State Department: Turkey - Consular Information Sheet, October 24, 1996
Turkey - Consular Information Sheet
Country Description: Turkey is a moderately developed nation with
extensive tourist facilities of all classes in the main tourist
October 24, 1996
Entry Requirements: A passport and visa are required. For further
information, travelers in the U.S. may contact the Embassy of the
Republic of Turkey at 1714 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington,
D.C. 20036, tel: (202) 659-8200, or the nearest Turkish consulate in
Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, or New York. Overseas, travelers may
contact the nearest Turkish embassy or consulate.
Areas of Instability: For years, urban and rural acts of terrorism
throughout Turkey have caused loss of life and injury to government
officials and civilians, including some foreign tourists. While
most incidents have occurred in Eastern Turkey, one terrorist group,
the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has targeted tourist sites and
tourist-oriented facilities in western Turkey in an effort to
inflict economic harm on Turkey. In 1994, PKK bomb attacks at some
of Istanbul's most popular tourist attractions, including St. Sophia
and the Covered Bazaar, resulted in the death of two foreign
tourists. In July 1995, a leftist youth group took control of the
Galata Tower restaurant in Istanbul which was occupied by a number
of foreign tourists, including three Americans. All were released
unharmed after a brief time. In August 1995, several bombings in
Istanbul resulted in two deaths and 36 injuries.
Intermittent terrorist bombings have also occurred elsewhere,
including Ankara, causing loss of life and damage to property, and
PKK leaders have threatened suicide attacks. The first confirmed
instance of such an attack was the June 1996 bombing in Tunceli
Province which killed nine and wounded 35 Turkish soldiers. 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.
Eastern Provinces: With the exception of the Mediterranean and
Black Sea coasts, travel to southeastern Turkey is hazardous.
Terrorist acts by the PKK continue throughout the eastern provinces.
These attacks are not only against Turkish police and military
installations, but also against civilian targets, including public
ground transportation. While most attacks have been at night,
day-time attacks are increasingly frequent. Since 1984, 22,000
Turkish civilians and security personnel reportedly have been killed
in terrorist attacks. The PKK has kidnapped foreigners in eastern
Turkey to generate media attention for their separatist cause. A
number of foreigners, including Americans, have been held by the PKK
and eventually released. In 1995, Mount Ararat was declared a
special military zone and access is now prohibited. In light of the
dangerous security conditions for travelers in eastern Turkey, the
U.S. military has advised its personnel to avoid all tourist travel
to this region. U.S. Embassy and Consulate personnel travel to
eastern Turkey only for essential U.S. government business. The
following provinces in the southeastern part of the country have
been under a state of emergency since 1978: Van, Hakkari, Sirnak,
Batman, Tunceli, Diyarbakir, Siirt, Bitlis, Bingol, and Mardin. The
provinces of Elazig and Mus are considered "sensitive areas" and are
designated one level below state of emergency status. Travelers are
cautioned not to accept letters, parcels or other items from
strangers for delivery to the above areas. The same advice applies
to requests to take items out. There are indications that the PKK
terrorist group has attempted to use foreigners for this purpose.
If discovered, individuals could be arrested for aiding and abetting
the PKK - a serious charge.
Medical Information: Medical facilities are available, but may be
limited outside urban areas. Doctors and hospitals often expect
immediate cash payment for health services. The reported number of
cases of cholera and other water-borne diseases in the metropolitan
Istanbul area has decreased. In the southeastern city of
Diyarbakir, there are recurring outbreaks of dysentery, typhoid
fever, meningitis and other contagious diseases. U.S. medical
insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Travelers
have found that in some cases, supplemental medical insurance with
specific overseas coverage has proven to be useful. Further
information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers' hotline at
(404) 332-4559 or by visiting the CDC Home Page on the Internet,
Crime Information: As in other large metropolitan areas throughout
the world, there is some crime against tourists, including
pickpocketing, purse snatching and mugging. In Istanbul, some
tourists have been robbed by English or French-speaking foreigners
who first befriend them, then drug them using tea, juice, alcohol,
or food. 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. It provides
useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal
security while traveling abroad.
Public Safety: Travel by road in Turkey can be hazardous since
local drivers do not always obey traffic rules or take appropriate
safety measures, such as using headlights at the onset of darkness.
Turkey has a very high rate of accident fatalities and injuries to
pedestrians. It is imperative to drive defensively and to avoid
driving at night, especially in rural areas. Driving conditions off
the main highways and in remote areas are particularly dangerous.
In the eastern provinces, the incidence of terrorism and military
countermeasures pose additional risks for road travelers. Turkish
authorities expect travelers to cooperate with travel restrictions,
security check points, and other security measures. The U.S.
Embassy has a Turkey-specific driver safety briefing available on
Dual Nationality: U.S. citizens who are also considered to be
Turkish citizens may be subject to compulsory military service and
other aspects of Turkish law while in Turkey. Those who may be
affected should inquire at a Turkish embassy or consulate to
determine status prior to traveling. In some instances, dual
nationality may hamper U.S. government efforts to provide protection
Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the
country in which they are traveling. In Turkey, the penalties for
possession, use, and dealing in illegal drugs are extremely strict,
and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.
Other Pertinent Information: 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.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As a result of an assessment conducted
by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in March 1995, the FAA
found the government of Turkey's Civil Aviation Authority to not be
in compliance with international aviation safety standards for
oversight of Turkish air carrier operations. While consultations to
correct those deficiencies are ongoing, Turkish air carriers are
permitted to conduct limited operations to the United States,
subject to heightened FAA surveillance. The FAA is not providing
heightened surveillance for Turkish air carriers' operations to
destinations other than the United States. For further information,
travelers may contact the Department of Transportation at
Registration/Embassy and Consulate Location: U.S. citizens are
encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy
or one of the U.S. consulates and obtain updated information on
travel and security in Turkey.
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara is located at 110 Ataturk Boulevard,
telephone (90)-(312) 468-6110.
The U.S. Consulate in Istanbul is located at 104-108 Mesrutiyet
Caddesi, Tepebasl, telephone (90)-(212) 251-3602.
The U.S. Consulate in Adana is located at the corner of Vali Yolu
and Ataturk Caddesi, telephone (90)-(322) 453-9106.
There is a Consular Agent in Izmir at the Turkish American
Association, Sehit Nevres Boulevard, No. 23, Alsancak, telephone
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated November 24,
1995, to update information on areas of instability, eastern
provinces, public safety, and aviation oversight.