The world is huge

Don't miss any of it

Travel news, itineraries, and inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

lost passport

Why Turkey Suspended Travel Visas for Americans

The U.S. and Turkey are engaged in an escalating war of words and visa regulations, and travelers are caught in the middle.

As it stands today, American tourists without a travel visa to visit Turkey can’t get one. Aydan Karamanoglu, a spokesman for the Turkish Embassy in Washington D.C., told the New York Times that “right now, it is impossible for U.S. residents to come to Turkey if they need a visa and are applying for it in person.” This also applies to e-Visas, which normally allow U.S. travelers to apply online.

Why? The U.S. recently suspended non-immigrant visa services for Turkey, effectively preventing Turkish citizens from visiting. Turkey quickly retaliated with an identical move, and here we are.

But, U.S. citizens who already have Turkish visas can still visit. If you have a trip booked but have not already applied for a visa, you should contact your travel provider as soon as possible. You may be able to get a refund or reschedule your trip for a later date. For example, Turkish Airlines waived rebooking fees for U.S./Turkey flights through October 31, and will also offer refunds on unused tickets.

Neither the U.S. nor Turkey indicated when the impasse might be resolved.

To sum up:

  • If you haven’t applied for a visa, you cannot do so as of now (in the United States) and therefore cannot visit Turkey until the situation is resolved.
  • If you already have a visa, you can visit Turkey.

What Happened?

The U.S. Embassy in Turkey issued a statement explaining the move, stating that for the second time this year, a Turkish staff member of the U.S. diplomatic mission was arrested by Turkish authorities.

“We have been unable to determine why it occurred or what, if any, evidence exists against the employee,” the embassy said. This obviously raises diplomatic concerns, and some news reports suggest the staff member was arrested for alleged links to a failed coup that occurred in Turkey last year.

From the travel perspective, it’s unclear how long this impasse may last. The visa suspensions seem to be part of a larger diplomatic back-and-forth between the U.S. and Turkey, and represent a ratcheting up of those tensions. Basically, this is bigger than visas, but hopefully travelers won’t be caught in the middle for long.

More from SmarterTravel:

We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Top Fares From