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Latest Covid Restriction Updates in Istanbul: All You Need To Know

On this page we have listed the general sanitary Covid 19 rules in Turkey, as well as additional specific measures that apply in Istanbul.

To take control over the coronavirus outbreak and reduce the number of new Covid-19 cases, Turkey has implemented a series of preventive measures. Another important effort by the government is Covid-19 vaccination program. Currently, over 78% of the Turkish population at the age of 18 and above has received 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

The Turkish Ministry of Health has categorized the provinces of Turkey in four risk zones: low risk (blue zone), medium risk (yellow zone), high risk (orange zone) and very high risk (red zone) that are shown in a color-coded vaccination map. See the updated map on the official governmental website.

Istanbul is classified as a “yellow zone” by the Turkish Ministry of Health, indicating that at least 65% of the population has been vaccinated with two doses and is at “medium risk”.

Let’s have a look at the general rules that apply throughout Turkey. After that we will continue with Istanbul specifically.

General Regulations that apply Nationwide

1. General Regulations that apply Nationwide 

A large number of the Covid 19 rules and measures, such as the lockdown, have been lifted over time, leaving most services available in Turkey without restrictions. The following regulations are currently still in place:

Social (Physical) Distancing

You need to maintain social distancing (at least 3 steps) from others in public areas.

Face Mask

Wearing a face mask is required in all public places such as parks, streets, beaches, at events as well as on public transport and aircraft. This also includes car rides with other people.

HES Code in Istanbul

HES Code

Having a “HES (Hayat Eve Siğar) Code” is compulsory for hotel reservations and flights, to use public transport and inter-city travel, as well as to enter sites like shopping centers, museums, banks, hotels, and more. The "HES code" can be obtained either via SMS (only with Turkish mobile number) or via the HES code app. Individuals traveling to Turkey who have registered online at the official government website register.health.gov.tr within 72 hours before their trip to Turkey will receive their individual HES code automatically after registration. Please remember that boarding may be denied without this registration.  

Inter-city travel

For inter-city travel by plane, bus, train, or other public transport, proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test is required for all travelers 18 years of age and older, 48 hours prior to travel. This also applies to foreign nationals with Turkish residency.

Proof of Vaccination

Aside from international and national flights, and inter-city travel, entry into some establishments will also require a proof vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within the past 48 hours. This includes all crowded events, cinemas, and theaters. Affected persons are those 18 years of age and older, including foreign nationals with Turkish residency. Individuals who have not been vaccinated by the Turkish government may present a printed copy of their vaccination certificate along with their identification card.

Dining establishments

Dining establishments (cafés, bars, restaurants etc.) are open without restrictions. Only Nargile (hookah) lounges/cafes will remain closed until further notice.

Opening Hours

Grocery shops, shopping malls, boutiques and stores are open during the normal operation hours throughout the week.


Smoking in public areas is banned but not very respected by the public.

Please remember that fines will be imposed on those who do not comply with the regulations imposed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Additional Measures & Rules only in Istanbul

2. Additional Measures & Rules only in Istanbul

Vaccination rate with two doses (persons over 18 years of age): With a vaccination rate more than 72%, Istanbul, currently classified as a yellow zone (medium risk province), is edging closer to the blue category (low risk province). 

Public Transport in Istanbul: Since January 2021, the electronic ticket for the public transport system in Istanbul, Istanbulkart, must be paired with your individual HES Code in order to use it for public transport (metro, ferry, tram, bus, etc.).  Read More about Public Transports in Istanbul.

HES Code: In addition to the above-mentioned places where an HES code is required, as a special measure in Istanbul, the HES code may be mandatory for entering some public spaces such as busy squares and avenues, cafes, coffeehouses, theme parks, barber stores, and internet and gaming facilities.

Hotels in Istanbul: In Istanbul, more than 500 hotels and accommodation facilities have received a "Safe Tourism Certification” from the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Read More about Hotels in Istanbul.

Disinfection: Mosques, museums, tourist attractions, government buildings, and hotels in Istanbul are disinfected periodically against the COVID-19 virus. Read more about Museums in Istanbul.

Airports in Istanbul: To ensure that passengers can travel safely to Istanbul, Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gökcen Airport, the main arrival points for foreign travelers, have implemented numerous measures against the COVID-19 virus. See below the most important measures taken to protect travelers from the coronavirus:

Airports in Covid 19 in Istanbul
  • The same entry requirements apply to Istanbul as to the rest of the country. You will either need a negative Covid-19-PCR-Test, a negative rapid antigen test, proof of vaccination, or a documentation of recovery from COVID-19 to enter Istanbul.
  • PCR and antigen testing is available 24/7 at the testing center of Sabiha Gökcen and Istanbul Airport for all passengers for a fee of 250 TL. Be sure to arrive at least 6 hours before your flight, as test results take up to 5 hours. To get a PCR test easily in town, please book it now in Istanbul Welcome Card Shop.
  • Only passengers who have a valid ticket are granted access to the terminal. Exception is made only for passengers who need assistance. 
  • Inside Istanbul and Sabiha Gökcen Airport, wearing face masks is mandatory for everyone.
  • At the entrance to the terminal as well at the check-in desk, there are thermal cameras which carry out body temperature measurements of all arriving passengers. Passengers departing from international lines are also monitored with thermal cameras. If necessary, passengers will be subjected to a COVID-19 test.
  • Foreign passengers who test positive for COVID-19 upon landing will be referred to a private hospital by the Ministry of Health- Border Health Unit. Turkish passengers will be admitted to a state hospital.
  • At Istanbul airport, an ultraviolet light is used to disinfect all baggage that passes through the X-rays.
  • A hygiene team helps remind passengers inside and outside the airport of hygiene and social distance rules.
  • Hand sanitizers are placed at key points throughout both airports.
  • The terminal at Istanbul Airport is supplied with fresh air around the clock.
  • To ensure social distance, there are social distance markings on the floor at all areas of the airport.
  • Istanbul Airport houses pandemic help desks with quarantine rooms located within the terminal building.
  • All airport personnel are trained in hygiene and sanitation. Body temperature measurements are also carried out at personnel entrances.

Now you are set to visit Istanbul safely. Don't hesitate to ask us for more questions and to consult our other articles for more help for your journey in Istanbul.

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