UPDATED: March 13th, 2020
The Turkish government has a number of travel restrictions that it uses to control its borders. This includes special measures to protect security and health in the country.
The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak is leading more and more national governments to place travel restrictions on foreign visitors in the interests of public safety. The Turkish government is no exception, with the announcement today of new rules to safeguard public health and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
This article looks at what these restrictions are and explains:
- Whether you can enter Turkey under the current rules
- Who is restricted from entering Turkey due to COVID-19
- Whether your Turkish Visa is still valid under the restrictions
Who May Not Enter Turkey?
The Turkish government does not prohibit any nationalities from entering its borders based on citizenship. However, it does place restrictions on who may come into the country.
At present most international tourists can enter either visa-free or, for those fitting the requirements, with an eVisa. However, a number of countries may only enter with a conventional sticker visa, which can only be obtained at a Turkish embassy. This includes national citizens of:
- Marshall Islands
- North Korea
- Papua New Guinea
- South Sudan
What Travel Restrictions has Turkey Introduced Due to Coronavirus
At present few cases of COVID-19 coronavirus have been identified in Turkey. However, to prevent the spread of infection, the Turkish government has placed limits on foreign visitors who may enter the country during the coronavirus outbreak.
This affects all citizens who are resident in afflicted regions and countries, as well as those who have traveled to one of these areas within 2 weeks of arrival in Turkey. Those affected by the travel ban may subsequently be prohibited from boarding a flight to Turkey, applying for a visa to the country or attempting to enter its borders.
The country has also closed its land borders with Iran and Iraq. Additionally, passenger flights are being canceled and suspended from destinations such as China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran.
Further to this, health screening has been implemented in all Turkish points of entry. Passengers arriving in the country will be scanned with a thermal camera to identify those with potential symptoms. Travelers experiencing a higher than normal temperature will subsequently be examined by a medical adviser.
Which Nationalities May Not Travel to Turkey Due to Coronavirus
As cases of COVID-19 increase around the world, Turkey has put temporary measures in place that restricts entry to travelers arriving from high-risk areas. This includes visitors entering Turkey from the following countries:
- South Korea
Tourists arriving from these locations will not be allowed to pass through national immigration even if they have a valid eVisa or another form of travel authorization. Foreign visitors who have been in these nations up to 14 days prior to arriving in Turkey will also face restrictions and barriers to entry.
These new rules, however, do not apply to international travelers with Turkish residency permits, who may continue to enter the country. However, those that do will be subject to compulsory testing for COVID-19.
Those that test positive will be taken to a secure medical facility. Those that test negative, however, will either be advised to self-isolate or begin a 14-day period of quarantine.
What Safety Measures are in Place in Turkey to Protect the Public?
In addition to the restrictions placed on those traveling from the listed locations, the Turkish government has numerous public safety measures in place to protect the population at large.
The government screens those applying for eVisas and visas with criminal record background checks to prevent passengers that pose a threat to the public entering the country. This, however, does not affect travelers with minor records and is intended to restrict terrorist activity and the risk of violent or dangerous criminal activity.
Due to COVID-19, The Turkish government has also implemented the following steps include:
- Canceling official visits abroad
- Closing schools and universities
- Banning spectators from sporting events
These changes could affect your trip to the country. Therefore it is important to plan ahead to prevent disruption to your visit. It is also advised that travelers keep up-to-date with local news in Turkey and contact tourist providers or accommodation to check that there haven’t been further changes.
Further to this, all visitors to Turkey are recommended to practice behavior that will prevent the spread of coronavirus. To do this the WHO currently recommends that individuals:
- Frequently sanitize their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based gel
- Avoid close contact (2 meters in proximity) with infected persons
- Cough or sneeze into the crook of their elbow
- Not visit crowded public events
- Wear a face mask
If you start to experience symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately. This can be done by dialing 112 and asking for an ambulance. Common signs include a persistent cough, high temperature and difficulty breathing.
Can I Still Travel to Turkey Whilst Coronavirus Restrictions Are in Place?
If you are not affected by the restrictions noted above or any other limitations placed on foreign nationals then you may enter the country as normal either with your passport, a valid visa or a copy of an approved online eVisa.
However, travelers to Turkey should be mindful that additional restrictions could yet come into place which could affect a future trip to the country. Passengers are therefore advised to keep up to date with the latest travel updates and advisories provided by their local governments before departure.