State Department: Turkey - Consular Information Sheet, November 16, 1998
Turkey - Consular Information Sheet
November 16, 1998
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Turkey is a moderately developed
nation with a wide range of tourist facilities of all classes in the main
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required.
Holders of tourist passports can purchase a sticker visa at the port of
entry for $45. 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, telephone: (202) 659-8200, or the nearest Turkish
Consulate in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, or New York. Overseas,
travelers may contact the Turkish Embassy or Consulate. Holders of official
and diplomatic passports must obtain a visa prior to arrival in Turkey from
an Embassy of Turkey. All travelers are advised to obtain entry stamps at
the first port of entry on the passport page containing their visas 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 attempting to depart the country.
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 in Turkey, including some foreign
tourists. 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 recent years, several PKK bomb
attacks, including some at Istanbuls most popular tourist attractions,
resulted in the deaths of four people, including two foreign tourists, and
36 injuries. In October 1997, the Turkish Communist Labor Party/Leninist
(TKEP/L) placed a bomb along the outside wall of the U.S. Consulate in
Istanbul. In January 1998 the DHKP/C (formerly Dev-Sol) terrorist group
attempted to conduct an attack against the U.S. Incirlik Airbase near
Adana. In April 1998, a bomb in the Sultanahmet tourist section of
Istanbul injured nine persons, including three tourists. The PKK was
believed responsible for an explosion at Istanbuls Egyptian spice bazaar on
July 9, 1998, that caused seven deaths and a number of injuries, including
several to tourists. In June 1998, the PKK placed a bomb on a local
Istanbul commuter train that killed one person and injured others. 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: The PKK remains active in certain
areas 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 provinces are considered sensitive
areas or one level below state of emergency status: Mus, Mardin, Batman,
Bingol, and Bitlis. The provinces of Adana, Adiyaman, Antakya (Hatay),
Elazig, Gaiantep, Kahraman Maras, Kilis, Malatya, Icel, Osmaniye and
Sanliurfa are not under a heightened state of alert. In 1995, Mount Ararat
was declared a special military zone and access is now prohibited. In
light of these security conditions, the U.S. military has advised its
personnel to avoid all tourist travel to 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 teerrorist 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 year.
In August 1998, police thwarted a suicide bomb attack with the arrest of
a would-be bomber in Adana. 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 of 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 - a serious charge.
A Southeastern Turkey Briefing is available on the Embassy Ankara web
site under Security Matters at: www.usis-ankara.org.tr.
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
decreased in 1998. 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 supplemental medical
insurance with specific overseas coverage, including air evacuation, has
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions can be
obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's
international travelers' hotline at tel: 1-877-FYI-TRIP
(1-877-394-8747) via its toll-free autofax at tel: 1-800-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC Internet home page at
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 have been robbed by English
or French-speaking foreigners, who have first befriended them and then
drugged them using teas, 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 sleep.
All of the reported druggings have been carried out by non-Turkish men who
identified themselves as Tunisian, Moroccan, and Romanian. 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 Ankaras web site at http://www.usis-ankara.org.tr or
from the Consular Affairs web site at http://travel.state.gov/turkey.html.
ROAD 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 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 in Ankara has a Turkey-specific driver safety briefing,
which can be accessed directly from the Consular Affairs or U.S. Embassy
Ankara web sites.
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 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
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: The U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Turkeys Civil Aviation
Authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety
standards for oversight of Turkeys air carrier operations. For further
information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within
the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAAs 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 (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; the incident is under investigation. Turkish
authorities successfully ended the hijacking with no injury to passengers
REGISTRATION AND EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS:
U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the
U.S. Embassy or 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,
telephone (90)(312) 468-6110. Recorded American citizen and visa
information is available on extension 2545. The fax number is (90)(312)
467-0019. The Internet address is: http://www.usis-ankara.org.tr.
The U.S. Consulate in Istanbul is located at 104-108 Mesrutiyet Caddesi,
Tepebasi, telephone: (90)(212) 251-3602, fax (90)(212) 252-7851.
Istanbul-specific information can also be accessed via the Consulates web
The U.S. Consulate in Adana is located at the corner of Vali Yolu and
Ataturk Caddesi, telephone: (90)(322) 453-9106, fax (90)(322) 457-6591.
The U.S. Consular Agent in Izmir IS at Kazim Dirik Caddesi 13/8, Atabay
Is Merkezi, Daire 805, Pasaport, Izmir, 35210, telephone: (90)(232)
441-0072/2203, Fax is (90)(232) 441-2373. The Consular Agency hours are
9:00 to 12:00 and 2:00 to 4:00, 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
are closed on Turkish and American holidays.
A variety of information on visa procedures, American citizen services,
road safety, etc. is also available on the missions web site, www.usis-ankara.org.tr
This replaces the Consular Information
Sheet dated July 31, 1997, in order to update Information on Entry
Requirements, Areas of Instability, Eastern Provinces, Crime Information,
Road Safety, and Dual Nationality, and to include web site addresses.