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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Turkey

Turkey - Consular Information Sheet
July 5, 2001

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 tourist passports can purchase a sticker visa at the port of entry for $45. 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 prior to arrival in Turkey from a Turkish embassy or consulate. Holders of official and diplomatic passports on private travel may receive a visa free of charge upon arrival from a Turkish embassy or consulate, or obtain one upon arrival at the port of entry for $45. All travelers are advised to obtain entry stamps at the first port of entry on the passport page containing their visa prior to 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 between the ages of 20 and 38 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, particularly if they entered the country on and are residing in Turkey based on their Turkish identity documents. Those who may be affected should inquire at a Turkish embassy or consulate to determine their status prior to 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, see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our Dual Nationality flyer.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Since the 1970's, urban and rural acts of terrorism throughout Turkey have caused loss of life and injury to government officials and civilians, including some foreign tourists. These incidents occurred both in eastern Turkey and in urban areas such as Ankara, Izmir, Adana, and Istanbul. In the past year, Turkish police and military authorities have conducted very successful operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey and various leftist and fundamentalalist groups throughout Turkey. While these groups have not been eliminated altogether, their operational capabilities have greatly diminished. Although sporadic incidents involving terrorist groups continue to occur, the general security situation throughout Turkey is stable at this time.

Eastern provinces: The PKK remains 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, Sirt, Mus, Mardin, Batman, Bingol, and Bitlis. The provinces in 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 any part of souteastern 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.

The Turkish Government takes air safety very seriously, and maintains strict controls, particularly on international flights. Nevertheless, Turkey has experienced recent hijackings. Unstable individuals who each falsely claimed to have a bomb or weapon hijacked domestic Turkish Airlines (THY) flights in February and September 1998. Both incidents were successfully resolved without injury. Neither represented a breach of airport security. A THY flight was hijacked in October 1998. Turkish authorities successfully ended the hijacking with no injury to passengers or crew.

A "Southeastern Turkey Briefing" is available on the Embassy Ankara website under "Security Matters" at http://www.usemb-ankara.org.tr.

CRIME: Street crime is not a major concern in Turkey. However, as in other large metropolitan areas throughout the world, there is some crime against tourists, particularly in Istanbul, including pickpocketing, purse snatching and mugging. In the past three years, dozens of American, Canadian and European tourists were robbed by English-or French-speaking foreigners, who identified themselves as Tunisian, Moroccan, Kuwaiti, or Romanian. These persons befriended the tourists and then drugged them using teas, juice, alcohol, or food. We have been informed that the two most common drugs are nembitol, known on the street as sari bombasi (the yellow bomb) and benzodiazepine. In one case an American died from the effects of the drug that had been intended to put him to sleep.

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. 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: Medical facilities are available, but may be limited outside urban areas. Cutting edge medical care does not exist in Turkey. Neither do the accepted practices of frequent soapy handwashing or covering of the mouth when coughing or sneezing and then washing hands. Medical providers are not required to update their knowledge regularly therefore medical treatment is often very dated.

There is a serious overuse of medications, especially antibiotics. Virtually no effort is expended to determine the appropriate antibiotic. Often patients are given six or more medications for an illness that may not require any drug therapy, or one drug after another is tried for a few days until the patient responds.

Complex cases involving life-threatening illness or injury cannot be managed in Turkey. Preventative health care is unknown. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Turkey are urged to purchase insurance that will cover the costs of a medical evacuation should a serious problem occur.

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 evacutions.

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 well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to 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: Food and water-borne diseases are prevalent throughout Turkey. In the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, there are recurring outbreaks of dysentery, typhoid fever, meningitis and other contagious diseases.

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.

For specific information concerning Turkey drivering 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, travelers may 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 or other important 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. It is advisable to 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, send an e-mail to 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.

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.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans living in or visiting Turkey are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Turkey and obtain updated information on travel and security within Turkey.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara is at 110 Ataturk Boulevard, tel: (90)(312) 468-6110, fax (90)(312) 467-0019. Visa information is available at (90)(312) 468-6110. The Internet address is http://www.usemb-ankara.org.tr. and 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.usisist.org.tr. and 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. The Consular Agency hours are 9:00 to 12:00 and 2:00 to 4:00, Monday through Thursday. This office is closed to the public, except for emergencies, on Fridays.

A variety of information on visa procedures, American citizen services, road safety, etc. is also available on the mission's website, http://www.usemb-ankara.org.tr.

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