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Turkey - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Turkey. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to crime, the threat of terrorist attacks and ongoing demonstrations throughout the country.
Regional Advisory for the border with Syria
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) advises against all travel within 10 km of the border with Syria, due to a deteriorating security situation. See Security for more information.
Regional Advisory for Hakkari, Siirt, Sirnak, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis and Hatay provinces
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against non-essential travel to the provinces of Hakkari, Siirt, Sirnak, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis and Hatay, which border Iraq and Syria, due to an unpredictable security situation. See Security for more information.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
Border with Syria (see Advisory)
Since mid-2013, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has made substantial military gains in Syria along the Turkish border. As a result, extremist groups, including ISIL, are now targeting border crossings and other locations in Syria close to the Turkish border. These attacks are indiscriminate, often result in deaths and injuries and spill over into Turkey. Exercise extreme caution, review your security measures regularly and monitor these events very closely, as the security situation remains unpredictable.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) carry out occasional air and ground strikes against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in the Turkish-Iraqi border area. TAF have established six temporary security zones in Hakkari, Siirt and Sirnak provinces, in which they strictly monitor and limit movement to prevent insurgent infiltration.
Protests and civil unrest in several southeastern cities have led to violent clashes between police and protesters, with gunfire and small-scale bomb explosions that have resulted in deaths. Other incidents have also caused injuries and property damage.
There is a risk, particularly to foreigners, of kidnapping in the area. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times.
Avoid overland travel. If you must undertake road travel, drive during the day and stay on major roads. Do not use public transportation.
Avoid crossing the border with Iraq. The Government of Turkey tightly controls border traffic between the two countries.
On September 21, 2014, ISIL released a statement threatening retaliation for the American-led coalition campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. The statement encouraged opportunistic and indiscriminate attacks against citizens and interests of countries supporting the coalition, including Canadians. Individuals and terrorist groups in the region may be inspired to carry out attacks in a show of solidarity with ISIL. Canadians could also be targeted by a terrorist attack and be considered prime kidnapping targets. Exercise a high degree of personal security awareness at all times, maintain a heightened level of vigilance and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
There is a significant terrorist threat from domestic and international terrorist groups throughout Turkey. There are regular reports by local media of planned attacks against such targets as Syrian opposition officials in Ankara, Antakya (Hatay), Gaziantep and Istanbul.
Large- and small-scale bomb attacks have occurred. While Turkish institutions are usually the targets, terrorists also target locations frequented by foreigners. On February 1, 2013, a suicide attack on the United States embassy in Ankara left two dead. On March 1, 2012, a remote-controlled explosive device was detonated near the Justice and Development Party building in Istanbul’s Sutluce district, injuring 15 police officers and one civilian.
Heightened security measures are in place throughout the country. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, particularly around security and military installations and areas with high pedestrian traffic, including hotels, shopping malls, public transit stations, and open air bazaars. Exercise caution in commercial establishments, public places and other areas where large numbers of people, particularly foreigners, may congregate.
There is a threat of kidnapping along the borders with Syria and Iraq, where Muslim extremist groups take advantage of porous borders and an unpredictable security situation to carry out operations. Groups such as ISIL and Jabat Al Nusra, who use kidnapping as a means of raising funds, may target the local population, foreigners and even foreign aid workers for kidnapping for ransom.
Avoid all demonstrations, particularly those in Taksim Square in Istanbul, as even peaceful gatherings may lead to violent incidents and clashes with security forces, which have used water cannons and tear gas to disperse crowds. Follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local and international media.
There is a higher risk of clashes between protesters and police on days of national significance, particularly on May Day, held annually on May 1.
Petty crime, including pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs, particularly in Istanbul. Avoid showing signs of affluence and ensure that personal belongings and passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Muggings, assaults and sexual assaults occur. Drugs may be administered through drinks, food, chewing gum or other means, and drugged victims are usually robbed. Do not accept food and drinks from strangers, even if the wrapping or container appears intact.
Do not frequent down-market bars and neighbourhoods. One scam, particularly common in Istanbul, involves locals inviting tourists to bars for food and drinks and then forcing them to pay a steep bill.
Do not accept letters, parcels or other items from strangers. Drug traffickers sometimes attempt to convince foreigners to deliver packages and messages into and out of Turkey.
Women may experience physical and verbal harassment. There is a greater risk of sexual assault during the summer holiday period in coastal resort areas. See Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information for Canadian women.
Turkey has a modern road network that is constantly being improved; however, uneven surfaces and poorly marked lane changes near construction zones are common. Exercise caution, especially when driving in the rain. Severe weather conditions may seriously affect road conditions.
Accidents are common. Reckless driving, perilous road conditions, inadequate lighting, poor signage and high traffic congestion pose hazards. Avoid driving after dark.
If you are involved in an accident with a vehicle, do not move your vehicle, regardless of whether or not you are blocking traffic or anyone is injured. Wait until the police have made an official report.
Pedestrians do not have the right of way.
Consult the General Directorate of Highways for more information on road travel in Turkey.
Turkey is modernizing its main railroads and has introduced a high-speed corridor between Istanbul and Ankara.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Mount Ararat, in the eastern province of Igdir, is a special military zone. Mountain climbing is permitted only with official permission, and if accompanied by a professional guide. There is a threat of kidnapping in this area.
General safety information
Leave your passport in a safe place and carry a photocopy for identification purposes, as police may erect checkpoints without warning, particularly in southern Turkey.
There are numerous stray dogs and cats in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities. Dogs often travel together in packs and attack pedestrians and joggers.
Dial 155 for police (or 154 if you are in a rural area), 112 for an ambulance and 110 for firefighters.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Turkish authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
To visit Turkey, Canadians must present a passport, which must be valid for at least six months following the issuance of the visa, and for 60 days beyond the date of entry into the country.
Work visa: Required
Tourism visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Canadians travelling to Turkey for tourism or trade are encouraged to purchase an electronic visa prior to entering the country. Canadians can also obtain a visa on arrival. If you are planning on studying or working in Turkey, you must obtain a visa at a Turkish embassy or consulate.
To renew a 90-day visa, you must leave the country for at least 90 days before being allowed to re-enter. If you wish to remain in Turkey for longer than 90 consecutive days, you must obtain a residence permit from the police in the province in which you reside.
Do not overstay your visa, as you may be subject to substantial fines.
Ensure Turkish immigration officials stamp your passport on arrival. Failure to produce a stamped passport is punishable by a fine, detention and/or deportation and can lead to significant delays at departure.
If you wish to travel to Syria, you must obtain your visa from the Syrian embassy in Ottawa prior to departure from Canada. The Syrian embassy in Ankara does not issue visas for non-residents in Turkey.
Seek advice from local authorities if you intend to travel outside tourist areas, as Turkish authorities have restricted access to some areas and have declared some areas as military zones.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
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Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks (e.g., those participating in outdoor activities in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Western Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Western Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that typically causes fever, bleeding under the skin, and pain. Risk is generally low for most travellers. It is spread to humans though contact with infected animal blood or bodily fluids, or from a tick bite. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals. There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.
- There is a limited risk of malaria in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
There have been human cases of avian influenza in this country. Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread quickly and easily among birds and in rare cases, it can infect people.
Avoid high risk areas such as poultry farms and live animal markets including areas where poultry may be slaughtered. Avoid contact with birds (alive or dead) and surfaces that may have bird droppings or secretions on them. Ensure all poultry dishes, including eggs, are well cooked.
Medical services and facilities
Modern medical care is available in major cities but not necessarily available in outlying areas. Immediate cash payment is often required.
There are decompression chambers near popular diving sites.
Universal Health Coverage
Foreigners with residency permits living in Turkey must register for Universal Health Coverage under Turkish Social Security (SGK). Although Canadian citizens are exempt, you may enrol if you have no other coverage and if you have been a resident in Turkey for at least one year. If you were a resident of Turkey when this requirement came into effect, and chose to register later, premiums are levied retroactive to January 1, 2012. For more information, consult local SGK offices.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
Illegal or restricted activities
The use of illegal drugs is prohibited. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and heavy fines. Do not agree to carry any baggage that is not yours.
There is a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving. Consequences could include heavy fines payable on the spot.
It is illegal to desecrate the Turkish flag, currency, or the name or image of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.
It is forbidden to photograph military or public installations. Avoid photographing public demonstrations or members of police or security forces. Cameras may be confiscated. Do not photograph people without their permission.
Turkish antiquities and other cultural artifacts that are considered of historical value or of national importance cannot be exported. Seek advice from Turkish authorities prior to departure from Turkey. If the item can be exported, you will require a sales receipt and the official museum export certificate issued by the Turkish customs office.
Although religious proselytizing is not illegal, some activities may be considered illegal and could lead to detention.
Homosexual activity is not illegal, but intolerance remains in some parts of the country.
Avoid physical contact, including holding hands, in public.
Avoid discussions on historical issues and politics.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Turkey. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Turkish citizen. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Dual citizens may be subject to national obligations such as military service.
Dress and behaviour
Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in many parts of the country. Behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), use discretion when drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. This year, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around June 18, 2015.
Dress conservatively, especially in areas outside major cities and coastal resorts. Women should cover their head with a scarf and all visitors should cover their arms and legs in all places of worship and many rural areas.
The currency is the Turkish lira (TRY). U.S. dollars, euros and major credit cards are widely accepted. Automated banking machines are widely available. You may have difficulty exchanging traveller’s cheques, as banks will charge very high commissions.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
Turkey is located in an active seismic zone. Landslides are possible in affected areas, and strong aftershocks may occur up to one week after the initial earthquake.
Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides, resulting in extensive damage to infrastructure and hampering the provision of essential services.
Droughts, wildfires and snowstorms can also delay travel and disrupt essential services.
Ankara - Embassy of Canada
Istanbul - Consulate General of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Ankara or the Consulate of Canada in Istanbul and follow the instructions. You may also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa toll-free at 00800-14-220-0149.The toll-free number is inaccessible for mobile phone users in Turkey.
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