TURKEY – A PASSPORT TO AN EASIER LIFE
In our last blog we did our best to put a little perspective on Turkey’s ongoing state of emergency (http://keyholdersinternational.com/state-emergency-not-can-see/) For most of us going around our day-to-day lives, it’s actually often hard to tell it’s in force but there are a few rules and regulations you probably need to be aware of if you’re visiting or intend to live here – at least for now.
One of them is the issue of ID which, as you would expect, has taken on more significance in light of world events recently. It’s always been the case that you should always be able to produce some sort of valid identification in Turkey but, of late, this has been more rigorously enforced and the penalties for not doing so can seem comparatively severe. A fine is most likely but, in some cases, incarceration is a possibility – at least until the authorities can ascertain that you are who you say you are.
When it comes to the rules as they are written, then there’s not much leeway. If you’re a Turkish citizen, then you should always carry your kimlik – your Turkish ID card. If you’re not a resident in Turkey – or if you are but you are of a different nationality – then you will be expected to produce your passport and, if required, a tourist visa on demand.
How is this enforced?
Just as in many other countries, law enforcement agencies in Turkey can exercise a degree of discretion depending on the circumstances so the consequences of not carrying ID are not necessarily so black or white. Someone may tell you they simply got a ticking off and a warning; another may say that a photocopy was accepted; another may tell you that they were given a little time to find something else with a photo on in their wallet or handbag; another that they were told only a proper passport, residency card or kimlik would suffice. None of them are wrong.
But, rather than take a risk on what you might encounter, it’s probably best to play by the rules, particularly if you’re going to be travelling any distance. If you’re worried about losing your passport, there are secure plastic pouches – some of which can be worn discreetly under clothing. Although it does feel like an additional encumbrance to begin with – particularly when you’re not used to it or because, 90% of the time, you probably don’t need it. Just the same, if you persevere, it’s surprising how soon carrying ID begins to become as natural as picking up your wallet, purse, car keys, phone, or glasses.
Perhaps the important thing to remember though is that these regulations have not been introduced by an authoritarian regime as a way of keeping its people in check. Indeed, the laws have been there for many years. It’s just they are being more rigorously enforced to make it harder for would-be terrorists to move around the country. They are there for your safety not your inconvenience.