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I am flying Turkish Airlines from the United States to the Seychelle Islands and back in early December. USA and Turkey are in a visa hold and not issuing visas to each other at this time. Does anyone know if I might be able to visit Istanbul during one of my 10 hour layovers?

  • Are you planning on leaving the transit area and entering the country? If yes, you will need to go through passport control and have a visa. If you stay within the transit area, you don't go through passport control, so wouldn't need a visa. – hnltraveler Oct 19 '17 at 2:40
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Thanks for all your inputs, I appreciate it. I was able to talk to the Turkish Consulate today. As @hnltraveler mentioned, I am OK if I don't leave the airport.

If I wanted to leave the airport, they suggested that I fly to Canada and obtain a visa there. Since my layovers are only about 10 hours and I can't change my ticket, I am going to wait it out. I may be able to do a tour on the backend return.

There is a delegation working on the issue, I will hope for the best.

https://www.oyster.com/articles/62012-u-s-and-turkey-suspend-visa-services-for-travelers/

  • Thanks for posting what you found out as an answer! You can merge your two accounts by clicking the "contact" link at the bottom of the page. – David Richerby Oct 19 '17 at 18:14
  • By the way, "visa" is just an ordinary word. It's not an acronym, so there's no reason to write it in all caps. – David Richerby Oct 19 '17 at 18:15
  • On the backend return you can get a visa on arrival – Crazydre Oct 28 '17 at 23:03
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UPDATE (as of December 2017) : The Turkish government is once again issuing e-visas (US$20) and visa-on-arrivals (US$30) to US Citizens.

The details below are, at this point in time, incorrect but left for historic reference.


As stated in Timatic, the database used by airlines:

Visa required, except for Nationals of USA can obtain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 3 months. This does not apply to nationals of the USA departing from the USA and traveling directly to Turkey or transiting in a third country less than 24 hours

So you can get a visa on arrival at the airport visa desk if not arriving directly from the US, and having spent at least 24 hours transiting a third country. In this case, you can visit Istanbul.

Otherwise, you will be refused entry, and cannot visit Istanbul, since no visas or e-visas in advance are being issued to US citizens

UPDATE: Timatic's been updated, now stating:

Visa required, except for Nationals of the USA can obtain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 3 months. They must be arriving from a country other than the USA and have a residence permit issued by the country they are arriving from.

So Americans residing in the US can no longer get a visa on arrival at all

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    My understanding of the US-Turkish visa freeze was that Visa on arrival services had been suspended for US citizens. – Jacob Horbulyk Oct 18 '17 at 20:04
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    Also, this answer does not provide a clear yes/no to the question asked. – Jacob Horbulyk Oct 18 '17 at 20:05
  • @JacobHorbulyk Called the border police at Istanbul-Atatürk airport, and it is exactly like Timatic states – Crazydre Oct 18 '17 at 20:22
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    According to the Turkish Embassy: "This measure [suspension of visa services] will apply to sticker visas as well as e-Visas and border visas." Turkish Airlines is reportedly offering free changes and refunds as a result, though they say it won't impact transit passengers. As I interpret this, you might be able to get a visa at the border during your layover on the way back, but not going. – Zach Lipton Oct 18 '17 at 20:24
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    @ZachLipton Again, I spoke to the border police director (+90 212 463 30 00) - he if anyone should know 100% what practices they're applying at the border – Crazydre Oct 18 '17 at 20:42

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