This travel advice outlines the security risks tourists and business travellers should be aware of when travelling to Turkey. It also provides some tips on how to travel as safely as possible.
State of emergency as of 07-02-2023. The earthquakes on 6 February 2023 in the south and southeast of Turkey have caused great devastation. Many casualties have been reported.
A state of emergency for a period of 3 months applies to the following regions: Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Kahramanmaraş, Hatay, Kilis, Adana, Diyarbakir, Malatya, Şanlıurfa and Osamaniye. Turkish authorities will not allow you to enter these areas, whether you are travelling by land or by plane. Only relief forces are allowed to enter the affected areas.
Are you in an affected area and do you need emergency help? Contact the British embassy by phone on +90 312 455 33 44, or on Twitter via @UKinTurkiye.
Important notice on COVID-19: No further information on COVID-19 is included in this travel advice for Turkey. In summary, all entry requirements related to COVID-19 have been lifted .
Turkey travel advice: Travel possible with some exceptions
The travel advice for Turkey is largely positive. However, due to geographic and political situations, there are still areas that are riskier than others. There is a negative travel advisory for the Turkish border with Syria and Iraq. It is strongly advised to avoid the areas within 10 km of the border with Syria or Iraq. Violent militants are active here. Travel only if necessary to the Sirnak or Hakkari provinces, or the Turkish-Iraqi border crossing at Habur. Despite the explosion that took place in Istanbul on 13 November 2022, causing casualties and injuries, it is still considered relatively safe to travel there.
There is currently an increased risk of attacks against Western buildings, places of worship or other Western organisations within Turkey. These threats have been fuelled by recent demonstrations in the Netherlands and Sweden. During these events, demonstrators publicly tore up and burned a Quran, which has led to negative feelings towards the West in Turkey. Demonstrations will occur regularly. For your own safety, avoid any kind of demonstrations in Turkey.
Do not travel | Syria and Iraq border area
Travel to areas near the Syrian and Iraqi borders is strongly discouraged. Only the Habur border crossing between Iraq and Turkey has limited access and can only be visited at your own risk. In Syria, fighting continues near the Turkish border. There is also a high risk of terrorist attacks in those regions. Some roads leading to Syria are sometimes closed, especially in the Hatay province.
Necessary travel only | south-eastern provinces
Only travel to Hakkari and Sirnak provinces if necessary. Conflicts between Turkish forces and the PKK are a regular occurrence here in the countryside, especially at night, but also during the day. These conflicts are often accompanied by PKK attacks. For up-to-date information on these areas, keep yourself well-informed through local news channels.
Travel possible | general security risks
In Turkey, the general security risks are slightly higher compared to the UK. Always be on your guard and be extra vigilant when you are near government and security service buildings. Places that are widely popular among (European) tourists are also more at risk of being targets of such attacks. Even though the travel advice for most of Turkey is green, it is advised being well-informed about the laws, cultures, norms, and values. To prepare well for the trip, you should also have your documents in order.
Requirements for travelling to Turkey
|Passport:||To enter Turkey, you need a valid passport. This passport must be valid throughout your stay in Turkey. You are required by law in Turkey to carry your passport with you at all times to identify yourself. Without a passport, you will be stopped and may be detained. Always follow all instructions from authorities at checkpoints.|
|Visa||As of 2020, business travellers and tourists with a European, UK, or Swiss passport no longer need a visa to Turkey if the stay is less than 90 days. If you plan to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days, you do need to apply for a Turkish visa. For a business or tourist travel purpose, you can apply for the online visa. Read all the requirements for the online visa for Turkey before travelling.|
|Driving licence:||To drive in Turkey, you must hold an international driving licence, or an official copy of your driving licence in Turkish. For stays of more than 6 months, you must convert your driving licence to a Turkish driving licence. For motorbikes over 50cc, you will need an A driving licence. An A1 driving licence is only enough for motorbikes under 50cc. Wearing a helmet is compulsory.|
|Travel insurance and medical insurance:||The UK government advises to make sure you have additional travel insurance for unexpected medical treatment, and confirm what is covered with your current insurance company. Risky activities such as scuba diving, paragliding, mountain climbing, etc. are also not included in standard insurance. Without proper insurance, medical expenses for the traveller can be high.|
|Embassy information:||Be sure to have the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate information with you when you travel. You can also register on the UK government website to receive updates about Turkish travel advice. In case of an emergency, you will be sent a text message, and you will be kept informed of any changes in travel advice via email. You can also visit the UK government website’s foreign travel checklist to plan your trip and stay safe.|
General travel advice for turkey
To minimise risks while you are travelling in Turkey, you can follow the advice on this page. This advice was collected from different sources, such as the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Business and the British Government website, in order to provide the most accurate advice possible. However, in the case of any damage or injury while travelling, this site cannot be held liable. Travellers ultimately remain responsible for their decisions around travelling to certain areas.
Rules and safety
- Avoid all demonstrations and protests. Keep an eye on the local news about any planned demonstrations, or inquire at your accommodation. In Ankara, demonstrations are prohibited, and the police will crack down on them. Tourist spots are sometimes targets of terrorist attacks. Always stay alert in long queues at tourist attractions, if at all possible, avoid crowded areas.
- Always keep your passport and wallet on your body to prevent theft.
- It is illegal not to carry some form of ID while in Turkey. Always have your passport or residence permit with you. If you are stopped by officials conducting a check, you should co-operate with them.
- Always keep an eye on your food and drink and be careful if going out alone. Especially after sunset, it is wise not to be alone. Do not accept taxi rides from strangers, and always look for verified yellow taxis and note the registration number before boarding.
- It is illegal to publicly insult the Turkish flag or the nation itself. You can also be arrested and detained if you are accused of defacing or tearing Turkish money. These offences can lead to long prison sentences and should be taken seriously.
- Consuming, dealing, or possessing drugs is prohibited by law and is severely punishable by imprisonment for between 4 and 24 years.
- Pay attention to where smoking is and is not allowed. It is prohibited in indoor workplaces as well as public transport. It is also illegal in public spaces, including sports, entertainment and cultural outdoor spaces.
- Avoid taking photographs of government buildings and military grounds because it is considered suspicious. Always ask other people for permission before taking a picture.
- Be cautious when taking home historical artefacts, especially if it was bought in a market. Transporting or reselling antiques outside Turkey can be illegal in some cases.
- Homosexuality is legal in Turkey, but not widely accepted. There are some conservative areas where public displays of affection may lead to unwanted attention.
- Stay away from stray dogs. Particularly outside the city, they form packs and can become aggressive.
- There are Hospitals easily available in major cities but they may be a bit different from what you are used to. It may be possible that in more rural areas outside the major cities that the staff may not speak as much English.
- For advice on vaccinations, see your GP or another specialist doctor. Generally recommended vaccinations for Turkey are malaria, hepatitis A and B, DTP, Rabies and Schistosomiasis.
- Before travelling, check which medicines are allowed with you and for which medicines a doctorʼs certificate is required on the NHS Fit for Travel site.
- Earthquakes can occur throughout many parts of Turkey. Look up what to do in the event of an earthquake and always follow local advice.
- In the summer months, forest fires occur regularly. There is a prison sentence or high fine for causing a forest fire, whether deliberately or not. Take care when BBQing, throwing away cigarettes and fire in general. Practice caution when travelling through woodland areas. There will usually be local advice about existing or expected forest fires.
- Severe rainstorms can lead to flooding and landslides throughout parts of the country. This can possibly affect roads and travel. Pay attention to local evacuation orders or instructions from authorities.
Disclaimer: Travellers remain solely responsible
This travel advice for Turkey has been compiled with care. Nevertheless, e-Visa.ie does not accept liability for any problems, damages, or injuries arising from the use of this information. Travellers should remain alert at all times while travelling in Turkey, and you are solely responsible for your safety while travelling and staying in Turkey, as well as for the choice of whether to make a particular trip. Before travelling to Turkey, it is advisable to consult the latest security updates from the Government regarding travel to Turkey (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/turkey/health) or the British embassy in Cairo.
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