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Visas Requirements for Transfers in Istanbul

Last updated: May 8, 2018

Even if you’re a seasoned pro, the world of visas can be a daunting one. What might be true for a citizen of one country might not be true for a citizen of another and the issues surrounding them can seem endless: Different kinds of visits require different visas—whether or not you need a visa depends on whether you plan on leaving the airport—airlines may not tell you when you need one, etc., etc., etc. It’s enough to make you want to stay home! Here, the members of Trippy.com tackle the question of whether or not a visa is required to make a transfer at the Istanbul airport. While the general consensus here is no, they do not, always be sure to check the government websites of the country to which you are flying just in case there have been any changes!

Do I need a visa if I’m landing in Istanbul and don’t plan to leave the airport?

It sounds funny, but whether or not you leave the airport is one of the deciding factors in whether or not you need a visa. It will also depend on your own nationality. Here, some of our members sort out whether you will or won’t need one:

“As long as you stay in the transit area of the airport you do not need any visa. But if you have more than six or so hours to wait for the connecting flight you could consider to make an extremely short but nevertheless fascinating visit of one of the most interesting places in the world. The Turkish visa (which costs you about 15 USD) is just a sticker which you get immediately after paying into your passport. It is not a regular visa procedure but just a way to get money, the Turkish visa is maybe the easiest in the world, you have not even to complete any application forms, just to pay and to enter Turkey.”
“The question is a legitimate one. Although most countries allow visa-free transfers if the passenger remains "airside", i.e. does not pass through immigration, in some cases a visa is required, usually for political or security reasons. I seem to recall, for example, that the UK Government recently announced that Algerian passport holders would require a visa to change aircraft at a British airport.”
“It is better to call the embassy but anyway you may require a transit visa which costs 10$ or €. not like regular visa which costs for US citizens 100$.”
“I want to travel from Multan Punjab, Pakistan to Amsterdam, Netherlands but I like to stay Istanbul for two nights. May I can avail visa facility at Istanbul, Turkey airport?”
“That depends on your nationality. Most citizens of "civilized" countries get the visa at the airport after a few seconds for a modest fee (around 20 USD or so). But tell them that you want to stay in Istanbul for a few days. If you already have a valid Schengen visa (which you need for Amsterdam, unless you are EU-citizen or citizen of a few other countries as USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Israel) you will not meet any trouble at all.”
“I'm a Pakistani passport holder and I'm having a layover in Istanbul while travelling to Toronto. Do I need a visa for this brief 1.30hr stopover?”
“You will only be in transit at the airport and will not be passing through immigration so no transit visa is necessary.”
“As suggested above, if you are flying through the same airline, or even if this is one single ticket with multiple airlines, you will not need a visa, unless you wish to go outside the airport, which does not make sense anyways for this tight layover.”
“That is correct. You only need a visa if you present your passport at passport control to leave international airside for a domestic flight or to exit the airport. Signage will direct you from your arrival plane to your transit plane without going outside.”
“I am travelling from Sweden to India on visa on arrival. I have a layover time of 3 hours in Istanbul, Turkey. Will I need a transit visa. I will have to board a different flight in Istanbul to India.”
“If you remain Airside, there is no visa required. Otherwise Swedish passport holders have Turkish Visa exemption.”
“The answer is NO...”

Of course, you might need to move from one airport to another within Istanbul and that can present a whole host of issues:

“I am arriving Istanbul as transit passenger & using two airports, one is Istanbul Ata Turk Airport & 2nd is Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen (SAW). My next/connecting/transit flight is from a different airport, i.e Sabiha Gokcen (SAW), DO I NEED VISA? as Technically I would be leaving the ONE airport & stepping outside - on main Turkish soil.”
“If you need visa for entering Turkey you cannot move from one Istanbul airport to another without a Turkish visa. Most probably you can get this visa right at the airport of arrival. All international Turkish airports have visa counters in the arrival area before you reach the passport control. At these counters you can get your visa immediately. You give them your passport and they give you the visa within a few seconds after you have paid the visa fee which is different for different nationalities. The exact fee (in USD or EUR) for different nationalities is shown on a board at the counter. The visa is nothing more than a small sticker in your passport. The procedure I describe here is for tourists who stay for holidays in Turkey. Maybe transit visa are issued the same way. And maybe there are different fees for them. But it seems that not all nationals can get the visa upon arrival. Check that with the Turkish Embassy (website) in your home country.”

And then there’s the issue of whether or not you have to collect your luggage before your connecting flight:

“A visa for a US citizen, even a transit visa, is 100 not 15 which will keep me from seeing this fascinating place. I have heard of others who DID require a visa to change planes at Istanbul, in order to go out of the international area in order to claim their luggage, then check it in again for the next flight. I am flying Turkish Airlines for both legs of my trip...I'm wondering whether luggage automatically gets loaded into the connecting flight, so you don't have to go to luggage claim. That seems like it may be a key question. Has anyone actually been through this scenario?”
“My last change at Istanbul airport was between two Turkish Airline flights Almaty, Kazakhstan - Istanbul to Istanbul - Vienna. Did always stay in the transit area and had not to care about my luggage.”
“Whenever you check-in your luggage from USA, you should EXCLUSIVELY mention that you would like your luggage to go DIRECTLY to your destination and you DO NOT want to pick it up from Istanbul. In most of the cases of ''Connecting flight (less than 4 hours – I strongly think) it is DEFAULT but I dunno the policy of Turkish Airlines, so, if u will mention this I am 95% sure that your luggage will go to your destination. May be your friends had more hours between their flights, or they wanted to have their luggage exclusively, or might be their second airline was different.”
“I had a two-way flight with Turkish Airlines, going from Tehran to Prague with connection in Istanbul: 1. In the way for going, I spend 6 hours at airport, but outside of transit section, with no visa! and they didn't give me my luggage, so it was carried directly to Prague (while it was automatically and I had no request myself) 2. In return way, it was more than 1 day to stay in Istanbul, so I went to visit that great city, no visa was required at all. I also got my luggage with no claim and request. 3. For visa issue, please consider that my nationality is Iranian.”

The Wonderful World of E-visas:

It depends on where you’re going but certain countries are now issuing what’s called an “e-visa”. Needless to say, this has opened a totally different can of worms for those trying to figure out the visa situation. Here, our members try to sort it out as much as possible.

Will take a layover tour for just three hours, do I need a visa for that?

“Visa requirements for all countries vary by citizenship. However, assuming you are a US citizen then yes, you do need a visa to enter Turkey (the length of your layover is irrelevant). The system has changed and you now get an evisa, which works in the same way as the ESTa which some citizenships require for entry to the USA. Go to the official evisa website: https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/ Complete your application, pay the fee (20USD..the site accepts Visa, Mastercard and UnionPay) and you'll be emailed an evisa document. Although the data will be held on the electronic systems used by border control officers imo it's a good idea to print out a copy and take it with you. I've just done my evisa and found the process both easy and efficient. Don't leave it too late though. Make sure you get your evisa at least 2 days before you arrive. And make sure you don't make any mistakes in the application because if you do it can't be corrected. You'll need to make and pay for another evisa. You can still get a visa on arrival if you prefer (it's not been fully phased out yet) but an evisa is quick, easy and ...most importantly...means you won't have to join the potentially very long visa-on-arrival queue!”

Arriving by Land

Whether you arrive by land or air you’ll need to have your paperwork in order when you arrive. While the paperwork may be the same, the experience may not. Here’s what to expect if you arrive by land:

“I wonder if anyone has actually arrived by land recently - I have a hard time imagining that they are very strict at borders like say the Georgian one, where buses and minivans ply constantly. They will of course check the passports, but I really doubt if they are up to date with the evisas. Has anyone experienced this?”
“I'm pretty sure they're all set up for e-visas with computers now. After all there only 20 open road border crossings into Turkey (12 of them from Iran, Iraq and Syria - although they might have closed a few more of the Syrian ones by now). Probably the same with seaports.”
“Make sure you have a printed copy of your e-visa.”
“20USD is the same, or less than, you'll pay if you want a visa on arrival: mfa.gov.tr/data/KONSOLOSLUK/... 20USD is only aournd 15 euro/13GBP. I'm pretty tight with money but that seems pretty good value for a 90-day visa.”
“The evisa site is a good one - when I was there 2 years ago I didn’t need a visa if using my NZ passport and it still shows as exempt from needing a visa. There are a few countries that are exempt. Certainly the site makes it very easy to get info and to get a visa if needed.”


Here's the original discussion:



a VirtualTourist member from Chiang Rai asked on May 4, 2003

Turkey

Connecting at Istanbul Airport Require Visa?

I'm a US citizen. I may be flying Turkish Airlines to Eastern Europe. The plane lands at Istanbul and then I take a connecting flight. Do I need a visa for Turkey to change planes in the Istanbul airport? It seems like a silly question but I found only one item on the Internet that addressed this issue. It said no, I wouldn't need one. But it was not from an official Turkish government site--those that I found don't mention this scenario at all! Since there's tons of outdated or erroneous info on the net I don't want to rely on that one site. Since the transit visa for a US citizen is100 this is a considerable concern. Does anyone know? Thanks.



14 Answers


answered on 5/4/03 by
a VT member from London

if u have got a connecting flight of turkish airlines from istanbul u will 100 % will not require a tranist Visa but.... if you would like to go OUT of the airport u will require a transit visa. Best Wishes, Umer




answered on 5/5/03 by
a VT member from London

no , you don't need a transit visa for Turkey ... Cuase u just wait at the airport .. u won'T pay 100 US :))))




answered on 5/5/03 by
a VT member from Telfs

As long as you stay in the transit area of the airport you do not need any visa. But if you have more than six or so hours to wait for the connecting flight you could consider to make an extremely short but nevertheless fascinating visit of one of the most interesting places in the world. The Turkish visa (which costs you about 15 USD) is just a sticker which you get immediately after paying into your passport. It is not a regular visa procedure but just a way to get money, the Turkish visa is maybe the easiest in the world, you have not even to complete any application forms, just to pay and to enter Turkey..




answered on 5/5/03 by
a VT member from Luxembourg

The question is a legitimate one. Although most countries allow visa-free transfers if the passenger remains "airside", i.e. does not pass through immigration, in some cases a visa is required, usually for political or security reasons. I seem to recall, for example, that the UK Government recently announced that Algerian passport holders would require a visa to change aircraft at a British airport.




answered on 5/5/03 by
a VT member from Boston

Thanks for the info. A visa for a US citizen, even a transit visa, is100 not15 which will keep me from seeing this fascinating place. I have heard of others who DID require a visa to change planes at Istanbul, in order to go out of the international area in order to claim their luggage, then check it in again for the next flight. I am flying Turkish Airlines for both legs of my trip...I'm wondering whether luggage automatically gets loaded into the connecting flight, so you don't have to go to luggage claim. That seems like it may be a key question. Has anyone actually been through this scenario?




answered on 5/5/03 by
a VT member from Telfs

My last change at Istanbul airport wa between two Turkish Airline flights Almaty (Kazakhstan) - Istanbul to Istanbul - Vienna. Did always stay in the transit area and had not to care about my luggage.




answered on 5/5/03 by
a VT member from London

Dear Telemculus! Whenever u check-in your luggage from USA, you should EXCLUSIVELY mention that u would like your luggage to go DIRECTLY to your destination and you DO NOT want to pick it up from Istanbul. In most of the cases of ''Connecting flight (less than 4 hours - i strongly think) it is DEFAULT but i dunno the policy of Turkish Airlines, so, if u will mention this i am 95% sure that ur luggage will go to your destination. May be your friends had more hours between their flights, or they wanted to have their luggage exclusively, or might be their second airline was different. Do let us know. Best wishes, Muhammad Umer. --------------------




answered on 5/8/03 by
a VT member from Tehran

Hi I had a two-way flight with Turkish Airlines, going from Tehran to Prague with connection in Istanbul: 1. In the way for going, I spend 6 hours at airport, but outside of transit section, with no visa! and they didn't give me my luggage, so it was carried directly to Prague (while it was automatically and I had no request myself) 2. In return way, it was more than 1 day to stay in Istanbul, so I went to visit that great city, no visa was required at all. I also got my luggage with no claim and request. 3. For visa issue, please consider that my nationality is Iranian and it may makes sense. -- Ali




answered on 5/25/03 by
a VT member from Heidelberg

Hey, It is better to call the embassy but anyway you may require a transit visa which costs 10$ or €. not like regular visa which costs for US citz 100$




answered on 11/20/13 by
a VT member

For anyone who discovers this forum looking for current answers to transit visas in 2013....konsolosluk.gov.tr/usa/en/Tr... "Note: Passengers who will have to wait at the Turkish International Airports for their next connecting flights are not required to have an “Airport Transit Visa (ATV)”." This only involves staying at the airport, not venturing outside of it.




answered on 8/9/16 by
a VT member

Hello All,

I have a good one here for you all Travel Gurus !

I am arriving Istanbul as transit passenger & using two airports, one is Istanbul Ata Turk Airport & 2nd is Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen (SAW), my next/connecting/transit flight is from a different air port i.e Sabiha Gokcen (SAW), DO I NEED VISA ? as Technically I would be leaving the ONE airport & stepping out side - on main Turkish soil, lets see who solves it for me, any one plz ?




answered on 8/9/16 by
a VT member from Telfs

If you need visa for entering Turkey you can not move from one Istanbul airport to an other without a Turkish visa. Most probably you can get this visa right at the airport of arrival. All international Turkish airports have visa counters in the arrival area before you reach the passport control. At these counters you can get your visa immediately. You give them your passport and they give you the visa within a few seconds after you have paid the visa fee which is different for different nationalities. The exact fee (in USD or EUR) for different nationalities is shown on a board at the counter. The visa is nothing more than a small sticker in your passport. The procedure I describe here is for tourists who stay for holidays in Turkey. Maybe transit visa are issued the same way. And maybe there are different fees for them. But it seems that not all nationals can get the visa upon arrival. Check that with the Turkish Embassy (website) in your home country.




answered on 9/14/16 by
a VT member from Multan

i want to travel from multan ,punjab,pakistan to amsterdam,netherlands but i like to stay istanbole for two nights may i can avail viza fascility at istanbole,turkey airport.




answered on 9/14/16 by
a VT member from Telfs

That depends on your nationality. Most citizens of "civilized" countries get the visa at the airport after a few seconds for a modest fee (around 20 USD or so). But tell them that you want to stay in Istanbul for a few days. If you already have a valid Schengen visa (which you need for Amsterdam, unless you are EU-citizen or citizen of a few other countries as USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Israel) you will not meet any trouble at all.

)






Here's a related discussion:



a VirtualTourist member asked on Dec 22, 2013

Turkey

transit visa

I'm a pakistani passport holder and I'm having a layover in istanbul while travelling to toronto. Do I need a visa for this brief 1.30hr stopover.plz guide.



4 Answers


answered on 12/22/13 by
a VT member from Puerto Princesa

You will only be in transit at the airport and will not be passing through immigration so no transit visa is necessary.




answered on 12/23/13 by
a VT member from Karachi

As suggested above, if you are flying through the same airline, or even if this is one single ticket with multiple airlines, you will not need a visa, unless you wish to go outside the airport, which does not make sense anyways for this tight layover.




answered on 12/23/13 by
a VT member

Thanks a lot for the advice.




answered on 12/23/13 by
a VT member from Istanbul

The answer is NO ...






Here's a related discussion:



a VirtualTourist member from Los Angeles asked on Sep 10, 2015

Turkey

visa for 3 hours

will take a lay over tour for just three hours, do I need a visa for that?



20 Answers


answered on 9/10/15 by
Mary Smith from Leicester

Unless you tell us your citizenship none of us can answer you. Visa requirements for all countries vary by citizenship.

However, assuming you are a US citizen then yes, you do need a visa to enter Turkey (the length of your layover is irrelevant).

The system has changed and you now get an evisa, which works in the same way as the ESTa which some scitizenships require for entry to the USA. Go to the official evisa website:

https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/

Complete your application, pay the fee (20USD..the site accepts Visa, Mastercard and UnionPay) and you'll be emailed an evisa document. Although the data will be held on the electronic systems used by border vontraol officers imo it's a good idea to print out a copy and take it with you.

I've just done my evisa and found the process both easy and efficient. Don't leave it too late though. Make sure you hget your evisa at least 2 days before you arrive. And make sure you don't make any mistakes in the application because if you do it can't be corrected. You'll need to make and pay for another evisa.

You can still get a visa on arrival if you prefer (it's not been fully phased out yet) but an evisa is quick, easy and ...most importantly...means you won't have to join the potentially very long visa-on-arrival queue! :-)




answered on 9/10/15 by
a VT member from Los Angeles

ooops sorry, I am a US citizen




answered on 9/10/15 by
a VT member from Los Angeles

yes, that's what I gathered, but I just wanted to double check, I thank you [VT member ae10b] for your time.....x




answered on 9/10/15 by
Mary Smith from Leicester

You are more than welcome. :-)

(And I do apologise for the typos...it's almost bedtime here in the UK!).




answered on 9/10/15 by
a VT member from Los Angeles

no worries, I'm new at these VT and I'm loving it, questions in the back of your mind answered in an instant, gotta love it!!




answered on 9/10/15 by
Mary Smith from Leicester

We members do our best to be friendly, courteous, helpful...and speedy! :-)

I hope you enjoy your quick tour of what I assume is Istanbul (?). It's a wonderful city, full of history, colour and interest. I'll be making a return visit in a couple of weeks' time.

[original VT link]




answered on 9/10/15 by
a VT member from Los Angeles

I am actually going to Greece, my second time, and Turkey just during a lay over, I've been to the Ephesus in Kusidasi in 2008, but since I have a lay over in Istanbul, might as well, thanks again..........x




answered on 9/10/15 by
Mary Smith from Leicester

Enjoy! :-)




answered on 9/11/15 by
a VT member from Nashville

So - this is for me - one can still get a visa on arrival? What if one arrives by a land route, how does that work? Anyone know? Thanks!




answered on 9/11/15 by
a VT member from Hengelo



answered on 9/11/15 by
a VT member from Los Angeles

ty




answered on 9/11/15 by
Mary Smith from Leicester

I'm surprised that this is considered 'new. The evisa requirement has been in place for quite some time now (over a year, I think) and has been well-publicised.

As I said above, visa on arrival has not yet been fully phased out in full but that most certainly *is* the intention. In fact, it should have been phased out well before now but clearly the Turkish government have allowed longer than they originally intended.

An evisa is required however you intend to enter Turkey. Evisas are not simply for arriving by air.

As one can apply for an evisa up to 2 days before arrival the change really shouldn't cause any problems, except (I suppose) for those without credit or debit cards......but perhaps the 'UnionPay option allows for that?

The FAQs on the official evisa site are remarkably helpful:

https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/info/




answered on 9/12/15 by
a VT member from Nashville

Thanks - I wonder if anyone has actually arrived by land recently - I have a hard time imagining that they are very strict at borders like say the Georgian one, where buses and minivans ply constantly. They will of course check the passports, but I really doubt if they are up to date with the evisas. Has anyone experienced this?




answered on 9/12/15 by
Mary Smith from Leicester

I imagine land border points have access to computer systems (or, at least, to telephones) and would thus be able to check evisa data if someone turned up whose citizenship required a visa to enter.

I'd be interested to know too. We really need input from a VT-er with an evisa who, within the past few months, has crossed by land at one of the more remote border points.




answered on 9/12/15 by
a VT member

I'm pretty sure they're all set up for e-visas with computers now. After all there only 20 open road border crossings into Turkey (12 of them from Iran, Iraq and Syria - although they might have closed a few more of the Syrian ones by now). Probably the same with seaports.

Make sure you have a printed copy of your e-visa.




answered on 9/12/15 by
a VT member from Nashville

Rather, a report from someone WITHOUT an e-visa! I imagine the borders to the south are heavily controlled, but people flow all the time to and from Georgia. Thousands. Land and sea borders are generally more lax than airports, with the exception I am sure of disturbed situations, as on the southern border. I find 20 a lot! well, this question might or night not be answered!




answered on 9/12/15 by
Mary Smith from Leicester

20USD is the same, or less than, you'll pay if you want a visa on arrival:

mfa.gov.tr/data/KONSOLOSLUK/...

See also:

turkeytravelplanner.com/deta...

20USD is only aournd 15 euro/13GBP. I'm pretty tight with money but that seems pretty good value for a 90-day visa.




answered on 9/12/15 by
a VT member from Nashville

That has always been the normal fee (on arrival) but the money is not the point. Well, let us see....




answered on 9/12/15 by
a VT member

Most neighbouring country's citizens don't need a visa (Armenians and Iraqis are the only ones who need them).




answered on 9/12/15 by
a VT member from London

the evisa site is a good one - when i was there 2 years ago i didnt need a visa if using my NZ passport and it still shows as exempt from needing a visa.
There are a few countries that are exempt. certainly the site makes it very easy to get info and to get a visa if needed






Here's a related discussion:



a VirtualTourist member from Sweden asked on Dec 16, 2015

Turkey

Transit Visa details

I am travelling from Sweden to India on visa on arrival. I have a layover time of 3 hours in Istanbul, Turkey. Will i need a transit visa. I will have to board a different flight in Istanbul to India.



2 Answers


answered on 12/16/15 by
a VT member from Mahajanga

If you remain Airside, there is no visa required
Otherwise Swedish Passport Holders have Turkish Visa Exemption




answered on 1/11/16 by
a VT member from Newry

That is correct. You only need a visa if you present your passport at passport control to leave international airside for a domestic flight or to exit the airport. Signage will direct you from your arrival plane to your transit plane without going outside





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