Do I Need A Visa For Istanbul, Turkey

Image of passport.

by Erlend Geerts

in Visa, Money & Safety

If you want to enter Turkey, the rule of thumb is that you need to obtain a visa. However, as with any rule, there are some exceptions. These can be based on the country that issued your passport and/or the type of passport you’re holding. In this article I’ll explain the different passport types, who is required to obtain a visa, what kind of visas are available, how to easily get a tourist visa and how much it costs.

What Is The Difference Between an Ordinary And an Official Passport?

The term “official passports” covers diplomatic, service, special and official passports. Since you’re reading this page, it’s fair to assume you are not sent to Turkey on your government’s behalf. So, you can be pretty sure that you’re holding an “ordinary” passport.

Turkish Visa Types and Countries That Need a Visa

So now we’ve established that you have an ordinary visa, it’s time to hop over to the site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Republic. You’ll see an alphabetic list of countries. Look for the country that issued the passport you’re planning to use. It will say what passport holders are exempt from a visa, and which ones are required to obtain a visa. It will also explain what kind of visa (single or multiple entry) you’ll get, as well as its validity or duration.

Where Can I Get My Visa?

Turkish sticker visa with entry and exit stamps.

The old and now depreciated Turkish sticker visa.

Another rule of thumb is that you should obtain your visa prior to your arrival in Turkey. You can do so by applying for your visa at a Turkish consulate or embassy in your country at least one month before your departure date.

Yes, you guessed it right, there are again some exceptions. When you read your country’s visa rules earlier, did you come across the following sentence: “They can obtain [visa type] e-Visas…”? If so, then you’re very lucky.

This means that your country is on the shortlist of people that can acquire a visa electronically (online) before arriving in Turkey. You can find all the details on how to get your Turkish e-Visa here.

What Happened to the Old Sticker Visa?

In the past you could buy your visa after arriving in Turkey. But as of April 17, 2013, the sticker visa has been depreciated in favor of the e-Visa.

What Can I Do With My Visa?

If you’re eligible for a “multiple entry visa” (müteaddit giriş) then you can travel in and out of the country as much as you want within the validity period of your visa. If they issue a “single entry visa” (tek giriş) for inhabitants of your country, then you will have to buy a new one every time you cross the Turkish borders and wish to enter again.
Important note: under no circumstances are you allowed to work with your tourist visa. You also don’t want to overstay your visa since these fines grow rapidly.

Photo sources ( 1 ) ( 2 )

What's Next

Agnes chetty January 26, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I’m from the Seychelles and I learned at home that we no longer need an entry visa for Turkey for short visits , however on the this website , Seychelles is still listed as a country requiring visa.

Erlend Geerts January 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Hi Agnes,

In case the visa rule for your country has changed only recently, then maybe the Turkish government’s site hasn’t been updated yet. If you learned the visa change from a reputable source in your country, I would ask your local source for confirmation and also send a mail to kvdb@mfa.gov.tr. The latter is obliged to send you a response within a week.

Hey Rim Jeon March 11, 2012 at 6:22 am

I tried to find out if Koreans need a visa to enter Turkey, but Korea or Republic of Korea was not listed above. Would you be able to help me find out if I can enter only with my passport?

Erlend Geerts March 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Hi Rim Jeon,

It is listed there, but it was just not put in bold somehow. It’s just under Nigeria. Here is what it says:

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea): Ordinary and official passport holders are required to have visa to enter Turkey.

Kind regards.

shiela marie oliverio April 11, 2012 at 3:53 am

what if i’ll just stay at the airport, do i still need a transit visa. i’ll be going to kyrgyzstan and istanbul is my connecting flight from seoul. also, if i’ll be staying in istanbul for a day, is it possible to apply for a tourist visa at the airport? i am a holder of philippines passport.thank you.

Erlend Geerts April 13, 2012 at 1:30 am

Since you’re a holder of a Philippine passport, you need to have a visa to enter Turkish soil prior to your arrival, as stated in the link we provided. As a transit passenger, you can of course stay in the transit zone to connect to your final destination without a visa.

sandeep May 1, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Hi Erlend T. Davis,

I am a indian citizen in USA on a tourist visa. consulate site says USA visa can get at port of entry , just to confirm I called the consulate , but they say that tourist visa is not allowed. Do you have any idea ?

Thanks
sandesp

Erlend Geerts May 2, 2012 at 7:56 am

Hi Sandesp,

It’s not about what visas you have in your passport, but about the passport you’re using. Assuming that, as an Indian citizen, you have a passport issued by India, the rules (see link to Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Republic) for that country apply.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Sarah May 16, 2012 at 1:58 am

Hi Erlend,
It looks like I’m lucky, as I found this on the mfa.gov.tf site, “United States of America: Ordinary and official passport holders are required to have visa to enter Turkey. They can obtain three month-multiple entry visas from Turkish diplomatic representations abroad and also at the Turkish border gates.”
However, I also read on an expat website that there is a NEW RULE stating that foreigners (non-Turkish citizenship) cannot obtain back to back 3 month multiple entry visas anymore. In other words, I cannot obtain a three month visa and then three months later obtain another. There is supposedly a ‘wait period’of several months before one can apply for another 3 month visa. Have you heard of this?
Thank you for your time.

– Sarah

Erlend Geerts May 18, 2012 at 8:48 am

Hi Sarah,

You are right. This new rule came into effect in February 2012. This site explains it really well.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Louise June 15, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Hello,
I am a student who will be studying in turkey for 4 months.
According to this article, as a Canadian passport holder I “can obtain three-month multiple entry visas at the Turkish border gates.”
I know I need to get a residence permit, does this visa at the border allow me to do so later on? Can I book my “appointment” to receive the residence permit there as well?
Any information you think would be helpful would be much appreciated!

Thank you
Louise

Erlend Geerts June 16, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Hi Louise,

I think it’s best for you to contact the Turkish embassy or consulate in Canada. Explain your situation, and then they’ll probably provide you with a one month visa. During that time, you’ll have to apply for a residence permit while you’re here in Turkey.

Lorien July 7, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Canadians traveling to Turkey have an expensive visa: $60US (why US? We’re Canadian! No idea why this is so), to be paid before you go through customs. This is apparently because the Canadian government charges Turks a similar amount to visit Canada. Fair is fair, I guess. Since we’ll be travelling from the UK to Turkey, I’m hoping I can pick up some US dollars from the local UK bank to have in our pockets in order to satisfy the visa requirements. I’ve heard exact change in the requested currency is best and fastest, though people have paid in Euro or pounds stirling if they can get the visa people to agree…

John Villordon July 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Hi,

Thanks for this website.

I hold a Philippine passport.

I am a permanent resident in Sweden.

i have a transit flight via Istanbul Ataturk with a flight route: Copenhagen->Istanbul->Beijing. then return flight is the same: Beijing->Istanbul->Copenhagen

I have a 2-hour and 3-hour transfer/wait time during the transit in Istanbul.

Do i need a Visa for Turkey in this case? or can i make the Transit flight in Istanbul to the next destination (Beijing) without a visa?

best regards,
John

Erlend Geerts July 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Hi John,

You may want to check out this site, Istanbul in hours.

Ashar Siddiqui August 13, 2012 at 10:31 am

I have a 25 hr stop at the istabul airport and the airline is arranging a hotel for me. Just wanted to ask if I would need to get a visa for hotel?

Erlend Geerts August 13, 2012 at 10:49 am

I would guess yes, but ask the airline company to be sure.

irene August 17, 2012 at 4:19 am

do i need an exit visa to leave turkey? im going back to philippines. are there any requirements?

Erlend Geerts August 20, 2012 at 1:29 am

Irene, when you entered Turkey, they put an entry stamp (on the visa) in your passport. You’ll have to present them the same document, so upon leaving the country they can put the exist stamp, and check if you didn’t overstay.

Aizel September 14, 2012 at 4:06 am

Hello,

I am a Filipina who currently lives here in the Philippines, I have a boyfriend in Istanbul Turkey and I am planning to visit the country as we have talked. I just wanna ask if what would be my first step of planning in going there specially I dont have a visa yet and how much would it possibly cost?. I am glad I found this site for more info. and I am rarely expecting your response, to get everything started. Thank you.

Erlend Geerts September 18, 2012 at 11:03 am

Hi Aizel,

You will need to obtain a 15-day Visa from a Turkish embassy or consulate in the Philippines before you travel to Turkey. They will also be able to inform you how much this would cost.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Kathie Bourque September 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm

We are going on a 7-day cruise from Athens to Istanbul starting October 27th. Our first port of entry in Turkey is Kusadasi, followed by Canakkale and finally Istanbul. We are spending the night there before flying back home. We are holders of Canadian passports but currently live in Spain. I am a bit confused as to whether or not it will be possible for us to purchase visas at the port in Kusadasi or whether we should visit the Turkish Consulate in Barcelona before leaving. Thank you for your help.

Erlend Geerts September 18, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Hi Kathie,

I’m not a cruise expert, since I never took one myself, unfortunately. At the same time, I’m a bit confused. Will you not get off the boat in either Kuşadası or Çanakkale? If you do, my guess is you’ll already need a visa for that? Then again, other rules may apply for cruise ship travelers. Maybe they have a 24 hour excemption, or because they sleep on the boat and not on Turkish soil, they don’t need one for a certain amount of time.

My best advice for you is to ask the company you booked your cruise with. I’m sure they’re specialists on the matter.

Have a nice trip,
Erlend

Carol October 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm

On a cruise to Italy and will be flying from Venice Italy to Istanbul for flight back to US. I arrive in Istanbul at 10:30 pm and then leave Istanbul at 7:00 am, can I just stay in airport during that time? Do I need a visa for Istanbul?

Erlend Geerts October 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Hi Carol,

If you are a transit passenger, you can always stay at the airport without a visa.

Mithra October 16, 2012 at 3:34 am

Hi,

I am studying in USA but hold an Indian passport. On my way to India I have a 6 hour wait time. I would like to visit Istanbul as I have never been there. On the embassy website nothing is written about how I can get a transit visa? It would be very helpful if you would explain me the procedure to get a transit visa. Thanks.

Best,
Mithra

Erlend Geerts October 16, 2012 at 10:30 am

Hi Mithra,

Although a six hour wait time might be a bit short to really head downtown and back, you will need to have a visa. For Indian passport holders, the rule is as follows: Ordinary passport holders with a valid Schengen, OECD member’s visa or residence permit may get their one month single entry visas at the Turkish border gates upon their arrival. If not, you should get a visa from the Turkish embassy or consulate prior to your arrival.

Erlend

carl October 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Hi Erlend,

Thanks for this very informative site you have about Turkey. I’ve read this website, http://www.mfa.gov.tr/visa-information-for-foreigners.en.mfa but it looks like it is outdated from the recent changes made in the Turkish foreign affairs regarding visa exemptions. I am a Filipino and currently holding a Philippine passport, it says in your site that I need to have a visa and I understood that but my query is since I’ll be going EVN and a stopover in IST for 10 hours before my flight to TBS en route to EVN, is there a slight possibility that my visa application will be denied even though it showed in my travel/ plane ticket that I’ll leave IST and will stay there for just 10 hours? By the way, I’ll get the Turkish transit visa once I’m back in the Philippines but currently I cant do that since I’m out of the country.

I’m kinda worried coz I dont wanna stay in Ataturk for 10 hours looking to people going in and out of the airport.

Best regards,
carl

Erlend Geerts October 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Hi Carl,

From what I can tell based on the official Turkish website regarding visas (see your link), you don’t need a visa for up to 21 days. Apparently, the government updated the site and made modifications to the visa rules for people with Philippine passports. Unfortunately, the website never shows the last update date, nor what changes were made.

So, it looks you’ll be able to go into the country briefly. Again, this is not my guarantee, just what I understand from the latest rules.

Good luck,
Erlend

carl October 26, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Thanks a lot Erlend. I dont know if this is correct but a handy Turkish language could help, tusekerlar. =)

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