What happens when you overstay the Turkish visa

What happens when you overstay the Turkish visa

It is in our nature to follow rules. We are so conditioned to the idea that by breaking them, we will get punished. Rules are made to keep people in line, to avoid chaos and to have more control. And that’s not a bad thing. Imagine how chaotic the world would be if there wouldn’t be any laws. It would be one mad chaotic place – although, whenever we read the news, it already looks like a mad world out there…

 

I’m a good girl. Seriously, I am. I don’t like breaking rules and laws. Well, not the big ones and definitely not the ones with severe consequences. I actually don’t need rules that tell me I can’t kill somebody or I can’t steal or … it’s not in my nature to do such things. But every once in a while I do break a law. Like recently, when I overstayed my Turkish tourist visa by six months.

 

It wasn’t my intention nor Niko’s to stay longer than the allowed period of 90 days in Turkey. We had the plan to hitchhike and visit this country for three months and then move on to the next destination. But during those three months so many great and unique opportunities came on our path, like house sitting in a luxurious resort and teaching on a summer camp – just to name a few – that we couldn’t do otherwise but stay. More than following a plan, we follow our intuition. And when our gut feeling is telling us to seize an opportunity, we will do it. Even if it means overstaying our visa. So it wasn’t really an impulsive decision but more like living in the moment.

 

You might judge us now and think “Hey you, hippies, who do you think you are to make such a poor decision?” We don’t see ourselves as people who are above the law and can do whatever we want to do. We do see ourselves as people who follow the flow and we strongly believe that if something feels like the right thing to do, we will do it. We’re not impulsive but we like to live in the moment. And if that moment throws us lemons, we’ll definitely make a nice lemonade! We also believe that if you do something with the right intentions, the outcome will also turn out well.

 

Volunteering as an English teacher in Turkey - Journal of Nomads
These kids were one of the reasons why we overstayed

 

LEGAL WAYS TO EXTEND THE VISA

Before deciding to overstay our visa, we wanted to know if there wasn’t another way to stay longer in Turkey. Extending or renewing the visa wasn’t possible, unless we would leave the country for three months and then return. By then that little open window to house-sit and teach would have closed and we really wanted to crawl through that window!

 

Another possibility was applying for a residence visa. We couldn’t provide the required documents, such as a bank statement showing a balance of at least TL 10,000 or €3000 (unfortunately we didn’t have that much money), a Turkish tax number and a place of residence certificate (don’t think they would have accepted an address with ‘the green tent on the beach’).

 

CONSEQUENCES ACCORDING TO THE OFFICIAL GUIDELINES

The last option of staying longer in Turkey was overstaying our visa. Of course we did some research about that too. We both love new adventures and having new experiences but being locked up in prison isn’t exactly on our bucket list. Luckily this wouldn’t be one of the penalties. We discovered that the Turkish government deals with overstays with either a fine and/or a ban from re-entering Turkey, depending on the length of the overstay.

 

Determining how much we would have to pay or how long we would get banned for, was harder to figure out. In practice these guidelines vary wildly and depend on your nationality. Various websites showed us various prices but in general the fine would be a minimum of $50 plus $0.40 (for European citizens) and $1 (for Canadian citizens) per day of overstay. If you would overstay more than 15 days, a ban to re-enter the country could be carried out and varies from 90 days up until 5 years.
We also read that we could refuse to pay the fine, which would automatically result in a ban from re-entering Turkey. But mostly the consequences would depend on the mood of the immigration officials on our day of exit.

 

What happens when overstaying the Turkish visa - Journal of Nomads

 

REAL LIFE CONSEQUENCES

We had such a wonderful time in Turkey (watch our videos here to see all the good things that happened to us) that we eventually overstayed by nearly six months. During that time we didn’t worry about it too much.

 

But on the day we left the country I was very nervous. I felt butterflies in my stomach when we reached Sarpi, the border village between Turkey and Georgia. My heart was pounding in my chest when the Turkish migration officials examined our passports at the border control. I wasn’t surprised that we were ordered to step aside and follow one of the officials to a small office. What did surprise us was that we weren’t alone there. Since the coup happened, there have been restrictions for the Turkish citizens who work for the government (teachers, bank employees,…). If they want to leave Turkey, they have to go through certain procedures. There were many people present and everybody was very occupied with the paperwork. This was in our advantage as nobody wanted to spend a lot of time on our case.

 

After a few minutes of waiting outside the office I was called in first. When I entered the room, the woman behind the desk asked me if I had already paid my fine. When I told her I hadn’t, she showed me a little note on which the amount of the fine was written. It was 170 Turkish Lira, the equivalent of €55!! I couldn’t believe it! I expected to pay more than €200 and I was already preparing myself to tell her I couldn’t pay that. But €55? Hell yeah! The only problem was that I only had TL50 cash on me so I asked if I could pay with my bank card. She shook her head, stamped my passport and just let me go without saying another word. I think she just wanted to get on with the rest of her work.

 

When Niko entered the office, the official didn’t even tell him how much he had to pay. She asked him if he had cash and when Niko showed her the bank card instead, she also just stamped his passport. He was also free to go.

 

We couldn’t believe that it was it. Nobody even told us if we were banned from the country. We double checked the stamp on our passport but it looked like a normal one. I think we will only find out the day we want to apply for a new tourist visa for Turkey. But that won’t be anytime soon as Turkey isn’t on our route for the coming years.

 

So we got very lucky! This doesn’t mean that everybody will be that lucky. Please don’t overstay your Turkish visa now. Recently a friend told us that she was charged $200 at the airport in Istanbul for overstaying just one day. A lot depends on where you cross the border, who you are dealing with and how busy they are!

 

So if you ever (un)intentionally overstay your visa, always double check the regulations and hope for the best. We are now moving towards countries that wouldn’t be so relaxed about it so we’ll do our best to follow the rules again!

 

You can watch our border crossing in this video:

 

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Writer, photographer and co-founder at Journal of Nomads

I've got Belgian roots but the world is my country. I'm an artist at heart and often get lost in my thoughts. I like to create some-thing out of no-thing and once I'm feeling inspired, I'm unstoppable (except for when you offer me a glass of wine). I have a hard time getting out of my sleeping bag without a cup of coffee, I absolutely love chocolate (I'm from Belgium, what did you expect) and I have an extreme dislike for routine and vomit.

  • Hi Gamze,

    we write with full transparency what happened to us and this article is based on our opinion. We are very clear in this article about the official guidelines. As you can read, we mention the case of a friend who overstayed one day and had a big fine for that. We are not motivating people do to the same like we did – which we also clearly mention – we just told how it went for US.

  • We deleted the comment because we found that your comment was rude and uninformed. Overstaying the Turkish visa is either a fine or a ban. Please re-read the part where we CLEARLY STATE that we do not know if we are banned. If the Turkish border workers didn’t accept our payment by credit card, that is not our responsibility. It is the responsibility of the Turkish authorities to insure that people overstaying their visa can pay the fine by card.

    • Gamze

      ‘A lot depends on where you cross the border, who you are dealing with and how busy they are!” ”So we got very lucky! This doesn’t mean that everybody will be that lucky.” read that 2 sentence, if you have claim you have normal stamp in your passport, and think you are so lucky you didn’t banned even without pay the fine which you also know ”the Turkish government deals with overstays with either a fine and/or a ban from re-entering Turkey” then it is clear, you claim that without any payment you didn’t ban from Turkey and think it is because your only option was credit card to pay so they didn’t had this option. They can’t let you without pay fine like that, sure there was
      cash machine somewhere that u can took that and pay if u dont want to ban, but they didn’t ask u, didn’t give u any info if you banned, CAUSE u didn’t, it is breaking the law, and I told you reporting can help to realise and control lawless on borders if it is happenning. There is no depends on borders or who u are dealing with for this kind of thinks ”the Turkish government deals with overstays with either a fine and/or a ban from re-entering Turkey” clear? And to say report this people please is not rude. I already as responsible person contact with official authorities to investigate what is writing in this article, if it was olny pos machine or there is people really lucky because workers are breaking to law and let people like that free. If there is unfair practises happening it is need to be illuminated. Hope u get what I’m talking about.

      • We understand your point of view. You’re worried. But see it from this way. We all have good days and we all have bad days. Those workers were super busy and probably very stressed that day. And we all make mistakes, don’t we? It wasn’t ours nor their fault that there weren’t ATM’s nearby.
        What we wrote in this article is just our experience from that day. If you would read other forums, this is not something that happens only at that border, it happens in other borders in other places in the world, depending on the circumstances.

  • Vyjay Rao

    I am always hooked by your exploits and your joi de vivre. Yet another amazing experience and account. Loved the video too, shot splendidly as usual. I loved the part about constantly moving out of your comfort zones. You guys really rock!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words Vyjao! <3 We're very happy to hear that you enjoy our stories and videos!!

  • Gearoid McSweeney

    I think that you were better leaving by land than trying to fly out. If your friend paid $200 for a day, what would six months work out as?

    • What we found very strange was that she had to pay that much for just one day! Maybe it was of her nationality (Russian) but it shouldn’t even have been that much! Again more proof that there is not one strict guideline that tells you what will happen. So a lot depends indeed on which border you cross.

  • Arınç Pehlivan

    I like you guys !! Thanks both of you for visiting our country and your good faith opinions.. And thanks for the officer woman to help you to cross the border easily.. Don’t listen what Gamze says i think she needs a husband to strive for something 🙂 Have a good trip, i’ll follow you…

    • Hahahaha! Thank you Arinc! 🙂 We’ll probably can’t come back for a while now but we definitely want to return one day!! We really loved Turkey and hope many more people will also see its beauty! And it’s really great to hear you’ll be following our journey! 🙂

  • Tom Dodol

    Man… whats wrong with Gamze? Chill… jeez….

  • Pingback: One Year of Hitchhiking - The good, the bad and the untold stories. Part 1: Europe - Journal of Nomads()

  • Ken Curtis

    I am an American currently living on the south coast of Turkey near Dalyan. I returned here after living in France for almost 5 years. When I left for France when I moved there I went to the Jandarme in Mugla because i had overstayed my visa by 3 1/2 years. My fine at that time (2009) was 3900 Turkish Lira and according to the female Jendarme officer I would have no ban – as I intended to return for a visit 6 months later. Six months later I flew from Brussels to Dalaman and at the airport was detained and informed that I was under a 3 1/2 year ban. I told them that the Jandarme officer assured me that there would be no ban, but to no avail. I was placed back on the same plane and returned to Brussels. So, I would highly suggest before ever returning to Turkey that you apply for an entry visa at a Turkish embassy in the country you depart from. If they issue the visa it’ll over-ride the airport customs peoples opinion about any ban. If the embassy tells you that you are banned, then at least you won’t find yourself being immediately deported upon arrival. And should decide to return (which I know you will after having been here before) drop me a line and come by and visit my wife and myself.

    • Thanks Ken for this information! We definitely want to return to Turkey one day! You’re right, the best thing to do for us will be going to the Turkish Embassy to apply for a new visa.
      3900 TL for overstaying 3 1/2 years is actually not that bad 😉 were you eventually banned for that amount of time or were you able to get a visa from the embassy and enter the country before the end of your ban?

  • Oh, so this is what you did! I was wondering how come you stayed for so long. We actually did get the residence permit for six additional months – it wasn´t as hard as it seemed and they didn´t care about us having enough money. We got a paper from the notary where our friend stated we are living in his house (which we obviously don´t)(and long live Turkish couchsurfers), paid the fees, insurance (which is useless, just saying) and all that. The tax number is easy to get and you do it within ten minutes right in the office where you pay. It was rather complicated to figure out what exactly to do, but the immigration officers were very helpful, spoke English and with a bit of back and forth we were able to obtain it.

    • That’s some great info, thanks for that!! It will help our readers not to follow our example but yours 😉

      • Hahaha, well. I must admit we were considering overstaying and if I´d see this article earlier, maybe we´d be tempted to risk it!

    • Tania

      Hi GirlAstray

      I guess you already finish to get your residence permit, so i wanna ask you a few questions about it. I hope you can give me information about it 🙂

      When you first time go to the emniyet office for the randevu and give your all documents, how many days you need to wait for your residence permit card be ready to take? Is it only days? Or weeks since randevu?

      And about the notary, did you still remember how much is the price for the statement letter?

      Thanks for your help
      Have a good day 🙂

  • Tania

    Hi

    My tourist visa ended on April 11th, 2017. Now i am taking care my resident permit and just got a randevu on May 9th and now i am on process to finish all for the resident permit because the officer give me time 1 month after the randevu date. My question is on June 22nd i got to go back to my country (i need to join the graduation ceremony in my university), but i wonder when i pass the passport control gate will i pay for the overstay penalty or i just show to the officer that i already take care my resident permit (even it might be not yet done and still randevu)?
    And also if i already pay for the resident permit before i fly back to my country, when i come back again to turkey should i apply again a resident permit? What kind of visa i made for me to come back again to turkey? Will i get banned to re-entering turkey?

    I hope there will be answers for my questions.
    Thank you so much.

    • Hi Tania,

      I’m not sure if I’m the right person to answer these questions for you. I think that once you have your residence permit , there shouldn’t be any problem at customs and you should also be allowed to travel in and out of Turkey with this permit. If you don’t have it by the time you’re leaving Turkey, maybe ask for documents as proof that you’re applying for it. In case you don’t have your residence permit yet and you have to pay a fine, pay it and you should be allowed back in the country on another tourist visa. There is a policy though that you can only stay 90 days in a period of 180 days on a tourist visa.
      I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that you have your residence permit on time and then you shouldn’t have to worry about all of this 🙂 Good luck!

      • Tania

        Hi
        Thanks for your answers

        I understand, so now i just need to try as soon as possible to get my residence permit before i leave turkey for a while.
        Anyway, about my visa, actually my visa only allows me 30 days to stay and valid for 180 days since it was issued. But i don’t understand about this. Can you explain me about how my visa works? I have no idea because i got it by e-visa not from consulate office.
        since i was arrive in turkey on March 11st so i already stay more than 30 days until my flight on June.
        So my total days for overstay i guess since April 10th until my leaving day later which is mean 73 days, just in case my residence permit not yet finish, i got to pay the fine in the airport on my leaving day, can you guess how many TL i got to pay? I am from List A countries.

        Thanks again for your help
        Have a good day 🙂