil Aviation Authority as complying with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Turkey's air carrier operations. Please visit the FAA’s Safety Assessment webpage for more information.