In Turkey the law requires you carry some form of photographic ID. Passports or residence permits should always be carried with you. Turkey’s authorities stop people from time tit time in busy areas, especially Istanbul, or at any number of roadside checkpoints to verify their identification. 

Turkey is not the only country in the UK or Middle East to ask for tourists to carry their passports at all times.

Also, you will also need to make sure your passport is valid for six months beyond the length of your stay in Turkey to enter the country. Doublecheck your expiration date on your passport.

This brief article is a collection of Turkish laws, passport best practices and some stories involving passports in Turkey. 

Does Turkey require you to keep your passport on you?

A recognized ID and evidence of legal status are technically required. A passport fills this requirement. Photocopies are no substitute. 

In most places, I don’t carry my passport. I leave it back at my hotel in the safe. But in Turkey, I do carry it. 

I haven’t ever needed to show my ID to the police anywhere I have been, but I wouldn’t chance it. I’m sure it would be fine in the end, but I don’t want the headache of having my day’s agenda interrupted by sitting in a Turkish police station while my wife and kids go to the hotel to get my actual passport. You know? 

Related: Should you carry your passport with you in Europe?
Related: Should you carry your passport with you in Germany?

Tips for taking your passport to Turkey

These tips and ideas are important for keeping your passport safe and keeping track of it while you’re in Turkey.

Keep a digital copy on your phone

This could come in handy as well, especially in combination with the paper one.

If you need to, for any reason, be quickly admitted to the Embassy of your country, then carrying something that can prove your citizenship can be very beneficial for you.

Don’t leave it in your luggage! 

It is more likely to get stolen there. Either by hotel staff, airport staff or pickpockets.

Be careful if someone starts talking to you in the middle of a busy touristy spot.

In busy markets, tourist attractions or stores, be careful. It might be fine, but it might not. It could be a distraction ploy by a pickpocket. They work in teams where one distracts, the other steals.

Be careful if a vendor requires you to leave your passport 

They might do it legitimately, with no ill-intent, as security to rent a car boat or scooter. Feel the situation out and see if you can leave them your paper copy. 

I just did that to rent a scooter but they looked pretty legit, and I knew we weren’t going to be rally-driving the scooter so I felt the risk was pretty low. It turned out fine.

Though they could have scammed us by claiming that we damaged their vehicle… or kept it if we legitimately damaged the vehicle.

If it gets stolen, notify the authorities asap

If you do get your passport stolen, it’s important to notify the nearest authority and file a police report with as much information as possible:

The date, time, location (street address if possible), what color was the vehicle, license plate number, details of how you had your belongings (wallet or bag) open, etc.

Photocopy your passport two times

Make sure one of them is kept with someone who can email, text or fax it to you in an emergency, and the other you could keep in your hotel safe. 

Keep a copy in your hotel

In Turkey carry your original passport and leave a copy in the hotel and pic of it on your phone in case you need to replace a lost original.  

I do have copies of all my documents and a list of phone numbers from credit cards, etc stored online in case I lose any of these while traveling.

Note – Having a copy of your passport won’t replace the original if your actual passport is lost or stolen and you need the original. But a copy might make things easier for the embassy staff and yourself if you need to get a replacement.

Make sure someone at home has a copy of your passport in case of an emergency

If you have any issues or if there is some unforeseen emergency, having someone who isn’t on the trip but is highly responsive and responsible keep a copy of your passport, digital or hardcopy, can be helpful. 

It certainly isn’t necessary to do this, but for the same reasons that organizations ask for emergency contact on their applications and waivers, it could be good to have someone back home available to help with proof of your identity. 

Put an emergency contact person’s information inside your passport

And on that note, it would be good to paperclip in the back cover of your passport an emergency contact that has critical information about you and backups of your important documents. 

Should you carry your passport with you in Turkey?

Yes, the law requires you to carry your passport in Turkey. Our documents were demanded last year after we were stopped. We had ours with us. But I did ask about photocopies. They said only originals would do. 

Despite the fact that they are required by law, it is up to you whether or not you carry them. How much risk are you willing to take for yourself and those traveling with you.

Do they ID you in Turkey?

Yes, they ID in Turkey. Whenever you travel to Turkey, make sure you have an identification with a photo. In fact, it’s illegal to go without identification. To avoid any unnecessary issues, do not carry a photocopy of your passport, carry the real thing.

Things Not To Do In Turkey

Related: Do I have to carry my passport in France?

*References

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Turkey.html

http://vasington.be.mfa.gov.tr

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/turkey/local-laws-and-customs