All people, citizens and non-citizens, residents and tourists alike, are required to carry some form of ID with them at all times. The police carry out random spot checks, especially in crowded places such as Istanbul and on the main highways. There may be a penalty such as a fine for not having ID with you so always carry your passport or residence permit and a printed copy of your visa just in case.
Smoking is banned in all indoor areas including cafes, restaurants, hotels (it may be allowed in the hotel room), bars and on public transport as well as in the gardens of mosques and hospitals. It is sometimes banned at certain outdoor public events, for example artistic, cultural or sports events.
The penalty for these serious offences is a heavy fine or a prison sentence of between 4 and 24 years.
It is illegal to take photographs of military or official places. Always ask permission of the officials on duty before taking photographs around these areas.
It is important to take care not to say anything offensive about the Turkish nation or the Turkish flag or to write such things on social media. It is also a criminal offence to deface or tear up Turkish currency. The penalty for these crimes is from 6 months up to 3 years imprisonment.
These crimes carry a prison sentence of 5 to 12 years as well as a fine. It may be legal to buy certain historical artifacts at a shop or market but you need to check whether it’s ok to take it out of the country before you buy.
The Istanbul tours include visits to the fascinating mosques with their stunning architecture. These are definitely worth a visit but remember the dress code to avoid offense. Women are expected to cover their heads with a scarf and wear a long sleeved top or a shawl to cover the elbows and at least a knee-length skirt or trousers. Men may wear short-sleeved t-shirts but must wear long trousers. To be respectful, avoid walking in front of people who are praying and speak quietly in the mosque.
Although homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, public homosexual displays of affection may be frowned upon in certain conservative areas. If a homosexual couple faces discrimination or insulting remarks, there are no anti-discriminatory laws to protect them at present. It is best to just ignore such comments and move to a safer area. Most people don’t have a problem.
Take care and have a good holiday!