Turkey launches revolutionary e-visa system for citizens of 94 countries
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Hürriyet Daily News Ankara Bureau Chief Serkan Demirtaş (L) listens to Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru while he explains the new online visa system which started on April 17. Koru says they estimate to issue more than 3000 visas in the coming months. DAILY NEWS photo / Selahattin SÖNMEZAiming to attract more tourists from all over the world, Turkey has launched a new revolutionary online visa application system for the citizens of 94 countries that enable the issuing of tourist visas within minutes under certain conditions.
“Around 30 million foreigners visit Turkey each year. 65 percent of them are exempted from visa. Our target is the remaining 10 million foreigners. They are allowed to enter into Turkey after they get their visa from our consulates or at the border gates. This system is designed to transfer all of these procedures to the electronic context,” Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview on April 23. As the architect of this system, Koru is well known for his expertise in digitalizing many functions of the ministry.
“We want more people, more businessmen, and more tourists to visit Turkey. We want to reinforce our multidimensional foreign policy. Our interest is not limited to countries in our immediate neighborhood. We want to open up to the peoples of the Far East, South America, Africa… because we want to support our economic, political opening up to these regions by easing travel conditions of the people of these regions,” Koru stressed.
The system categorizes countries under two large groups. The first group is composed of 40 countries whose citizens will get online visas without conditions. Among them are the United States, Canada, Australia, Austria, Greek Cyprus, Qatar, Norway, the United Kingdom, etc.
The citizens of the second group composed of 54 countries will however get their quick visas under certain conditions. A visa obtained from an OECD country will suffice for applicants from these countries to get an online touristic visa for Turkey. In addition, holding a residence permit from an OECD country is also sufficient for an online application. This group of countries is mainly from Africa.
“In these countries, there are businessmen and other circles that are travelling frequently around the world. We want to issue visas easily to them. But how to identify them? We have set owning a valid visa from an OECD country as criteria. In the past, obtaining a Turkish visa was very hard for them. Now it’s easy and fully electronic. The system started on April 17 and is functioning very efficiently,” he explained.
The new system will not only apply to African countries. The world’s second most populous country, India, and Pakistan, whose ties with Turkey are very friendly, will also enjoy of this new system. “India’s population is around 1.3 billion. Among them are many wealthy businessmen, engineers, etc. They can travel all over the world very easily but getting a Turkish visa for them was very hard. Some of them travel with the Turkish Airlines. The same applies for Pakistanis. Now they will easily obtain a Turkish visa within minutes,” he said.
How does it operate?
According to the information provided by Koru, applying for a Turkish visa is very easy and takes only a few minutes. Applicants will have to go to the address www.evisa.gov.tr to make their online application, which is designed to be a simple one. Entering required information and making the payment by credit card is all the applicants should do before obtaining their visa in not no longer than three minutes.
“Among today’s applications, the shortest is one minute and 13 seconds. The average is around three minutes. We estimate that we’ll issue more than 3,000 visas in one day in the coming months,” he said.
Kiosks at THY offices
Another condition set for the second group of countries who want to apply for a Turkish visa is to make their journey with Turkish Airlines. “Why do we say so? Because they have been given responsibility of checking whether the passengers have their electronic visas,” he stressed.
“We are planning to place kiosks at the THY offices. When you purchase your ticket to Turkey from THY, you’ll obtain your visa at the same time within minutes. Those who want to travel to Turkey will no longer have to go to Turkish embassies or consulates afterwards,” he added.
There are four other countries who are trying to implement this system but none of them are as sophisticated as Turkey’s, the deputy foreign minister said. “We want other countries to set Turkey as an example,” he said, adding that the system would be extended to education or other sorts of visas in the future.