Turkey eases COVID-19 testing requirements for some foreign arrivals

The Turkish General Directorate of Public Health has ruled that the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 will not be requested for visitor arrivals to Turkey from some countries as of May 15.

As of May 15, 2021, people coming from Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Israel, Japan, United Kingdom, Latvia, Luxembourg, Ukraine and Estonia will enter Turkey without providing negative tests.

“Intensive studies have been carried out for the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in our country by following the most up-to-date scientific developments and experiences in the world,” the Directorate said in a statement.

PCR testing is considered the gold standard in SARS-CoV-2 detection. It tests for genetic material that is specific to the coronavirus, therefore is able to detect infection within days, even without symptoms. Turnaround time is longer, generally in the 2-3 day range but tests can give results in as little as 24 hours. 

Since December 30, 2020, passengers arriving in Turkey have all been required to submit a negative PCR test. The sample for the test must have been taken within 72 hours prior to the passenger's scheduled departure from the country of origin. This applied to all passengers aged 6 years and over, except sailors and transit passengers.

These conditions still apply to arrivals from all countries not on the announced list.

Some countries, including Israel, Cyprus and the United Kingdom, have already begun to admit visitors who have been vaccinated without requiring testing for COVID-19.

Turkey, however, has not yet agreed to such a policy.