Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints.
Turkish law has a broad definition of "antiquities" and makes it a crime to remove any from the country.
All historic sites such as fortresses, castles and ruins, and everything in them or on the grounds or in the water, are the property of the Turkish government. While many sites do not have signs cautioning the unwary, official silence does not mean official consent.
One may buy certain antiquities, but only from authorized dealers who have been issued a certificate by a museum for each item they are authorized to sell. If one has acquired a possible antiquity without having obtained the necessary certificate, competent museum personnel should evaluate it before its removal from Turkey.
Offenders are prosecuted and if convicted, sentences may range from five to ten years. Individuals can expect to spend at least one month in jail pending a hearing, even in cases where it appears to have been an accidental purchase of antiquities.
A list of prohibited items includes but is not limited to:
All kinds of animal and plant fossils, human skeletons, all kinds of bone or metallic tools, volcanic glasses, china, ceramic and similar pots and kettles, statutes, figurines, defensive and offensive weapons, tablets, icons, glassware, rings, earrings, needles, hooks, seals, bracelets and the like, masks, stones, documents written or designed on leather, cloth, papyrus, parchment or metal, weighing instruments, coins, decorations, sealed or inscribed plates, china, medals, manuscript or illuminated books, miniatures, oil or watercolor paintings bearing artistic value, earthen, glass, wooden, cloth and similar movable goods.
Additionally, one should be advised that a carpet older than 99 years, and any article that predates 1923 can be considered an antique and therefore cannot be purchased or removed from Turkey. Individuals should check with local authorities if they intend to purchase or transport any article which could be in question.
Many travelers to Turkey purchase replicas of antique items, such as small statues and the like. Be aware that a traveler with an imitation antiquity may still be detained at the airport while a local museum examines the item. In some cases, items which are clearly replicas are confiscated, and the traveler is deported from Turkey. Seemingly the only way to make sure that everything is in order is for the traveler to take the replica item to a local museum and get a certificate stating it is not an antiquity. The shopkeeper’s certificate is apparently not enough to avoid problems at the point of departure in all cases.
The American Citizen Services are provided between 14:00 and 16:30 pm Monday to Thursday.
You need to make an online appointment before you visit Online Appointment System
You may call (90) (312) 455 5555 or fax us on (90) (312) 466 5684.
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Useful Information along the Turkish-Syrian Border - New! (PDF 62KB)