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Home / General Travel Tips /
XYZ Consular Info: Turkey

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XYZ Consular Info: Turkey

Turkey Consular Information Sheet
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
April 30, 2002
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Turkey is a moderately developed nation with a wide range of tourist facilities of all classes in the main tourist destinations.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. Holders of all types of passports can purchase a 90-day sticker visa at the port of entry for $45, if they are traveling to Turkey as tourists. For further information, travelers in the U.S. may contact the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey at 2525 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone: (202) 612-6700, or the Turkish consulates general in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, or New York. Information may also be found at Internet address http://www.turkey.org. Overseas, travelers may contact a Turkish embassy or consulate. Holders of official and diplomatic passports on official business must obtain a visa from a Turkish embassy or consulate before arrival in Turkey. Holders of official and diplomatic passports on private travel may receive a visa free of charge from a Turkish embassy or consulate, or obtain one upon arrival at the port of entry for $45. All those who are planning to stay more than three months for any purpose are required to obtain a visa from a Turkish embassy or consulate. Such travelers must also apply for a residence/work permit or Turkish ID card within the first month of their arrival in Turkey. For example, this would include anyone who plans to spend more than three months doing research, studying, or working in Turkey.
All travelers are advised to obtain entry stamps at the first port of entry on the passport page containing their visa before transferring to domestic flights. Failure to obtain entry stamps at the port of entry has occasionally resulted in serious difficulties for travelers when they attempt to depart the country.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
DUAL NATIONALITY: Male U.S. citizens over the age of 18 who are also considered to be Turkish citizens may be subject to conscription and compulsory military service upon arrival, and to other aspects of Turkish law while in Turkey. Those who may be affected are strongly advised to consult with Turkish officials and inquire at a Turkish embassy or consulate to determine their status before traveling. In addition to being subject to all Turkish laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Turkish citizens. For additional information on dual nationality, see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our Dual Nationality flier.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: The general security situation throughout Turkey is stable, but sporadic incidents involving terrorist groups have occurred. The Turkish government is committed to eliminating terrorist groups such as the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) and various leftist and fundamentalist groups. Although these groups have not completely disbanded, their operational capabilities have greatly diminished. These groups have used terrorist activity to make political statements, particularly in Istanbul and other urban areas of Turkey. No Americans appear to have been targeted in any recent terrorist incidents in Turkey, but Americans simply in the wrong place at the wrong time during a terrorist incident could be victims. In 2000 and 2001, terrorists targeting Turkish officials and various civilian facilities in Istanbul were responsible for deaths and injuries of several dozen people. The civilian targets included a number of fast food restaurants.
EASTERN PROVINCES: The PKK retains a residual presence in certain parts of southeastern Turkey. The following provinces are under a state of emergency: Hakkari, Sirnak, Tunceli, and Diyarbakir. The following additional areas are considered "sensitive areas" or one level below state-of-emergency status: Van, Siirt, Mus, Mardin, Batman, Bingol, and Bitlis. The southeast provinces of Adana, Adiyaman, Antakya (Hatay), Elazig, Gaziantep, Kahraman Maras, Kilis, Malatya, Icel, Osmaniye and Sanliufra are not under a heightened state of alert. Mount Ararat is a special military zone and access permission must be obtained from the Turkish Government.
Visitors to the emergency and sensitive areas of southeastern Turkey are advised to travel only during daylight hours and on major highways. The Turkish Jandarma and police forces monitor checkpoints on roads throughout the southeastern region. Drivers and all passengers in the vehicle should be prepared to provide identification if stopped at a checkpoint. Travelers are cautioned not to accept letters, parcels, or other items from strangers for delivery either in or outside of Turkey. The PKK has attempted to use foreigners to deliver messages and packages in or outside of Turkey. If discovered, individuals could be arrested for aiding and abetting the PKK - a serious charge.
A "Southeastern Turkey Briefing" is available on the Embassy Ankara website under "Security Matters" at http://www.usemb-ankara.org.tr.
The Turkish Government takes air safety very seriously, and maintains strict controls, particularly on international flights. Nevertheless, hijacking attempts have occurred as recently as 2001, when a flight attendant lost her life during the hijacking of an Istanbul-Moscow flight by Chechen terrorists. All travelers may be subject to increased scrutiny because of enhanced airport security measures implemented since 9/11/01.
CRIME: Street crime is not a major concern in Turkey, although it is increasing in large urban centers such as Istanbul and Izmir. As in other large metropolitan areas throughout the world, common street crimes include pickpocketing, purse snatching, and mugging. English-or French-speaking foreigners, who identified themselves as Tunisian, Moroccan, Egyptian, Kuwaiti, or Romanian, have also targeted foreign tourists. These persons have befriended the tourists and then drugged them using teas, juice, alcohol, or food. Two common drugs used are nembitol, known on the street as sari bomba (the yellow bomb) and benzodiazepine; when used incorrectly they can cause death. In similar cases, tourists are invited to visit clubs or bars, and then presented with inflated bills (often exceeding $1000), and coerced to pay them by credit card.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Travelers are encouraged to carry a photocopy of their passport, to assist in getting a replacement passport if the original is stolen. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov. An "Istanbul Street Crime Briefing" is available on the U.S. Embassy Ankara's web site at http://www.usemb-ankara.org.tr or from the Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov/turkey.html
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Turkish hospitals vary greatly. The new, private hospitals in Ankara and Istanbul have the most modern facilities and equipment, but still may be unable to treat certain serious conditions. The State Department recommends medical evacuation for its personnel who will be giving birth. Those planning to remain in Turkey should consider bringing a 6-month supply of necessary chronic medications (e.g., heart medications, birth control pills). Not all diagnostic testing (including mammograms) is up to American standards.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover the health care costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost more than $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer before your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Travelers are advised to drink only bottled water or water that has been filtered and boiled. Bottled beverages are considered safe to drink. Most local dairy products, including milk, yogurt, and cheese, are safe to consume. However, care must be taken when purchasing all perishable products, as many do not have adequate refrigeration. Travelers are advised to wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly and to cook meat thoroughly as well.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), fax 1-800-CDC-FAXX (1-800-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Turkey is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Roads in Turkey run the full spectrum from single lane country roads to modern, divided, Trans-European motorways built to European standards. Highways in the southwestern, coastal portion of the country, which is frequented by tourists, are generally in good condition and well maintained. Further information is available on the Embassy's website, under "driver safety." For additional information about road safety, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page road safety overseas feature at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html or the Turkey Road Report on www.asirt.org. For specific information concerning Turkey driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Turkish Tourism and Information Office in New York via the Internet at http://www.Turkey.org/Turkey, or by writing to 821 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 687-2194, 687-2195, fax (212) 599-7568.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Turkey's civil aviation authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Turkey's air carrier operations. For more information, contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov.avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Turkey customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Turkey of items such as antiquities (very broadly defined) or other important artwork and cultural artifacts. At the time of departure, travelers who purchase such items may be asked to present a receipt from the seller as well as the official museum export certificate required by law. Smuggling of large quantities of other items, such as cigarettes, out of Turkey is also a punishable offense. Contact the Embassy of Turkey in Washington or one of Turkey's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA carnet in the United States. For additional information contact the Council at (212) 354-4480, e-mail atacarnet@uscib.org, or visit their web site at http://www.atacarnet.com.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Turkey's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Turkey are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Below are some of the laws foreign travelers should be aware of: --Insulting the State: It is illegal to show disrespect to the name or image of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic, or to insult the Turkish government, flag, or security forces. --Proselytizing: Although there is no specific law against proselytizing, some activities can lead to arrest under laws that regulate expression, educational institutions, and religious meetings. The Department of State's Annual Report on International Religious Freedom contains additional information on religious freedom in Turkey. The report is available on the Department's website, www.state.gov. --Cultural Artifacts: Turkish law has a broad definition of "antiquities" and makes it a crime to remove any from the country. Offenders are prosecuted. Under Turkish law, all historic sites such as fortresses, castles and ruins, and everything in them or on the grounds or in the water, are the property of the Turkish government. While many sites do not have signs cautioning the unwary, official silence does not mean official consent. One may buy certain antiquities, but only from authorized dealers who have been issued a certificate by a museum for each item which they are authorized to sell. If one has acquired a possible antiquity without having obtained the necessary certificate, competent museum personnel should evaluate it before its removal from Turkey.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Several major earthquake fault lines cross Turkey. A number of Turkish cities including Istanbul, Izmir, and Erzincan lie on or near fault lines, making these areas particularly vulnerable to earthquakes. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov. Detailed information on Turkey's earthquake fault lines is available from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at http://www.usgs.gov.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or tel: (202) 736-7000. Since August 2000, the Republic of Turkey has been party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans living in or visiting Turkey are encouraged to register at the nearest Consular Office, at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, the U.S. consulates in Istanbul or Adana, or the Consular Agency in Izmir. Updated information on travel and security within Turkey is available while registering, or on the Embassy website at www.usemb-ankara.org.tr. The U.S. Embassy in Ankara is at 110 Ataturk Boulevard, tel: (90)(312) 455-5555, fax (90)(312) 468-6131. Visa information is available at (90)(312) 468-6110. The Internet address is http://www.usemb-ankara.org.tr. Non-emergency e-mail messages about consular matters may be sent to ca-ankara@state.gov. The U.S. Consulate in Istanbul is at 104-108 Mesrutiyet Caddesi, Tepebasi, tel: (90)(212) 251-3602, fax (90)(212) 252-7851. Istanbul-specific information can also be accessed via the Consulate's website http://www.usconsulate-istanbul.org.tr. Non-emergency e-mail messages about consular matters may be sent to ca_istanbul@state.gov. The U.S. Consulate in Adana is at the corner of Vali Yolu and Ataturk Caddesi, tel: (90)(322) 459-1551, fax (90)(322) 457-6591. The U.S. Consular Agent in Izmir is at Kazim Dirik Caddesi 13/8, Atabay Is Merkezi, Daire 805, Pasaport, Izmir, 35210, tel: (90)(232) 441-0072/2203, fax (90)(232) 441-2373. A variety of information on visa procedures, American citizen services, road safety, etc. is also available on the mission's web site, http://www.usemb-ankara.org.tr.
********* This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated July 5, 2001, in order to update information on Entry Requirements, Safety and Security, Crime, Air Safety, Medical Facilities, Criminal Penalties, Children's Issues, and Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations.