State Department: Turkey - Consular Information Sheet, July 31, 1997
Turkey - Consular Information Sheet
July 31, 1997
Country Description: Turkey is a moderately developed
nation with extensive tourist facilities of all classes in the main tourist
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, N.W., 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. Holders of official and
diplomatic passports must obtain a visa prior to arrival in
Turkey. Tourists may purchase a sticker visa at the port of entry.
Areas of Instability: For years, urban and rural acts
of terrorism throughout Turkey have caused loss of life and injury to
government officials, civilians and some foreign tourists. While most
incidents have occurred in eastern Turkey, one terrorist group, the
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) claims to target tourist sites and
tourist-oriented facilities in western Turkey as well, in an effort to
inflict economic harm on the country. 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 August
1995, several bombings in Istanbul resulted in two deaths and 36 injuries.
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: Travel to southeastern Turkey could
be hazardous, with the exception of coastal areas. 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, daytime incidents do occur. 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 southeastern 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, and Bingol. The provinces of Elazig, Mus, and Mardin are
considered "sensitive areas" and are designated one level below state of
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 from those areas. 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 proved 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 Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.
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 Istanbul, some
tourists have been robbed by English or French-speaking foreigners who have
first befriended them, then drugged 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. An
"Istanbul Street Crime Briefing" is available on the U.S. Embassy Ankara's
web site at http://www.usia-ankara.org.tr or from the Consular Affairs web
site at http://travel.state.gov/turkey.html.
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 when night
falls. Turkey has a very high rate of accident fatalities and injuries to
pedestrians. It is imperative to drive defensively and 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 driver safety information
available on request, or it can be accessed directly from the Consular
Affairs or U.S. Embassy Ankara web sites listed above.
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 on and are residing under their Turkish identity documents. Those
who may be affected should inquire prior to traveling at a Turkish embassy
or consulate to determine their status. 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.
Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations:
U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the
U.S. Embassy or at one of the U.S. consulates where updated information on
travel and security in Turkey is available.
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara is located at 110 Ataturk Boulevard,
tel. (90)(312) 468-6110. The fax number is (90)(312) 468-6131.
Pre-recorded American citizen and visa information is available on
extension 2545. The Internet homepage is: http://www.usis-ankara.org.tr. A
variety of information, including visa procedures, American citizen
services and road safety, is available from the home page.
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 U.S Consulate's web site:
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.
There is a U.S. Consular Agent in Izmir located at Kazim Dirik Caddesi
13/8, Atabay Is Merkezi, Daire 805, Pasaport, Izmir, 35210, tel. (90)(232)
441-0072/2203. The fax number in Izmir is (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 Friday afternoons.
All U.S. government offices in Turkey are open Monday through Friday and
are closed on Turkish and American holidays.
This replaces the Consular Information
Sheet dated October 24, 1996, to update information on areas of
instability, eastern provinces, dual nationality, and public safety, and to
include web site addresses.