In a flash of good news that got lost in the shuffle of holiday celebrations and grim headlines, one of the most exciting destinations in Europe has decided to stop charging Americans and Canadians for tourist visas.
Between April 2023 and the end of that year, Turkey required tourists from the U.S. to register ahead and pay about $51.50 to obtain an entry visa good for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
As of January 1, that bureaucratic and budgetary hurdle has been eliminated.
A December 22 decree by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also lifted Turkey’s visa requirement for nationals of Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.
For Americans and Canadians, Turkey is now as easy to visit as any Western European country—you can just show up at the airport and start exploring, no visa fee payment required.
Turkey has been experiencing year-on-year inflation of about 65%—an unstable and rapidly fluctuating currency is nothing new for the country—and it’s hoped that the easing of entry requirements will encourage more spending and stronger international ties.
Istanbul’s massive new airport, which opened in 2018, is angling to become one of the most important air links between Europe and Asia, and simplified visa rules may serve to stimulate its use by a broader array of travelers.
Turkish citizens, however, have not been enjoying a reciprocal freedom to travel, with visa applications by Turkish nationals planning their own trips to Western Europe reportedly being denied at soaring rates.
Turkey’s more liberal visa rules were brought about so rapidly that some pages of the official website of Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs have not been updated yet. The Turkish eVisa website remains operational for citizens of countries that still require advance visas.