State Department: Turkey - Consular Information Sheet, July 20, 1999
Turkey - Consular Information Sheet
July 20, 1999
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Turkey is a moderately developed
nation with a wide range of tourist facilities of all classes in the main
tourist destinations. The capital city is Ankara.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required.
Holders of tourist passports can purchase a sticker visa for $45 at the
port of entry. For further information, travelers in the U.S. may contact
the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey at 1714 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 659-8200, or the Turkish consulate
in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, or New York. Overseas, travelers may
contact a Turkish embassy or consulate. Holders of official and diplomatic
passports on official business must obtain a visa before arrival in Turkey
from a Turkish embassy or consulate; those on private travel may receive a
visa free of charge before arrival from a Turkish embassy or consulate, or
obtain one upon arrival at the port of entry for $45. All travelers are
advised to obtain entry stamps at the first port of entry on the passport
page containing their visa prior to transferring to domestic flights.
Failure to obtain entry stamps at the port of entry has occasionally
resulted in serious difficulties for travelers when they attempt to depart
DUAL NATIONALITY: Male U.S. citizens between the ages
of 20 and 38, who are also considered to be Turkish citizens, may be
subject to conscription and compulsory military service upon arrival, and
to other aspects of Turkish law while in Turkey, particularly if they
entered the country and are residing in Turkey based on their Turkish
identity documents. Those who may be affected should inquire at a Turkish
embassy or consulate to determine their status prior to traveling. In some
instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide
protection abroad. Dual nationals may be subject to Turkey's laws, which
impose special obligations. For additional information, please see the
Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for the Dual
SAFETY/SECURITY: For years, urban and rural acts of terrorism
throughout Turkey have caused loss of life and injury to government
officials and civilians in Turkey, including some foreign tourists.
Turkish authorities conduct highly effective counter operations. Most
incidents have occurred in eastern Turkey. However, a terrorist group,
the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), has occasionally targeted tourist
sites and tourist-oriented facilities in western Turkey, as well, in an
effort to inflict economic harm on the country. In recent years,
several PKK bomb attacks, including some at Istanbul's most popular
tourist attractions, resulted in the deaths of four people, including
two foreign tourists, and 36 injuries. The PKK also was believed
responsible for an explosion at Istanbul's Egyptian spice bazaar on July
9, 1998, which caused seven deaths and a number of injuries, including
PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was convicted of treason on June 29, 1999 and
given the mandatory death sentence. The decision is under appeal. Since
his arrest in February, there has been an increase in the frequency of
terrorist activity in Turkey. Events since then have included an attack on
an Istanbul department store (generally patronized by Turkish customers),
which left 13 dead; placement of a pipe bomb near a Burger King in
Istanbul, which was defused in time; a suicide bomber who took her own life
while attempting to attack a police bus in Istanbul's Taksim Square; and a
bomb placed under a truck in Istanbul. In early summer 1999, Turkish
police thwarted an attack planned by the DHKP/C (formerly known as Dev-Sol)
on the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, and defused a pipe bomb outside
a popular nightclub in Istanbul's Taksim area. Due to PKK bombings on
local intercity buses, travelers may be subject to security baggage
screening by the Turkish national police. Some terrorist groups have also
targeted the personnel and property of organizations with official and
commercial ties to the United States. American citizens visiting or
residing in Turkey should carefully consider security precautions and
whether to avoid places where large crowds congregate.
EASTERN PROVINCES: The PKK remains active in certain
parts of southeastern Turkey, and travel to that region should only be
undertaken with care and planning. The following provinces have been under
a state of emergency since 1978: Van, Hakkari, Sirnak, Tunceli, Diyarbakir
and Stirt. The following additional areas are considered "sensitive areas"
or one level below state-of-emergency status: Mus, Mardin, Batman, Bingol,
and Bitlis. The provinces in Adana, Adiyaman, Antakya (Hatay), Elazig,
Gaiantep, Kahraman Maras, Kilis, Malatya, Icel, Osmaniye and Sanliufra are
not under a heightened state of alert. Mount Ararat is a special military
zone and access is prohibited. In light of these security conditions, the
U.S. military has advised its personnel to avoid all those regions under a
heightened state of alert (both state of emergency and "sensitive status"
provinces). U.S. Embassy and Consulate personnel travel to provinces under
the state of emergency only for U.S. Government business.
During the summer of 1998, several incidents of terrorist activity were
carried out by the PKK in the provinces under state of emergency. Turkish
Hizballah, the Turkish Workers' and Peasants' Liberation Army (TIKKO) and
rural elements of the DHKP/C group, formerly known as Dev- Sol, have
carried out isolated actions in the following provinces: Agri, Amasya,
Tokat, Sivas, Van, Trabzon and Rize. These attacks are directed not only
against Turkish police and military installations, but also against
civilian targets, including public ground transportation. While most
attacks have been at night, daytime attacks have increased in the past
In August 1998, police thwarted a suicide bomb attack with the arrest of
a would-be bomber in Adana. In July 1999, a suicide bomber attacked a
police station in Adana, killing herself and wounding 17 people. In the
past, the PKK has kidnapped foreigners in eastern Turkey to generate media
attention for its separatist cause. A number of foreigners, including
Americans, have been detained by the PKK and subsequently released.
Visitors to any part of the southeast are advised to travel only during
daylight hours, and only on major highways. Travelers are cautioned not to
accept letters, parcels or other items from strangers for delivery either
in or outside Turkey. The PKK has attempted to use foreigners to deliver
messages and packages. If discovered, individuals could be arrested for
aiding and abetting the PKK, which is a serious charge.
A "Southeastern Turkey Briefing" is available on the Embassy Ankara
website under "Security Matters" at www.usis-ankara.org.tr.
CRIME INFORMATION: Street crime is not a major concern
in Turkey. However, as in other large metropolitan areas throughout the
world, there is some crime against tourists, particularly in Istanbul,
including pickpocketing, purse snatching and mugging. In 1998, more than a
dozen American, Canadian and European tourists were robbed by English or
French-speaking foreigners, who identified themselves as Tunisian,
Moroccan, and Romanian. These persons befriended the tourists and then
drugged them, using tea, juice, alcohol, or food. We have been informed
that the two most common drugs are nembitol, known on the street as "sari
bombasi" ("the yellow bomb") and benzodiazepine. In one case, an American
died from the effects of the drug that had been intended to put him to
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
The Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" is available from
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402. The website is http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs.
It provides useful information on guarding valuables and protecting
personal security while traveling abroad. An "Istanbul Street Crime
Briefing" is available on the U.S. Embassy Ankara's website at http://www.usis-ankara.org.tr or
from the Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov/turkey.html.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are available,
but may be limited outside urban areas. Serious medical problems requiring
hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost
thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate
cash payment for health services.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do
not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
Uninsured travelers, who require medical care overseas, may face extreme
difficulties. Travelers have found that supplemental medical insurance
with specific overseas coverage, including air evacuation, has proved
useful. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas
hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses
that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for
psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of
Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling
Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax:
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Reported cases of cholera and
other water- borne diseases in metropolitan Istanbul decreased in 1998. In
the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, there are recurring outbreaks of
dysentery, typhoid fever, meningitis and other contagious diseases.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions can be obtained
from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for
international travelers tel. 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), fax 1-800-
CDC-FAXX (1-800-232-3299), or via their Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the United States. The information below
concerning Turkey is provided for general reference only, and may not be
totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Roads in Turkey run the full spectrum from single lane country roads to
modern, divided, trans-European motorways built to European standards.
Highways in the southwestern, coastal portion of the country, which is
frequented by tourists, are generally in good condition and well
maintained. Further information is available on the Embassy's website,
under "Driver Safety".
For specific information concerning Turkey's driver's permits, vehicle
inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Turkish
Tourism and Information Office in New York via the Internet at www.Turkey.org/Turkey, or write to
821 United Nations Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10017, tel. 212/687-2194,
687-2195, fax 212/599-7568.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Turkey's Civil Aviation
Authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety
standards for oversight of Turkey's air carrier operations. For further
information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within
the U.S. at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air
carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For
information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may
contact the Pentagon at tel. 1-703-697-7288.
Domestic Turkish Airlines (THY) flights were hijacked in February and
September 1998 by unstable individuals who each falsely claimed to have a
bomb or weapon. Both incidents were successfully resolved without injury.
Neither represented a breach of airport security. A THY flight was
hijacked in October 1998. Turkish authorities successfully ended the
hijacking with no injury to passengers or crew.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Unauthorized purchase or removal
from Turkey of antiquities or other important cultural artifacts is
strictly forbidden. Violation of this law may result in imprisonment. At
the time of departure, travelers who purchase such items may be asked to
present a receipt from the seller as well as the official museum export
certificate required by law. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of
Turkey in Washington, D.C. or one of Turkey's consulates in the United
States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a
U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not
afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.
Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States
for similar offenses. Persons violating Turkey's laws, even unknowingly,
may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or
trafficking in illegal drugs in Turkey are strict, and convicted offenders
can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Y2K INFORMATION: U.S. citizens contemplating traveling
or residing abroad in late 1999 or early 2000 should be aware of potential
difficulties. They may wish to consider taking practical precautions
against possible disruptions of services triggered by the Y2K computer
phenomenon. Please monitor the home page of the Bureau of Consular Affairs
for updates on Y2K issues at http://travel.state.gov/y2kca.html.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international
adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and
international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our
Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html
or telephone (202) 736- 7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans
living in or visiting Turkey are encouraged to register at the Consular
Section of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey and obtain updated
information on travel and security within Turkey.
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara is located at 110 Ataturk Boulevard, tel.
(90)(312)468-6110; the recorded American citizen and visa information is
available on extension 2545; fax (90)(312)467-0019. The Internet address
The U.S. Consulate in Istanbul is located at 104-108 Mesrutiyet Caddesi,
Tepebasi, tel. (90)(212)251-3602, fax (90)(212)252-7851. Istanbul-
specific information can also be accessed via the Consulate's website at www.usisist.org.tr.
The U.S. Consulate in Adana is located at the corner of Vali Yolu and
Ataturk Caddesi, tel. (90)(322)453-9106, fax (90)(322)457-6591.
The U.S. Consular Agent in Izmir is located at Kazim Dirik Caddesi 13/8,
Atabay Is Merkezi, Daire 805, Pasaport, Izmir, 35210, tel. (90)(232)441-
0072/2203, fax (90)(232)441-2373. The Consular Agency hours are 9:00
a.m. to 12:00 noon and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
The office is closed to the public, except for emergencies, on Fridays.
All U.S. Government offices in Turkey are open Monday through Friday,
and closed on Turkish and American holidays.
A variety of information on visa procedures, American citizen services,
road safety, etc. is also available on the U.S. Embassy's website: www.usis-ankara.org.tr.
* * * *
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet
dated November 17, 1998, to update information on Dual Nationality,
Safety/Security (areas of instability and eastern provinces), Medical
Facilities, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Customs Regulations (other
pertinent information), Criminal Penalties, and Registration/Embassy and
Consulate Locations, and to add sections on Medical Insurance, Other Health
Information, Y2K Information, and Children's Issues.