Last updated: ET
Still valid: ET
Latest updates: The Security tab was updated - State of emergency.
TURKEY - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to Turkey.
If you are in Turkey, restrict your movements, ensure that your travel documents are up to date, and keep abreast of the latest developments. Register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service and carefully follow messages issued through this service. See Security for more information.
On July 15 and 16, 2016, an attempted coup took place in Turkey. The Turkish government regained control of the situation and restored calm throughout the country. On July 21, the Turkish government imposed a state of emergency. Conditions remain volatile and the situation can change rapidly, especially in large cities. Expect an increased presence of security forces in large cities, random identification checks and curfews. Carry your passport at all times, and follow the instructions of local authorities.
Turkish authorities continue to encourage citizens to show their support by demonstrating in the streets. Avoid all large public gatherings, as even peaceful gatherings may lead to violent incidents. Commercial flights in and out of Turkey have resumed; however, there may continue to be considerable delays at airports due to additional identity checks.
Border with Syria
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 three-year ceasefire between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) ended in July 2015. The TAF has conducted a number of air strikes against PKK targets in the Turkish-Iraqi border area. The PKK have launched deadly terrorist attacks against Turkish security personnel in a number of cities and regions in the south and southeast of the country. The Turkish government has instituted additional security measures in some provinces, including 24-hour curfews in some towns in the southeastern districts. Remain vigilant, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local and international media.
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 (see Kidnapping, below). 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.
There is a threat of terrorism from domestic and international terrorist groups throughout Turkey. Large- and small-scale bomb attacks have occurred, targeting Turkish military and government facilities, tourist attractions and popular public places, public transportation, and airports. Further attacks are expected to occur, and terrorist groups have indicated that they will specifically target foreigners and tourists.
On June 28, 2016, three suicide bombers attacked the International Terminal at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, causing at least 41 deaths and 210 injuries. The airport has resumed operations, but flights may still be delayed. Contact your airline or travel agent before travelling to the airport. Follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Terrorists may also target crowded places, those with high pedestrian traffic and where foreigners may gather, commercial establishments, local government offices, public transit stations, busy streets, long queues at tourist attractions, and places of worship.
Although most attacks have occurred in the south and east of the country, they are becoming increasingly common in major cities, particularly in Ankara and Istanbul. Increased security measures are in place throughout the country. Turkish security officials may set up roadblocks or close streets when they receive reports on specific threats.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times in public places. Stay at hotels that have robust security measures; however, keep in mind that even the most secure locations cannot be considered completely free of risk. Follow the instructions of local authorities at all times.
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 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. Large scale demonstrations are more likely to occur in public squares and busy pedestrian areas. 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.
Follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local and international media when demonstrations occur.
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.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Mount Ararat, in the eastern province of Igdir, is a special military zone, to which access is currently restricted. Permission will not be granted to enter the area or climb the mountain. There is a threat of kidnapping in this area.
General safety information
There are numerous stray dogs and cats in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities. Dogs often travel together in packs and attack pedestrians and joggers.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Turkish authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. 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.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
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.
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - July 12, 2016 00:00 EDT
- Measles: Global Update - April 15, 2016 00:00 EDT
- Avian Influenza (H5N1): Global Update - April 21, 2015 00:00 EDT
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 always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Turkish passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). 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. In 2017, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 27.
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.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 155 / 156 (if you are in a rural area)
- medical assistance: 112
- firefighters: 110
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.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are 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 to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
- Date modified: