All people, citizens and non-citizens, residents, holidaymakers and tourists alike, are required to carry some form of photo ID with them at all times while in Turkey. The police, the gendarmerie (a military body mainly responsible for policing small towns and rural areas), and night-time security known as “bekci” may carry out random spot checks, especially in crowded places such as shopping centres in Turkey and on the main highways and roads. There may be a penalty such as a fine for not having a photo ID with you so always carry your passport or residence permit and a printed copy of your visa just in case.
There is legal requirement to carry a photo ID at all times while in Turkey for all the people whether they are citizens and non-citizens, residents, holidaymakers and tourists. Those who don’t are taking the risk of being detained, taken to police or gendarmerie stations and fined, and have to wait for someone to bring their passport before they are released. Alternatively, holidaymakers are allowed to go home and get it, but they were warned next time they would face a fine.
In Turkey, it is a common requirement to carry identification at all times. For foreign travellers, the idea that you would carry a passport while sightseeing in Turkey or when going to the beach seems absurd. It is illegal not to carry some form of photographic ID in Turkey. You should carry your passport or residence permit at all times. In some busy areas, especially at the entrances of airport passenger terminals, subways, shopping malls, crowded streets and venues and museum, the Turkish law enforcement authorities may stop members of the public to conduct ID checks. There’s also a number of police checkpoints on main roads across Turkey.
Nowadays, there is a larger than usual number of police or gendarmerie checkpoints on main roads across Turkey. You should co-operate with officials conducting checks, and keep your passport and a printed copy of your e-visa or your residence permit with you at all times.
Traffic stops are usually set up for one of these reasons:
- routine license and registration checks,
- to watch for certain individuals suspected of committing crime,
- DUI, “Driving while Under the Influence” of alcohol or drugs, which are normally done late at night and on weekends in areas with restaurants and clubs.
In case you are stopped, be prepared to show your passport and driver’s license and vehicle registration or rental-car contract.
Involved in an accident
If you are involved in an accident – even when not found at fault- a Breathalyzer or blood test is almost always mandatory. If you are not considered responsible for the accident, positive test results will not be used against you by the police. However, they may be used by an insurance company as grounds to deny an accident claim.
If your vehicle has tinted glass, roll down the driver’s side window. This makes it easier for the police to safely identify and check the vehicle and its occupants. During this type of inspection, remain calm, do not make any quick movements and obey instructions.
The issue of identity checks is at the heart of the thorny debate on how to ensure better relations between the police and the public.
Judicial identity checks
Judicial identity checks, carried out on the basis of a suspicion of wrongdoing, are allowed. The police and gendarmerie are able to carry out checks either in the context of a preliminary investigation, or in the event of a person being caught in the act of committing an offence, provided they act “politely, and exhibit no behaviour that might be described as harassment or abuse of power”. The police can perform a judicial identity check on individuals on the basis of “evidence” suggesting they had committed an offence, had attempted to commit an offence or was about to commit an offence.
Judicial identity checks need to be carried out at the request of the public prosecutor, who simply had to define a scope of intervention, establish a time frame for the action in question, and specify the offences to be investigated. The police would then need no further justification for its operations as long as it complied with the public prosecutor’s instructions.
Administrative identity checks
Administrative identity checks are also allowed for maintaining public order whenever this might be considered to be threatened in the event of public gatherings, demonstrations, unrest on the streets, etc. Police, gendarmerie an Bekçi officers are permitted to carry out checks “to prevent breaches of public order, including breaches of safety of persons or property”. The concept of public order is defined on the basis of three elements: keeping the peace (resolving night-time disturbances, for example), salubrity (in particular issues of health, hygiene and pollution) and safety (accidents, etc.).
The current Turkish law allows identity verification procedures, consisting of taking the individual in question to the police station if he or she is unable to prove their civil status. Such individuals may be detained for however long is necessary to establish their identity, up to a maximum of twentyfour hours. It should be noted that identity should not be confused with the notion of civil status, which includes other elements than those necessary for identification. Proof of identity may be achieved “by any means”. The possession of a national identity card and passport has always been an asset as far as the law is concerned.
If a person believes a law enforcement officer may have misused their power in relation to requiring identification, the person can make a legal complaint. For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact us.