Criminal Penalties in Turkey

While traveling in Turkey, you are subject to Turkish laws. Foreign laws and legal systems differ from ours. Criminal penalties vary from country to country. There are also some things that, while legal in the country you visit, are illegal in the United States; for instance, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or possessing or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime that is prosecutable in the United States.

Drug Offenses: Turkish law enforcement agencies are very aggressive in combating illegal drugs. The penalties for violating Turkish laws, even unknowingly, can be severe. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in Turkey are particularly strict, and convicted offenders will receive heavy fines and jail sentences of between four and twenty years in some cases.

Insulting the State: It is illegal, under Turkish law, to show disrespect to the name or image of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the modern Turkish Republic. It is also illegal to insult the Turkish Government, flag, or security forces.

Religious Proselytizing: Although there is no specific law against religious proselytizing, some activities can lead to your arrest under laws that regulate expression, educational institutions, and religious meetings. The State Department’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom contains additional information on religious freedom in Turkey.

Cultural Artifacts: Turkish law has a broad definition of "antiquities" and makes it a crime to remove any from the country. Offenders are prosecuted. All historic sites, and everything in them, on the grounds, or in the water, are the property of the Turkish Government. If you buy antiquities, use only authorized dealers and obtain museum certificate for each item they are authorized to sell. At departure, you may be asked to present a receipt and the certificate. Failure to have them can result in your arrest and jail time. Contact the Embassy of Turkey in Washington or one of Turkey's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Dual Citizenship: U.S.-Turkish dual nationals may be subject to laws that impose special obligations on Turkish citizens. Male dual citizens over the age of 18 may be subject to Turkish conscription and compulsory military service. Those with questions are strongly advised to consult with officials at Turkish embassies or consulatesbefore entering Turkey. Turkish law does not allow for U.S. officials to visit or provide consular assistance to U.S.-Turkish dual nationals arrested in Turkey. Please see our information on dual nationality.

Arrest notifications in Turkey: Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Turkey, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

JUDICIAL ASSISTANCE: Judicial assistance between the United States and Turkey is governed by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.


You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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