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Turkey Visa Policy Explained for Potential Visitors

For the majority of visitors traveling to Turkey today, you’ll be able to apply for an e-Visa online, or your country may be visa-exempt. However, if you don’t reside in one of those countries, you’ll need to apply for your visa at your local Turkish embassy.
These visa policies are in place to regulate the flow of visitors to the country and are issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know to prepare for your next visit to Turkey.

Who Needs a Visa to Visit Turkey?

Visitors to Turkey from 78 countries currently don’t have to obtain a visa to enter the country. On top of that, 42 countries and territories are eligible to apply for thew Turkey visa online, making visiting Turkey more accessible than ever before.

Just last year in 2020, the Turkish government also added another set of countries to the list of passport holders not needing a visa, including the United Kingdom, Poland, the Republic of Ireland, and a few more countries within Europe.

If you don’t fall under any of these categories, it’s critical you apply for a visa before your trip to Turkey.

On top of that, you’ll also need to consider applying for a visa if you are traveling to the country to work, study, or stay for an extended period of time.

Turkey has a more complicated visa policy than other countries in the Schengen Area, and individuals from Cyprus and Schengen Annex II countries need a visa to enter.

When it comes to their visa categories, they are split into e-Visa, conditional e-Visa, and physical sticker visa. If you require a physical sticker visa, you’ll need to book an appointment with your local Turkish diplomatic mission.

Countries that will need to obtain a visa this way include Bhutan, Cambodia, Nepal, and Myanmar. Between 2013 and 2017,

Turkey granted over 16 million visas, and the most popular countries that visitors entered from included the UK, Iraq, and the Netherlands.

Popular Turkish Visa Types

As with anywhere in the world, there are a wide variety of visas on offer for visitors to Turkey. Tourist visas are by far the most prevalent type of visa and are needed by anyone who is just planning to vacation here.

Single and double transit visas are available if you are traveling through Turkey on your way to another country.

If you are entering Turkey for business, you will find a variety of visas on offer, including for business meetings, conferences, and exhibitions. Finishing off the tourism category, you’ll also find sports and cultural visas.

For students visiting Turkey, you’ll find internship visas, language course visas, and general education visas.

There are also opportunities for individuals to enter the country to work, and you may need a specialist visa if you are working as a sportsperson, artist, journalist, or academic.

On top of that, there is a selection of specialist visas on offer in Turkey, including for tour operators, archaeological excavation, documentary work, and medical treatment.

Official Visa

Official visas are for people traveling to Turkey on official business for their government. They may be assigned to work at an embassy or consulate in Turkey.

People requesting these visas will need to have formal travel identification and credentials from their government in order to do so.

Most of the time, the government the visitor is representing will request and obtain this visa for their diplomats and other officials before they travel.

Assigned for Duty Visa

Anyone who will be working in Turkey on formal government business will need an Assigned for Duty visa.

These people will usually work in embassies or consulates, though they may have other designated work locations as well.

The specifics of their visa will depend on the work they are doing.

Courier Visa

People visiting Turkey in a formal role as government couriers will get this kind of visa. It may restrict their movements in the country to certain locations where they need to pick up and/or deliver messages.

It may also only permit them to be in Turkey long enough for a message exchange.

Student Visa

Student visas are for people who have been accepted into academic programs in Turkey or who have internships in the country.

Only those who have already been accepted into these programs can get a student visa

Student visas require a visit to a Turkish embassy or consulate in the applicant’s home country. They will need to make an appointment for this visit.

Applicants should be sure to keep this appointment as it influences whether or not they will get their student visa. 

At the appointment, applicants will undergo a short interview with a representative of the Turkish government.

This person may ask them questions about why they want to study in Turkey, what their plans are in the country, and more.

The applicant will also need to supply the documents that they need in order to enter Turkey. These include:

  • A letter of acceptance from the university, internship, or other academic program that the student wants to undertake in Turkey
  • Proof of any required previous education, including diplomas and certificates showing academic achievement
  • Their current passport, with at least 90 days of validity left on it
  • Their filled-out and signed application form for their student visa
  • The fee for their student visa, which may vary based on the type of student visa they are getting and their nationality
  • Two passport-sized photos of the applicant
  • Proof that the student has travel and medical insurance for their time in Turkey
  • Proof that the student has the financial resources to fund their studies in Turkey
  • Proof that the student has booked travel to Turkey and has accommodations once they arrive in the country

Once the applicant has met with people at the consulate and submitted their documents, they will need to wait to find out whether it has been accepted.

It is generally recommended that students apply for their visa between 30 and 60 days before they plan to travel to Turkey.

After they are in Turkey, students will need to apply for a residence permit in order to remain in the country for more than 90 days.

They will need to go to the local office of the Provincial Directorate of Migration Administration. There, they will need to present: 

  • A completed application form
  • Their acceptance letter into their academic program or internship
  • Their passport, with copies of their student visa
  • Four passport-size photographs

Once granted, students will need to renew their residence permit every year. They can do so up to 60 days before it expires.

Internship Visa

These visas are for people who have been accepted into internships in Turkey that do not fall under the programs listed below.

The visa will generally be for the duration of the internship, though the details will vary based on the specifics of the traveler and what they will be doing in Turkey.

Internship ERASMUS Visa

ERASMUS is a specific program that offers grants and internships in Turkey. People who obtain their internship through this program will apply for the Internship ERASMUS Visa. 

The program supplies the government with names and details of those accepted into its internships, which can expedite the visa process.

Internship AIESEC Visa

AIESEC is another program offering a variety of internships in Turkey. Those who get internships with this program will be eligible for this visa.

The AIESEC program may help its interns through the visa process.

Turkish Language Course Visa

This visa is for students who are coming to Turkey specifically to study the Turkish language.

If they are going through a program recognized by the government, they can submit their acceptance letter and request this visa.

The details of the visa will depend on the specific language program the candidate has been accepted to as well as details such as the applicant’s nationality.

Course Purpose Visa

This visa is for people who are entering Turkey to take a specific class or course that is not through a university or a formal school, or that will result in a certificate short of a degree..

People enrolling in certain arts courses or culinary courses, for example, will apply for this visa.

The details of the visa will depend on the details of the course the applicant has been accepted into.

Education Purpose Visa

Students who are planning to take classes towards completing a degree and who have been accepted into an academic program qualify for this visa.

They will need to show proof of acceptance from a specific university into a specific program in order to qualify for the visa.

The term of the visa will be determined by the length of the course of study, when classes are offered, and more.

Education in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Visa

Students who want to take courses in Northern Cyprus will need to get this visa, rather than the regular Education Purpose Visa.

Requirements are similar, though visas may restrict travel to Northern Cyprus and come with other stipulations or requirements, depending on the student, their country of origin, and more.

Work Visa

People who want to work in Turkey will need to apply for a work visa through a Turkish embassy or consulate in their home country.  

The process is similar to that required for getting a student visa, though the required paperwork is a little bit different.

The person wanting to work in Turkey will need to work alongside the entity that is hiring them there. 

There will be paperwork that the applicant will need to submit and different paperwork that the business will need to submit. 

The exact paperwork required will depend on whether the person is coming in to work temporarily, as a lecturer, for instance, or whether they are looking to work in Turkey long-term.

In addition to their completed application, passport, and passport-sized photos, work visa applicants will need a letter from the company that is hiring them or bringing them in.

They will also need a signed contract outlining the work the person will be doing and the compensation they will receive.

They may also need a translated copy of their diploma or other certificate, if it is necessary for the job they will be doing.

Employment or Special Purpose Visa

This visa is for people who have found a job in Turkey and who will need to live in the country to complete their work requirements.

These visas can be long term, for an indefinite hiring period, or they can cover a short-term contract. The specifics of the visa will depend on the specifics of the job.

Most long-term work visas require renewal every year.

Lecturer or Academic Visas

Individuals who want to visit Turkey in order to lecture at a university, teach a course, or otherwise work in academics will need this visa.

They will need documentation to show that they have been invited to the country for academic purposes.

Sports Visa

Anyone who wants to enter Turkey in order to play sports will need this type of visa. 

It is mainly for those who have been hired from outside the country to play on Turkish teams, but can also be used by people traveling into Turkey to play games against Turkish teams.

Individuals will need to show proof that they have been invited to play, as well as any contracts they have signed.

Artist Visa

Artists whose work requires them to enter Turkey will apply for this kind of visa. There is a wide variety of people to whom this visa applies.

It includes artists doing gallery or other types of shows in Turkey. 

Those wishing to enter Turkey to artistically document certain socio-cultural aspects of life in the country, those entering Turkey on artistic grants and fellowships, can also get this visa.

Artists will need to show proof that they qualify for the visa before it will be granted.

Free Zone Worker Visa

Free zones are areas inside Turkey that have different rules regarding customs. They promote the transfer, import, and export of goods both to and from the country.

People who will be working in these free zones need this specific visa in order to do so. 

They will need to show that they have been hired by a company authorized to work in the free zones and will also need to declare which free zone or zones they will be working in.

Journalist Visa

Journalists require a specific visa to enter Turkey.

In this case, they may not be hired by a Turkish entity but, instead, may be hired by an international publication but need to travel to Turkey in order to complete their story.

They will need to submit their journalistic credentials and proof that they are hired in Turkey or covering a story requiring travel to Turkey. 

They may also need to present evidence that they plan to leave the country when the story is complete.

Montage and Repairman Visa

Montage (or assembly) and repairman visas are for foreigners who need to enter Turkey in order to install or repair equipment for a company. 

Their expertise is required and they must be in Turkey to be physically present to complete their task. 

They will need to show proof of the company they will be working for and approximately how long their task will take.

Other Visas

There are a wide variety of other visas available for people who want to visit Turkey.

They are mostly purpose-dependent, in that travelers arriving for different purposes will need different visas. The options are below.

These visas have a similar application process to that of the student and worker visas. However, the documentation required will vary based on the traveler’s purpose.

Similarly, the length of a visit and the number of entries allowed, etc., will be different for different travelers based on the reason why they are visiting Turkey.

Archaeological Excavation or Exploration Visa

Travelers coming to Turkey in order to initiate an archaeological excavation, participate in one, or explore sites for potential digs later on will need this type of visa. 

Applicants will need to outline where they want to dig or look for dig sites and the dates when they want to be in Turkey to work.

They should also present a statement indicating the importance or significance of their work and proof that they have funding to cover their trip.

Their own CV should include on-site experience, and some indication of who and what they will need for staff while in Turkey.

Documentary Visa

Visitors who wish to record all or part of a documentary in Turkey should apply for this type of visa.

They will need to submit documentation similar to that of the archaeological applicants, including a statement of the scope of their projectand the dates that they want to film.

They should also present proof that the project is funded and a CV showing their qualifications to film.

They should note that projects that are controversial or that do not show Turkey in a good light may not be permitted.

Tour Operator Representative Visa

Foreigners who are operating tours in Turkey will request this kind of visa.

They will need to show that they are hired by a tour company, present the days on which the tour will take place, and submit a tour itinerary.

Once inside Turkey, they will be held at least partially responsible for how the tour goes and how the travelers on the tour act.

Medical Treatment Visa

Those seeking medical treatment in Turkey will request this kind of visa.

They should submit letters from Turkish doctors or medical facilities stating the treatment they will be receiving, why they are coming to Turkey to get it, how long it will take, and more. 

They will also need to show that they have sufficient funds to cover their personal and medical costs while in Turkey. These visas can usually be extended if further treatment is required.

Accompaniment Visa

The accompaniment visa is for people accompanying medical travelers.

They will need to show proof that their help is needed. This may come in the form of letters from doctors and healthcare facilities, and more.

Their visa details will parallel those of the person they are traveling with.

Family Unification Visa

Travelers who enter Turkey and live and work there legally for one year may apply for this visa so their immediate family can join them in Turkey. 

Eligible applicants are spouses, children under 18, and/or dependent children of spouses.

The Turkish resident needs to be earning Turkey’s minimum wage plus 33% for each person who will be joining them in Turkey.

They must also have health insurance for their whole family and a clean criminal record while in Turkey.

It may be necessary to hire a lawyer or an immigration specialist to successfully get these visas approved.

Freight Visa

These visas are for foreigners who will be transporting freight in and/or through Turkey.

They will need to show that they are working for a legitimate freight company and include the dates of their time in Turkey. They may also need to submit an itinerary for their time in Turkey.

Seafarer Visa

A seafarer visa is for people who will be arriving in Turkey via boat and who are working on that boat. 

Not every maritime employee will require one of these visas. It depends on what they will be doing in Turkey. 

If they will be remaining onboard while docked, they may not need a visa.

If their work requires them to enter the country or they want to do so while they are in port, they are more likely to need a visa.

The specific maritime company that hires the person should be able to tell them what they need and to facilitate the process.

Passport Validity for Turkish Visas

In comparison to other countries around the world, you’ll find the rules in regards to passport validity to be much stricter than elsewhere. You need to always have 60 days extra on your passport past the duration of stay on your visa.

As an example, if you have a 90-day visa for Turkey, you’ll need your passport to be valid for 60 additional days on top of that, therefore requiring a 150 day additional expiration period on your passport.

There are a few exceptions to these rules, such as for European national ID holders from certain countries and European countries where expired passports will be accepted. However, it’s something to be very careful about when planning your trip and applying for your visa.

How Do You Apply for a Turkish Visa?

If you are required to apply for a physical visa or one of the specialist visas instead of an e-Visa, you’ll need to contact the Turkish embassy to book your appointment for your visa.

Some countries don’t currently have a Turkish Consular office, and therefore you may need to travel to your nearest office as recommended online. In order to avoid any delays ahead of your trip, ensure you apply for your visa a minimum of one month before you plan to enter the country.

The visa fee will be payable upon your application and is not refundable in case your application is rejected.

When applying for a visa for Turkey, you will be required to show proof of medical insurance for your trip. The length of stay of each visa is 90 days within a 180 day period, and this is a rule that’s strictly enforced in the country.

To apply for the visa, you’ll need the standard documentation, such as an application form, passport, and proof of your trip or a letter of support for employment or education.

Turkey e-Visa

For individuals who are able to apply for an e-Visa for Turkey, you’ll find this to be a quick process that you can complete in the comfort of your own home. This visa also allows you to stay in the country for 90 days out of a 180 day period and offers you multiple entries to the country.

You’ll simply need to complete the online application, pay for your e-Visa, and then await the confirmation that your application has been accepted. You’ll receive your e-Visa as a PDF, which you can then print ready to show to immigration upon your arrival into the country.

Make sure you follow the passport rules stated above when applying for an e-Visa, as these will also apply to this type of entry document.

When visiting Turkey in the future, ensure you follow the advice listed above to complete the correct visa application depending on where you are from. With so many different visa options on offer, you’ll want to select the right visa to support the reason for your visit to Turkey this year.

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