Exercise a high degree of caution in Turkey, including Ankara and Istanbul, because of the high threat of terrorist attack. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor media for the latest information about safety or security risks. See Safety and security
- Do not travel within 10 kilometres of the border with Syria or to the city of Diyarbakir. See Safety and security
- Reconsider your need to travel to all areas within the south-eastern provinces of Batman, Bingol, Bitlis, Diyarbakir province, 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
- 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. See Safety and security
- In mid-2018, Turkey lifted the state of emergency that had been in place since 2016. However it remains unclear what impact this will have, authorities may still have increased powers and detained suspects may still have fewer rights. See Safety and security
- Females travelling alone or in small groups are at risk of violent sexual assault. Be cautious especially in Istanbul, coastal resort areas such as Antalya and other tourist areas. 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
Entry and exit
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
If you are visiting Turkey for tourism or business 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're not eligible for an e-visa, you'll need to arrange your visa through an
Embassy or Consulate of Turkey before you arrive. If you don't, you could be refused entry.
If you arrive by sea for tourism you may be able to visit the surrounding provinces, for up to 72 hours, without a visa. You should check visa requirements with your travel operator in advance.
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.
If you enter or depart by land or sea borders (example: for a short trip to the Greek islands), ensure you're correctly processed by Turkish immigration authorities. Ensure your passport is stamped for every exit and arrival. If you don't, you could face difficulties when departing, 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're the legal parent or guardian of the children. Check with an
Embassy or Consulate of Turkey before you travel.
All border crossings from Syria are currently closed.
Crossing the border to or from Iraq is difficult. Military activity in the border region is ongoing and the Turkish Government tightly controls entry and exit.
Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia. Your passport must also be valid for at least 60 days after the end date of your visa or residence permit when you enter Turkey.
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 get access to your passport by deception. If you're forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.
If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government 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
Do not travel within 10 kilometres of the border with Syria or to the city of Diyarbakir due to the threat of terrorism, violence and acts of war.
Reconsider your need to travel to all areas within the south-eastern provinces of Batman, Bingol, Bitlis, Diyarbakir province, 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.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack in Turkey, particularly in south-eastern Turkey. But attacks could take place anywhere and at any time. Terrorists continue to call for attacks, including in urban areas and at tourist destinations.
More terror attacks targeting western interests, including tourists, are expected. Diplomatic missions, tourist sites, public transport and transport hubs, shopping malls, western hotels and entertainment areas such as Kizilay and Tunali in Ankara and Istiklal Street in Istanbul are possible targets.
Past terror attacks have targeted tourist sites, locations associated with the Turkish security forces (such as military barracks and police vehicles), government, judiciary, political parties, businesses, places of worship and areas where westerners frequent.
Deadly 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 many disrupted and deadly terrorist attacks over recent years, including:
- In January 2017, an armed attack at Reina nightclub in Istanbul, killed 39 people and injured 69.
- In December 2016,a coordinated terrorist attack at a major football stadium and in a nearby park in central Istanbul, killed 44 people and injured over 100.
- In June 2016, a terrorist attack at Istanbul's Ataturk airport killed 47 people and injured more than 250.
- In March 2016, an explosion occurred in the Kizilay district of Ankara killing 37 people and injuring 130. Terrorist group the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) have claimed responsibility.
- In March 2016, a suicide bombing in Istiklal Street, Istanbul killed five people and injured 39. A number of foreign tourists were among the dead and injured.
- In October 2015, an attack on a peace rally in central Ankara killed over 100 people and injured up to 400 others.
Significant dates and anniversaries are symbolic and terrorists have 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).
The threat of terrorist attack, violence and acts of war is high along the borders with Syria and Iraq. Rockets have been fired from Syria and Iraq into Turkish territory. There is a high threat of 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 into Turkey.
The south-eastern 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. Large scale terrorist attacks including suicide bombings, ambushes, car bombings, improvised explosive devices, shootings and violent demonstrations have occurred in these areas. The situation is more dangerous at night and in rural areas. Tensions are high and more 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 that could be terrorist targets, including government and military interests, diplomatic missions, transport hubs and places commonly frequented by Westerners.
- Avoid large crowds and queues around shopping centre entrances, tourist attractions and symbols of Western culture, such as restaurants, hotels and businesses.
- 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.
The Australian Government's longstanding policy is it doesn't make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers paying a ransom increases the risk of more 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 in response to domestic and international events and political developments. Demonstrations can happen without warning. Events intended to be peaceful can quickly turn violent. Extremists have targeted political protests. In October 2015, an attack on a peace rally in Ankara killed over 100 people.
There are over three million Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Turkey. Some clashes between Syrian refugees and locals have turned violent. Tensions remain and more violence is possible.
Protests in Istanbul have centred around Taksim Square and Istiklal Street (including streets surrounding Istikal as far as the Galata Tower and down to Karakoy), in Besiktas and Okmeydani on the European side and Kadikoy on the Asian side. Protests in Ankara often centre around the Kizilay and Tunali areas but have also targeted a number of diplomatic missions. Protests also happen in other districts of Istanbul and Ankara, in Adana, Antalya, Hatay, Izmir and in other cities and towns.
May Day rallies on 1 May can become violent, particularly in Ankara and Istanbul. Mass rallies often occur during Persian New Year (20-21 March).
Police regularly use tear gas, water cannons and plastic bullets to disperse crowds. The effects of tear gas can be felt in surrounding areas.
Public gatherings, celebrations, demonstrations and protests can be banned by local authorities with little notice. Curfews can be imposed or extended without warning.
- Avoid political gatherings, protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent.
- Obey 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.
- Plan your activities to avoid possible unrest on days of national or commemorative significance
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
- Be prepared to change your travel plans in case of disruptions.
- If you're affected by transport disruptions, contact your airline, travel agent or insurer for assistance.
Theft and assault
Muggings, assaults, pickpocketing and bag snatching are common, 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 on 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. Assaults have happened in popular tourist areas, 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're 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 have been reported involving local taxis inflating prices or taking a longer route to increase the fare, particularly to and from airports in Istanbul. Always insist the meter is used and pay attention to your surroundings.
Scams are also common among carpet traders. Be very wary of deals in which you buy a carpet to be delivered by post.
More information: 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 usually isn't 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, aren't 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 standards. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
With the exception of major freeways and arterial roads, the standard of road construction is poor. Travel at night on country roads can be 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.
- Familiarise yourself with local road rules and practices.
- Drive defensively.
- Don't drink and drive.
Road safety and driving
You can drive 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'll need to get 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 licensed 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 the meter is used. In rural areas and small towns you may need to negotiate rates.
Using Uber is not legal and may result in fines. Violence between taxi drivers and Uber operators can happen.
Turkey has an extensive inter-city bus network. Accidents resulting in deaths and injuries occur regularly.
Train travel is usually safe and efficient. However, occasional accidents and derailments have resulted in deaths and injuries.
Istanbul’s new international airport (ISL) opened on 29 October
2018. International and domestic flights are being gradually transferred from
Ataturk airport (IST), with flights operating into/out of both airports during
the transition period. Flight delays and cancellations may occur and increased
traffic congestion around both airports is likely. Check your flight details
carefully, plan travel to the airport well in advance and monitor flight
changes. Contact your airline or tour operator for the latest update.
Turkish airports and commercial aircraft have been the subject of terrorist attacks in recent years. Three terrorists armed with guns and explosive belts carried out a deadly attack on Istanbul's Ataturk airport in 2016, killing 47 people. Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport was attacked by rocket fire in 2015, killing one person. Gaziantep Airport also came under rocket fire in 2016. In 2014 a hijack attempt was made on an Istanbul-bound passenger plane.
Enhanced security measures are in place at major airports. Airports are often crowded and additional security checks can cause delays. Reconfirm your travel arrangements and check-in time before travelling to the airport.
The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the
Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety.
You're subject to 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.
Following the lifting of a State of Emergency in mid-2018, local authorities continue to have increased legal powers. Authorities have detained thousands of people suspected of having links to alleged terrorist organisations. The rights of these detainees remain substantially weakened.
Foreigners and dual nationals can be prevented from departing Turkey.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences.
Carrying or using 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.
The following activities are illegal and could result in severe penalties:
- taking photos of 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 flag, President or government, or the founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, including on social media
- 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.
If you're arrested or detained, you may be deported from Turkey after finalisation of court hearings or completion of your sentence. Deportation may occur even if you're not convicted.
If you're arrested, you can request the local authorities to inform the nearest Australian Embassy or Consulate.
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
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 Turkish-Australian dual national, you could be forced to do military service when you arrive. Check your obligations with an
Embassy or Consulate of Turkey before you travel.
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 early May and early June 2019. 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 people in some areas are very familiar with tourists or have locals who don't fast, other areas are more conservative.
Homosexuality is legal but isn't widely accepted in Turkish society. LGBTI events and gatherings may be subject to local government bans. 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 won't 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 aren't covered under your policy
- that you are covered for the whole time you'll be away.
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 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.
Malaria is a risk from May to October in Amikova, Çukurova Plain and the south-east. 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: Infectious diseases
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 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.
Poisoning from alcoholic drinks
Cases of poisoning from alcoholic drinks contaminated by harmful substances, particularly methanol, have been reported. Locals and foreigners have become seriously ill after drinking contaminated alcohol.
Consider the risks when drinking alcoholic beverages, particularly cocktails and drinks made with spirits. Drink only at reputable licensed premises. Avoid home-made alcoholic drinks. Labels on bottles aren't always accurate.
If you suspect that you or someone you're with may have been poisoned, act quickly and get urgent medical attention. It could save your life or save you from permanent disability. Report suspected case of methanol poisoning to the police.
The standard of medical facilities varies. Private hospitals with international standard facilities exist in major cities but services can be limited elsewhere.
Private hospitals usually need confirmation of insurance or a guarantee of payment before admitting a patient. Costs can be high.
Decompression chambers are located near popular dive sites and major cities in Antalya, Bodrum, Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Bursa.
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).
Turkish Labour and Social Security Communication Centre
Severe drought conditions can affect water supply to a number of cities. 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.
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. 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 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.
- Two large earthquakes (magnitudes 6.9 and 5.3) occurred in the Canakkale region in 2013.
- In 2013, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake occurred in Antalya.
- 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.
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.
Where to get help
Depending on what you need, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Emergency phone numbers
- Firefighting and rescue services: 110
- Medical emergencies: 112
- Criminal issues in major cities, contact police: 155 (English speakers aren't always available)
- Criminal issues in rural areas, contact the Jandarma: 156 (English speakers rarely available)
The Police departments of Ankara, Antalya, Istanbul and Izmir may have English-speaking officers available. In Istanbul there is a dedicated Tourist Police unit which can be contacted on +90 212 527 4503. Always get a police report when reporting a crime.
Tourism services and products
To complain about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly. If you are not satisfied with their response, contact the police on 155 (within city limits) for more advice.
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
Phone: (90 312) 459 9500
Fax: (90 312) 446 4827
Australia in Turkey
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
Phone: (90 212) 393 8542
Fax: (90 212) 243 1332
Australian Consulate, Çanakkale
Phone: (90 286) 218 1721
Fax: (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 from overseas, or 1300 555 135 from within Australia.