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.
#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 anordinary 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 travelling from before entering Turkey. No, this simply means what country issued your passport. So, if you are travelling 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 What Visa Type Do I Need – If Any?
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 [...] visas at the Turkish border gates. — You do need a visa to enter, but you can buy the so called sticker visa at the airport after landing in Istanbul. This is by far the easiest procedure for people that need a visa to enter Turkey.
All you need is a valid passport and some cash money. You hand over your passport to the clerk sitting in the booth next to the border control, and he’ll paste a sticker in your passport. That’s it, no questions asked; just a swift money transaction and you’re all set.
How much does it cost? This again varies from country to country, so check out the latest visa fees at Turkish border gates. (I know it still says 2010, but they are the official and valid prices).
Important: make sure you bring the correct amount, in cash (no credit cards) and in the correct currency — there are no exceptions!
- 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.
#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.