If you’re travelling to Turkey, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.
Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
Exercise a high degree of caution
Latest Travel Alert
The threat of terrorism in Turkey remains high. There have been numerous large-scale terrorist attacks in Turkish cities, including in Istanbul, in recent months and an ongoing threat in resort areas in the south and west of the country. Several attacks have targeted locations frequented by foreigners. Given this continued risk, you may wish to reconsider your need to travel to Turkey at this time.
Our general advice to Irish citizens in Turkey or those who do intend to travel to Turkey is to exercise a high degree of caution. You should avoid all demonstrations and minimise time spent in crowded areas, particularly those frequented by foreigners, follow local security advice, and monitor local media (such as hurriyetdailynews.com). You should also devise and/or review a personal security plan.
We recommend that you check this travel advice regularly and download the Department's TravelWise Smartphone App and activate alerts for Turkey. You can also follow the Irish Embassy in Ankara on Twitter (@IrlEmbAnkara) and on Facebook (Irish Embassy Turkey). If you need assistance, call 00353 1 408 2000 or 0090 312 459 1000.
The threat from terrorism in Turkey is high, including in both Istanbul and Ankara. There is a threat too in the Mediterranean and Aegean resort areas in the south and west of the country, though these have not generally been targeted so far. The terrorist threat in Turkey is multi-faceted and unpredictable, with several terrorist groups currently targeting the country. These include the so-called Islamic State (IS), the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and its offshoots. You should remain vigilant at all times, monitor travel advice and local media, and review personal security plans.
The Turkish military has ongoing operations in northern Syria and is actively involved in an operation against IS militants in and around the Syrian town of Al-Bab. There are operations too along the Turkish border with Iraq and in Diyarbakir. There is also serious unrest throughout the south-east of the country following the breakdown in mid-2015 of a ceasefire between the Turkish Government and the PKK.
In light of the current instability, we strongly advise against all travel to the border areas between Turkey and Syria, in particular the provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa and Mardin. You are also strongly advised against travel to the border provinces of Hakkari and Sirnak, as well as to Siirt, Tunceli and Diyarbakir provinces.
Coastal areas popular with Irish travellers are located at a substantial distance from these regions, but there have been multiple major terrorist attacks in Istanbul and Ankara, with some targeting locations frequented by foreigners. On 29 October 2016, the US Department of State ordered the departure from Turkey of family members of officials posted to the US Consulate General in Istanbul due to information regarding a planned attack on US citizens.
Demonstrations and large gatherings are currently banned in the capital, due to potential terrorist attacks. The Turkish intelligence services have also issued a warning regarding the threat of terrorist attacks for the provinces of Antalya, Izmir, and Gaziantep, in addition to Istanbul and Ankara. The authorities have said that security has been tightened in light of the current situation and a number of potential attacks have been disrupted.
Terrorist attacks are, by their nature, random and indiscriminate and cannot be predicted in advance. You should exercise caution, particularly in public places that are frequented by foreigners, avoid large public gatherings and all demonstrations, and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Particular vigilance is required in tourist areas such as Taksim Square in Istanbul, in airports and on public transport (including the metro systems in Istanbul and Ankara), and at locations close to police and military installations, which may be targets for terrorist attacks.
Below are major terrorist attacks since November 2016:
On 5 January 2017 there was an explosion, believed to be caused by a car bomb, outside the main courthouse in the western Turkish city of Izmir.
In the early hours of 1 January 2017, there was a major shooting attack in the Reina nightclub in the central Ortaköy district of Istanbul, which resulted in a large number of casualties. IS claimed responsibility for the attack.
On 17 December 2016, a car bomb exploded in the city of Kayseri, some 320 kilometres to the south-east of Ankara, killing 13 soldiers and injuring over 50 soldiers and civilians. Kurdish militants are widely believed to be responsible. Demonstrations, including directed at offices of the People's Democratic Party (HDP), subsequently broke out in several cities, some of which turned violent.
On 10 December 2016, a car bomb and suicide bomber detonated in close succession in two locations outside the Vodafone football stadium in the central Beşiktaş district of Istanbul. 44 people were killed, 36 police and 8 civilians, with over 150 more injured. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) claimed responsibility for the attack.
On 24 November 2016, an explosion outside the governor's office in the southern Turkish city of Adana killed two people and injured over 20.
Post-Coup Attempt Environment and the State of Emergency
The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy in Ankara continue to monitor developments following the thwarted coup attempt on 15 July. While the situation has calmed since then, the security environment remains potentially volatile.
There are increased police checks in busy areas, particularly in Istanbul, and on main roads across the country. Irish citizens should cooperate with officials carrying out these checks and keep your passport and a copy of your e-visa/residence permit with you at all times.
Rallies and demonstrations may occur at short notice. Irish citizens should remain very vigilant, particularly where crowds may gather, stay well away from any demonstrations, and stay informed of local developments and security advice.
On 20 July a three-month state of emergency was declared in Turkey, which has since been extended for a further three months. This inter alia suspends several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, extends the time the detainees can be held for questioning to 30 days, and restricts access to a lawyer. In this context, the Irish Embassy in Ankara may be limited in the assistance it can provide if you are detained.
There have been isolated cases of nationals or dual-nationals of EU Member States being detained, for example, because they worked, or intended to work, in an organisation suspected of links to the Gülen movement. Irish citizens intending to work in Turkey should exercise particular caution in this context. All intending travellers should follow instructions given by police or security personnel.
The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
You can contact the emergency services in Turkey by dialling:
- 101/112 – Ambulance
- 102 – Fire
- 100 – Police
Our tips for Safe Travels:
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
- Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
- Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.
Safety and security
Safety and security
The threat from terrorism in Turkey remains high. The problem is mainly in the south-east, however, there have been bomb attacks in major Turkish cities, including Istanbul and Ankara. Although some attacks have targeted security forces, there have also been random attacks in tourist areas.
Terrorist attacks are, by their nature, random and indiscriminate and cannot be predicted in advance. You are advised to exercise a high degree of caution, particularly in public places that are frequented by foreigners.
The political situation in Turkey is reasonably stable but always keep yourself informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser.
We strongly advise against travelling to the border areas between Turkey and Syria in light of the current instability in the region, in particular the provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa and Mardin. The Turkish military have operations along the Turkish border with Iraq and you are strongly advised against all travel to the border provinces of Hakkari and Sirnak. In addition, we would recommend against travel to the Siirt, Tunceli and Diyarbakir provinces.
While areas popular with Irish travellers are located at a substantial distance from these regions, vigilance is also required in tourist areas such as at Taksim Square in Istanbul and locations close to police stations, which may be targets for terrorist attacks. We also urge caution if using public transport, in particular the metro systems in Istanbul and Ankara.
Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational. The police will take measures such as the use of tear gas to control protesters. Stay away from military sites – taking photos of, or near, military or security installations and some public buildings, may be prohibited.
Violent crime against tourists in Turkey is rare but street robbery and pickpocketing are common in the major tourist areas of Istanbul. There have been a number of cases of theft from apartments in some of the coastal resorts. Take heed of your local tour operator representative’s advice, and wherever you are, take sensible precautions.
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
- Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations
- Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
Reporting a crime
If you’re a victim of a crime while in Turkey, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us the Irish Embassy or our Honorary Consuls if you need help.
If you’re planning to drive in Turkey, you should be extremely careful. Serious traffic accidents are common, particularly at night. Road safety standards are low, particularly outside towns and cities. Accidents are frequent and are often caused by poor driving, badly maintained vehicles and inadequate lighting.
If you want to drive:
- Bring your full Irish driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
- Be aware of Turkey’s traffic laws, such as speed limits
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you are stopped at traffic lights
Hiring a vehicle
If you are hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you are allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
In Istanbul, avoid hailing taxis on the street and only use taxis ordered by your hotel or those ordered directly from a taxi kiosk.
If you participate in extreme sports (including hot air ballooning), satisfy yourself that adequate safety precautions are in place. Only use reputable operators and insist on training before use. Make sure your travel insurance covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.
Stray street dogs are common in most towns and cities in Turkey. Local authorities take action to control and manage numbers but packs congregate in parks and wastelands and can, at times, be aggressive. Avoid approaching these dogs but if bitten, seek immediate medical advice as rabies and other animal borne diseases are present in Turkey.
Local laws and customs
Local laws and customs
Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal.
Turkey is an Islamic country and you should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions. Normally, the dress code in Turkey is the same as in Europe, however, you should dress modestly if visiting a mosque or a religious shrine (long trousers or dress and women should wear a headscarf).
You should always ask permission before photographing people.
Turkey has strict laws against the use, possession or trafficking of illegal drugs. If you are convicted of any of these offences, you can expect to receive a heavy fine and a prison sentence of up to 15 years. The Embassy maintains a list of English-speaking lawyers, but cannot get involved in legal cases.
If you need urgent health treatment during your stay, you should dial 112 to contact the emergency health services.
We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.
Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.
Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.
Your policy should cover:
- All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
- Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you’re making more than one trip in the year.
- 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
- Personal liability cover (in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property).
- Lost and stolen possessions.
- Cancellation and curtailment.
- Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports).
Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.
There have been water-quality issues in Turkey and visitors are advised to use bottled water whenever possible.
It is advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.
Entry requirements (visa/passport)
All Irish citizens require a visa to enter Turkey.
In accordance with Turkish legislation, the practice of obtaining visas upon arrival to points of entry to Turkey is slowly being phased out. Visitors therefore are strongly advised to obtain an electronic visa prior to departure. You can do so online at: https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en
All other travellers to Turkey should contact their nearest Turkish Embassy in advance of their visit to clarify their visa requirements. Contact details for the Turkish Embassy in Dublin are available at http://dublin.emb.mfa.gov.tr/ContactInfo.aspx
Six month passport validity is required from the date of entry to Turkey. Please check your passport in plenty of time before travel and if it needs to be renewed please see www.passport.ie
Tourist residence permit
If you wish to stay longer in Turkey as a tourist, you must apply for a tourist residence permit from the Foreigners Police Department in your local area of residence in Turkey. The new tourist residence permit may be granted for a maximum stay of six months. The maximum length of time you can stay in Turkey as a tourist is nine consecutive months.
If you want to study, work or stay beyond 90 days in Turkey you must apply for the appropriate visa and/or residence permit from the Turkish authorities. Residence permits for Irish citizens are free of charge, though you have to pay for the residence permit booklet. Applications and requests for further information should be directed towards the Foreigners’ Branch of your local police station or to the nearest Turkish Embassy or Consulate. Residence permits are not free of charge for all foreign nationals, so you may find that you have to insist that this is the case when you apply for a permit.
Overstaying your visa
Overstaying your visa can result in heavy fines and/or a ban on re-entering Turkey for up to five years, depending on the length of the overstay, and you’ll need to apply for a visa from the nearest Turkish Embassy or Consulate before returning to Turkey. Departing Turkey without paying the relevant fine will lead to an automatic five year ban on re-entry.
Visa requirements for Irish citizens are a matter for the Turkish immigration authorities and the Irish Embassy cannot intervene in individual cases relating to visas and overstays.
Travelling with children
If you are leaving Turkey with a child who is a dual Irish-Turkish national, you may be asked to show the Turkish immigration authorities evidence that the Turkish parent has given permission for the child to travel.
If you’re intending to buy property in Turkey, we strongly advise you to consult an independent legal advisor from the beginning of the process. Procedures in relation to property purchases differ significantly from those in Ireland and investors are advised to research the matter thoroughly before entering into any agreement.
For general advice on property purchases in Turkey, check the Turkish Ministry for Foreign Affairs Guidance for Foreigners.