The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that the rules regarding Turkish tourist visas have changed as at 14 July 2010.
A total of sixty three countries including the UK and most of Europe will be affected by the changes that have been made to harmonise visa rules.
Readers began contacting Fethiye Times in early June when they noticed that the wording on the Tourist Visa sticker had changed.
The new sticker added that the holder could now only stay in Turkey for 90 days within any 180 days.
We contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara to find out why the visa wording had changed and what the implications would be for regular visitors to the country especially British citizens.
We were told verbally that the visa rules have changed and, as the wording says, people are now free to visit for up to 90 days in any 180 days.
Visitors who have new style visas are now subject to the new rules.
Visitors who have the old style visa can renew them as before but they will receive the new sticker with the new restrictions.
So what are the likely implications for visitors?
Here are some examples:
Mr & Mrs White love Turkey and visit twice a year, once in May and once in September for two weeks at a time. Under the new rules as their holidays are within the 180 day period they will be able to use the visa they purchase on their arrival in May for both visits.
They will be better off because they only have to buy two visa’s, one each in May, whereas before they would have had to buy four visas. They save £20.
Mr and Mrs Brown own a property in Fethiye and like to visit four times a year. Once in April for 4 weeks, in August for 4 weeks, October for 2 weeks and again in December for a week at Christmas.
Under the new rules the visas they buy in April when they arrive will cover them for their total eight week stay (56 days) in April and August. But when they arrive in October they will need to buy two new visas and they will cover them for their visit in December. They save £40 as they don’t need to buy four new visas.
Mr & Mrs Grey spend the majority of the year living in Turkey. They normally renew their tourist visa by making a short hop over the Greece every 90 days. However, under the new rules they would not be allowed to return to Turkey as they have already been in Turkey for 90 days within the 180 day period.
This couple would either need to buy a residence permit to stay legally in Turkey or stay out for 3 months. If they purchase a permit they will lose out financially over the old system as the permit fee for the two of them will cost around 860 GBP for one year (430 GBP per person).
Readers who previously renewed their tourist visa every 90 days will need to check to see if they have a new style visa and plan their options accordingly.
However, there is still some confusion over the new rules.
Firstly, the British Embassy in Ankara has received nothing formal from the Turkish Authorities confirming the changes and is awaiting full details so they can ascertain the exact position.
Some ports of entry are still issuing old style Tourist Visas.
And finally, we suspect there will need to be an overhaul of the system of recording in’s and out’s. The current system relies on date stamps and multiple stamps on one visa sticker could become difficult to manage.
No doubt the situation will become clearer in the next few days and we will keep you up to date as news arrives.
We can’t advise individuals about their visa renewal situation for the simple reason that if we are wrong you won’t thank us if you are deported or fined because we provided the wrong information to you. You should therefore check with your nearest Turkish immigration police office.