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Turkey Now Requires Travelers To Have Negative Test Before Arrival

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Home to delicious treats such as baklava, must-see cities such as Istanbul and a rich, interesting history, Turkey is the sixth most-visited country in the world, with more than 50 million travelers making their way to the enchanting nation in 2019. However, whilst 2020’s numbers have dropped significantly due to the pandemic, 2021 is likely to get off to a bad start too, as the Turkish government has announced that travelers must now present a negative Covid-19 test result before entering the country. Here’s a look at that announcement in more detail, and what it might mean for travel in the region.

turkey mosque istanbul

Travelers Must Now Have A Negative Test Result

Many countries around the world already have a rule in place that requires a negative Covid-19 test to ensure passage through their border, and Turkey is soon to join them.

In a statement made on December 25th, Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced that travelers would need to provide a negative PCR test result from within 72 hours of boarding the plane. Until now, Turkey had resisted the need to show a negative result, but the change will be effective as of Monday 28th December.

 It is expected to last until March. The rule will apply to all arrivals who enter via both the air and sea, and those who do not have a valid test result will be forced to enter a period of quarantine upon arrival in the country.

This isn’t the only change to entry requirements that Turkey made – travelers arriving from specific locations may also have to quarantine in order to be allowed into the country.

UK, Denmark and South Africa Travelers Must Quarantine

On top of the need to provide a negative PCR test result to enter, passengers arriving from the UK, Denmark and South Africa must also follow a separate protocol to enter the country.

covid in istanbul

Those arriving from these three countries must enter mandatory quarantine for a period of at least 7 day, after which they will be given a second Covid-19 test. Should this result also come back negative, they will then be allowed to leave the quarantine facility and enjoy their travels in Turkey.

This separate rule is likely down to the discovery of rapidly-spreading Covid-19 strains in these countries. Both the UK and South Africa has seen case numbers explode in recent weeks due to this new mutation of the virus which spreads more easily and quicker, and Denmark has reported cases of the British strain already. By ensuring that arrivals from these countries quarantine, the Turkish government is hoping to avoid such strains of the virus reaching their country and spreading amongst the Turkish population.

The Covid-19 Situation in Turkey – What Travelers Should Know

The last month in Turkey has seen a dramatic rise in cases of Covid-19, with 17,543 official cases reported just yesterday alone. As a result, the Turkish government has included measures aimed at combatting the spread of the virus, such as curfews on weekends between 9 PM on Fridays and 5 AM on Mondays, and restaurants offering only delivery options between certain times on Saturday and Sunday. Turkey has proved to be a popular spot for international tourists throughout the pandemic, and tourists are even exempt from the weekend curfew. However, following the new negative-test to enter rule, it remains to be seen if this will continue to be the case.

Turkey To Cancun New Direct Flight With No Travel Restrictions

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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


Sunday 14th of March 2021

Turkey now requires a form to fill out effective 3/15


Sunday 3rd of January 2021

1/3 I am American citizen traveling from USA to Istanbul via Frankfort. I will travel from USA to Frankfort by American Airlines then from Frankfort to Istanbul by Turkish airline. Turkey required PCR negative test within 72 hours. My question the PCR test should be 72 from : departure date from USA Or Departure date from Frankfort Or from Arrival Istanbul?

Kashlee Kucheran

Sunday 3rd of January 2021

It is 72 hours from the first embarkation point, so the time your plane leaves the USA


Thursday 31st of December 2020

According to the Turkish Airlines website on dec 31, the PCR test would no longer be mandatory for transits in Turkey !

Kashlee Kucheran

Thursday 31st of December 2020

Yes, we just saw this good news this morning! We will be updating shortly. Thanks for the tip! :)


Tuesday 29th of December 2020

Update on this ridiculous situation: apparently if you are travelling from South Africa, UK or Denmark they will NOT LET YOU BOARD A FLIGHT unles syou are a Turkish citizen. Does anyone have experience with this?

Kashlee Kucheran

Tuesday 29th of December 2020

Yes, flights from these countries are temporarily suspended due to the virus strains


Sunday 27th of December 2020

Thank you Yes I arrived in Istanbul 12- 27-2020 They did not ask me anything . So it look like when I leave Istanbul I do not need PCR test !

Thank you