Travelling to Turkey? Don’t be caught out by the new visa system says Trading Standards
Britons have always been issued with a visa stamp in their passports on arrival for a £10 fee, but this will begin to come to an end from 11 April 2014, meaning visitors will have to apply online for an electronic visa (e-Visa) before travel.
Trading Standards are advising Highland holidaymakers to be wary of unauthorised websites which try to charge for providing information about e-Visas and submitting applications. The call comes after one Inverness woman was stung for £55 when she applied for an e-Visa from an unofficial website. These websites are not endorsed nor affiliated with the Turkish government.
Gordon Robb, Highland Council Trading Standards Manager said: “The websites look official but somewhere on the homepage there will be information to the effect that they provide a ‘fast track’ or checking services for an extra fee on top of a ‘small service charge’ or ‘application processing fee’. Charges for processing applications vary from website to website.”
Prospective travellers are advised to use the official Turkish government website (www.evisa.gov.tr) which will only charge a flat fee of $20 for a 90-day, multi-entry visa. Cruise ship passengers with ‘British Citizen’ passports entering the country for a day trip, remaining in the port of embarkation and returning to the ship the same day will continue to be able to enter Turkey without a visa or e-Visa.
Gordon added: “While it isn’t unlawful for a business to charge for a reviewing and forwarding service, tricking consumers into spending on unwanted services is. If a consumer thinks they have been duped into sending off a fee for an e-Visa they should report this matter to us.”
The new e-Visa will cost 20 USD ($20) (converted into GBP according to the foreign exchange rate), and emailed to travellers for them to print out at home after providing their name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, email address and passport details. They will then be required to present the entry document to border control on arrival in Turkey. Once in the country travellers should keep their e-Visa and passport safe, ideally in a locked safe.
The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced a “transitional period”, during which visas may continue to be bought upon arrival at Turkish airports, after the 11 April deadline. The transition period, whereby you can still obtain a visa at the point of entry into Turkey, will continue until sometime after the main 2014 tourist season.
However advice remains that it’s better to buy an e-Visa online before travel. It’s quick and easy to apply online and in comparison with the £20 that will be charged at the airport from 11 April, an e-Visa costs 20 USD ($20) which when converted into GBP works out significantly cheaper.
Consumers can contact Highland Council’s Trading Standards directly either in person or in writing at: The Highland Council Trading Standards, Development & Infrastructure Service, 38 Harbour Road, Inverness IV1 1UF or speak to an advisor on 08454 04 05 06.