Visa Requirements and Procedures for Istanbul, Turkey

Visa Procedures at Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey

by Erlend Geerts

in Visa, Money & Safety

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 [...] e-Visas via the website www.evisa.gov.tr. – You do need a visa to enter, but you can buy your Turkish Electronic Visa (or e-Visa) online, before you travel to Turkey. As of April 17, 2013, the so called sticker visa has been depreciated. You can read detailed instructions on how to obtain your Turkish Electronic Visa (e-Visa) here.
  • How much does it 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.
  • 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.

Photo Sources [1] [2]

What's Next

Mudassir Hafeez June 24, 2012 at 10:59 am

Hello Sir/Madam,

my name is Mudassir Hafeez I belong to Pakistan in which city Islamabad I want to visit Turkey/Istambul so please tell me what is your requirment.

Thanks

Erlend Geerts June 25, 2012 at 1:47 am

Dear Mudassir,

You will need a visa to enter Turkey!

However, if you have a valid (not expired) visa for a Schengen country, you can buy your visa at the border when entering Turkey.

If that’s not the case (or when in doubt), do get your visa PRIOR to coming to Turkey via the embassy or consulate.

Ali Raza June 29, 2012 at 6:59 am

Dear Sir,
I am from Pakistan and I am going Finland for my studies. I have residence permit card of Finland that is valid from August 2012 to August 2013.
I want to visit Istanbul in july for 1 week. I want to ask can I get the visa at boarder gate as I am having the Residence Permit of Finland but it is valid from August and I want to go in July?

Erlend Geerts June 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm

The only thing that matters is your passport. Look up the details/visa rules for the country mentioned on your passport.

Hany July 6, 2012 at 1:46 am

Hello,
I am dual citizen with U.S. and Egyptian passports. I live in the U.S. and will be visiting Egypt this summer. On the way back from Egypt I will have a rather long layover in Istanbul and I would very much like to see the city for a few hours before I depart for the U.S. Would I still need a visa in this case even though I will only be there for transit?

Erlend Geerts July 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Hi Hany,

You may want to check this out: Istanbul in Hours

mely esquivel August 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm

hello,
I just want to ask how much it is cost the passport visa going to turkey?? i want to go there for tourist in 90days?

Erlend Geerts August 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Did you follow the link to visa fees in the article?

sharam August 29, 2012 at 12:36 am

hi i am an iranian but i live in ireland and holding ireland travel document ,can i get a visa on arrive

Erlend Geerts August 29, 2012 at 7:54 am

Hi Sharam, well if you have an Iranian passport, then you don’t need a visa for a touristic stay up to 90 days. If you have an Irish passport, then you need to have a visa, which you can buy at the Turkish borders.

Rehan September 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Hi Sir,

My self and wife have ordinary Pakistani passports but valid US and UK visas.
I am hoping we can get visa on arrival at Istanbul airport and do not have to apply beforehand. Please confirm.

Thanks
Rehan

Erlend Geerts September 12, 2012 at 8:21 am

Rehan,

The amount of visas you have in your passport doesn’t matter. It’s the country that issued your passport that matters. So, in your case, you’ll have to check the lists (see links in the article) to find out what rules apply for visitors holding a passport issued by Pakistan.

Erlend

Actually read the lists October 16, 2012 at 4:39 am

This answer is not true — apparently Pakistani passport holders with valid visas for US/UK (or any OECD country) do NOT need a visa prior to entering Turkey. Please check again.

Erlend Geerts October 16, 2012 at 8:31 am

Well, if you say so, thanks for sharing that. I can only share what the official Turkish website has on the matter. I’m sure the can’t list every exception for every country.

Gebresilasie September 14, 2012 at 3:27 am

Dear Sir/madam,
I have the Ethiopian ordinary passport and valid shangai visa.I am to fly from Addis Abeba to Istanbul and from Istanbul to Frankfurt by Turkish air lines,and i will only have 2 hours of stay at Istanbul ataturk terminal.Do i need a transit visa? If so, how can i get the visa,and how much it costs?

Erlend Geerts September 18, 2012 at 10:58 am

When you stay in the transit zone of the airport (two hours is too little to visit Istanbul anyway) you won’t need a visa I think.

Saim September 29, 2012 at 10:50 am

Hello,

I am Pakistani citizen and studying in North Cyprus, i came here 3 months ago and i had visa valid till 30th septmber, due to some reasons i couldnt get any flight before this date, now i have one flight on 1st Oct at 1 ‘O clock. but that time my visa will be expired. So, can i enter in Turkey or not?

Erlend Geerts September 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm

You answered the question yourself, if your visa expired, you won’t be let in.

Juhainah Gandamra Harb October 5, 2012 at 11:30 am

Hi,
I’m planning to spend the Eid’al Adha in Turkey with my husband and 3 yrs old son this coming oct.25-28. i am a philippines passport holder and my husband and son has lebanese passport,

do i need to get visa for them?for myself? and usually how long it will take as the holidays are just 2 weeks ahead.

we are currently in Dubai UAE.

Please help as i would like to to make this really special for my family.

many Thanks

Erlend Geerts October 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Hi Juhainah,

For every person it’s the passport you plan to use that matters. So, for yourself you should check the requirements for Philippine passport holders (see link in article), and for your husband and son the rules applying for their passports.

Have a nice Bayram,
Erlend

Alejandra Alpuche October 6, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are a party of 4, and we are living from Mexico City to Europe next friday and the 21 we will arrived to Istambul from Berlin, and just find out that we need a Visa to enter Istambul, What can we do?

Erlend Geerts October 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Hi Alenjandra,

From what I understand, you would travel with Mexican passports from Berlin to Istanbul.This makes me assume you have Schengen visas for your stay in Germany. If that Schengen visa is still valid during your stay in Istanbul, according to the site of the Turkish government, you would be able to get your Turkish touristic visas upon landing in Istanbul just before border control.

Kind regards,
Erlend

ehsan October 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Hi Dear,
I live in UK and have got UK travel document (not British Passport), I’ve booked holliday but the Turkish consulate has not any free appointment for visa, is it possible for me to go turkey and ask for visa in airport?(or pay fine or something like it?)

Erlend Geerts October 19, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Hi,

I’m not familiar with the differences between a British and UK passport as you come to mention. If you have the latter, and it’s valid for at least 90 days from the day you arrive, you can buy your visa upon arriving in Turkey.

Erlend

Kyle October 19, 2012 at 5:07 am

Hi,

I am a US citizen. I had to apply to get my passport replaced this summer. The validity date on my passport is August 3, 2012.

My girlfriend and I purchased our air tickets on September 5, 2012 for our trip to Istanbul on October 23, 2012.

I was wondering since I will be just a few days shy of having my replaced passport for 90 days if I will be allowed to enter turkey?

I have just realized the 90 day rule. And may be confused about how it works.

Thanks

Kyle

Erlend Geerts October 19, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Hi Kyle,

I can’t speak for the state officers that will check your passport, but the rule of thumb is that they are very strict. If I were you, I wouldn’t take that risk and get a new passport with a longer validity date. Even the express service is cheaper than a return flight without ever entering the country.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Matt October 20, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Hi Erlend,

My wife and I are US citizens and will be arriving in Istanbul on the morning of October 24. We have ordinary US passports and understand from your article that we can purchase our visas at the Istanbul airport for $20 US each. We did not apply for a visa from the Turkish consulate earlier and now do not have time to do so since our trip is 3 days away.

Your article does not mention anything about the visa application form. Will we need to fill this out ahead of time to obtain our visas? There is an area indicated for a photo on the visa application. Do we need to obtain a passport photo to attach to our visa application when we arrive in Istanbul?

Thank you for your help,

Matt

Erlend Geerts October 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Hi Matt,

When you buy your visa upon entering Turkey, all you need is a passport with a 90+ day validity and the fee due in cash. Normally there is no form to be filled in. They’ll just put a sticker in your passport and stamp it at the border control.

Have a nice trip,
Erlend

grays October 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Hi..i’ m little bit confused about getting visa on turkey..i’m a Philippinse passport holder living in italy, as I read in republic of turkey ministry of foreign affairs (www.mfa.gov.tr), Philippines ordi-nary passport holder are already exempted in getting visa for 21 days, but as I go to the site of turkish embassy in rome (rome.emb.mfa.gov.tr), Philippines ordinary passport holder still needs to get visa..please help me about this coz I really want to visit turkey as soon as possible..tnx indvance and god bless. Hope for ur soonest replay.

grays October 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Sorry for the typo error…as i went to the link posted in this site is same as the link i wrote..so im really confused why on site of turkish embassy- rome Philippines ordinary passport holders still need to get visa..i hope u can help me..tnx again

Erlend Geerts October 27, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Hi Grays,

As I said before, I base myself on the info published on the official Turkish website. As you can imagine I’m not in touch with every embassy of every country present in Turkey. If in doubt, contact Turkish representation in the country you reside and ask for the latest details. If contradictory, point them to the government’s website.

Good luck,
Erlend

alok October 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Hi Sir,

i have an ordinary Indian passports .i am working in oman,in a 2 years employment visa since may 2012,i mean for the last six months.

i want to give a visit to istanbul. am i eligible for an on-arrival visa?
or have i to apply beforehand. Please confirm.

Thanks
alok

Erlend Geerts October 30, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Hi Alok,

If you have a valid OECD visa in you passport, you can buy a Turkish visa at the border. If not, you’ll have to apply for one before you visit Turkey.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Giusti November 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Hi,

I obtained the 90/180 tourist visa this year for holidays and it will expire in mid-February. I was wondering when will I be allowed to buy next visa as a tourist? Is there any obligatory break like 3-6 months, or if I will decide to come to Istanbul at the end of February let’s say, I will pay and get new sticker?

BR,
Justyna

Erlend Geerts November 5, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Hi Justyna,

I’m not 100% sure, but I think you should have a few months break. I know for sure that they’re cutting down on the old trick with going abroad for one day and return the next day with a new 3-month visa.

Sarah Williams November 6, 2012 at 10:02 pm

I’m British and I have been living in Turkey sometime and my visa expired a while ago. I need to return to England. Do you know If I’ll be able to leave the country?

Erlend Geerts November 7, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Hi Sarah,

I don’t know how long you overstayed your visa. You will be allowed to leave the country, but expect to pay a (hefty) fine first.

Good luck,
Erlend

Pezh November 28, 2012 at 2:59 am

Hi there,

I am a Iranian citizen with an ordinary passport and i have read the rules of being eligible of exempt to have a visa for staying up to 90 days on the website.
So i was just wondering if i were to visit Turkey for 6 months then do i have to apply for a different type of visa in advance? or do i get the permission of staying when i arrive there?

Thanks for your help

Pezh.

Erlend Geerts November 28, 2012 at 8:05 am

Hi Pezh,

If you want to stay longer than a regular tourist visa allows you to, you actually need to obtain a residence permit. You do this best before embarqing for Istanbul by contacting Turkish representation (embassy or consulate) in your country.

Kind regards,
Luxa

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