Despite a good rest on the flight over, I had no desire to spend last night sitting up in the Turkish CIP Lounge. Here’s how I tried (but ultimately failed) to obtain a visa on arrival and enter Turkey.
First, let’s note the date — this happened on the evening of December 19, 2017. I hope this recent account will be helpful for those who are considering a trip to Turkey or questioning whether the Turkish Republic is as serious about U.S. passports as warned.
After the CIP Lounge 1.) informed me the TAV Transit Hotel was full and 2.) I could not use any of the (empty) sleeping rooms because my layover was now more than 7 hours, I proceeded downstairs to the transit area.
> Read More: Trapped in Istanbul Airport!
The lounge agent asked, “Do you have any other passport or identity card? That’s all you need.”
As it turns out, I do have a German permanent residence ID card (thanks to my German wife), so I thought I was home free.
My Attempt to Secure a Turkish Visa on Arrival with a U.S. Passport
First, I proceeded downstairs to the visa desk, where signs have been updated to show U.S. citizens can no longer obtain visas on arrival. At the desk, I encountered a similar response to JT Genter: I was directed to Passport Control Desk #32 to obtain a small slip of paper verifying that I was permitted to buy a visa, despite my U.S. passport. He apparently was given a slip of paper to stamp. I was told I had to get the slip and the stamps from Desk #32.
I entered the line for Desk #32 and soon made it up to the front.
The agent spoke no English and had no idea what I was talking about. He directed me over to the “Chief Immigration Officer” at a desk off the right.
There, the agent spoke excellent English and examined by passport and German ID card. But when he asked where I was coming from and I said Los Angeles, he handed back both items and shook his head.
“No way. Coming Frankfurt to Istanbul to Los Angeles, no problem. But not if you are coming from the United States.”
He said my German ID card did not matter. He also confirmed that U.S. citizens can still enter Turkey as long as their trip does not start in the USA.
Data Point: U.S. Travelers Transiting from Outside USA Can Still Enter Turkey
There was fear that with U.S. President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Turkey would further tighten the diplomatic screws.
Perhaps it has in other ways, but my experience suggests that U.S. citizens can still purchase a Turkish visa in Istanbul as long as their trip does not originate in the USA.
There you have it, though. It is still difficult, but not impossible, for U.S. citizens to enter Turkey.
I “lost” last night. I spent the night working. At least according to my internal clock (still on LA time) it felt like a normal workday.
Great to know Matt! I was wondering all this prior to reading your article, since I will be arriving into IST from Baku when I go. I could pay the Visa fee and get a visa on my US passport OR not pay anything and enter Turkey for my brief 23 hour stay, on my Brazilian one (thanks to my late mom)!
So thanks to you, I now know what to expect with my US passport. I’ll be using the Brazilian for that leg of my RTW trip, yup!
haha why don’t you sue Turkey now too!? Serves you right
The level of pettiness in this comment is disappointing.
Or perhaps one could unequivocally threaten to sue, and then later try to weasel out and introduce layers of alternative courses of action before actually commencing litigation (e.g. writing a letter to Turkey etc.) 😉
Go for it.
Hi Matt, think this is partially inaccurate. When I attempted to fly AMS-IST on Nov. 20 (the date they changed the visa on arrival rule), I had spent 2 days in Amsterdam but was not allowed to board. The way things were explained to me by TK’s staff who had called a manager at Ataturk passport control was that American’s who had a permanent residence in a 3rd country would be allowed to enter if traveling from that 3rd country. Hence you would be allowed to obtain a visa on arrival if originating (and spending some time in) Frankfurt due to your German permanent residence card.
That said, it’s possible each manager at IST passport control is applying this rule slightly differently.
Could be. I certainly don’t want to spread any confusion, but that is how it was explained to me.
I think it’s not the case that you can enter Turkey simply because of a layover somewhere else first (i.e. if you were flying LAX-FRA-IST). Instead, you have to have legitimately spent some days in that third country first (or, perhaps even more strict, have residency in that third country).
I obtained an Italian (EU) passport by descent some years ago, and I have to say it feels quite liberating to be able to travel as something other than an “Imperial American” — and, as you can imagine, the e-gates in Europe are both fun and fast! It’s cool to enter the UK or Germany or Portugal with more speed and ease than it is to enter my own country, the USA. You should get a German passport ASAP — do they allow dual citizenship by marriage for non-EU citizens?
Germany does not allow easy dual citizenship for non-EU spouses. Eventually I hope to get my second passport.
So if I only have a us passport (no other national id card) i can enter turkey as long as the trip doesn’t begin in the us? What if my trip goes to the us the other way? For example, originating in Europe to the us ? Thanks
Based on what the immigration officer told me yesterday, that would be fine…
I would like to read the response the airline gives to you justifying abandoning a premium cabin pax who missed his scheduled connection due to operational negligence. Employees at LAX didn’t explain a plan of action to guide through the legal limitations for US citizens, attempt re-booking or check for hotel availability.
What are you waiting to apply for German citizenship?
It is my understanding I must be a resident of Germany for seven consecutive years before I can do that. Do you know otherwise?
Do you have access to TIMATIC? It’s accessible through various airline’s (and alliance’s) website. It takes away the uncertainty. There are sometimes discrepancies between TIMATIC and embassy/consulate information. But airline staff use TIMATIC to decide on deny boarding. So I always try to err on the side of caution based on the two.
Better luck next time and Season’s Greetings.
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 reside in.
I’m glad I’m not the guy who paid for the Trump name on my building in Istanbul.
May anyone help me understand something.
If one has a European schengen visa can he/she enter Turkey?
Where is your passport from?