SAFETY AND SECURITY
BORDER WITH SYRIA (SEE ADVISORY)
In early October 2019, the Turkish government launched the “Peace Spring” military operation in northeastern Syria. This intervention involves troop movements and military operations in southeastern Turkey.
- Exercise extreme caution, particularly around military or security forces
- Avoid areas near the border
- Monitor local media for the latest information
Extremist groups regularly carry out attacks at border crossings and other locations in Syria close to the Turkish border. These attacks are indiscriminate, often result in deaths and injuries and spill over into Turkey. The Turkish government has declared some areas in villages along the border with Syria special security zones as part of military cross-border operations. Expect a heightened military presence and movement restrictions in these areas.
The security situation remains unpredictable.
- Exercise extreme caution
- Review your security measures regularly
- Monitor these events very closely
The three-year ceasefire between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) ended in July 2015. The TAF has conducted several air strikes against PKK targets in the Turkish–Iraqi border area. The PKK have launched deadly terrorist attacks against Turkish security personnel in several cities and regions in the south and southeast of the country. The Turkish government has added security measures in some provinces, including 24-hour curfews in some southeastern towns.
- Remain vigilant
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local and international media
Protests and civil unrest in several southeastern cities have led to violent clashes between police and protesters. Gunfire and small-scale bomb explosions have resulted in deaths. Other incidents have caused injuries and property damage.
There is a risk, particularly to foreigners, of kidnapping in the area (see Kidnapping, below). Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times.
Avoid overland travel. If you must, drive during the day and stay on major roads. Do not use public transportation.
On July 15 and 16, 2016, an attempted coup took place in Turkey. Conditions remain volatile and the situation can change rapidly, especially in large cities. Monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.
Expect an increased presence of security forces in large cities, random ID checks and roadblocks. Cooperate during ID checks and always carry your passport and visa or residence permit. Failure to produce these documents or non-compliance with Turkish officials during identity checks could result in fines, detainment or deportation.
Turkish authorities have detained and prosecuted large numbers of people over social media posts criticizing the government, state officials, president, military operations, etc.—even to authors of posts published in the past or while in another country. Keep in mind the sensitivities, think twice before posting or reacting to online content criticizing the government, and restrain/limit your social media footprint.
Even if a case does not go to trial or ends in acquittal, people can be labelled as terrorism suspects, face adverse consequences due to investigations and criminal proceedings, including possible loss of employment and social exclusion.
In addition, authorities have targeted people and groups for publishing statements and organizing news conferences, organizing or participating to nonviolent activities, critical writing and online activism protesting the government, its policies, decisions and/or actions.
Turkish citizens belonging to certain occupational groups may be required to produce a letter from their employer when leaving the country. This may affect dual Canadian-Turkish citizens trying to leave Turkey.
There is a threat of terrorism from domestic and international terrorist groups in Turkey. Many attacks have occurred throughout the country. Although most have occurred in the south and east, some also took place in major cities, including Ankara, Bursa, Istanbul and Izmir. Attacks have targeted:
- Turkish military and government facilities
- tourist attractions and popular public places
- night life
- public transportation
Further attacks are expected to occur and terrorist groups have indicated that they will specifically target foreigners and tourists.
Terrorists may also target:
- crowded places
- places with high pedestrian traffic and where foreigners may gather
- commercial establishments
- local government offices
- public transit stations
- busy streets
- long queues at tourist attractions
- places of worship
Increased security measures are in place throughout the country. Authorities have prevented several attacks. Turkish security officials may set up roadblocks or close streets when they receive reports on specific threats.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times in public places
- Avoid large crowds
- Follow the instructions of local authorities at all times
There is a threat of kidnapping along Turkey’s borders with Syria and Iraq, where Muslim extremist groups take advantage of porous borders and an unpredictable security situation to carry out operations. Groups such as Daesh and Jabat al-Nusra, who use kidnapping as a means of raising funds, may target the local population, foreigners and even foreign aid workers for kidnapping-for-ransom.
Demonstrations may occur. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Petty crime, including pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs, particularly Istanbul. Avoid showing signs of affluence and ensure that personal belongings and passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Muggings, assaults and sexual assaults occur. Drugs may be administered through drinks, food, chewing gum or other means, and drugged victims are usually robbed. Do not accept food and drinks from strangers, even if the wrapping or container appears intact.
Do not go to down-market bars and neighbourhoods. One scam, particularly common in Istanbul, involves locals inviting tourists to bars for food and drinks and then forcing them to pay a steep bill.
Do not accept letters, parcels or other items from strangers. Drug traffickers sometimes attempt to convince foreigners to deliver packages and messages into and out of Turkey.
There is a greater risk of sexual assault during the summer holiday period in coastal resort areas.
Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse.
Safe-travel guide for women
Turkey has a modern road network that is constantly being improved. Uneven surfaces and poorly marked lane changes near construction zones, however, are common. Exercise caution, especially when driving in the rain. Severe weather conditions may seriously affect road conditions.
Accidents are common. Reckless driving, perilous road conditions, inadequate lighting, poor signage and high traffic congestion pose hazards. Avoid driving after dark.
If you are involved in an accident with a vehicle, do not move your vehicle, regardless of whether or not you are blocking traffic or anyone is injured. Wait until the police have made an official report.
Pedestrians do not have the right of way.
The Government of Turkey tightly controls traffic at the borders with Iran and Iraq.
Consult the General Directorate of Highways for more information on road travel in Turkey.
Turkey is modernizing its main railroads and has introduced a high-speed corridor between Istanbul and Ankara.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
Mount Ararat, between the eastern provinces of Agri and Igdir, is a special military zone. Access is currently restricted. Permission will not be granted to enter the area or climb the mountain.
There is a threat of kidnapping in this area.
GENERAL SAFETY INFORMATION
There are numerous stray dogs and cats in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities. Dogs often travel in packs and could attack pedestrians and joggers. Do not attempt to feed or pet stray dogs, as they might not be vaccinated.