4 Helpful Tips for Americans Traveling to Turkey

Americans flying to Turkey could face difficulties now that the United States and Turkey have temporarily stopped issuing visas to each other’s citizens.

Many questions have arisen, and answers have been provided:

  1. U.S. residents can’t come to Turkey if they don’t have a visa and need to apply for it in person, because currently, it isn’t possible to apply for one in person. Those who already have Turkish visas can visit the country, though.
  2. Turkey also grants e-Visas, allowing travelers to obtain visas by applying online through gov.tr, but U.S. citizens are not eligible for them. Citizens of countries such as Norway, Australia and India are eligible to apply for e-Visas to visit Turkey and can do so if they live in the United States.
  3. American living abroad might be able to visit Turkey, but it isn’t guaranteed. They need to apply for a visa, and can do so by visiting their local Turkish embassy or consulate.
  4. Americans who have booked a trip to Turkey but can’t apply for the visa need to take the trip may be able to get a refund.

The suspension of visas resulted from Turkey’s arrest of a Turkish employee, Metin Topuz, working at the American Consulate in Istanbul, on charges of espionage, trying to overthrow the government and acting against the Constitution. Turkey accused Topuz of having links to Fetullah Gullen, whom authorities say was behind a failed coup last year, and is now living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

On Sunday, the U.S. Embassy said it would suspend the processing of all nonimmigrant visas—which are used by business travelers, tourists, diplomats and students—as it re-examines Turkey’s commitment to the safety of its staff. American ambassador John R. Bass said that the United States decision was made “with great sadness” and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey called it “regrettable.”

After the action was taken, the lira dropped more than 4 percent against the dollar on Asian markets.

Turkey later announced that it would take similar measures, including the suspension of electronic visas and visas purchased at the border, which is how most tourists and other short-term visitors enter the country. The measures apparently have not yet been enforced at the border.

The actions are occurring during a time of deteriorating relations between the two countries due to a several issues, including American support for Kurdish fighters in Syria and Turkey’s tilt toward Russia in the war in Syria. Turkey’s recent decision to welcome the leaders of Iran and Venezuela has also increased tension with the United States.

Another employee, working at the American consulate in Adana, Turkey, was arrested in March and faces similar charges to those made against Topuz. His case hasn’t been tried yet. Both men apparently were charged partly because of ties they developed with former security officials, which raised questions about the safety of all local employees of American diplomatic missions in Turkey.