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COMPLETE GUIDE TO A SAFE TRAVEL IN TURKEY DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

It’s almost two years since Covid first hit the news, and countries scrambled to contain its disastrous impact. These measures included both international and domestic travel restrictions, total travel bans, curfews, and in some cases, complete lockdown.

Today, things have gotten significantly better, giving the world a much-needed breather. Borders have opened up, travel bans lifted, and the tourism and hotel industry is steadily recovering. This means that you can finally travel to Turkey and enjoy all the treasures that this magical land has to offer.

Still, it helps to appreciate that Covid is a present danger in our daily lives, no matter where you’re from. Discoveries of new variants, like the Delta and only recently, the Omicron Covid-19 virus, mean that governments have had to remain cautious and vigilant at all times. Thus, safety measures and certain restrictions remain.

This article will explore everything you need to know about the state of Covid-19 in Turkey. In addition, we will look at the restrictions, entry requirements, and other useful tips that should come in handy during your tour of the beautiful land.

How bad is Turkey’s Coronavirus?

On January 14, 2021, Turkey recorded 67,857 new cases, bringing the total number of documented Covid-19 cases to 9,482,550. In total, there have been 82,361 confirmed deaths as a result of the virus. All these are stated by data reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the Turkish Ministry of Health. For updated information, check out this page.

In the past one week, Turkey’s covid cases per 100,000 people stand at 185 infections. For in-depth and updated information on Covid-19 in Turkey, check out the official Turkish Ministry of Health website.

What does the CDC have to say about this?

For travelers from the United States, the CDC puts Turkey at a level 4. This means that the Covid-19 risk is very high and generally advises American citizens to avoid travel to Turkey. However, those who must travel for whatever reason should ensure that they are fully vaccinated before travel.

The Omicron variant and Turkey’s response

Following its discovery, the Omicron variant has raised new concerns worldwide. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared omicron a variant of concern, and countries are rushing to safeguard their populations.

Locally, Turkey will try to combat the new variant without lockdowns and curfews. So, your travels shouldn’t be affected as long as you’re not from the red-listed countries.

So, can US citizens travel to Turkey?

Despite the numbers and the CDC risk assessment, it’s relatively safe to travel to Turkey. There are measures in place to ensure the safety of tourists and citizens within our borders. Thus, we welcome all international tourists to explore our rich heritage and historical attractions as long as they fulfill Turkish immigration rules.

Travel Restrictions Continue to Apply

On January 10, 2022, Turkish authorities released a circular regarding entry into the country. The circular covers the following:

  1. All arrivals will need to complete a passenger locator form before arrival.
  2. You will also need proof of one of the following:
  • A full course of COVID-19 vaccinations (completed at least 14 days before arrival in Turkey)
  • Recent recovery from COVID-19
  • A negative PCR test (less than 72 hours of arrival)
  • A rapid antigen test (less than 48 hours of arrival)

Suspended Flights

Flights from South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan are now allowed to board the flight if they present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival in Turkey.

Restrictions by Country

The travelers must prove that they have received at least two doses of any Covid vaccine approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Turkish ministry of health (a single dose for Johnson and Johnson). For this to apply, the last dose should’ve been received not less than 14 days before their arrival.

Children older than 12 but younger than 18 should present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of their arrival in Turkey. They will then undergo a PCR test at their residency, and if the result is negative, they shall be exempt from quarantine.

Travelers from Afghanistan or those who have been to Afghanistan within the past 14 days are also subject to special travel restrictions. They must submit a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival and taken under quarantine for ten days. At the end of the 7th day, they’ll undergo another PCR test, which shall mark the end of their quarantine period if negative.

Travelers from Iran and Egypt will be allowed entry if they can submit a negative PCR test taken within the last 72 hours or a vaccination certificate showing they have received at least two doses of WHO and Turkish approved (a single dose of Johnson and Johnson) vaccines, not less than 14 days from their travel.

Other Countries

Travelers from other countries not listed above are subject to slightly different travel requirements. For instance, they shall submit documents/certificates issued by WHO or the T.C Ministry of Health at the first point of departure, showing that they have received at least two doses of WHO-approved vaccines. Like before, one dose should be for Johnson and Johnson, and the last vaccination should’ve been administered not less than 14 days before their travel.

Alternatively, the traveler will be allowed entry if they can prove that they have had Covid within the past six months (counted from the 28th day of the first positive PCR result).

These passengers, i.e., with vaccination certificates or proof of Covid disease within the past six months, do not need a PCR test to enter the country. Therefore, they shall also be exempt from quarantine measures.

Those without the relevant certifications/documentation must submit a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of their arrival. Alternatively, they can provide a negative rapid antigen result taken not more than 48 hours before entry.

Note that even with a vaccination certificate, travelers may be subjected to a PCR test at their point of arrival in Turkey. This is usually done for sampling purposes. Passengers subjected to such will still be allowed to continue their travels after their test samples have been obtained.

If the test returns positive, the traveler shall be traced and placed under Covid-19 treatment in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Health. Additionally, persons who got into close contact with the traveler shall be placed under quarantine for 14 days. If they return a negative PCR test at the end of the 10th day, the quarantine shall be ended.

Do I need to take a Covid 19 test before traveling to Turkey?

Not necessarily. Depending on your country of origin, you can gain entry into the country with a WHO-approved vaccination certificate. Children under 12 are also exempt from taking a Covid-19 test before traveling to Turkey.

The Public Health Passenger Locator Form

Foreign nationals visiting Turkey have to complete the Turkey Public Health Passenger Locator Form within 72 hours prior to arrival. This is an e-document created by the Turkish government to keep track of international travelers within the country. It was designed to control the spread of the coronavirus in the country by foreign nationals.

Travelers are asked to provide their full name, gender, nationality, telephone number, passport information, arrival and departure dates, mode of transport, accommodation address, and the countries they’ve visited in the last 10 days. You should fill and submit the form at least four days before traveling to Turkey.

The information provided in the form will be used to create a private HES code and a QR code. This allows Turkish authorities to reach you in case of any contact with a Covid-19 patient during your travel and stay in Turkey. Thus, you must give accurate information when filling your passenger locator form.

Turkish border authorities may also check whether you have filled in the form and provided accurate information. If they discover you haven’t or have made misleading statements, you may be subject to legal and administrative penalties and might not be allowed to enter the country.

Istanbul Visit Coronavirus

What is the HES code?

The HES code (Hayat Eve Sigar) is a personal code mandatory for all domestic flights in Turkey. It is enforced by the Ministry of Health and aims to detect the presence of tourists who tested positive for Covid-19 or have been in contact with a positive patient and prevent them from participating in domestic flights.

The code is automatically generated when you complete the Public Health Passenger Locator Form before arrival. So, make sure you have a digital copy on your phone or a digital one to be able to show when requested especially for indoor public areas such as malls, underground cisterns, meetings, some mosques, or museums.

Vaccination Requirements for Turkey

Under current travel rules, travelers heading to Turkey must show that they are safe to travel. This can be done by proving that they have been fully vaccinated or have taken a Covid-19 test recently and returned a negative result.

While a covid-19 vaccination certificate can grant you permission to enter Turkey, it is not a travel requirement for foreign nationals looking to gain entry. Rather, it’s one of three options to gain entry into the country. But with the changing restrictions and the discovery of new Covid-19 variants, health regulations may soon require all inbound travelers to prove that they have been vaccinated.

For the vaccination certificate to be accepted, it must show that you have been fully vaccinated against Covid 19. You must also have received the final shot not less than 14 days before your arrival in Turkey.

Can I travel to Turkey without a covid vaccine?

Yes, it’s quite possible to travel to Turkey without receiving your vaccine. However, those without a vaccination certificate must provide a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, a negative antigen test taken 48 hours before arrival, or a covid-19 recovery certificate from the past six months.

Which vaccines are accepted in Turkey to travel?

Depending on your country of origin, you may receive a certain type of Covid-19 vaccine. Fortunately, Turkey accepts all vaccines when it comes to foreign nationals. There is no requirement for a specific kind of vaccination, as long as you’ve been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before your arrival.

What covid vaccine is Turkey using, and can I get one?

The three vaccines approved for use in Turkey are Sinovac, Sputnik V, and Pfizer (BioNTech). These can be obtained by arranging a vaccination appointment through the Turkish health system’s e-devlet and e-nabiz platforms and typically require one to have a Turkish ID card alongside the appointment number.

As a result, it’s near impossible for foreign tourists to book and get a vaccination appointment while in Turkey. But if you must receive a covid vaccine during your stay in the country, you’re advised to contact the health ministry.

Generally, though, it’s best to get all your vaccination done in your home country. These include the Covid-19 vaccines and other necessary vaccines, like the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, chickenpox (varicella), polio, and measles.

Other vaccinations that are not mandatory but are highly recommended by the ministry of health include Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, and Rabies. This is because while the respective infections are not a big issue in Turkey, there is a slight risk that you may contact any one of them during your stay.

The State of Vaccinations in Turkey

A vaccination immunizes an individual against a disease, making them less susceptible to contracting and spreading it. This means that it’s generally safer to travel to a place with a high vaccination rate, even if you haven’t been vaccinated yourself.

In that regard, Turkey has administered about 121 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to its citizens so far. As a result, approximately 56.3 million Turks (66.8%) have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Out of these, around 50.7 million are fully vaccinated, meaning that 60.1% of the population has been fully immunized against Covid-19.

Is the Turkish tourism industry vaccinated?

Members of the tourism sector in Turkey were among the first to get vaccinated when the Turkish Government began administering doses. These included tourist guides, restaurant, hotel employees, and personnel of the tour and travel companies. In total, over one million stakeholders in the industry were targeted in the inoculation program.

So, pretty much everyone you meet during your tour will be fully vaccinated.

Traveling in Turkey during the Pandemic

Book your Private Tour Today

Things may not be fully back to normal, but traveling to Turkey today is safer than it was anytime in the past two years. This means that, with the right travel companion, you can enjoy the cultural, architectural, and natural treasures that the beautiful country has to offer. Made in Turkey Tours is that companion.

We care about Covid-19 restrictions and strive to ensure that our travelers enjoy their Turkish experience with minimum risk. Book with us today.