The situation

The Turkish visa-on-arrival system is in the process of being canceled.

A closer look

  • Affected foreign nationals. Foreign nationals eligible to obtain visas-on-arrival are affected by the cancelation. They must now purchase an e-visa online prior to arrival. Foreign nationals not eligible for the visa-on-arrival were already required to obtain an e-visa prior to entry, and this process will continue for them.
  • Process to obtain e-visa. Instead of obtaining a visa-on-arrival, foreign nationals seeking to enter Turkey at a port of entry that has canceled the visa-on-arrival system must instead use Turkey’s e-visa website to purchase an e-visa any time prior to departure, though Fragomen recommends completing this step 48 hours prior to travel to Turkey. Those with a valid e-visa from a prior trip may not need to obtain another e-visa. Foreign nationals must carry a copy of their e-visa when passing through a Turkish airport, where it is verified by passport control.
  • Details of e-visa. The e-visa is generally valid for up to 90 days within a 180-day period, but this depends on the nationality of the traveler. The e-visa fee also depends on the nationality of the foreign national, and for example, costs USD 20 for U.S. citizens.

Impact

Foreign nationals now need to complete an extra pre-departure step when traveling to Turkey since they will no longer able to obtain a visa-on-arrival.

Background

For the past three years, the Turkish government has been encouraging foreign nationals to obtain e-visas in their home country, instead of obtaining visas-on-arrival, to presumably facilitate fee collection, data collection and arrival processing for the Turkish government.

As compared to visas-on-arrival, e-visas are a less expensive option and are more convenient in that there is less waiting time at the airport upon arrival.

Some countries, including Qatar, India and Paraguay, have been expanding their visa-on-arrival programs by increasing the number of nationalities who are able to use the program.

Other countries have been placing restrictions on their use of visas-on-arrival. For example, Oman requires foreign nationals to register for the Royal Oman Police through an e-portal before traveling to Oman and obtaining a visa-on-arrival. The Azerbaijani government, similarly to the change in Turkey, recently eliminated most of its visa-on-arrival program in favor of an e-visa system. Many of these restrictions are likely due to security concerns.

Looking ahead

Though there is no official announcement, it is expected that the visa-on-arrival system is being completely phased out now that the new Istanbul airport is open.