Tourism Rating Travel
Safety Entry Requirements
avoiding Petty Theft
|Tourism Rating||Top of Page|
Turkey is a wonderful place to visit. Its cities, people, attractions, and countryside are delightful: they offer travelers incomparable insights into a central history in the development of the modern world. In addition, a visit to Turkey provides insights into a nation that manages to bridge the gap between "East and West". Please read our Travel Safety section when considering travel to Turkey.
|Travel Safety||US Embassy contact information||Top of Page|
We have assigned Turkey a yellow (caution) signal indicating that the potential for unsafe travel exists within the country. Although Turkey has taken a very vigilant stand against terrorism, over the past four years terrorist bombings, some with significant numbers of casualties, have struck religious, political, tourist and business targets in a variety of locations in Turkey.
Past Security Alerts
In July of 2008, there was an armed attack on the United States Embassy in Istanbul. Several Turkish police officers died in the ensuing gun battle. The terrorists also died in the battle, although there have been several arrests after the fact. The is suspicion that this was an Al-Qaeda attack.
There have been several recent instances of violence against Christians, including the shooting of a Catholic priest in Trabzon in February 2006 and the murder of three Christians, one of them a German citizen, in a Bible bookstore in Malatya in April 2007.
On April 8, 2007, Turkish police captured a PKK terrorist in Istanbul’s much-touristed Taksim Square. She was intercepted carrying a bomb made of five-kilograms of A-4 explosive. Her intended target was that day’s celebration in the square honoring the founding of the Turkish police.
Due to the tense military situation on the border with Iraq, the Turkish General Staff has declared portions of the provinces of Sirnak, Hakkari, and Siirt as “sensitive areas”.
On August 27th and 28th of 2006 a series of bombings hit Turkey. Three bombs exploded in Marmaris, an area favored by British tourists, on August 27th injuring 21 people. The same day an explosion (outside of the tourist area in Istanbul), injured three. On August 28th a bomb at the Turkish resort area of Antalya killed three and injured 38. The Kurdish Freedom Falcons claimed responsibility for the attacks on Marmaris and Antalya.Mediterranean/Aegean Regions: Indigenous and trans-national terrorist groups continue to target Turkish as well as U.S. and Western interests. The Kurdistan Liberation Hawks (TAK) ostensibly aligned with PKK terrorists, claimed responsibility for a number of bombings in tourist areas in the Mediterranean and Aegean coastal resorts areas (as well as in Istanbul). This group has warned tourists not to visit Turkey. Consistent with its threats, this group claimed responsibility for a bomb that ripped through a minibus in the holiday resort town of Kusadasi, killing five persons, including a British tourist and an Irish tourist in July 2005. The group also was responsible for an explosion that killed three European tourists in Manavgat, a town in Antalya Province, as well as other attacks in the Antalya and Mugla Provinces in June 2006. Ten Britons and six Turks were injured when their minibus was blown up in Marmaris, and a bomb killed three and injured 87 in a blast at a shopping area in the city of Antalya in late August 2006. Further attacks by this group could take place without warning.
The potential remains throughout Turkey for violence and terrorist actions against travelers, both by trans-national and indigenous terrorist organizations.
Emergency Contact Numbers
|Entry Requirements||Top of Page|
A passport and visa are required for travel in Turkey.
Currently, holders of all types of passports can purchase a 90-day sticker visa at the port of entry for $20 cash, if they are traveling to Turkey as tourists.
Overseas, travelers may contact a Turkish embassy or consulate to obtain a visa before they depart for Turkey. Information on obtaining a visa prior to departure can be found at http://www.tourismturkey.org/
Holders of official and diplomatic passports on official business must obtain a visa from a Turkish embassy or consulate before arrival in Turkey.
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 parents or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure
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. 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. The Government of Turkey will not permit any dual Turkish/American national arrested in Turkey to contact American officials.
In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide protection abroad. For additional information, please see the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet home page at http://travel.state.gov for an explanation of dual nationality issues. U.S. citizens who are also citizens of any other nation are reminded that U.S. law requires they enter and depart the United States documented as U.S. citizens.
|Avoiding Petty Theft||Top of Page|
Before you travel, read our articles on Pickpockets, Con Artists, and ATM safety in the ThereArePlaces Information Guide on Personal Safety for travelers.
Street crime is relatively low in Turkey, although it has increased recently in large urban centers such as Istanbul and Izmir. Women traveling alone or in small groups appear to have been targeted for petty theft.
Visitors should not be complacent regarding personal safety or the protection of valuables. The same precautions employed in the US should be followed in Turkey. As in other large metropolitan areas throughout the world, common street crimes include pick pocketing, purse snatching, and mugging.
Be alert and avoid the situations described below.
In Istanbul, street crime is most common in the Taksim Square area, in Sultanahmet and in the areas around the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. Visitors who are robbed are usually accosted while they are distracted by a staged fight or altercation.
It is strongly recommended that you leave your U.S. passport in the hotel safe, as a lost or stolen passport can disrupt your travel plans and be expensive to replace .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. If you are the victim of any crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.
If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members of friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution for the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney
|Special Note||Top of Page|
1. On January 1, 2005 six zeroes were dropped from the Turkish Lira. One million Turkish Lira is now equal to 1 New Turkish Lira. Old banknotes and coins were taken out of circulation at the end of 2005. Although old banknotes and coins were taken out of circulation at the end of 2005, many vendors and businesses continue to list their prices in the old currency. For more information please see the website of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey at http://www.tcmb.gov.tr/yeni/eng/index.html .
2. 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 vendors do not have adequate refrigeration. Travelers are advised to wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly and to cook meat thoroughly as well.
3. 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.
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, is the property of the Turkish
have recently been several train accidents on the popular Ankara-Istanbul
Train route. These accidents have led to loss of life and injury. In 2003
there were 556 accidents (collisions, derailments, falling from train)
resulting in 162 fatalities and 299 injuries on trains throughout Turkey.
Previous years statistics reflect the same pattern. Two large accidents in
2004 on the Ankara-Istanbul line resulted in 45 fatalities and scores of
6. Disaster Preparedness: Turkey is a
seismically active country and earthquakes occur throughout Turkey. A major
earthquake along the North Anatolian fault line in 1999 killed more than
20,000 people in the Izmit area (about 1 hour's travel east of Istanbul).
American citizens should make contingency plans and leave emergency contact
information with family members outside of Turkey. General information about
natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at
The WHO and Turkish
authorities have confirmed human cases of the H5NI strain of avian
influenza, commonly known as the "bird flu." Travelers to Turkey and other
countries affected by the virus are cautioned to avoid poultry farms,
contact with animals in live food markets, and any surfaces that appear to
be contaminated with feces from poultry or other animals.
In addition, the CDC and WHO recommend eating only fully cooked poultry and
In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely
available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local
law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in
forfeitures and/or fines.
makes every attempt to ensure that the travel information we present to you
is current. Before you depart, be sure to check with official government
sources to determine the status of critical information relating to a
5. ,There have recently been several train accidents on the popular Ankara-Istanbul Train route. These accidents have led to loss of life and injury. In 2003 there were 556 accidents (collisions, derailments, falling from train) resulting in 162 fatalities and 299 injuries on trains throughout Turkey. Previous years statistics reflect the same pattern. Two large accidents in 2004 on the Ankara-Istanbul line resulted in 45 fatalities and scores of injured alone.
6. Disaster Preparedness: Turkey is a seismically active country and earthquakes occur throughout Turkey. A major earthquake along the North Anatolian fault line in 1999 killed more than 20,000 people in the Izmit area (about 1 hour's travel east of Istanbul). American citizens should make contingency plans and leave emergency contact information with family members outside of Turkey. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.
7. The WHO and Turkish authorities have confirmed human cases of the H5NI strain of avian influenza, commonly known as the "bird flu." Travelers to Turkey and other countries affected by the virus are cautioned to avoid poultry farms, contact with animals in live food markets, and any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from poultry or other animals. In addition, the CDC and WHO recommend eating only fully cooked poultry and eggs.
8. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.
9. ThereArePlaces makes every attempt to ensure that the travel information we present to you is current. Before you depart, be sure to check with official government sources to determine the status of critical information relating to a particular county.
|Road Safety and Conditions||Top of Page|
While driving in Turkey, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
We recommend that you do not drive in Turkey: the behavior of Turkish drivers is significantly different from your experience with U.S. drivers. Driving in Turkey can be dangerous. For those interested in reviewing some of the difficulties of driving in Turkey, read this: http://turkey.usembassy.gov/driver_safety_briefing.html .
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/travel/tips/safety/safety_1179.html or the Turkey Road Report on http://www.asirt.org/.
The information below concerning Turkey is provided for general
reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location
Speed Limits in Turkey:
Our information on speed limits is as current as possible. Always confirm the speed limits with your rental car agent and observe the posted speeds limits whenever and wherever you drive.
Driving safely in Turkey requires good defensive driving skills.
Drivers should be aware of several driving practices that are prevalent in Turkey.
Tourists driving rented vehicles should pay close attention to the provisions of their rental contracts. Failure to do so could result in fines or confiscation of the car during your travels. Make sure that you are familiar with the terms, restrictions and costs related to your car rental (see our article on Rental Car Costs).
ThereArePlaces recommends that you do not drink and drive. In most foreign countries, especially in Europe and the UK, the maximum permitted blood alcohol levels are lower than those enforced in the United States. Penalties and punishments are significant. See our article on drinking and driving in foreign countries for more information.
For information on obtaining international drivers licenses,
contact AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance. For
additional general information about road safety,
including links to foreign government sites, see the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet home page at
|Medical Care||Top of Page|
The quality of medical care in Turkish hospitals varies greatly. The new,
private hospitals in Ankara, Antalya, and Istanbul have modern facilities
and equipment, and numerous U.S.-trained specialists, and have international
accreditation. However, they still may be unable to treat certain serious
conditions. The State Department prefers medical evacuation for its
personnel who will be giving birth; however there are private hospitals in
Ankara and Istanbul whose level of obstetric care is considered to meet
Western standards. Those planning to remain in Turkey for a prolonged period
of time should consider bringing or securing a supply of necessary chronic
medications (e.g., heart medications, birth control pills) to cover them
while they are in the country, as certain medications are difficult to
obtain in Turkey. Nursing care and diagnostic testing (including mammograms)
meet American standards at specific institutions in the larger cities.
Health care standards are lower in small cities in Turkey in comparison to
bigger cities such as Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, and Adana.
We strongly urge you to consult your 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 health 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, you should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing medical service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your departure, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur.
Your existing medical insurance carrier may cover "customary and reasonable" medical care while you are abroad. Usually, if reimbursement is provided, it is paid at a reduced rate (due to the use of an "out of system" provider). Check with your insurance carrier before you depart to determine the type and amount of coverage that may be provided. If coverage is provided, be sure to ask how claims should be filed and ask them to send some claim forms, in case you require any medical treatment while on vacation.
Read our article on
insurance to learn the factors
that you should consider before you purchase or decline to purchase a
travel related insurance policy.
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