Visa Requirements and Procedures for Istanbul, Turkey

To enter Istanbul, or Turkey for that matter, most tourists will need some kind of visa. However, there are a few visa types, several ways to obtain your visa and different fees to pay. It all depends on your passport type, country of origin and the purpose of your visit. Follow these four steps to determine the easiest and cheapest way to get your visa for Istanbul.

Picture of passport and boarding pass.
Photo by © Mike

#1 What Kind of Passport Do You Have?

You’re probably not aware of this, but there are several passport types: diplomatic, special, service (together the so called official passports), and ordinary passports. Unless you are on a mission for your government (such as ambassadors, consuls, etc.) you are the holder of an ordinary passport.

Also make sure that your passport is valid for minimum 90 days longer than the duration of the visa. So, if you will receive a 90 day visa, make sure your passport’s validity is at least 180 days.

#2 What Is Your Country of Origin?

There is often quite a bit of confusion about this one. This does not mean what country you are traveling from before entering Turkey. No, this simply means what country issued your passport. So, if you are traveling with an American passport, then your country of origin is the United States of America. If you have two passports, check out both options, and chose the one which offers the easiest and/or cheapest visa procedure.

#3 Do I Need a Visa, And How to Get It?

The official and most complicated way to find out:

Go to the site of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, find your country, and read what it says for ordinary passport holders. If it says:

    • Ordinary passport holders are exempt from visa for […] days. — You’re among the lucky ones because you don’t need a visa. All you need is a valid passport.
    • Ordinary passport holders can obtain […] e-Visas via the website — You do need a visa to enter, but you can buy your Turkish Electronic Visa (or e-Visa) online, before you travel to Turkey. You can read detailed instructions on how to obtain your Turkish Electronic Visa (e-Visa) here.
    • Ordinary passport holders are required to have visa to enter Turkey. — If it only says that and nothing extra, then you should apply for a Turkish visa before you set off for Turkey. Here you can find the Turkish representation in your country. Start this procedure well in time, because this may take up to a month to complete.

The Easy And Foolproof Way

    • Surf to Electronic Visa Application System Site.
    • Fill in the country that issued your travel document, the travel document that you’ll be using, and the security verification. Press ‘Save and Continue’.
    • Read on the next screen in detail whether you’re exempt from Visa or not, whether you can apply for an e-Visa, or whether you need to apply for a visa at the nearest Turkish mission.

#4 How Much Will My Visa Cost?

This again varies from country to country. While applying for the online visa, it will say how much you have to pay per person before you make the actual payment.

#4 What Can I Do With My Visa?

Based on your country of origin, they’ll provide you a ‘multiple entry visa’ (müteaddit giriş) or a ‘single entry visa’ (tek giriş). These terms are pretty self-explanatory. With a multiple entry visa you are allowed to travel in and out of the country for as long as your visa is valid. If you leave the country with a single entry visa, then you’ll have to buy or obtain a new one before you can enter again. All visas mentioned here are tourist visas. Under no circumstances are you allowed to work in Turkey.

Foreigners, who want to shoot a documentary film, conduct a research or an archaeological excavation should get a special permission from the Turkish authorities in advance. Visa regime for truck drivers of a country may differ from the overall visa regime effective for citizens of that particular country. For further information, please contact a Turkish representation in your country.

That’s it, you’re all set to go and proceed with the border control. Have a nice stay.

Further Recommended Reading

  1. How to Get Your Turkish Electronic Visa Online and Avoid the Queue
  2. Istanbul Money Strategy: Cash Or Credit Card?
  3. Where to Stay in Istanbul – Beyoğlu or Sultanahmet
  4. Do you have a question? Ask it here!

Last updated on 13/07/2015