Custom, Language, And Expats In Istanbul, Turkey: What You Need To Know

Turkey Visa

Upon Entry

When traveling to Istanbul, you should remember that there are varied requirements for entry into Turkey, depending on what country you are from:

For Americans, Canadians, Australians and Irish Nationals: You must have a valid US passport and visa.  At the point of entry, you need to present a visa.  Most visas issued would be valid for three months and may either be single entry only (for Americans) and multiple entries (for Canadians, Australians and Irish nationals).  This can be obtained upon your entry to the country.

For UK Nationals:  You must have a valid UK passport.  If you are a British Citizen or an Overseas British National (living in Hong Kong), visas can be obtained upon entry and are valid up to three months, multiple entries.

UK Passport

Upon entry, your passport will be checked to make sure that it is valid at least until the period of your stay in Istanbul and any other part in Turkey.  The customs officer will also check if you have tickets onward to another destination or return tickets.  Also, they will check that you have enough money to support your stay in the country.  The fee for the visa is about 20 US dollars.  It will also be helpful to note that many travelers have been denied entry because they looked unkempt.  So it is best to keep a neat appearance.

Turkey Visa

There are also citizens from countries where Turkey has an agreement and these nationals do not need a visa to enter the country.  For a three-month stay, nationals of the following countries only need a valid passport: Argentina, Bulgaria, Andorra, Chile, Bolivia, El Salvador, Japan, Israel, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ecuador, Greece, Honduras, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Singapore, South Korea, Nicaragua, Morocco, Monaco, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Iran, New Zealand, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, Northern Cyprus, Vatican City, Venezuela, Tunisia, and San Marino.  Meanwhile, nationals of Macedonia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina don’t need a visa for a two-month stay – a valid passport will do.  Nationals from Macau, Kirghizstan, Costa Rica, and Kazakhstan also need only a valid passport, but only for stays of until one month.  Note that as of this writing, Turkey is not yet a part of the European Union.


Custom Agents Istanbul

When entering Turkey, you may bring personal items without having to pay duties.  However, some items are only limited to one unit per person – video players, portable radio/cassette/CD player, a camera with up to five rolls of film, a pair of binoculars, a typewriter and other items specified in the Turkish Embassy website.  For obvious reasons, you are not allowed to bring drugs into the country, as well as weapons and other sharp instruments.

When leaving Turkey via Istanbul, you should be able to show receipts for the purchases you made.  That way, you can easily declare your items.  Carpets are charged with duties, but some that are antiques will not be allowed to be taken out of the country.  This also goes for porcelain, ancient coins, and other items.  If you really want to bring home an authentic antique, you will have to have it authenticated by a museum official and a permit is needed for its exportation.

Useful Phrases

If only we could communicate and get rid of any barriers using sign language!  Then we wouldn’t have a hard time searching for the right signal for “Where is the nearest loo?”  Of course, most locals in Istanbul know how to speak English.  But of course, learning a few phrases will help.

Really, you don’t need to get a course on Turkish to get on your vacation.  You just need to know the requisite phrases so that you can ensure your enjoyment.

Hello, how are you?                                     Mer-ha-ba.  Na-sill-si-niz?
Thank you                                                   Te-she-koor e-de-rim, saa- ōl
Welcome                                                     Hōsh gel-dee-neez
Response to someone saying “Welcome”    Hōsh bull-dook
Please                                                         Loot-fen
Good morning                                            Goo-naii-dun
Good afternoon                                          Too-naii-dun
Good evening                                             Ee-y ak-sham-lar
Good night                                                 Ee go-je-ler
Good bye                                                    Hoska Cal
Have a nice day!                                         Ee-yee gunler!
Excuse me (To get someone’s attention)   Pardon, bakarmisiniz?
Excuse me (to pass by someone)               Pardon, gesebeelirmiyim?

Are you English-speaking?                        Een-gee-leez-je bee-lee-yōr-moo-soo-nooz?
I don’t understand                                     An-lami-yo-room
Speak slowly, please                                  Loot-fen daha yavas konusun

Yes        E-vet
No        Ha-yur
Where is the hotel?               Otel nerede?
Where is the loo/toilet?        Tuvalet nerede?
How much?                          Ne kadar?
Check, please.                     He-sop loot-fen
Breakfast                             Kah-val-tu
Lunch                                  ōr – le ye-me-ee
Dinner/Supper                    Ak-sham ye-me-ee

Days of the Week:

Monday             Pa-zar-te-see
Tuesday            Sa-lu
Wednesday       Char-sham-ba
Thursday          Per-shem-be
Friday               Joo-ma
Saturday           Joo-mar-te-see
Sunday             Pa-zar

What is your name?                        Admiz ne?
My name is Anne?                          Benim adim Anne (or your name).
It’s my pleasure to meet you.        Memnun oldum
I love you                                      Seni seviyorum

Help!            Eemdat! Or Yar-dumet!
Stop!            Dur!
Fire!             Yangun!
Police           Po-lees
Doctor         Dok-tor

Bread                     Ek-mek
Water                     Soo
Purified water        Temeez Soo
Ice                         Booz
Beer                       Bee-ra
Coffee                   Kah-veh
Tea                       Chay
Salt                       Tooz
Sugar                    Sheker
Chicken                Ta-vuk
Fish                      Ba-luk
Beef                      Sih-ir et-i
Pork                     Do-mooz
Vegetable             Seb-ze
Soup                    Chor-ba


Taxi                Tak-see
Train               Tren
Bus                 O-to-bews
Subway           Metro
Right              Sah
Left                Sok
Middle           Orta


Seeing the convergence of East and West is an everyday experience for ex-pats living in Istanbul. New ex-pats need not worry as there are more than 250,000 foreigners living there. Expats flock to Istanbul because of its enormous diversity. Within just one city, you can find positive energy and unrestricted vibrancy.

Istanbul Living

Istanbul offers a wide range of lifestyle choices and alternatives you can find your perfect spot. The city is a great place for youngsters and dynamic singletons to start a new life in Turkey. This pulsating city is very hectic, fast-paced, and truly global. Also, both the accommodation and employment options are fantastic. Also, many ex-pats find adjusting to the Istanbul lifestyle easy because of the locals that are welcoming, friendly, and helpful, not to mention interesting.

Many ex-pats would say that living in this Turkish city costs a lot more than you think. Well, it depends on your lifestyle. You can live expensively in the more costly suburbs, where much more is going on. It can also get insanely pricey if you always get out and do a lot of expensive things, go to posh places, and drive a car. But you can always choose to live cheaply, buy your food from the weekly market, and live in the outer, less expensive suburbs.

Traffic in Istanbul is terrible and parts of the city are a sea of dusty streets with very little trees and unsightly apartment buildings. There are also foreigner prices, which can be very annoying. But when you see the charm and beauty of the city and experience the warmth of the local people, all is forgiven!


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