free transit visa

In the absence of actual travel, I make do with imaginary itineraries and verging-on-crazy drooling over travel photos. For the most part, I’ve kept my endless bucket lists and travel research to myself for fear of boring people into a slow and painful death. But I figured it was about time I tested the waters and started sharing, in the hopes that it may help someone who’s planning to take a legit trip.

In case you’re new to the blog, you can check out all my other travel-related posts here. For now, lettuce talk business (attempting to train my brain to eat healthier by randomly inserting vegetables into sentences).

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve probably come across the free transit visa option that Turkish Airlines is offering to peeps from Pakistan. Also totally cool if you know nothing about it and the rock is your permanent home. That’s why I’m here. When I first came across the news, I had a bunch of questions. So I’m gonna go ahead and assume that you had the same/similar ones and address them one by one.

What’s the Free Transit Visa?

Pakistanis travelling with Turkish Airlines to the Schengen countries, USA, United Kingdom, Ireland or Saudi Arabia (for Umrah) are eligible to apply for a free stopover visa to Turkey. This is a 7 day, single-entry visa. If your stopover is more than 20 hours, Turkish Airlines will also give you one night’s accommodation in a four-star hotel (for Economy Class) and two nights’ accommodation in a five-star hotel (for Business Class). I thought that sounded super awesome so I was determined to collect all the information and store it away for a later date when it could be of some use to me (a girl can dream).

Here’s a photo of a night cruise on the Bosphorus for some incentive:

istanbul cruise
Photo: Erkanyavas

Is the Visa Actually Free?

Unfortunately, not really. While The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has waived the visa fee, there are only two ways to apply for a Turkish visa from Pakistan:

1. Apply for an e-visa – This will cost you $60 and you require a valid visa OR valid residence permit from one of the Schengen Countries, USA, UK or Ireland in order to apply.

2. Apply through a Gerry’s dropbox – You will have to pay a processing fee of PKR 2,500 plus submit all the documents required for a normal tourist visa. Also, the processing time can be up to 5 weeks during peak season so you’ll have to plan your trip well in advance.

Another photo in case you’re still trying to decide if you want to go:

free transit visa
Photo: Haydar Tamer Ozturk

Other Important Things You Need to Know

  • Turkish Airlines only offers a free hotel stay for stopovers that are more than 20 hours. So, make sure you pick a flight with a longer stopover when you’re booking.
  • The transport cost and any other costs to and from the airport are at your own expense. Make sure you’re cool with that before you opt for this.
  • To get a free hotel voucher, you need to email freehotel@thy.co with your ticket number.
  • In case your stopover is more than 6 hours but less than 20 hours, there’s another option you can pick – a free sightseeing tour of Istanbul. They have different tour options starting from 2.5 hours to 9 hours. Also, I think some meals are included.
  • You can sign up for one of the tours at the hotel reservation desk in the International Arrivals Terminal at Istanbul Atatürk Airport. Also, you can check out the different options available here (scroll all the way to the bottom).

Now that I have accomplished my mission of putting all this information out into the world, I can sleep in peace (my sheep will be slightly disappointed).

Let me know if you do end up using either of these options (not for any other reason except that I’d like to live vicariously through you).

Until next time.

 

 

6 thoughts on “The Free Transit Visa with Turkish Airlines – Everything You Need To Know”

  1. Thanks for endorsing your authenticity stamped on this information. but presumed it cost slightly increase the budget traveler who intent to go only for Umrah.

    1. Yes, it definitely would. That’s why I wanted to put all the information together so anyone wanting to go can make an informed decision 🙂

  2. Hi, Thanks for the informative comments, I also read your previous blog about Malaysian Evisa. I went to KL & Langkawi with wife recently on Evisa and it worked like a charm. It was my first visit ever on an Evisa doc but your post gave me huge confidence. Now about this Turkish transit + Umrah tour I got a few questions may be you could help.
    1) We are budget travelers (Globe trotters if u may:) ) and I book my flights,hotels and everything myself online and never approached any travel agent which saves me a fortunes, Can the same be done for Umrah or is it different and you have to go by tour only. Any Saudi rules about it? Dont know a bit about Umrah
    2) Whats the acceptance rate of Turkish Transit with Umrah because I got rejected of Turkey before at a peak time when they had influx of tourist and that also of a very lame excuse by them

    Thanks a Million 🙂

    1. I’m so glad I could help! Hope you guys had a great trip to Malaysia. Okay so, with regard to your first question, unfortunately, I won’t be able to help you much. I haven’t been for Umrah myself in quite a while so I’m not sure how important it is to have an agent. I don’t want to give you any information I haven’t personally verified. In terms of getting the transit visa for Turkey, as long as you satisfy all the requirements and submit the complete documentation, I think you should be good to go. Do keep in mind that it’s safer to apply much in advance so your visa arrives before your actual travel date! Good luck 🙂

  3. hello i want to know i have umrah visa and i want to know if i book my ticket from turkish airline and i want to stay in istanbul for 5 days so may i know what exactelly requirmnt i need for dat kind of transit visa with valid umrah visa ….do i also need to provide them also my bank stamnt emplomnt letter etc or just with valid umrah visa and turkish airline paid ticket will be ok ..for get turkey transit for 5 days ,,,,

    1. Hello, I’ve compiled all the information I had into the blog post. I’m not sure if you can extend your transit to 5 days etc. I think you’ll be better off contacting Turkish Airlines for more specific queries about the visa 🙂

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