Holidaymakers with trips booked to Turkey this summer have been told they must carry paper copies of their electronic visas or risk being turned away at the departure gate, The Telegraph reported on Wednesday.
The warning has caused confusion among travelers since Turkey operates an e-visa system that is supposed to allow visitors to purchase and present their documents online and via smartphones.
But over the last fortnight stories have emerged of passengers being prevented from boarding their flights as they did not have hard copies. One report told of more than 30 passengers turned away before an EasyJet flight to Bodrum after being told that mobile phone versions were not acceptable. EasyJet has been contacted to verify the details.
“If you do not have this document with you, you will not be allowed to board the aircraft,” travel agent Kerys Williams told her customers. “Be aware there have been lots of people turned away at the UK airport and have missed out on their holiday.”
She said that tour operators were failing to inform customers.
Earlier this month the Foreign Office (FCO) updated its advice on travel to the popular summer destination to urge holidaymakers to keep with them a hard copy of their e-visa. The online documents cost $20 and should be purchased from the official site at least 48 hours in advance of travel.
“In case of technical problems at the Turkish port of entry, carry a printed copy of your e-visa or keep an electronic copy on a smartphone or other device to show at immigration,” the FCO said.
It is believed the problem stems from the unreliability of the systems used to process the e-visas.
The official website for Turkish e-visa applications says, too, that passport control at points of entry to Turkey can verify the documents online but warns that travelers should carry hard copies.
“You are advised to keep your e-visa with you either as a soft copy (tablet PC, smart phone, etc.) or as a hard copy in case of any failure on [the system of passport control officers at points of entry],” it said.
The requirements are further confused as British travelers are still able to purchase visas on arrival in Turkey, according to both Turkish and British authorities. Visas on arrival cost £20 in cash, and Scottish and Northern Irish currencies are not accepted.
However, the UK Foreign Office warns that as “the visa on arrival service is likely to be phased out at some point in the near future, we recommend you get an e-visa.”
Last year, Turkey announced the removal of e-visa kiosks from its airports, including the new hub at Istanbul.
A spokesperson for EasyJet said that travelers would not be turned away at the gate because of their ability to purchase visas on arrival.
A spokesperson for British Airways said it advises customers to follow the advice of the Foreign Office.