- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Turkey because of the high threat of terrorist attack.
- Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
- Terrorist attacks can occur anywhere at any time in Turkey. In recent years, terrorist attacks have occurred in tourist areas and locations frequented by foreigners. Foreigners have been killed and injured.
- On 1 February 2013 an explosion outside the US Embassy in Ankara killed two people. The Turkish Government has warned that the group claiming responsibility for bombing the US Embassy is planning further attacks.
- You should avoid protests and demonstrations throughout Turkey as they may become violent.
- Terrorists have in the past mounted attacks on significant dates and anniversaries. The tourist season during Turkey's spring and summer months has also traditionally been marked by increased terrorist attacks. See the Terrorism section below for a list of possible targets and a list of significant dates.
- The unauthorised sale and exportation of antiquities is prohibited and carries long jail sentences. You need a receipt and an official certificate to export these items legally.
- When travelling to the Gallipoli Peninsula Peace Park, be prepared for the variable climatic conditions (i.e. summer, winter and wet weather protective clothing, even in winter a hat/cap and sunscreen are essential to ensure your wellbeing and comfort); strictly obey safety signage and directions; and do not wander off marked roads and tracks within the Park. If travelling as part of a tour group do not separate from the group and wander the park alone. For further information see under Local travel.
- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to provinces in the south-east of Turkey, including those bordering Syria, Iraq and Iran, due to the high threat of terrorist attack and the unpredictable security situation. On 11 May 2013, car bombings in the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province, close to Turkey’s border with Syria, killed at least 40 people and injured around 100 others. If you do decide to travel to these areas, you should exercise extreme caution.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) are the prerogative of the Turkish Government. These conditions change regularly. Australians visiting Turkey for the purpose of tourism or business may be eligible for an electronic visa, or e-visa. You can contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Turkey for the most up-to-date information on entry and exit.
From 1 February 2012 Turkish authorities implemented regulations allowing a maximum stay of 90 days within a 180 day period for tourists on ordinary passports. If you are planning to stay for more than 90 days within a 180 day period, you must arrange a long-stay visa through your nearest Turkish embassy or consulate before you travel or get a Turkish residence permit. To arrange a residence permit you should contact the Foreigners Branch (Emniyet Müdürlüğü/Yabancılar Şubesi) of your local Police Department in Turkey.
Australians who enter or depart Turkey by land or sea borders, including those who make short trips to the Greek islands and then return to Turkey, should ensure that they are correctly processed by Turkish immigration and that their passports are stamped for all exits and arrivals. Failure to do so may result in difficulties when departing Turkey, including the prospect of fines and/or detention.
Diplomatic and official passport holders must obtain a visa from a Turkish diplomatic or consular office abroad before arriving in Turkey. Failure to do so is likely to result in refusal of entry.
Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Turkey because of the high threat of terrorist attack. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
On 1 February 2013 an explosion outside the US Embassy in Ankara killed two people. The Turkish Government has warned that the group claiming responsibility for bombing the US Embassy is planning further attacks.
In recent years, international and domestic terrorist groups have carried out attacks in Turkey. Terrorist attacks have occurred in tourist areas and locations frequented by foreigners. Foreigners have been killed and injured.
Terrorist attacks can occur anywhere at any time in Turkey. Significant dates and anniversaries are symbolic and terrorists have in the past used such occasions to mount attacks. You should exercise particular care in the period surrounding significant dates and anniversaries including: 15 February (anniversary of Abdullah Öcalan's capture), 21 March (Nevruz, Persian New Year celebrations), 4 April (Abdullah Öcalan's birthday), 1 May (May Day), 15 August (anniversary of Kurdistan Workers' Party's first attack). Possible locations include major cities, such as Ankara and Istanbul, regional centres and tourist destinations, including those in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions. In the past few years, attacks have occurred in Istanbul, Izmir, Marmaris, Antalya, Mersin, Kuşadası, Çeşme, Muğla, Manavgat and Adana.
On 19 March 2012, a domestic terrorist group issued a statement threatening to conduct attacks in Turkey, including in tourist areas. Similar statements have been made in the past.
Turkish authorities regularly arrest individuals suspected of planning terrorist activities. This demonstrates an on-going threat of attack in Turkey.
In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in tourist areas and locations frequented by foreigners. Foreigners have been killed and injured.
Recent terrorist attacks in Istanbul and Ankara include:
- On 20 March 2013, a bomb exploded outside a government office in the suburb of Maltepe, Istanbul, causing no injuries.
- On 19 March 2013, attacks were launched against the Justice Ministry and the headquarters of a political party in Ankara causing no injuries.
- On 1 February 2013, a suicide bomber detonated a device outside the US Embassy in Ankara killing himself and a security guard and injuring several others.
- On 11 September 2012, a bomb attack targeting a police station in a suburb of Istanbul killed one person and injured several others.
- On 20 August 2012, a bomb exploded outside a police station in the city of Gaziantep, south-east Turkey, killing nine people and injuring 69.
- On 2 April 2012, an explosive device detonated at the Gaziosmanpaşa District Governor’s office in Istanbul, injuring two people.
- On 5 March 2012, one person was injured in an explosion in a government building carpark in central Ankara.
- On 1 March 2012, fifteen police officers were injured in an explosion in Istanbul. On the same day, an explosion in a supermarket in Istanbul injured three people.
- On 11 November 2011, an attempted ferry hijacking off the coast of Istanbul was resolved by the security forces. The alleged hijacker was the only person killed.
- On 20 September 2011, a car bomb in central Ankara killed three people and injured 34 others.
- In May 2011, a bomb mounted on a bicycle exploded near a bus stop in Etiler, a residential and shopping district in Istanbul. Eight people, including a police officer, were wounded.
- In October 2010, thirty-two people, including a number of civilians, were injured when a suicide bomber attacked a police post in Taksim Square in Istanbul. The attack took place near a number of locations popular with foreign tourists.
A domestic terrorist group issued a statement in 2012 threatening to conduct attacks in Turkey, including in tourist areas. Similar statements have been made in the past.
In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include commercial and public areas frequented by foreigners such as public transport facilities, including buses, mini-buses, trains and railway lines, hotels, bars, clubs, restaurants, cafes, fast food outlets, internet cafes, shopping malls and markets, places of worship and other sites associated with religion, embassies, banks, public gatherings, outdoor recreation events, resorts, tourist areas and their surrounds, including beaches, national parks and forests, and ports, including those used by international cruise liners.
Attacks have been conducted against western government, economic, commercial and political interests, including diplomatic premises such as embassies and consulates. Symbols, buildings and sites associated with Turkish security forces, such as military barracks and police vehicles, government, judiciary and political parties, businesses, places of worship, banks, financial institutions and automatic teller machines have been more recent targets.
Kidnapping has occurred in Turkey. The Australian Government’s longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying ransoms increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should ensure you have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance. For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping Threat travel bulletin.
Borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to provinces in the south-east of Turkey, including those bordering Syria, Iraq and Iran, due to the high threat of terrorist attack and the unpredictable security situation. If you do decide to travel to these areas, you should exercise extreme caution.
On 11 May 2013, car bombings in the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province, close to Turkey’s border with Syria, killed at least 40 people and injured around 100 others. This incident underscores the ongoing high threat of terrorist attack in provinces along Turkey’s border with Syria.
Clashes between terrorist groups and Turkish security forces occur frequently in the south-east. Recently, clashes involving the Turkish security forces and militants have also occurred elsewhere in Turkey.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
Civil unrest/political tension
Demonstrations occur regularly in major cities in Turkey. You should avoid any large gatherings and demonstrations throughout Turkey as they may become violent. International events and political developments may prompt demonstrations. If you are in an area affected by demonstrations, you should find a safe location, remain indoors and follow the advice of local authorities.
In the past, violence has occurred during May Day rallies on 1 May in Istanbul's Taksim Square. The Persian New Year (20-21 March), celebrated by Turkey's Kurdish communities as "Nevruz", has also been accompanied by unrest.
The Turkish military has conducted operations, including air strikes, in south-eastern Turkey and northern Iraq since November 2007. Terrorist groups have retaliated with violence and attacks resulting in multiple deaths are common.
Following the killing of 24 Turkish soldiers in late October 2011, the Turkish military increased its military operations in south-eastern Turkey and along the border with Iraq.
Military strikes may also trigger violent demonstrations, particularly in south-eastern Turkey. In the past, such demonstrations have resulted in deaths, injuries and widespread property destruction. Roadside explosions are relatively frequent.
Turkish nationals have been injured and killed in Akçakale, Sanliurfa, and other areas near the Syrian border - Turkey is carrying out cross-border attacks against Syria and these can occur at any time and without warning.
Identification is required at checkpoints in this region and restrictions on travel in areas bordering Iraq are enforced. The security situation is more dangerous at night.
Muggings, assaults, pickpocketing and bag snatching occur in Turkey, especially in Istanbul in areas where tourists congregate including 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.
Tourists may be befriended by English-speaking locals, taken to a bar for food or drinks and then expected to pay an inflated bill, often thousands of dollars for a few drinks. Violence is threatened with the demand for payment. These scams are common, particularly in Istanbul.
Sexual assaults have been reported in coastal tourist areas (including Istanbul) and in other locations.
On 30 November 2011, a gunman opened fire near the entrance to Topkapı Palace in the Sultanahmet tourist area of Istanbul. The gunman was killed after injuring two members of Turkish security forces.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money in Turkey, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Turkey.
Turkey has introduced new banknotes and coins. The new currency is equal in value to the notes and coins being replaced. Banknotes in the E-7 and E-8 series can be exchanged until the end of 2015 and 2019, respectively, at branches of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey and TC Ziraat Bankasi.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
Turkey has one of the highest road accident rates in the world and fatalities occur frequently. With the exception of major freeways and arterial roads, the standard of road construction in Turkey is generally poor. Travel at night on most country roads is very dangerous due to inadequate lighting and local driving practices. For further advice, see our road travel page.
When travelling to the Gallipoli Peninsula Peace Park, be prepared for the variable climatic conditions (i.e. summer, winter and wet weather protective clothing, even in winter a hat/cap and sunscreen are essential to ensure your wellbeing and comfort); strictly obey safety signage and directions; and do not wander off marked roads and tracks within the Park. If travelling as part of a tour group do not separate from the group and wander the park alone.
Visitors should also be aware that winter storms and the heavy volume of traffic seriously affect many coastal roads around Gallipoli, including those in the park. Traffic restrictions may apply to the Anzac Cove road. However, pedestrians will still be able to access places of interest in the park.
In recent years, train accidents and derailments have resulted in deaths and injuries.
It is illegal not to carry photographic identification with you in Turkey. You should carry a photocopy of your passport with you at all times.
Hijackings have occurred on commercial aircraft in Turkey over recent years.
For further information, please refer to our air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
When you are in Turkey, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Penalties for drug offences in Turkey are severe and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences.
Drink driving carries a minimum penalty of an on-the-spot fine and confiscation of your driver's licence.
It is illegal to photograph military installations in Turkey.
Mount Ararat, in the east of Turkey, is a special military zone. You need permission from the Turkish government to visit.
The unauthorised sale and exportation of antiquities is prohibited and carries long jail sentences. You need a receipt and an official certificate to export these items legally.
The use of metal detectors to search for historical artefacts is illegal.
Homosexuality is not illegal, but is not widely accepted.
Public displays of affection could result in prosecution for public order offences.
It is illegal to insult the Turkish nation, the national flag and the name and image of the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
It is illegal to deface or destroy currency.
It is illegal not to carry photographic identification with you in Turkey. You should carry a photocopy of your passport with you at all times.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Turkey. Some regions are more conservative than others. You should respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities. If in doubt, seek local advice.
Visitors should dress modestly, particularly at mosques and religious shrines.
Information for dual nationals
Australian males who hold Turkish citizenship may be required to undertake military service upon their return to Turkey. Prior to travel, Turkish/Australian dual nationals should seek advice from the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Turkey.
Our Dual Nationals brochure provides further information for dual nationals.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. 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 a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our Travelling Well brochure also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while overseas.
The standard of medical facilities throughout Turkey varies. While private hospitals with international standard facilities can be found in major cities, services can be limited elsewhere. Private hospitals generally require confirmation of insurance or a guarantee of payment before admitting a patient. Costs can be very expensive. Generally, serious illnesses and accidents can be treated at private or teaching hospitals in Ankara and Istanbul. However, medical evacuation, at considerable cost, may be necessary in some serious cases.
Australians resident in Turkey for more than 12 months may have access to Turkey’s Universal Health Insurance (UHI). Information on this can be found on the website for the Australian Embassy in Ankara.
Decompression chambers are located near popular dive sites throughout Turkey in Çubuklu, Izmir, Bodrum, Oludeniz, and Eceabat.
Malaria is a risk from May to October mainly in the south-eastern part of the country, and in Amikova and Çukurova Plain. 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. Recent seasonal outbreaks (from early summer) of CCHF have been fatal. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria, and to take measures to avoid insect bites including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing, and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
Water-borne, food-borne, and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, typhoid, hepatitis, measles and rabies) occur with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before travelling. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food, and avoid unpasteurised dairy products. Stray dogs are numerous in Turkish cities, including Ankara and Istanbul, and have attacked pedestrians in busy, built-up areas.
Avian influenza: The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed human deaths from avian influenza in Turkey. Australians intending to travel to Turkey should discuss the risk of avian influenza with their doctor as part of their routine pre-travel health checks.
Australians in Turkey should monitor the travel advice and bulletin for updated information and advice.
Where to get help
In Turkey, you can obtain consular assistance from the:
Australian Embassy, Ankara
88 Uğur Mumcu Caddesi
Gaziosmanpaşa Ankara TURKEY
Telephone: (90 312) 459 9500
Facsimile: (90 312) 446 4827
Australian Consulate-General, Istanbul
16th Floor, Süzer Plaza (Ritz Carlton Hotel),
Askerocaĝı Caddesi No. 15, Elmadağ
Telephone: (90 212) 393 8542
Facsimile: (90 212) 243 1332
Australian Consulate, Çanakkale
Telephone: (90 286) 218 1721
Facsimile: (90 286) 218 1724
The nationwide police 24-hour hotline number is 155. In rural areas, the Jandarma can be contacted on 156. Foreigners can also contact the Istanbul Tourist Police on +90 212 527 4503.
If you are travelling to Turkey, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency – whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the missions, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
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 other forms of accommodation. You should take additional care to guard against water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (see Health Issues for more information).
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 in the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Turkey is in an active earthquake zone. Our Earthquakes bulletin provides further information on travel in earthquake prone areas.
On 23 October 2011, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit near the city of Van in eastern Turkey, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. Many buildings collapsed and infrastructure was damaged. Australians in the area should follow the instructions of local authorities.
Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If you are in an area affected by a natural disaster, you should monitor the media and follow the advice of authorities.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.