- Reconsider your need to travel to Ankara and Istanbul because of the high threat of terrorist attack. Think seriously about whether you need to travel here due to the high level of risk. If you do travel, do your research and take a range of extra safety precautions, including having contingency plans. Check that your insurer will cover you.
- Reconsider travel to all areas within the southeastern provinces of Batman, Bingol, Bitlis, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hakkari, Hatay, Kilis, Mardin, Mus, Sanliurfa, Siirt, Sirnak, Tunceli and Van, due to the unpredictable security situation. The situation is more dangerous at night and in rural areas. See Safety and security.
- Terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq kidnap and murder westerners. These groups can launch violent attacks and kidnapping operations across the border, in Turkey. See Safety and security.
- Reconsider travel to areas within 50 kilometres of Turkey's border with Syria. See Safety and security.
- Do not travel within 10 kilometres of Turkey's border with Syria or to the city of Diyarbakir. See Safety and security.
- Exercise a high degree of caution areas of Turkey not identified above. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media about possible new safety or security risks. See Safety and security.
- Terrorists have called for attacks in Turkey, including on tourist destinations and locations frequented by foreigners. Attacks could take place anywhere and at any time. Attacks in urban centres are expected. Be extra cautious in these areas. See Safety and security.
- Females travelling alone or in small groups are at risk of violent sexual assault, especially in Istanbul, coastal resort areas such as Antalya and other tourist areas. See Safety and security.
- Avoid large gatherings, protests and demonstrations as they can quickly turn violent. See Safety and security.
- Turkey is under a State of Emergency. Authorities have increased powers and detained suspects have less rights. See Safety and security.
- The Turkish government recognises dual nationality but treats Turkish-Australian dual nationals as Turkish citizens for legal matters. This limits the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Turkish-Australian dual nationals detained in Turkey. See Laws.
Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
Entry and exit
If you arrive in Turkey by sea for tourism purposes and will stay in the seaport city or nearby provinces for 72 hours or less, you won't need to get a visa. In all other circumstances, you will need a visa for Turkey.
If you are visiting Turkey for tourism or business purposes and for less than 90 days in a 180 day period, you'll need to get an electronic visa ('e-visa'). Apply online at the Turkish government's official e-visa website. There have been reports of unauthorised visa websites charging for information on e-visas.
If you are not eligible for an e-visa, or if you're travelling on a diplomatic or official passport, you'll need to arrange your visa through an Embassy or Consulate of Turkey before you arrive in Turkey. If you don't, you could be refused entry.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact an Embassy or Consulate of Turkey, or visit the Turkish government website for up-to-date information.
In March 2017, the UK government announced new restrictions on carrying electronic devices for passengers travelling from or through Turkey to the UK. See Hand luggage restrictions at UK airports for further details.
If you enter or depart Turkey by land or sea borders (example: for a short trip to the Greek islands), make sure you are correctly processed by Turkish immigration authorities and that your passport is stamped for all exits and arrivals. If you don't, you could face difficulties when departing Turkey, including possible fines, future travel bans, detention or deportation.
If you're travelling with children (under 18 years old), you may need to provide documentation proving you are the legal parent or guardian of the children. Check with an Embassy or Consulate of Turkey before you travel.
All border crossings from Syria to Turkey are currently closed. Turkish authorities occasionally open border points to allow Syrian nationals to travel back to Syria but no entry is permitted from Syria to Turkey.
Crossing the border to or from Iraq is difficult. Military activity in the border region is high and the Turkish Government tightly controls entry and exit.
Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia.
Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.
Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.
By law, you must, as soon as possible:
Turkey's currency is the lira (TRY). Major credit cards are widely accepted. EFTPOS and automated teller machines (ATMs) are widely available.
Safety and security
The threat of terrorist attack, violence and acts of war is high along Turkey's long border with Syria and Iraq. Rockets have been fired from Syria and Iraq into Turkish territory and there is a very high threat to travellers from politically motivated violence, cross-border terror attacks and kidnapping operations. Terrorist groups operating in Syria and Iraq kidnap and murder westerners. These groups have the capability to extend their operations across the border into Turkey.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack in other parts of Turkey, particularly in Ankara and Istanbul, and in south-eastern Turkey. But attacks could take place anywhere and at any time. Terrorists have called for attacks in Turkey, including in urban areas and at tourist destinations.
Further terror attacks in urban centres and targeting western interests, including tourists, are expected. Western diplomatic missions, tourist sites, shopping malls and entertainment areas like Kizilay and Tunali in Ankara and Istiklal Street in Istanbul are all possible targets.
Past terror attacks have targeted symbols, buildings and sites associated with the Turkish security forces (such as military barracks and police vehicles), government, judiciary and political parties, businesses and places of worship. Attacks have occurred across the country, including Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, Marmaris, Antalya, Mersin, Kuşadası, Kayseri, Bursa, Çeşme, Muğla, Manavgat, Gaziantep and Adana.
There have been a number of deadly attacks over recent years, including:
- On 5 January 2017, an explosion occurred outside the courthouse in central Izmir, following clashes between armed attackers and the police. A small number of bystanders were killed and wounded.
- On 1 January 2017, a shooting attack in a central Istanbul nightclub left 39 dead and 69 wounded.
- On 10 December 2016, explosions occurred outside a major football stadium and in a nearby park in central Istanbul, killing 44 and injuring over 100.
- On 24 November 2016, a car bomb was detonated outside the Governor's office in Adana. Two people were killed in the attack and over 30 people were injured.
- On 20 August 2016, an attack on a wedding in Gaziantep killed more than 50 people and injured over 100.
- On 28 June 2016, a terrorist attack at Istanbul's Ataturk airport killed 47 people and injured more than 250.
- On March 13 2016, an explosion occurred in the Kizilay district of Ankara. The explosion killed 37 people and injured 130. Terrorist group the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) have claimed responsibility for the attack.
- On 17 February 2016, at least 28 were killed in an explosion in central Ankara near vehicles carrying military personnel. In claiming responsibility for the attack, the TAK stated its intention to target tourist areas in Turkey in future attacks.
- On 10 October 2015, an attack on a peace rally in central Ankara killed over 100 people.
Significant dates and anniversaries are symbolic and terrorists have in the past used such occasions to mount attacks. Significant dates include: 15 February (anniversary of Abdullah Öcalan's capture), 21 March (Nevruz, Persian New Year celebrations), 30 March (founding of Revolutionary People's Liberation Front (DHKP/C)), 4 April (Abdullah Öcalan's birthday), 1 May (May Day), 15 July (anniversary of 2016 coup attempt), 15 August (anniversary of Kurdistan Workers' Party's first attack), 27 November (anniversary of the founding of the Kurdish independence group, PKK) and 19 December (also a significant date for DHKP/C).
Turkey's south-east and eastern provinces see regular clashes , particularly between terrorist group the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Turkish security forces. Attacks by the PKK on government institutions, infrastructure and other sites have affected civilians. The situation is more dangerous at night and in rural areas. Tensions are high and further clashes are likely.
- Be alert to possible threats, especially on public transport and in other public places.
- Minimise time and be particularly alert to threats around locations known to be possible terrorist targets, including government and military interests, Western diplomatic missions and places commonly frequented by Westerners.
- Avoid large crowds and queues around shopping centre entrances, tourist attractions and symbols of Western culture.
- Be particularly alert to threats in the periods surrounding significant dates.
- Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
- Keep an eye on the news for any new or emerging threats.
- Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
- If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so.
Avoid particularly high-risk areas:
- Do not travel within 10 kilometres of the border with Syria or to the city of Diyarbakir.
- Reconsider travel to any area within 50 kilometres of Turkey's border with Syria, and all provinces bordering Iraq, due to the high threat of terrorist attack and potential for politically motivated violence associated with domestic politics, the conflict in Syria and military activity in Northern Iraq.
- Reconsider travel to all areas within the provinces of Batman, Bingol, Bitlis, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hakkari, Hatay, Kilis, Mardin, Mus, Sanliurfa, Siirt, Sirnak, Tunceli and Van.
The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians.
If, despite our advice, you decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping:
- seek professional security advice
- have effective personal security measures in place.
Civil unrest and political tension
Demonstrations occur regularly in major cities. Domestic and international events and political developments can prompt demonstrations but they can also form without warning. Even events intended to be peaceful can intensify into violent clashes between protestors and police, putting bystanders at risk. Extremists have targeted political protests in the past. In October 2015, an attack on a peace rally in Ankara killed over 100 people.
There are over three million Syrian and Iraqi refugees currently in Turkey. Some clashes between Syrian refugees and locals have turned violent. Tensions remain and further violence is possible.
Past protests in Istanbul have centred around Taksim Square and Istiklal Street (including streets surrounding Istikal as far as the Galata Tower and down to Kameralti Street, Karakoy), in Besiktas and Okmeydani on the European side and Kadikoy on the Asian side, and in the Kizilay and Tunali areas of Ankara. You could also encounter protests in other districts of Istanbul and Ankara, in Adana, Antalya, Hatay, Izmir and in other cities and towns.
Violence has occurred regularly during May Day rallies on 1 May in Istanbul's Taksim Square. In previous years, the Persian New Year (20-21 March), celebrated by Turkey's Kurdish communities as "Nevruz", has been accompanied by mass rallies nationwide to support the Kurdish cause.
Police regularly use tear gas, water cannons and plastic bullets to disperse crowds. The effects of tear gas may be felt in surrounding areas.
Public gatherings, celebrations, demonstrations and protests can be banned by local authorities in Turkey with little notice. Curfews can be imposed or extended without warning.
- Avoid all political gatherings, protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent.
- Obey all curfews.
- Monitor the media and other sources for advice of planned and possible demonstrations and avoid those areas. Be particularly alert around key dates such as 1 May and 20-21 March.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
Theft and assault
You could encounter muggings, assaults, pickpocketing and bag snatching in Turkey, especially in the tourist areas of Istanbul. These areas include Taksim Square, Sultanahmet, the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar.
Foreigners, including Australians, have been drugged and had their passports and other personal effects stolen after being befriended by English-speaking strangers. Drugs may be administered through drinks, food, chewing gum or confectionery. The victim becomes disorientated and compliant and may even become unconscious.
- Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly on public transport and in crowded places.
- Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables in a secure location.
- Avoid secluded parks and unlit areas.
- Avoid ATMs that open onto the street, especially at night. Use ATMS in banks, shops and shopping centres.
- Be wary of overly-friendly strangers.
- Don't accept food, drinks, gum or cigarettes from strangers or new acquaintances.
- Never leave food or drinks unattended.
- Keep an eye on local sources of information on crime.
Women may experience physical and verbal harassment, particularly in regional and conservative areas. There has been an increase in the number of violent sexual assaults against female tourists travelling alone or in small groups in popular tourist areas of Turkey, including in Istanbul and coastal resort areas such as Antalya. Assaults are often committed by someone the victim has recently met.
There have been reports of minors visiting toilet facilities alone being sexually assaulted.
- If you are female, avoid travelling alone where possible, especially after dark.
- Avoid isolated locations.
- Be wary of new 'friends' and acquaintances. Stick with people you trust.
- Accompany minors in your care to public toilets.
You could encounter friendly, English-speaking locals who try to trick you into paying thousands of dollars for a few drinks. Typically, these scammers take unsuspecting tourists to a bar for food or drinks. The tourist is then presented with an inflated bill, often thousands of dollars, and threatened with violence if they don't pay the bill. These scams are regularly reported, particularly in Istanbul.
Scams are also common among carpet traders. Be very wary of deals in which you buy a carpet in Turkey and it is to be delivered by post.
More information: See International Scams
Anzac Cove and Gallipoli Peninsula Peace Park
The weather can change suddenly in the Gallipoli region. Winter storms and heavy traffic seriously affect many coastal roads around Gallipoli, including those in the Gallipoli Peninsula Peace Park. Traffic restrictions may apply to the Anzac Cove road but pedestrian access shouldn't be affected.
- Be prepared for a range of weather conditions.
- Obey safety signage and directions.
- Don't wander off marked roads and tracks.
- If you're travelling as part of a tour group, don't separate from the group.
Tours and adventure activities
The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities such as diving and ballooning, are not always met. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed.
When dealing with transport and tour operators, don't be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.
With the exception of major freeways and arterial roads, the standard of road construction is generally poor. Travel at night on country roads can be very hazardous due to inadequate lighting and local driving practices.
Drink driving carries a minimum penalty of an on-the-spot fine and confiscation of your driver's licence.
- Check your travel insurance will cover you before driving in Turkey.
- Familiarise yourself with local road rules and practices.
- Drive defensively.
- Don't drink and drive.
More information: Road travel
You can drive in Turkey with an International Driving Permit (IDP) and a valid Australian driver's licence for up to six months. If you wish to drive for longer than six months, you will need to obtain a full Turkish driver's licence.
Avoid using motorcycles due to the low standard of driving and road maintenance. Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when riding a motorcycle. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.
Use only licenced taxis or reputable limousine services, preferably those arranged through your hotel. Taxis in major cities are professional, metered and charge according to set rates. Always insist that the meter is used. In rural areas and small towns you may need to negotiate rates.
Turkey has an extensive inter-city bus network that is inexpensive and reliable, but accidents resulting in deaths and injuries occur regularly.
Train travel is generally safe and efficient. However, occasional accidents and derailments have resulted in deaths and injuries.
Turkish airports and commercial aircraft have been the subject of terrorist attacks, including a number of rocket attacks, in recent years. A hijack attempt was made on an Istanbul-bound passenger plane in 2014. Terrorists armed with guns and explosive belts also attacked Istanbul's Ataturk airport in 2016.
Enhanced security measures are in place at major airports in Turkey. Airports are often crowded and additional security checks can cause delays for travellers. Reconfirm your travel arrangements and check-in time before travelling to the airport.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Turkey.
More information: Air travel
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties for drug offences in Turkey are severe and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences. More information: Drugs
By law, you must carry photographic identification with you at all times. Keep your Australian passport in a safe place, and carry a photocopy, which is sufficient.
While legal in some countries, the following activities are illegal in Turkey and could result in severe penalties:
- photographing military installations
- visiting Mount Ararat (a special military zone) without Turkish government permission
- selling or exporting antiquities and cultural artefacts without authorisation – to export legally, you'll need a receipt and an official certificate
- using metal detectors to search for historical artefacts
- 'insulting' Turkey, the Turkish nation or the national flag
- 'insulting' the Turkish President or any Turkish Government institution
- 'insulting' the name or image of the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
- defacing or destroying Turkish currency
- failing to comply with any Turkish visa conditions or immigration regulations
Public displays of affection could result in prosecution for public order offences.
Foreign nationals involved in any judicial process which results in their arrest or detention may be deported from Turkey after finalisation of court hearings or completion of their sentence. Deportation may occur even where an individual is not convicted.
If you are arrested in Turkey, you have the right to request that the local authorities inform the nearest Australian diplomatic mission.
State of Emergency Law
Following an attempted coup in July 2016, the Turkish President declared a three-month State of Emergency, which has been extended a number of times and remains in force. This has led to an increase in police and military activity and a significant increase in the extra-judicial power of authorities.
Under the State of Emergency, Turkish authorities have increased powers, including the power to:
- ban people's movements
- search people and vehicles
- confiscate suspicious materials
- impose limited or full curfews
- restrict the media
- restrict printing and distribution of publications
- ban meetings and demonstrations
- suspend activities of associations.
The Turkish Government has issued a number of decrees under the State of Emergency which contain measures that may impact on the rights and freedoms of residents and travellers to Turkey. These include measures that substantially weaken the rights of detained suspects.
Travel restrictions or additional documentation requirements may also be enforced. International travel bans can be imposed on foreigners as well as dual nationals. Public servants and their dependents undertaking overseas travel, regardless of nationality, may be required to submit additional documentation or a letter from their employer authorising overseas travel.
Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:
- bribery of foreign public officials
- child pornography
- child sex tourism
- female genital mutilation
- forced marriage
- money laundering
More information: Staying within the law
The Turkish government recognises dual nationality but treats Turkish-Australian dual nationals as Turkish citizens in relation to any legal matter. This limits the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Turkish-Australian dual nationals detained in Turkey.
If you're a male Australian-Turkish dual national, you could be compelled to undertake military service upon your arrival in Turkey. Check your obligations with an Embassy or Consulate of Turkey before you travel.
More information: Dual nationals
There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in many parts of Turkey. Some regions are more conservative than others. Respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities. Dress modestly, particularly at mosques and religious shrines. If in doubt, seek local advice.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to occur between mid-May and mid-June 2018. During Ramadan, take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. While some parts of Turkey are very familiar with tourists or have locals who don't fast, other areas are more conservative.
Homosexuality is not illegal but is not widely accepted in Turkish society. Avoid public displays of affection.
Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.
Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and could cost you thousands of dollars upfront.
- what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
- that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.
More information: Travel insurance
Physical and mental health
Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
- At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
- Get vaccinated before you travel.
Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of your travel.
Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.
More information: Prescription medicines
Malaria is a risk from May to October in Amikova, Çukurova Plain and the south-eastern part of Turkey. There is no malaria risk in the main tourist areas in the west and south-west of the country.
Other insect-borne diseases (such as leishmaniasis and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, CCHF) also occur. CCHF is prevalent in central Anatolia to the north and east of Ankara. Seasonal outbreaks (from early summer) of CCHF have been fatal.
Protect yourself against malaria and other insect-borne illnesses:
- ensure your accommodation is insect proof
- take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
- consult your doctor about taking prophylaxis against malaria.
The World Health Organization has confirmed human deaths from avian influenza (bird flu) in Turkey. Discuss the risk of avian influenza with your doctor as part of your routine pre-travel health checks.
More information: Avian Influenza
Other infectious diseases
Water-borne, food-borne, and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, typhoid, hepatitis, measles and rabies) occur, with more serious outbreaks from time to time.
- Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
- Avoid ice cubes.
- Avoid raw and undercooked food.
- Avoid unpasteurised dairy products.
Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
The standard of medical facilities throughout Turkey varies. Private hospitals with international standard facilities exist in major cities but services can be limited elsewhere.
Private hospitals generally require confirmation of insurance or a guarantee of payment before admitting a patient. Costs can be high.
Decompression chambers are located near popular dive sites throughout Turkey in Çubuklu, Izmir, Bodrum, Oludeniz and Eceabat.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you may be able to receive treatment at a private or teaching hospital in Ankara or Istanbul. But medical evacuation could be necessary. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
Australians who reside in Turkey for more than 12 months may have access to Turkey's Universal Health Insurance (UHI).
More information: Australian Embassy in Ankara
Where to get help
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
For consular assistance, contact the Australian Embassy in Ankara, the Australian Consulate-General in Istanbul or the Australian Consulate in Çanakkale. In each case, you'll need to call to make an appointment in advance.
Australian Embassy, Ankara
88 Uğur Mumcu Caddesi
Gaziosmanpaşa Ankara TURKEY
Telephone: (90 312) 459 9500
Facsimile: (90 312) 446 4827
Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
Australian Consulate-General, Istanbul
Süzer Plaza (Ritz Carlton Hotel),
Askerocaĝı Caddesi No. 15, Elmadağ
Telephone: (90 212) 393 8542
Australian Consulate, Çanakkale
Telephone: (90 286) 218 1721
Facsimile: (90 286) 218 1724
If you are unable to contact one of these missions in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Severe drought conditions can affect water supply to a number of cities in Turkey. Running water may not be available in many places, including in hotels and accommodation. Take additional care to guard against water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases - see Health.
Bush and forest fires often occur during the summer months (usually June to September), particularly in heavily forested areas and during periods of high temperatures and low rainfall. In the past, fires have burned close to holiday areas on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, and the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Turkey is in an active earthquake zone. In July 2017, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck 14km south-west of Bodrum on the Aegean Coast. The quake caused significant damage and localised flooding. Some deaths and many injuries were reported in the region and nearby Greek Islands. In early February 2017 a series of large earthquakes occurred in Canakkale and surrounding towns, approximately 25kms north-west of Anzac Cove, injuring a number of people and destroying hundreds of homes. The largest measured 5.5 on the Richter scale and strong aftershocks were felt for many days. There have been two other large earthquakes (magnitudes 6.9 and 5.3) in the Canakkale region since July 2013. In 2011, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake occurred near the city of Van, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. Many buildings collapsed and infrastructure was damaged. In 2013, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake occurred in Antalya in southern Turkey.
If there is a natural disaster or severe weather:
- secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag)
- contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts
- closely monitor the media, other local sources of information and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
- follow the advice of local authorities.