Travel advice Turkey 2019

 The latest developments

The Turkish security situation has calmed following an attempted coup on 15-16 July 2016. The two-year state of emergency ended in July 2018. Some extra security measures and restrictions are kept by the Turkish authorities. They still can follow suspects and put them in custody. Also British nationals with Turkish nationality have to deal with interrogation or prosecution during their stay in Turkey. In criminal procedures the suspects can be held in custody. In case of problems always ask for consular assistance and contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. There is a British Embassy in Ankara, a British Consulate in the cities of Antalya, Bodrum,Fethiye, Istanbul, Izmir and Marmaris. If you’re in Turkye and you need urgent help call +90 312 455 3344. If you’re in the UK and you’re worried about a British national in Turkye call 020 70081500.

The Turkish authorities may take visible and invisible security measures at public buildings, major events and public meetings. Also in airports, at border crossings and transportation hubs can reinforced checks take place. There may also be additional identity checks. Stay alert and follow the instructions of the local authorities. Ensure that you always have a valid travel document and valid identity papers with you.

Demonstrations take place in all Turkish cities. In Istanbul the demonstrations centered around Taksim Square, on Istiklal Street and in the Besiktas and Kadikoy district. In Ankara the demonstrations take place around the Prime Ministers office and in Izmir there were demonstrations in the town centre. We advise: avoid all demonstrations and go away if a demonstration develops.
This travel advice is carefully composed. You are solely responsible for your safety if you decide to travel to Turkey.The purpose of this advice is to inform you about safety in Turkey and in addition you will find general and practical tips. Tips: make sure your travel insurance covers all the costs and beware of stray dogs.

Road safety

There are security risks if you are travelling by road throughout Turkey particulary at night. Be careful when you travel by car and when you are in South-East Turkey don’t drive after sunset. In Turkey all involved in fatal road accidents are taken into custody. Also people who are not guilty of the accident. We advise you to approach the checkpoints slowly and follow the instructions of security personel. The roads between the major cities are in a good condition.

If you drive in Turkye you must have an International Driving Permit or a notarised copy in Turkish of your UK driving licence. If you stay for more than 6 months you have to convert your UK driving licence into a Turkish licence.
If you want to hire a motorcycle you will need a standard motorcycle licence to hire a motorcycle over 50cc in Turkye. You must wear a helmet and alcohol is forbidden when you drive.

Terrorisme

Across the country is an increased risk of terrorist attacks. Since 2015 there are regular terrorist attacks in Turkey with hundreds of dead and wounded. Some examples of attacks:   New year night 2017: popular night club in Istanbul, 39 dead and dozens of injured people, mostly foreigners;  19 december 2016: bus with military personnel in Kayseri 13 killed and 48 wounded;  10 december 2016: attack near the football stadium at Besiktas 44 dead and wounded.
And that’s not all. The list of attcks in Turkye is long en the people suffer.

You should be careful throughout Turkey particularly in large cities and on busy places. Extra vigilance is advised in government buildings and at political rallies and demonstrations. Also tourists, tourist attractions, entertainment venues, shopping centres, sports centres, cultural organizations, churches and public transport can be the target of an attack.

Unsafe areas

In Turkey there are several unsafe areas and there is an increased risk of terrorist attacks throughout Turkey. This is mainly because of the fight against the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In Turkey, you need to be alert, especially in the big cities and busy places. Most attacks took place in the south and east of Turkye and in Ankara and Istanbul. The citizins of western countries and the Turkish state and civilians can be the targets.

The methods of attack are divers. There were suicide bombings, car bombings and rocket attacks with improvised explosive devices that were left in crowded areas or in the public transport like the subway. There is a risk that terrorist attack the aviation industry in Turkye. Co- operation with the security officials is a must.

In Turkye it is forbidden to support a terrorist organisation such as the YPG ( YPG is an acronym whose translation means People's Protection Units) and the Gülen Movement. Other terrorist groups that are active in Turkye are: Daesh ( ISIS ), Al Nusra Front, the Kurdish PKK, TAK ( Kurdistan Freedom Hawks) and the left wing groups THKP/C ( Turkish People Liberation Party/ Front) and the DHKP/C ( Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front).

 Globally there is a heightened threat against UK  objects and British nationals. Our advise: be vigilant and monitor the media reports!

 Travel advice

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises the following:   don’t travel within 10 km of the border area with Syria and Iraq because of the military activity. There are special military security zones set up along the border between Turkey and Syria in the province of Gaziantep. Turkey is also militarily active in a border strip in northern Syria. Don’t travel to Southeast Turkey. By the civil war in Syria the Turkish-Syrian border is not secure.  Don’t travel to the border area with Iraq related to military activity in northern Iraq. The situation here is very dangerous due to the armed struggle against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).  Only use the border crossing at Habur and drive only on the main road to and from the border crossing.  In most counties in the southeast of Turkey it is not safe. The PKK and the Turkish military are  active in the provinces of Elazig and Kars. There are also kidnappings In the southeast of Turkey. The border with Armenia is closed since 1993 because of the political tensions between the two countries.

 Travel only to the following provinces

Agri, Batman, Bingol, Bitlis, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Mardin, Hakkari, Igdir, Muş, Siirt, Tunceli, Van, Şirnak, Şanliurfa.

Crime

Crime in Turkey is similar to that in other countries in southern Europe. In the big cities and tourist centres is more crime and especially in Istanbul crime seems to be to rising. This includes, among other things, pick pocketing, credit card fraud and scams in general.
Our advise is to maintain the same level of security as in the UK. Be careful with alcohol. It makes you less in control. If you drink know your limit and keep your drinks in sight. Drinks can be drugged! Be carefull with strangers who approach you and offers you drinks and food or want to take you to a nightclub.
Take care of your personal possessions like your passport. They are robbed from rented villas. This problem occurs in Didim, Kas, Kalkan and the Fethiye/ Hisaronu/Ovacik areas.

You can apply for an emergency travel document if you’re abroad and your passport has been lost or stolen, damaged or expired and you can’t get a new or replacement passport in time to travel. We advise: apply online for an emergency travel document. If the person is under the age of 16 a parent or guardian should apply on their behalf.

There are also cases of sexual assault including rape. Most of these cases occured during the summer holiday in the coastal tourist areas. Take care and take a yellow taxi on your way home instead of a lift by a stranger.

Local laws, rules and practices

If you are travelling to Turkey you will meet other laws, rules and practices. You need to keep the rules and laws and regulations of the country you are visiting. Please be aware of generally applicable laws and regulations. Please take into account the following:
 It is not allowed to insult the Turkish nation, the head of State, the flag or the national anthem. Damaging or destroying Turkish banknotes and coins is regarded as an insult for which you can be criminally prosecuted.

 The religious Gülen movement is marked as a terrorist organization. Persons and organizations that are connected to the Gülen movement or other terrorist organization will be prosecuted.
 British nationals who also have the Turkish nationality are treated as Turkish citizen on Turkish territory. One consequence of this is that the British Embassy in case of problems are not always informed by the Turkish authorities. It is also possible that the British Embassy is not allowed to provide consular assistance.

 Homosexuality is legal in Turkye but it is not widely accepted. Many parts of Turkye are political conservative.  Keep that in mind if you want to walk hand in hand with your boy- or girlfriend.
The use, possession and trafficking of drugs in Turkey is severely punished. Turkye has strickt laws against the illegal drugs.

 It is punishable to make pictures of military or official objects. If you want to take a picture of a person than ask permission. If you’re visiting a mosque or a religious shrine follow the dresscode and avoid offence.

 It is punishable to take cultural-historical or antiquities, such as old coins or stones, from Turkye. Some items you can find at the local markets and in the antique shops. It’s illegal to export those goods. Check the legal requirements before you take the historical item home.
You must carry some form of photographic ID in Turkye. You should carry your passport and a printed copy of your e-visa or residence permit at all times.

Health

Check which precautions you should take for your health. Medical facilities abroad may be limited and you may need to evacuate if you become ill or get an accident. The costs are high and therefore you need to check whether the costs are covered by your health insurer. If necessary, complete an additional travel insurance. If you have to go to the doctor or be hospitalized, these costs are usually reimbursed from the medical insurance. The amount covered is maximum equal to the cost of the treatment in the Netherlands. Sometimes it is necessary to provide extra insurance.

 You can find information on current epidemics, recommended vaccinations and measures to prevent malaria and other infectious diseases on the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website. They give information on vaccine recommedations, any current health risks or outbreaks and provide factsheets with information how to stay healthy abroad.

 On the National Health Service website you find general information about travel and vaccinations.

 Nature violence

Many parts of Turkey are subject to heavy earthquakes and tremors. Always be aware of the current situation and follow the media if an emergency arises. Always follow the instructions of the local authorities. Keep in touch if you make an organized trip and also contact your travel organisation.

Turkey visa