Traveling to Turkey… Visa Required.

Image: VBR

Are you wanting to travel to Turkey? Do you know the regulations to enter the country? Being a European can simplify your travel plans, but entering Turkey from non-European countries can be more complicated. A traveler from India, for instance, with a valid passport is also required to purchase a visa before entering the country. Further inquiry as to the details of how to obtain this visa reveals a dizzying array of advice on the best way to acquire the visa. 15 Euro / 20 USD seems to be the current going rate though other Half of the reports say that you must buy the visa in advance, half say that you get it at upon arrival and all have the first-hand experience to back it up. Accounts of the process makes one wonder if Turkish customs is not somehow a satellite office of the DMV. While Turkey’s official Ministry of Foreign Affairs website makes the process seem fairly straightforward it is notoriously outdated (even when it has “just been updated”) and the regulations are in a near constant state of flux, and are subject to change without warning. In reality it can depend on the particular official you get that day.

Fortunately, very few of the instances end in a traveler actually being denied entry into the country. There are a few general guidelines that will help streamline the experience as much as possible:

1. Bring cash! Visa fees are payable in most currencies – GBPs, Euros, and USD$. In true bureaucratic form, they do not accept their own national currency, Turkish Lira.

2. No dirty money – Turkish border officials are notoriously particular about the condition of the money: do not try to pay with torn, dirty, or defaced bills.

3. Most of the Turkish visas are single entry and once you exit the country re-entry is not allowed so plan accordingly.

4. Often tourist visas aren’t checked so whether you buy the visa upon arrival or in advance, if you are not asked to present the visa DO NOT SHOW IT!! This eliminates the process of being held up by any visa-related discrepancies or errors that may be present.

Traveling to Turkey can be very difficult, but some countries do no have it as hard as our above example India.  For instance, countries like Germany, Greece, France, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore, and as well as many other countries, have the right to stay in Turkey for 90 days without obtaining a visa.

But what about the United States?

Many have a false presumption by thinking Americans can travel as they please.  Even though it is not as hard for an American to acquire a visa into turkey, as it is for an individual in India, one should still do some searching before going abroad.  Most likely, if you are a traveler from the United States, you pay for a tourist permit or visa ($20) in order to enter Turkey.  One can do this right before entering the country.  There is an exception to this rule.  If a traveler is “arriving by cruise ship for a day trip to Turkey, you do not require a visa as long as you are not staying on shore overnight.”

Other rules apply to individuals who want to stay longer than a day, or longer than 90 days.  Staying for longer than 90 days requires a visa from a Turkish Embassy or Consulate before arrival.  And if one is planning on working or studying there, one “must also apply for a residence/work permit or Turkish ID card within the first month” of arrival.

Important! – Be sure to check the stamps on your passport, because you do not want to overstay.  Overstaying can cause serious problems, like a fine or being deported.

For more information, contact a US Embassy and check with specifics including the laws that may be foreign to you.

Safe travels!

Co-Written with Josh Cochran