Some nationalities don't need a tourist visa. Most that do can purchase a tourist e-visa online before travelling.

Customs Regulations

Imports

Jewellery and items valued over US$15,000 should be declared, to ensure you can take it out when you leave. Goods including the following can be imported duty-free:

  • 200 cigarettes
  • 200g of tobacco
  • 1kg each of coffee, instant coffee, chocolate and sugar products
  • 500g of tea
  • 1L of alcohol exceeding 22% volume, 2L of alcoholic beverages max 22% volume
  • Five bottles of perfume (max 120ml each)
  • Personal electronic devices, but only one of each type
  • Unlimited currency
  • Souvenirs/gifts worth up to €300 (€145 if aged under 15)

Exports

  • Buying and exporting genuine antiquities is illegal.
  • Carpet shops should be able to provide a form certifying that your purchase is not an antiquity.
  • Ask for advice from vendors you buy from.
  • Keep receipts and paperwork.

Passports

Make sure your passport will still have at least six months' validity after you enter Turkey.

Visas

Tourist e-visas (available from www.evisa.gov.tr) can be purchased online by nationals of 108 countries.

Visa Information for Different Nationalities

  • Nationals of countries including Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, Sweden and Switzerland don't need a visa to visit Turkey. A stamp upon entry grants them multiple-entry for up to 90 days.
  • Russians can enter without a visa for up to 60 days.
  • Nationals of countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, India, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, the UK and USA need a visa, which should be purchased online at www.evisa.gov.tr before travelling.
  • Depending on nationality, tourist visas are issued as either multiple-entry or single-stay and for periods of between 30 and 90 days.
  • Visa fees are US$20 to US$60, depending on nationality.
  • For most nationalities who receive a visa-free, multiple-entry, 90-day stay and those that receive a 90-day, multiple-entry visa, the visa is valid 180 days from the date of issue for a maximum stay of 90 days. This means you can spend three months in Turkey within one six-month period; when you leave, after having used up your 90 days, you can't re-enter for three months. Check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.mfa.gov.tr, www.evisa.gov.tr) for more information.

Tourist Visa Process

  • On the official Turkish government e-visa site (www.evisa.gov.tr), you must enter details of your passport and date of arrival in Turkey, click on the link in the verification email and pay with a Mastercard or Visa credit or debit card. No photos required.
  • Having completed this process, the e-visa can be downloaded in Adobe PDF format; a link is also emailed so it can be printed out later. It is recommended that you print out the e-visa to show on arrival in Turkey; keep it while in the country.
  • It's also recommended that applications are made at least 48 hours before departure.
  • Although many Western nationals can also obtain a visa on arrival in Turkey, this is not recommended as travellers have reported extra charges and bad experiences with the customs officials. Cash cannot be used.

Residency Permits

  • Turkey doesn't issue tourist visa extensions as 90-day tourist stays are granted as the norm for most nationalities.
  • If you want to stay longer in the country, you need to apply for a residence permit (ikamet tezkeresi) for touristic purposes. This permit does not allow you to work in Turkey.
  • Various other types of residence permits, such as work permits and spousal permits are available and are generally supported and applied for through your employer or spouse.
  • Touristic residency permits are typically valid for one year; the price varies according to the applicant's nationality and office of application, with charges starting at around ₺400 including administrative charges. The process is convoluted. Applications are made through https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr.
  • More details are available at the websites YellAli (https://yellali.com/advice) and Yabangee (https://yabangee.com/get-your-residence-permit-guide).

Residency Applications: The Nitty Gritty

Applications for a touristic residency permit are submitted online (https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr) after which you'll receive an interview time at the residency office where you apply. Application rules change regularly and are not applied consistently. For a first-time application you need:

  • A Turkish tax ID number.
  • A bank statement to give evidence of enough money to support yourself. The amount required varies between regions of Turkey. It's usually between ₺15,000 and ₺20,000 to safely qualify for a full year's permit.
  • Proof of accommodation such as a rental contract (usually needs to be notarised).
  • Certificate of address registration from your local Population Registry Office (Nüfus Müdürlüğü).
  • Passport photos.
  • Health insurance: note that travel insurance and foreign health insurance are not accepted. The insurer must be a Turkish company. A year of insurance costs about ₺600. You'll need to enter your insurance policy details on the online application.
  • Criminal background check.
  • Health check-up at a Turkish state hospital (costs from ₺300).
  • Photocopies of your passport information page and Turkish entry stamp page.

The process can be confusing and the staff unhelpful in locations such as İstanbul; those working behind the desks in cities such as İzmir and Nevşehir are reputedly more helpful. Due to the amount of applications in İstanbul, there can be a wait between your online application and interview time.

Little English is spoken, so take a Turkish-speaking friend with you if possible.

If your application is successful, your touristic residency card will be posted to you (it usually takes two weeks). Due to the cost and time involved in the process, it's generally not worth applying unless you're applying for a year.