Citizens of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, and the US need valid passports to enter Turkey and to re-enter their home countries. Turkey does not allow entrance if the holder’s passport expires in under six months; returning home with an expired passport is illegal, and may result in a fine.
Be sure to photocopy the page of your passport with your photograph, passport number, and other identifying information, as well as any visas, travel insurance policies, plane tickets, or traveler’s check serial numbers. Carry one set of copies in a safe place, apart from the originals, and leave another set at home. Consulates also recommend carrying an expired passport or an official copy of a birth certificate separate from other documents.
If you lose your passport, immediately notify the local police and the nearest embassy or consulate of your home government. To expedite its replacement, have all available information previously recorded as well as ID and proof of citizenship. Replacements may take weeks to process, and may be valid only for a limited time. Visas stamped in the old passport will be irretrievably lost. In an emergency, ask for immediate, temporary traveling papers that permit entrance to your home country. Your passport is a public document belonging to your nation’s government. If you must surrender it to a foreign official, inform the nearest mission of your home country if you don’t get it back reasonably quickly.
Citizens of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and the US can apply for a passport at the nearest post office, passport office, or court of law. Citizens of South Africa can apply for a passport at the nearest office of Foreign Affairs. Any new passport or renewal applications must be filed well in advance of the departure date, although most passport offices offer rush services for a very steep fee. Citizens living abroad who need a passport or renewal ser¬vices should contact the nearest consular service of their home country.
When traveling, always carry two or more forms of identification on your person, including at least one form of photo identification; a passport combined with a driver’s license or birth certificate is usually adequate. Many establishments, especially banks, may require several forms of identification to cash traveler’s checks. Never carry all forms of identification together, in case of theft or loss.
TEACHER, STUDENT, & YOUTH IDENTIFICATION
The International Student Identity Card (ISIC), the most widely accepted form of student ID, provides discounts on sights, accommodations, food, and transport; access to 24 hours emergency helpline (in North America call ©877-370-ISIC; elsewhere call US collect © 715-345- 0505); and insurance benefits for US cardholder. The ISIC is preferable to an institution-specific card (such as a university ID) because it is more likely to be recognized and honored abroad. Applicants must be degree seeking students of a secondary or post-secondary school and must be of at least 12 years of age. Because of the proliferation of fake ISICs, some services (particularly airlines) require additional proof of student identity, such as a school ID or a letter attesting to your student status, signed by your registrar and stamped with your school seal.
The International Teacher Identity Card (ITIC) offers teachers the same insurance coverage as well as similar but limited discounts. For travelers who are 25 years old or under but are not students, the International Youth Travel Card (IYTC; formerly the GO 25 Card) also offers many of the same benefits as the ISIC.
Each of these identity cards costs US$22 or equivalent. ISIC and ITIC cards are valid for roughly one and a half academic years; IYTC cards are valid for one year from the date of issue. Many student travel agencies issue the cards, including STA Travel in Australia and New Zealand; Travel CUTS in Canada; usit in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland; SASTS in South Africa; Campus Travel and STA Travel in the UK; and Council Travel and STA Travel in the US. For a listing of issuing agencies, or for more information, contact the International Student Travel Confederation (ISTC), Herengracht 479, 1017 BS Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Upon entering Turkey, you must declare certain valuable items from abroad and pay a duty on the value of those articles that exceed the allowance established by Turkey’s customs service. It is wise to make a list, including serial numbers, of any valuables that you carry with you from home; if you register this list with customs before your departure and have an official stamp it, you will avoid import duty charges. Be careful to document items manufactured abroad. Although not all merchants participate, Turkey does have a value-added tax. For more specific information, www.turkey.org, Turkey’s official website, has an itemized list of duty-free allowances.
Upon returning home, you must declare all articles acquired abroad and pay a duty on the value of articles that exceed the allowance established by your country. Goods and gifts purchased at duty-free shops abroad are not exempt from duty or sales tax at your point of return; you must declare these items as well.
If you stay in hostels and prepare your own food, expect to spend anywhere from US$15-30 per day. Accommodations start at about US$30/$40 per night for a single/ double, while a basic sit-down meal costs US$3-5 per person. Carrying cash with you, even in a money belt, is risky but necessary though most banks will exchange traveler’s checks, many establishments (particularly restaurants and shops) in Turkey do not accept them (see Traveler’s Checks, below).
Traveler’s checks arc one of the safest and least troublesome means of carrying funds. Several agencies and banks sell them for a small commission. Each agency provides refunds if checks are lost or stolen, and many provide additional services, such as toll-free refund hotlines abroad, emergency message services, and stolen credit card assistance. Though American Express and Visa arc the most widely recognized, particularly along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, traveler’s checks are not readily accepted at most establishments. Instead, you will have to cash them at banks or at the post office (ITT).
While traveling, keep check receipts and a record of the checks you’ve cashed separate from the checks themselves. Also leave a list of check numbers with someone at home. Never countersign checks until you’re ready to cash them, and always bring your passport with you to cash them. If your checks are lost or stolen, immediately contact a refund center (of the company that issued your checks) to be reimbursed; they may require a police report verifying the loss or theft. Less touristed countries may not have refund centers, in which case you may have to wait to be reimbursed. Ask about toll-free refund hotlines and the location of refund centers when purchasing checks, and always carry emergency cash.
Where accepted, credit cards offer superior exchange rates up to 5% better than t’ the retail rate used by banks and other currency exchange establishments. Credit cards may also offer services such as insurance or emergency help, and are sometimes required to reserve hotel rooms or rental cars. MasterCard and Visa are most welcomed; American Express cards work at some ATMs and at Amex offices and major airports. Budget travelers will probably find, however, that few of the establishments they frequent accept credit cards; aside from the occasional splurge, you will probably reserve use of your credit card for financial emergencies.
Credit cards are also useful for cash advances, which allow you to withdraw lira instantly from associated banks and ATMs throughout Turkey. However, transaction fees for all credit card advances (up to US$10 per advance, plus 2-3% extra on foreign transactions after conversion) tend to make credit cards a costly way of withdrawing cash. In an emergency, however, the transaction fee may prove worth the cost. To be eligible for an advance, you’ll need to get a Personal Identification Number (PIN) from your credit card company (see Cash Cards (ATM Cards), below). Be sure to check with your credit card company before you leave home; in certain circumstances companies have started to charge foreign transaction fees.
CASH CARDS (ATM CARDS)
Cash cards popularly called ATM cards are relatively widespread in most of Turkey. Depending on the system that your home bank uses, you can most likely access your personal bank account from abroad. ATMs get the same wholesale exchange rate as credit cards, but there is often a limit on the amount of money you can withdraw per day (around US$500). There is typically a surcharge of US $1-5per withdrawal. Be sure to memorize your PIN code in numeric form in case machines elsewhere do not have letters on their keys.