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State Department: Turkey - Consular Information Sheet, November 16, 1998

Turkey - Consular Information Sheet
November 16, 1998

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Turkey is a moderately developed nation with a wide range of tourist facilities of all classes in the main tourist destinations.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. Holders of tourist passports can purchase a sticker visa at the port of entry for $45. For further information, travelers in the U.S. may contact the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey at 1714 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone: (202) 659-8200, or the nearest Turkish Consulate in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, or New York. Overseas, travelers may contact the Turkish Embassy or Consulate. Holders of official and diplomatic passports must obtain a visa prior to arrival in Turkey from an Embassy of Turkey. All travelers are advised to obtain entry stamps at the first port of entry on the passport page containing their visas prior to transferring to domestic flights. Failure to obtain entry stamps at the port of entry has occasionally resulted in serious difficulties for travelers when attempting to depart the country.

AREAS OF INSTABILITY: For years, urban and rural acts of terrorism throughout Turkey have caused loss of life and injury to government officials and civilians in Turkey, including some foreign tourists. Most incidents have occurred in Eastern Turkey. One terrorist group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) claims to target tourist sites and tourist-oriented facilities in Western Turkey as well in an effort to inflict economic harm on the country. In recent years, several PKK bomb attacks, including some at Istanbuls most popular tourist attractions, resulted in the deaths of four people, including two foreign tourists, and 36 injuries. In October 1997, the Turkish Communist Labor Party/Leninist (TKEP/L) placed a bomb along the outside wall of the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul. In January 1998 the DHKP/C (formerly Dev-Sol) terrorist group attempted to conduct an attack against the U.S. Incirlik Airbase near Adana. In April 1998, a bomb in the Sultanahmet tourist section of Istanbul injured nine persons, including three tourists. The PKK was believed responsible for an explosion at Istanbuls Egyptian spice bazaar on July 9, 1998, that caused seven deaths and a number of injuries, including several to tourists. In June 1998, the PKK placed a bomb on a local Istanbul commuter train that killed one person and injured others. Due to PKK bombings on local intercity buses, travelers may be subject to security baggage screening by the Turkish national police. Some terrorist groups have also targeted the personnel and property of organizations with official and commercial ties to the United States.

EASTERN PROVINCES: The PKK remains active in certain areas of Southeastern Turkey, and travel to that region should only be undertaken with care and planning. The following provinces have been under a state of emergency since 1978: Van, Hakkari, Sirnak, Tunceli, Diyarbakir and Stirt. The following additional provinces are considered sensitive areas or one level below state of emergency status: Mus, Mardin, Batman, Bingol, and Bitlis. The provinces of Adana, Adiyaman, Antakya (Hatay), Elazig, Gaiantep, Kahraman Maras, Kilis, Malatya, Icel, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa are not under a heightened state of alert. In 1995, Mount Ararat was declared a special military zone and access is now prohibited. In light of these security conditions, the U.S. military has advised its personnel to avoid all tourist travel to those regions under a heightened state of alert (both state of emergency and sensitive status provinces). U.S. Embassy and Consulate personnel travel to provinces under the state of emergency only for U.S. government business.

During the summer of 1998 several incidents of teerrorist activity were carried out by the PKK in the provinces under state of emergency. Turkish Hizballah, the Turkish Workers and Peasants Liberation Army (TIKKO) and rural elements of the DHKP/C group, formerly known as Dev-Sol, have carried out isolated actions in the following provinces: Agri, Amasya, Tokat, Sivas, Van, Trabzon and Rize. These attacks are directed not only against Turkish police and military installations, but also against civilian targets, including public ground transportation. While most attacks have been at night, daytime attacks have increased in the past year.

In August 1998, police thwarted a suicide bomb attack with the arrest of a would-be bomber in Adana. In the past, the PKK has kidnapped foreigners in Eastern Turkey to generate media attention for its separatist cause. A number of foreigners, including Americans, have been detained by the PKK and subsequently released.

Visitors to any part of the Southeast are advised to travel only during daylight hours, and only on major highways. Travelers are cautioned not to accept letters, parcels or other items from strangers for delivery either in or outside of Turkey. The PKK has attempted to use foreigners to deliver messages and packages. If discovered, individuals could be arrested for aiding and abetting the PKK - a serious charge.

A Southeastern Turkey Briefing is available on the Embassy Ankara web site under Security Matters at:

MEDICAL INFORMATION: Medical facilities are available, but may be limited outside urban areas. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. The reported number of cases of cholera and other water-borne diseases in the metropolitan Istanbul area decreased in 1998. In the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, there are recurring outbreaks of dysentery, typhoid fever, meningitis and other contagious diseases. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Travelers have found that supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including air evacuation, has proved useful.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers' hotline at tel: 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) via its toll-free autofax at tel: 1-800-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC Internet home page at

CRIME INFORMATION: Street crime is not a major concern in Turkey. However, as in other large metropolitan areas throughout the world, there is some crime against tourists, particularly in Istanbul, including pickpocketing, purse snatching and mugging. In 1998 more than a dozen American, Canadian and European tourists have been robbed by English or French-speaking foreigners, who have first befriended them and then drugged them using teas, juice, alcohol, or food. We have been informed that the two most common drugs are nembitol, known on the street as sari bombasi (the yellow bomb) and benzodiazepine. In one case an American died from the effects of the drug that had been intended to put him to sleep. All of the reported druggings have been carried out by non-Turkish men who identified themselves as Tunisian, Moroccan, and Romanian. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. It provides useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad. An Istanbul Street Crime Briefing is available on the U.S. Embassy Ankaras web site at or from the Consular Affairs web site at

ROAD SAFETY: Travel by road in Turkey can be hazardous since local drivers do not always obey traffic rules or take appropriate safety measures, such as using headlights at the onset of darkness. Turkey has a very high rate of accident fatalities and injuries to pedestrians. It is imperative to drive defensively and avoid driving at night, especially in rural areas. Driving conditions off the main highways and in remote areas are particularly dangerous. In the eastern provinces, the incidence of terrorism and military countermeasures pose additional risks for road travelers. Turkish authorities expect travelers to cooperate with travel restrictions, security check points, and other security measures. The U.S. Embassy in Ankara has a Turkey-specific driver safety briefing, which can be accessed directly from the Consular Affairs or U.S. Embassy Ankara web sites.

DUAL NATIONALITY: Male U.S. citizens between the ages of 20 and 38 who are also considered to be Turkish citizens may be subject to conscription and compulsory military service upon arrival, and to other aspects of Turkish law while in Turkey, particularly if they entered the country on and are residing in Turkey based on their Turkish identity documents. Those who may be affected should inquire at a Turkish Embassy or Consulate to determine their status prior to traveling. In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. government efforts to provide protection abroad.

DRUG PENALTIES: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. In Turkey, the penalties for possession, use, and dealing in illegal drugs are extremely strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

OTHER PERTINENT INFORMATION: Unauthorized purchase or removal from Turkey of antiquities or other important cultural artifacts is strictly forbidden. Violation of this law may result in imprisonment. At the time of departure, travelers who purchase such items may be asked to present a receipt from the seller as well as the official museum export certificate required by law.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Turkeys Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Turkeys air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAAs Internet website at The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.

Domestic Turkish Airlines (THY) flights were hijacked in February and September 1998 by unstable individuals who each falsely claimed to have a bomb or weapon. Both incidents were successfully resolved without injury. Neither represented a breach of airport security. A THY flight was hijacked in October 1998; the incident is under investigation. Turkish authorities successfully ended the hijacking with no injury to passengers or crew.

REGISTRATION AND EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or one of the U.S. Consulates where updated information on travel and security in Turkey is available.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara is located at 110 Ataturk Boulevard, telephone (90)(312) 468-6110. Recorded American citizen and visa information is available on extension 2545. The fax number is (90)(312) 467-0019. The Internet address is:

The U.S. Consulate in Istanbul is located at 104-108 Mesrutiyet Caddesi, Tepebasi, telephone: (90)(212) 251-3602, fax (90)(212) 252-7851. Istanbul-specific information can also be accessed via the Consulates web site:

The U.S. Consulate in Adana is located at the corner of Vali Yolu and Ataturk Caddesi, telephone: (90)(322) 453-9106, fax (90)(322) 457-6591.

The U.S. Consular Agent in Izmir IS at Kazim Dirik Caddesi 13/8, Atabay Is Merkezi, Daire 805, Pasaport, Izmir, 35210, telephone: (90)(232) 441-0072/2203, Fax is (90)(232) 441-2373. The Consular Agency hours are 9:00 to 12:00 and 2:00 to 4:00, Monday through Thursday. The office is closed to the public, except for emergencies, on Fridays.

All U.S. government offices in Turkey are open Monday through Friday and are closed on Turkish and American holidays.

A variety of information on visa procedures, American citizen services, road safety, etc. is also available on the missions web site,


This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated July 31, 1997, in order to update Information on Entry Requirements, Areas of Instability, Eastern Provinces, Crime Information, Road Safety, and Dual Nationality, and to include web site addresses.

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