Reader Report: Turkey Bans All US Passport Holders Without Visas, Regardless of Origin

Nov 20, 2017

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Update 12/28/2017: The Turkey-US visa spat has been resolved and now Americans are able to easily apply for Turkish e-visas once again.


Last Thursday, I successfully entered Turkey. I did not have a visa before arriving at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport (IST), but, by taking advantage of a bizarre loophole, I was still able to get in using my US passport, despite the current restriction. As of this weekend, that loophole has apparently been closed, according to a reader who also attempted to enter the country following a flight from Dubai.

After arriving in Istanbul on a flight from Dubai, a TPG reader was turned away at the border, and reportedly heard of similar experiences from other Americans attempting to enter Turkey. While I did have to jump through a few hoops to get a visa on arrival, I was eventually admitted. No such luck for anyone trying to get in now, apparently.

Even on Thursday it wasn’t clear that I’d be able to cross the border. Airport agents in Dubai didn’t check for a visa or mention the ban, and I successfully made it to Istanbul, even though my connecting flight didn’t leave for 48 hours — if the immigration agents had decided not to let me in, I could have very well been stuck in the transit area until my flight to New York two days later. That would have given me plenty of time to check out every nook and cranny of Turkish’s business-class lounge, I suppose.

So, my recommendation remains unchanged — I wouldn’t travel to Turkey without a visa at this time. If you already have a valid visa — and you may be able to apply for one at an embassy or consulate now — you should be good to go, but anyone else traveling with a US passport can no longer count on getting in, even if you meet the requirements I outlined in this post. That said, you can still fly Turkish Airlines — you just most likely won’t be able to enter the country during your layover, at least until Turkey lifts this current restriction.

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