If I (US citizen) come into Istanbul on one airline (Turkish) with a checked bag, and then fly out later to Kazakhstan from the same airport that day on a separate ticket on another airline (Astana), do I have to go through customs and immigration to get my suitcase and go back through the departure screening process to catch my other plane? Is a visa necessary just to do that, even if I am not leaving the airport? My layover time is about 6 hours

  • This is an excellent example of a time that it will be worth it to try very hard and travel with hand baggage only. That would make your transit much easier, as you wouldn't need to deal with either the time or the expense of entering Turkey.
    – cbw
    Feb 5, 2020 at 15:29
  • Yes, excellent time to do hand luggage which I usually do except the weight restrictions in the EU and other countries make it hard to bring everything in one small bag. I can FIT everything in a carry-on but it's never under the limit, even though I am wearing a pocket vest with my heavy devices and chargers in the pockets. Thanks for your response.
    – Faithfog
    Feb 5, 2020 at 18:13

1 Answer 1


You don't need a visa if you stay in the international transit area. But in order to collect baggage and check it in to a separate flight, you must go through immigration and customs to enter Turkey, then collect your bag and check it in with the next airline, then go through immigration again to exit Turkey. This is how the process works nearly everywhere in the world.

In that case, you will need a visa. US citizens can obtain a visa on arrival, but this takes quite a bit of waiting in line and can eat a good chunk of your six hours. To save time, get an e-visa in advance (and take a printed copy with you). You can then go directly to immigration rather than having to spend a lot of time and frustration getting the visa on arrival.

  • Thank you so much. This is what I feared. I've decided to change planes in Athens instead. The Turkish visa was going to be $69 plus a fee if you go through a serviced company. But I'm sorry I wonder see the new Ataturk Airport.
    – Faithfog
    Feb 5, 2020 at 18:13

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