turkish business translation

Turkish Visa System

The visa system for Turkey can be both relatively simple and mind-bogglingly complicated at the same time! There is no one size fits all´ approach, with the availability of visas, type of visas, the cost and length of visas all different depending on your nationality. 

The good news is that if you are American, or British, you DO need an entry visa to visit Turkey but can secure one relatively easily. You can contact the Turkish consulate in your country before you travel, or, even easier, just turn up at any Turkish airport and pay a small fee to secure your visa there and then! 

Here we explain who needs a visa to Turkey and how to get one.

Getting a Visa to Turkey

At the outset, we should point out that not all nationalities need a tourist or entry visa to enter Turkey. Passport holders for Greece, France, Germany, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore, as well as numerous other nationalities, for instance, are entitled to a 90 day stay in Turkey without having to get any visa at all. 

Others - including visitors from the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia and Spain - can arrive at the border, pay for a tourist permit or visa and just walk into the country. However, it is necessary to check with a travel agent regarding the visa requirement clause each time you visit Turkey, as there are often changes to the fees or to the rules between visits. 

Should you choose, or need, to gain your visa from the Turkish consulate, embassy or high commissioner in your home country before you travel, there are certain points to remember to make your experience a more pleasant one. 

Most embassies will require you to visit the consulate in person, though some may allow applications by mail in exceptional circumstances. They usually also allow family members (partners and children) to apply at the same time, although group applications are not usually allowed. Go there wearing your best clothes and be on your best behavior. It is essential to impress the embassy officials because they are the representatives of the country you wish to visit and are empowered to grant your visa. 

Be informed about what you need to carry to the consulate - usually, a passport, completed visa application form (which you can often download first from their website), photos, letters of recommendations, air tickets and other documents. You may also need to show you have a lot of money in your bank account or provide guarantees for means of subsistence. You will also need to provide a non-refundable visa processing fee. Most embassies will now list their requirements on their website in order to expedite the process - it is worth looking that up before you go. That said, different embassies for the same country often behave differently and thus while some require lots of documents, others ask for nothing. It`s always best to be on the safe side and carry everything. 

Visa application hours are only a few hours in the morning; it is best to get there early to avoid the hassle of standing in a long queue. Visa applications can normally take up to three days to process, during which time the passport generally stays with the embassy. For contingency, it`s better to ask for a receipt of the passport from the consulate authority. Citizens of some countries or complicated cases, however, may find that the process takes considerably longer if their application needs to be considered by the local authorities in the part of Turkey that they wish to visit. This can then take on average up to six to eight weeks. Holders of travel documents, such as alien´s passport and refugee status, cannot obtain visas at port of entry but should apply to the consulate in person for a visa at least six weeks in advance as their application has to be approved by the Ministry of Interior in Turkey. 

Finally, make sure that there is minimum validity of six months on your passport from the date of your entry into Turkey.

Purchasing a Visa over the Counter

Some nationalities, including but not limited to, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States of America, can obtain a visa direct from the port of entry in Turkey rather than going through the Turkish consulate.

The visa counter in Turkish airports is usually located near or just before the passport control area inside the arrivals hall. To obtain your visa, you will need to pay a set fee in Euros or American dollars. This amount will differ according to your nationality. Americans, for instance, must pay $20, while British ordinary passport holders should pay £10 in STERLING. Scottish notes will not be accepted. Both amounts must be paid in cash. Traveler´s cheques, Turkish lira or credit cards will not be accepted. It is very important, therefore, that you check the amount of money you are required to pay before you travel and carry it in cash on your person. Please note that you need to pay this money for each person traveling with you – children included – regardless of whether they are on your passport or not. 

This fee will grant citizens of the above countries a 90 day multiple-entry sticker-type visa. This type of multiple-entry visa allows you to holiday in Turkey for up to 90 days but you are not allowed to work (paid or unpaid), reside, study or establish a business in Turkey during that time.

Types of Visas

Generally there are two types of tourist visas - a single-entry visa (called Tek giris) and a multiple-entry visa (called Muteaddit giris). A single-entry visa allows a one-time entry into Turkey and once you leave the country (irrespective of your length of stay) you need to obtain a separate visa to re-enter Turkey. A multiple-entry visa, on the other hand, permits multiple entries into the country within the span of its validity without incurring any additional cost. If you plan to enter and leave Turkey 4-5 times in a span of three months, for instance, it is worthwhile going for a "Muteaddit giris". Certain nationalities will automatically be granted a multiple-entry visa on payment of their fee at their port of entry. 

Important note: If you plan to make use of this and leave and re-enter the country within your period of 90 days, make sure you do not overstay your welcome! The 90 days must cover you for the ENTIRE time you are in Turkey, and not just parts of that time. The penalty for over-staying your visa can be a fine (which increases depending on the time spent over the time limit), potential deportation and in some cases, a ban on returning to the country. This ban can be anywhere between three months and five years.

The visa application form entails two important sections - occupation and purpose of visit. A general tourist visa does not permit working (paid or unpaid), residing or studying in Turkey. For such purposes, you need a work/study visa as well as a residence permit. 

If you are an ordinary passport holder, you cannot indulge in any diplomatic, military or official business in Turkey. For such purposes, your visa needs to be stamped with the words "official passport". 

Similarly, if you want to shoot documentary films, go for an archaeological excavation or conduct research, you have to apply for prior special permission from the Turkish authority. 

Visa requirements for truck drivers are also separate.

Fees and Visa Validity

Though there are some controversies regarding the visa fee structure as levied by the Turkish government, the current fees charged for entry visas at border gates can vary by as much as $45 (or 35 Euros) depending on nationality. 

Canadian and Norwegian citizens currently pay the most to enter Turkey at point of entry - paying 60$ for a 90 day entry visa. Americans pay $20, as do the Australians and the Russians. Buying a visa at a Turkish consulate before you travel will cost you more - American passport holders will pay $45 for a single-entry visa and $150 for a multiple-entry visa. British ordinary passport holders pay £10 in sterling at the border, or can obtain a six-month entry visa for £66 (£207 for one year) or a multiple-entry visa for up to five years for £207 from the Consulate General for the Republic of Turkey in London.

Citizens from Greece, France, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark and Chile among others do not have to pay at all - they do not need a visa to enjoy a 90 day stay in Turkey. Other nationalities must apply to their nearest Turkish consulate for permission to enter the country. As such, they cannot buy a visa from their port of entry. Other nationalities still can buy entry visas for less than 90 days.

Please note that visa requirements and fees are prone to change - you must speak to your holiday representative or Turkish consulate BEFORE you travel to confirm your personal visa situation.

Generally, a visa should be used within a maximum period of twelve months from the date of its issue unless otherwise stated. Otherwise it may expire. 

So if you are planning to make a trip to Turkey, do follow the procedure for obtaining a visa from the Turkish consulate or otherwise carry the exact amount of cash so that you can purchase it from the counter at the airport in Turkey. Do follow the legalities to avoid any trouble.

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