Istanbul is normally a busy airport, especially for transits due to its strategic position between Europe and Asia. But during the pandemic there is another reason why travelers are purposely re-routing their flight paths to connect there… PCR testing capabilities.
Many countries are now demanding PCR testing be done as part of their entry requirements. In some cases, passengers must provide results of a negative PCR test that was taken no longer than 48 or 96 hours before arriving at the border.
While this is great for allowing travel to resume safely, many travelers have been scrambling before their flight, trying to find clinics or facilities that can deliver results in time.
So, if you can’t get a test in your home country in time, where do you go?
Many travelers are heading to Istanbul.
Hands down, Istanbul airport has the fastest and most widely accepted results on the planet right now. Since they have direct flights to almost every major city worldwide, travelers will have no issues getting to the airport from their home country, all while finding another flight to their destination country. Turkey is also allowing all nations to visit without testing or quarantines, making a stop-over a breeze.
While Istanbul might be out of the way for some, thousands of travelers per day are re-directing their flight plans to include a lay-over in Turkey, just so they can fulfill testing requirements for entry into other countries.
Below we have all the information on how to take a PCR test at the Istanbul airport, where the testing centre is located, pricing, result times, and everything else you need to know.
Pcr Testing Guide for Istanbul Airport
Istanbul has one of the fastest and most reliable airport testing facilities in the world right now. They are pumping through thousands of tests, all while aiming to deliver accurate results within 4-8 hours to desperate travelers.
Getting a PCR test done at the IST airport is perfect for two types of travelers:
- A traveler who is willing to make a 12-48 hour layover in Turkey before flying to their final destination that requires a test for entry
- A traveler who is currently IN Turkey, or will be in Turkey before flying to a country that requires a test for entry
Where is the test center located in IST airport?
The PCR test centre is located in IST airport in the Arrivals Hall, in front of Entrance 14.
Do I need to clear customs to get to the test centre?
Yes. You can only get to the testing centre after passport control / customs clearance, so you have to be able to legally enter Turkey.
If you are coming from a country that normally requires a Visa to enter, you will need to get one before trying to clear customs. Thankfully many countries only need a quick eVisa and they can be applied for here: www.evisa.gov.tr/en/
You cannot directly access testing center from the transit/boarding area.
When is the test centre open?
The testing facility, just like IST airport, is open 24/7
Do I need an appointment?
No, appointments are not required. Just show up.
How long does it take to get results?
Results for the PCR test once the swab has been taken average around 4-8 hours
How much does the test cost?
The test is 300 TL, or about $38 USD
How can I get a test on a lay-over?
First, you will need to make sure you have a visa to enter Turkey, since you will be going through customs to get to the testing area.
Then, make sure your layover is at the very MINIMUM 12 hours. Anything under 12 hours is risking your results not being ready in time.
Once you land, go through customs/passport control and then make your way to the arrivals hall near entrance 14.
Your test results should be ready before your next flight, providing it is at least 12 hours away.
What if I have an over-night layover, or a longer stay in Turkey?
Staying over-night or having a longer layover to get a test done is a great option.
Just be aware, the testing facility will not perform your test if your next flight is more than 48 hours away. They will ask you to come back and get the test when your next flight is under 48 hours away.
Many people land, go through customs, get their test done, and then leave to their hotel for the night.
Your test results are available online, so many people get their test results by the time they are checked into their hotel, then they ask hotel front desk to print off results, or use a business centre in the hotel to print results off themselves. This is of course for any country that requires the results in paper form only and will not accept digital proof.
What if I am already in Turkey, have been vacationing in Turkey for a while, or will have a layover longer than 48 hours?
One day before your flight, make a separate trip to the airport to have your test performed.
The airport will allow you to enter if you bring your passport and proof of ticket, even if it is one or two days early.
Enter the airport through the departure hall, go through security and take the escalators down to the arrivals hall near Entrance 14 and have your test performed. You will get the results in good time before your flight the next day.
What is the process for having the test performed?
Once you arrive at the testing facility, you will need to go through a series of steps to register, pay and perform the test.
There is a counter where you grab a number and wait for it to be called. Then you will show your passport, flight information, and other related information. They will issue you a ticket.
You take your ticket to the second counter where you will pay the 260 TL fee in cash only. You will get a receipt for this.
You take your receipt to the third counter where you will receive your test sample collection tube and a barcode. You should have a 2nd barcode sticker that matches the one for the test tube, which you will place on your passport. (It might also be in paper form if not sticker form, just don’t lose it!)
Take the tube and head to counter 4 to have the test performed. There is a glass barrier with a test performer behind it, who will take your tube and code and then give you your nasal swab.
The entire step 1-4 process can take around 20-30 minutes if the facility is not overwhelmed. If is it very busy, it can take a few hours.
How Do I Get My Test Results?
The results will be available a few hours later at: https://enabiz.gov.tr/PcrTestSonuc/Index
In order to see your result, you will enter the barcode number from the sticker on your passport, as well as the last 4 digits of your passport for security.
Those results can then be used for entry for countries that allow digital proof. For any country that needs to have it printed out and/or sealed, you can go back to the facility and have them print it for you. You can request signatures or seals if you need them.
Results are printed in English
Masks are required at all times while your inside Istanbul airport, so don’t forget!
Does Turkey have any covid-19 travel restrictions?
No. Thankfully Turkey does not have any travel restrictions and is not requiring arrivals to be tested or to quarnatine. This is one of the reasons it has become the testing hub of the world, as every nation can easily get access to pre-flight testing.
Istanbul has quickly become the world leader in providing PCR tests for travelers who require results for entry into dozens of countries.
Other major airports should take note and establish similar testing facilities in order to help support the safe return of tourism.
Read More: See more about Turkey Reopening for Tourism, what countries have reopened with NO testing/quarantines, and companies offering travel health insurance that covers Covid.
Sources: Enigma2007 (Instanbul Expert on TripAdvisor) / Istanbul Airport / Direct emails and interviews from our readers and on-the-ground travelers
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories
Originally published October 13, 2020 with updates
Friday 7th of May 2021
Hello, I am connecting at IST and I must get a Fit To Fly certificate in Istanbul to board my flight to Thailand. Can you tell me the closest place I can travel to to get my Fit To Fly certificate?
Friday 8th of January 2021
As an fyi, as of today, 1/8, the test can be paid for with a credit card. There are several signs here saying as much, and my card was accepted without any issues.
Thursday 7th of January 2021
Hello since 30 December turkey wants negative prc test for enter unfortunality. Even if it's a flight via turkey they want for now. They working on change this via rule but till March they will want negative prc test, and doesn't accept fast test results. And I called flight companies they also want to see negative test result before your flight so not possible getting test after anymore.
Saturday 26th of December 2020
Hi Kashlee, I'm sorry for the stupid question. Do you know if I can get the test in SAW even if my flight will take off from IST airport? thanks for your time
Saturday 26th of December 2020
I don't really think it matters where you take the test, as long as you have it in the time frame that the country you are visiting needs it in
Sunday 20th of December 2020
Hi Kashlee! Quick question, do we have to clear customs if your luggage is going all the way thru to the end destination? I saw one person ask if they need to check in again but what if our luggage goes all the way thru and we cant go thru customs with all our luggage? Thank you for your time! Have a blessed day!
Monday 21st of December 2020
That is a great question and I am really not sure :( I believe you would have to properly clear customs, so this may not work for your trip