Turkey Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
Jan 25, 2017
U.S. citizens are warned of increased threats from terrorist groups in Turkey. Carefully consider the need to travel to Turkey at this time, and avoid travel to southeast Turkey due to the persistent threat of terrorism. The Department of State has placed restrictions on official travel by U.S. government personnel to Istanbul and to certain areas in southeast Turkey. This replaces the Travel Warning dated October 29, 2016.
In 2016, numerous terrorist attacks involving shootings, suicide bombings, and vehicle-borne bombings in tourist areas, public spaces, private celebrations, sporting events, and government, police and military facilities throughout Turkey resulted in hundreds of deaths. The most recent attacks included a mass shooting at the Istanbul Reina nightclub on January first, and simultaneous suicide bombings near Istanbul’s Besiktas/Vodafone Soccer Stadium on December 10, 2016. In addition, an increase in anti-American rhetoric has the potential to inspire independent actors to carry out acts of violence against U.S. citizens.
Additional attacks in Turkey could occur at major events, tourist sites, restaurants, nightclubs, commercial centers, places of worship, and transportation hubs, including aviation services, metros, buses, bridges, bus terminals, and sea transport. Foreign and U.S. tourists and expatriates have been explicitly targeted by terrorist organizations in Turkey for kidnapping and assassination. We remind U.S. citizens to review their personal security plans including communications preparedness/connectivity; to monitor local news for breaking events; to remain vigilant at all times; and to check in with loved ones after an attack or security incident.
On January 4, the Turkish government extended the state of emergency through April 18, 2017 - an additional 90 days. Under the state of emergency, security forces have expanded powers and the government has, at times, restricted internet access and media content. U.S. citizens have been deported and/or detained and held without access to lawyers or family members under the state of emergency. Delays or denial of consular access to U.S. citizens detained or arrested by security forces, some of whom also possess Turkish citizenship, have become more common. The Department continues to monitor the security environment for potential impact on the safety and well-being of U.S. citizens in Turkey and urges U.S. citizens to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) on travel.state.gov to stay informed.
The October 29, 2016, decision to direct family members of employees posted to the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, Turkey to depart Turkey temporarily remains in effect. All international and domestic official travel for U.S. government personnel to and from Istanbul requires Department of State approval. The Department of State’s decision to order departure is based on security information indicating extremist groups are continuing frequent and aggressive efforts to attack U.S. citizens and foreign expatriates in areas of Istanbul where they reside or frequent. This order applies only to the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, not to other U.S. diplomatic posts in Turkey. Our Embassy in Ankara, Consulate General in Istanbul, and Consulate in Adana remain open and are providing full services.
U.S. government personnel in Turkey remain subject to travel restrictions in the southeastern provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Sirnak, Diyarbakir, Van, Siirt, Mus, Mardin, Batman, Bingol, Tunceli, Hakkari, Bitlis, and Elazig. Furthermore, the U.S. Mission to Turkey may prohibit movements by its personnel to these areas on short notice for security reasons, including threats and demonstrations. Due to recent acts of violence and the potential for reprisal attacks due to continued Turkish military activity in Syria, we urge U.S. citizens to defer travel to large urban centers near the Turkish/Syrian border. U.S. citizens should also be aware that the Government of Turkey has closed its border with Syria. The Government of Turkey prohibits border crossings from Syria into Turkey, even if the traveler entered Syria from Turkey. Individuals seeking emergency medical treatment or safety from immediate danger are assessed on a case by case basis.