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
The coronavirus outbreak has been kept relatively under control in Turkey thanks to effective precautionary measures and restrictions on travel.
Throughout March 2020, travel restrictions were introduced gradually. Initially, only flights to and from high-risk areas such as China and South Korea, as well as a number of European nations, were banned. Turkey’s land borders with Iran and Iraq were also closed.
By March 27th, however, all international flights had been temporarily suspended as part of preventative action to curb the spread of the virus.
Following the success of these measures, the Turkish government has recently announced that international and domestic travel can return to Turkey. Countries have been separated into 2 categories, from July 1st travelers from all these nations will be welcomed into Turkey provided they follow the conditions of their category.
Category A&B: mainly European nations including Germany, Denmark, Estonia, and the Czech Republic in addition to some Asia territories such as Taiwan.
Travelers in categories A & B are considered low-risk. They are required to provide a negative PCR test result carried out 72 hours prior to arrival. A second test is done on arrival in Turkey.
Category C: United States, Russia, Brazil, United Kingdom, Iran, Italy, Spain, and France.
People in category C are considered to pose a high public health risk. Like for categories A and B, a negative PCR test result must be provided and a second test is carried out in Turkey. Visitors from category C nationals must also carry out a 14-day quarantine on arrival.
As the situation continues to improve, more countries are expected to be added to these categories as restrictions are eased further.
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 also implemented the following steps include:
- Canceling official visits abroad
- Closing schools and universities
- Postponing sports events and banning other large gatherings
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?
Travelers from countries included in the 3 categories A, B, and C, as detailed above, can enter Turkey provided they follow the relevant conditions which include presenting negative Covid-19 tests. As always, a passport and a valid visa or a copy of an approved online eVisa are required to cross the border.
Travelers to Turkey should be mindful that restrictions are under constant review as the international situation evolves. Passengers are therefore advised to keep up to date with the latest travel updates and advisories provided by their local governments before departure.