Road Conditions and Safety: Roads in Turkey range from single-lane country roads to modern, divided motorways. Highways in the tourist-frequented western, southwestern, and coastal regions of Turkey are generally in good condition and are well maintained, while conditions in other areas vary.
Be extremely cautious while driving at night. Driving after dark, especially in rural areas, requires extra caution due to dangers such as livestock on the road or narrow unmarked or unpaved roads.
In case of an accident or car trouble:
- Pull to the side of the road, turn on hazard lights, and use reflector triangles.
- For accidents with only vehicular damage, exchange insurance information, take photos of the accident before moving the vehicles, and depart if both sides agree. Turkish law requires drivers to fill out a Turkish-only form and provide pictures of the damage. Non-Turkish speakers should call and wait for the police.
- For accidents with injury or a disagreement, remain at the site of the accident. Do not move the vehicle ? even out of the way ? until the Traffic Police arrive. Report the accident to the Traffic Police (dial 155) or Jandarma (dial 156). Get a certified copy of the official report from the Traffic Police office (this can take several days).
- The owner of the damaged vehicle should also apply to the customs authority with his passport and accident report before attempting to repair the vehicle or leave the country without the vehicle.
- When in doubt, it is best to call the Traffic Police or the Jandarma in the event of an accident.
Traffic Laws: Drive defensively at all times. Drivers routinely ignore traffic regulations, including driving through red lights and stop signs, and turning left from the far right lane. These and other similar driving practices cause frequent traffic accidents.
- Penalties for driving drunk (blood alcohol levels at or above 0.05 percent) include a fine and the individual?s license being confiscated for six months.
- Using cell phones while driving is illegal and can lead to a fine.
Driver?s license requirements include:
- For stays up to 180 days: A valid U.S. driver?s license or an International Driving Permit and a U.S. driver?s license is acceptable.
- For stays longer than 180 days: Obtain a Turkish driver?s license from the Turkish Security Directorate, Traffic Department (Emniyet M?d?rl???, Trafik Hizmetleri Ba?kanl???).
- A vehicle can be brought into Turkey for up to six months. Find information at the Turkish Touring and Automobile Club.
Public Transportation: Major cities in Turkey have extensive public transportation options including taxis, subways, ferries, trains, buses and mini-buses. Licensed cabs are metered. Between cities, Turkey has bus routes, train, and air services.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Turkey?s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Turkey?s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Turkey should also check U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website – select ?broadcast warnings?.
Medical care provided in Turkish hospitals varies greatly. Though new private hospitals in Ankara, Antalya, Izmir and Istanbul have modern facilities, equipment, numerous U.S.-trained specialists, and international accreditation, some still may be unable to treat certain serious conditions. Health care standards are lower in small cities in Turkey.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Turkey to ensure the medication is legal in Turkey. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor?s prescription. Some medications may be unavailable in Turkey.
For U.S. citizens who live in Turkey, please see the Embassy?s website for information on the Turkish General Health Insurance (GHI) law. If you are considering enrolling in Turkish GHI, carefully research what is and is not covered. Once you enroll in GHI, your coverage can only be cancelled if your residence permit expires or if you no longer reside in Turkey.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
- Always carry with you a form of official government photo identification, such as a residence permit or copy of your passport.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. Turkish authorities may not inform U.S. officials of dual nationals arrested in Turkey. See our webpage for further information on arrests.
- Insulting the State: It is illegal to show disrespect to the name or image of Mustafa Kemal Atat?rk, or to insult the Turkish Government, flag, President, or security forces, including on social media. Erase any sensitive photos, comments, or other materials from your social media pages, cameras, laptops, and other electronic devices that could be considered controversial or provocative.
- Drug offenses: Turkish law enforcement is very aggressive in combating illegal drugs. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are very strict, and include heavy fines and jail sentences between four and 20 years.
- Cultural artifacts: Turkish law has a broad definition of ?antiquities? and makes it a crime to remove any from the country. If you buy antiquities, use authorized dealers and get museum certificates for each item. Failure to have a receipt and certificate at departure can result in your arrest, and jail time. Contact the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements.
- Dual citizenship: U.S.-Turkish dual nationals may be subject to laws that impose special obligations or hardships on Turkish citizens.
- Male dual nationals over the age of 18 may be subject to Turkish conscription and compulsory military service. Consult officials at Turkish Embassies or Consulates with any questions before entering Turkey.
- Counterfeit goods: Do not buy counterfeit or pirated goods, even if widely available. They are both illegal to bring back into the United States and to purchase locally.
- Religious proselytizing: There is no law against religious proselytizing.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: Homophobia, transphobia, and intolerance towards homosexuality are widespread throughout Turkey. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals are not protected by anti-discrimination laws and have been the targets of violence in recent years. References in the law relating to ?offenses against public morality,? ?protection of the family,? and ?unnatural sexual behavior,? are sometimes used as a basis for abuse by law enforcement officials. In addition, the law states that ?no association may be founded for purposes against law and morality,? a clause which has been used by authorities in attempts to shut down or limit the activities of associations working on LGBTI matters.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: The Turkish constitution prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of state services, employment, education and access to health care. However, access to buildings and public transportation for the disabled in most cities is quite limited, and generally, accessibility for people with disabilities in Turkey is poor. Airports and metro stations are typically accessible, but other forms of public transport (buses) are not.
Women Travelers: The Embassy is aware of multiple sexual assaults against U.S. citizens in Turkey, including assaults against tourists traveling alone or in small groups, and at spas and hamams.
- If you are sexually assaulted, please seek immediate help from the Turkish National Police, Turkish Health Services, or nearest hospital if you feel safe doing so.
- We urge you to contact the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.
See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Earthquakes: Earthquakes occur throughout Turkey. Make contingency plans and leave emergency contact information with family members outside Turkey. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and at Ready.gov. For more information on disaster preparedness, please click on the following links:
Safety and Security
Terrorism: The potential for terrorist attacks in Turkey, including against U.S. citizens and interests, remains high.
- Terrorists have previously attacked U.S. interests in Turkey, including the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, and the U.S. Consulate in Adana.
- Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Turkey. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas. Terrorists have also previously targeted Western tourists and expatriates.
Under laws passed in 2018, Turkish security forces have an expanded legal ability to stop and search individuals and to detain individuals without charge.
For your own safety:
- Carry a passport or identity document at all times.
- Follow local news sources during your stay to remain abreast of any potential areas, dates, or times of concern.
- Exercise caution and good judgment, keep a low profile, and maintain a high level of vigilance.
- Avoid demonstrations, which may become violent and unpredictable.
- Obey the instructions of Turkish security personnel at all times.
There have also been threats and acts of violence targeting religious minorities, groups, institutions, and places of worship in Turkey. The level of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic sentiment remains significant.
Protests and gatherings: Public gatherings are common in Turkey and can include protests or demonstrations, holiday celebrations, family events, sporting events, and political events in the lead up to elections and following the announcement of election results. U.S. citizens should
- Avoid demonstrations and gatherings, as they may become violent and unpredictable.
- Be aware celebratory gunfire is common in some areas and has resulted in deaths in recent years.
- Follow local authorities instructions, police may take action to disperse the group, including possibly using teargas or detaining participants, even when the government has approved gatherings.
Crime: Overall street crime in Turkey is low; however, you should use the same precautions you would take in the United States. The following types of crime have been reported in Turkey:
- Pick-pocketing, purse snatching, and mugging. Carry only necessary items when in tourist areas.
- Residential crime occurs more often in major cities, with criminals targeting ground floor apartments for theft.
- Sexual assault has occurred in Turkish baths (hamams) or spas, in taxis, and when traveling alone at night. Assaults involving date rape drugs have also been reported.
- Confidence schemes occur where travelers are tricked into ordering food or drinks at a restaurant, and then are charged incredibly high prices. Patronize well-established restaurants and ask to see a menu with prices before ordering anything.
- Scams are common in Turkey, particularly internet scams involving people who met online. Typically, the person in Turkey asks the other person to wire large sums of money to provide financial assistance. Do not send money to someone you have never met in person. Exercise due diligence when purchasing jewelry, rugs, or real estate. See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.
Eastern and Southeastern Turkey: We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens reconsider travel to specific areas in eastern and southeastern Turkey, and do not travel to areas near the Syrian or Iraqi borders.
U.S. Government employees are subject to travel restrictions to the provinces of Batman, Bingol, Bitlis, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hakkari, Hatay, Kilis, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Siirt, Sirnak, Tunceli and Van. Mount Ararat, in Agri province, is a special military zone, and access permission must be obtained before coming to Turkey from a Turkish Embassy or Consulate.
The following incidents and activities have taken place in eastern and southeastern Turkey:
- Terrorist attacks: Terrorist groups, including Da?esh, also referred to as The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or The Islamic State of Iraq and ash Sham (ISIS), and the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers? Party), have conducted large-scale attacks in the area, including suicide bombings, ambushes, and the detonation of car bombs, improvised explosive devices, and other homemade weapons. The PKK has attacked Turkish military and police personnel in the eastern and southeastern provinces, occasionally harming bystanders.
- Restricted access: Turkish security forces control access to the southeastern provinces of Hakkari, Mardin and Sirnak along the Iraqi border, and the entire Turkey-Syria border. Do not photograph or video Turkish military operations or attempt to enter military installations anywhere in Turkey.
- Shootings: Turkish towns located along the border with Syria have been struck by bullets and artillery rounds that originate in Syria, some resulting in deaths or injuries.
- Roadblocks: Use commercial air travel whenever possible while traveling to southeastern Turkey. If road travel is necessary, drive only during daylight hours and on major highways. The Turkish Jandarma (rural police) monitors checkpoints on roads. Cooperate if stopped at a checkpoint. Be prepared to provide identification and vehicle registration. Remain calm, do not make any sudden movements, and obey all instructions. We strongly discourage the use of public transportation in the southeastern region.
- Demonstrations: Violent clashes have taken place between Kurdish groups and Turkish police resulting from organized demonstrations.
- Curfews: The Turkish Government has instituted temporary curfews in cities throughout the southeast due to blockades of certain neighborhoods by the PKK. Adhere to any locally imposed curfews.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police by dialing 155 and contact the U.S. Embassy or nearest consulate. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime. See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas. We urge U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault to contact the U.S. Embassy or closest consulate.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- Provide general information regarding the victim?s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion.
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find resources for accommodation and flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance and visit the Embassy webpage for resources.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules with regard to best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
Visit the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey website for the most current visa and residency permit information.
- In Turkey, contact the nearest Directorate General of Migration Management office to obtain a residence permit.
Obey all Turkish visa regulations and maintain valid residence permits at all times. The U.S. Embassy is unable to assist with Turkish immigration or visa-related matters. Turkish authorities enforce immigration laws.
- Passports must be valid for six months beyond your entry date. You will be denied entry into Turkey if there is not enough space for entry and exit stamps in your passport.
- You need a visa to travel to Turkey. For tourism or commercial travel of up to 90 days within a 180 day period, obtain a Turkish visa from Turkish missions abroad or from the e-Visa application system prior to arrival.
- U.S. citizens traveling on cruise ships can enter visa-free for a maximum of 72 hours with permission from authorities at the port of entry.
- Get entry and exit stamps. You must have a Turkish entry stamp to fly domestically. Get an exit stamp in your passport when leaving the country or you may face difficulties re-entering Turkey in the future and a fine.
- If you are planning to work, study, or conduct academic or scientific research in Turkey, you must receive a visa from a Turkish embassy or consulate before arriving in Turkey. Visit ?Living in Turkey? on the U.S. Embassy?s website.
Syria: See the Syria travel advisory. The U.S. Embassy in Damascus suspended operations in February 2012. The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against all travel to Syria. At this time, the Turkey-Syria border is closed except in cases of urgent medical treatment or safety from immediate danger as defined by the Government of Turkey.
Iraq: See the Iraq travel advisory. The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against all travel to Iraq. The Turkish Government tightly controls entry and exit on the border.
HIV/AIDS restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Turkey.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Turkey for information on U.S. – Turkey relations.
Travel Embassy and Consulate
110 Atat?rk Blvd.
Kavaklidere, 06100 Ankara
Telephone: +(90) (312) 455-5555
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(90) (312) 455-5555
Fax: +(90) (312) 466-5684
Contact American Citizen Services Ankara
U.S. Consulate General Istanbul
Istinye Mahallesi, ?? ?ehitler Sokak No.2
Istinye 34460 ? Istanbul, Turkey
Telephone: +(90) (212) 335-9000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(90) (212) 335-9000
Fax: +(90) (212) 335-9102
Contact American Citizen Services Istanbul
U.S. Consulate Adana
Girne Bulvari No. 212,
G?zelevler Mahallesi, Y?regir
Telephone: +(90) (322) 455-4100
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(90) (322) 455-4100
Fax: +(90)(322) 455-4141
Contact American Citizen Services Adana