Turkey is set to open its doors to citizens of 6 more European countries, allowing them to visit without a visa.
Nationals of many European countries can already enter Turkey without a visa for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. In a bid to strengthen diplomatic relations with European nations and increase tourism, 6 more states in the region will be given visa exemption.
From 2 March 2020, tourists from Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom (UK) will be able to visit Turkey visa-free.
Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, based in the capital city of Ankara, released the following announcement:
“As of 2 March 2020, Turkey has decided to exempt visa requirements for the members of the European Union Schengen area, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland as well as the United Kingdom citizens for touristic travels to Turkey for every 90 days within 180 day period.”
It added that Turkey hopes to create even stronger tourism ties with the aforementioned 6 European countries, which will improve commercial, economic and cultural relations.
What Will Change for Travelers from the 6 European Countries?
Turkey is already a popular destination for nationals of many European countries. 2.5 million holidaymakers from the UK alone chose to visit the country in 2019.
The transcontinental state, located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, was the sixth most-visited country in the world in 2019, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), receiving 51.9 million visitors.
Currently, nationals of Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom must apply for a visa before visiting Turkey.
From 2 March 2020, this will no longer be a requirement for individuals from these countries visiting Turkey for the purpose of tourism.
Citizens of Belgium, Spain, and the Netherlands will be able to travel to Turkey using their ID cards as an alternative to their passports.
On the other hand, Austrian, British, and Polish nationals will need their passports.
The Turkish Foreign Office offered advice for travelers from Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, and the UK who are planning to visit Turkey after 2 March, instructing: “your passport should be valid for at least six months from the date you enter Turkey and that there is a full blank page for the entry and exit stamps.”
Traveling to Turkey for Other Nationalities
With the addition of these 6 nationalities, citizens of the majority of European countries now enjoy visa exemption for Turkey.
However, nationals of the following European countries must still apply for a visa:
Travelers of these nationalities are eligible to apply online for an eVisa, avoiding the need to go to an embassy to obtain a consular visa.
Various other countries, such as the USA and Australia fall into the same category — their citizens may not enter Turkey visa-free, but can do so with a Turkish eVisa.
Travelers from a small number of countries, including Cuba, Palau, and South Sudan must apply for a traditional consular visa in person to visit Turkey.
Travelers who are unsure what documentation they need for Turkey should consult global visa information to check visa requirements.
Why Is Turkey Expanding Its Visa Exemption Policy?
Opening up the country to citizens of EU countries like Belgium and Austria is part of an effort on the part of Turkey to secure visa-free travel to the Schengen Area for its own citizens.
Turkish EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik announced in 2018 that Ankara had fulfilled the 72 requirements set by the European body to achieve this, according to AP.
However, Turkish citizens have yet to be granted visa-free access to most European countries, including those in the Schengen Area.
With most European countries now enjoying visa-exemption for their citizens traveling to Turkey, the gesture could be returned by EU and Schengen states in the near future.
Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said it would give “a new momentum to Turkish-EU relations“.