Istanbul International Airport Transfer Guide

Updated on Jun 20, 2024 | Turkey e-Visa
Turkey’s Istanbul Airport is the most commonly used and the largest international airport in Turkey. Istanbul Airport, the foremost airport serving Turkey, is also widely used by transit passengers. Passengers using Istanbul Airport as transit should pay more attention to the rules and regulations of transit passengers at Istanbul Airport. Adhering to the transit passenger rules is important for a smooth and hassle-free airport transit transfer or layover at Istanbul Airport

Turkey e-Visa or Turkey Visa Online is an electronic travel authorization or travel permit to visit Turkey for a period of up to 90 days. Government of Turkey recommends that international visitors must apply for a Turkey Visa Online at least three days before you visit Turkey. Foreign citizens can apply for an Turkey Visa Application in a matter of minutes. Turkey Visa application process is automated, simple, and completely online.

Do Transit Passengers Need to Apply for a Turkey Transit Visa? 

Transit passengers planning to step over the wall of Turkey airport to explore the country while waiting for their next flight are mandated to obtain a Turkey transit visa. A Turkey transit visa is not required, if the transit passenger decides to stay in the international transit area until the next departure. Passengers cannot cross the airport border without a valid Turkey transit visa

What Type of Turkey Transit Visa can Transit Passengers apply?

A transit visa entitles the passenger to transit through Turkey airport. 

  • Single transit visa is valid for 90 days. The passengers are entitled to a single entry within the validity period and the stay in Turkey cannot exceed 5 days.
  • Double transit visa is valid for 90 days. The passengers are permitted two entries within the validity period. The duration of a passenger stay in Turkey should not exceed 5 days
  • Airport Transit Visa or e-ATV, is a new category of Turkey Transit e-Visa. The e-ATV was mandated to the citizens of Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Mauritania, India, Nepal, Somalia and Yemen using the Turkey Istanbul Airport transit route to reach the following destinations, Panama, Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia.

Passengers eligible for an electronic airport transit visa can obtain their transit visa online. The validity of e-ATV is 24 hours and it is granted only for transit. Transit Passengers are not permitted to enter Turkey using e-ATV.

Read here to know about entering Turkey with a Schengen Visa

International Transit Procedure at Istanbul Airport

The procedures of transit passengers at Istanbul Airport differ according to the flight ticket and route. The following are the transit procedures to follow at Istanbul Airport. 

  • After arrival at Istanbul Airport, the passengers with a single ticket can move forward with their hand luggage
  • Transit passengers with two separate tickets should wait and collect their baggage before moving forward
  • To proceed to the check-in process for the next flight, follow the transit passenger sign boards at Istanbul Airport
  • If necessary, passengers should go through the immigration process
  • Proceed to the transfer desk for the connecting flight check-in process and to receive the boarding pass
  • Follow the security and passport check process 
  • Reach the boarding gate and wait for the flight

The transit procedure at Istanbul airport might take up to 1.5 hours. Passengers using Istanbul Airport as a transit route should be mindful about the transit procedures and process time. Make sure to get enough time for the next departure at Istanbul Airport and monitor the connecting flight timings, to be prepared if the transit process takes more time than expected. 

Checklist of Documents for Transit Passengers at Istanbul Airport

Checking the necessary documents before the connecting flight always gives an upper hand despite the situation. Here’s a checklist of documents required for transit passengers.

  • Flight ticket, e-ticket
  • Boarding Pass
  • Passport or National ID card
  • Visa or Visa-free document 
  • Accommodation proof, return ticket, bank statement, etc. (if required)
  • Travel insurance (if required)

Ensure to check and follow the transit guidelines and restrictions at Istanbul Airport. Passengers can check the rules with their respective airlines.

Get to know the Turkey visa online requirements

Places to Stay or Sleep at Istanbul Airport During Transit

Passengers having a long transit layover or planning for an overnight stay in Istanbul should have a Turkey e-Visa or Turkey transit visa. Only passengers with a valid Turkey visa are entitled to enter Turkey to travel to the city or stay in a hotel outside the premises of the airport. However, there are a lot of facilities available at Istanbul Airport. 

Comfortable Lounge: Istanbul Airport has plenty of comfortable lounges throughout the airport. Transit passengers can sit back and relax a bit or opt for paid lounge services. The paid lounge provides additional amenities such as food, beverages, Wi-Fi, etc.

Free Nap Zone: The free nap Zone at Istanbul Airport is a great option for short layovers. One of the nap zones is located near Gate D, and five other nap zones are located throughout the terminal. The free nap zone has semi-reclined seats, and it’s completely free of cost

Sleeping Pods: Passengers looking for a private comfortable sleeping area can opt for a sleeping pod. It serves as a great option for long layovers. The sleeping pods are rental and available for solo and family options. The cost is calculated on an hourly basis and bookings are made only upon arrival. 

YOTEL Istanbul Airport Hotel: The airport hotel has two hotels within it, the landside and the airside with modern amenities such as smart bed, TV, etc. The hotel also offers Recharge Cabins, a perfect place with bed, TV and access to shared shower and bathroom.

IGA Lounge: IGA lounge located near the International Terminal, Gate 11, is a paid service lounge and operates around the clock. Some of the amenities of IGA lounge are seating area, Bosphorus Terrace, food, beverage, meeting rooms, workstation, outdoor terrace, children playroom, prayer room, departure board, shower access, etc.  

Transit passengers with short layover times can enjoy the other activities at Istanbul Airport such as watching TV, shopping at Istanbul Airport or visiting the Museum located in Istanbul Airport. The Istanbul Airport Museum is home to various traditional and modern art exhibiting the history and culture of Turkey. 

Explore the top tourist attractions of Istanbul

Visiting Istanbul from the Airport

Without a doubt, transit passengers desiring to visit Istanbul city during the transit time should have a valid Turkey e-Visa. Transit visa or e-ATV is only for transit purposes and does not permit the passenger to enter into Turkey. Make sure to have a Turkey e-Visa before planning to cross the airport borders of Turkey. Passengers who have a long layover and a valid Turkey e-Visa can choose from the below transfer options from Istanbul Airport.

  • Bus
  • Taxi
  • Rental Car

Remember that the Istanbul Airport is located 50 Km away from the city, so reaching the city center might take up to 50 minutes to one hour. Transit passengers are advised to leave the airport only if they have sufficient layover time and be mindful of the transit procedures to return to the airport at the right time. 

Here’s our completed guide for emergency e-Visa to visit Turkey

Be careful when booking connecting flights through the Turkey airport transit route. Transit passengers are advised to carry all the necessary documents and follow the transit protocol. While booking a flight ticket, make sure to have enough time between the connecting flights for a worry-free transit process. Do not exit the Istanbul Airport without a valid Turkey e-Visa. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What to do if I miss the connecting flight at Istanbul Airport?

Missing connecting flights can disturb the entire plan. In the situation of missing connecting flights, do not panic. Contact the airline’s care point or help desk, the Istanbul Airport has 4 Turkish care points, which operate all day and night. They can help you with a refund or rebook an alternative flight

If the passenger connecting flight is missed due to the delay of Turkish Airlines, they will arrange for assistance, accommodation, meal vouchers and will rebook tickets to the next available flight. 

How much time is needed between the connecting flights at Istanbul Airport?

The transit process at Istanbul Airport might take up to one hour with a buffer time of 30 minutes. Istanbul Airport is the largest airport, it might take time to reach the next departure boarding gate. To avoid such circumstances 2-3 hours between the connecting flight will entitle the passenger for a worry-free transit. Sometimes, the departing flight might take off 15-20 minutes early, so never forget to keep an eye on connecting flight timings

What documents are needed for a Turkey Transit Visa? 

Individuals applying for a Turkey transit visa should meet the eligibility standards and submit the necessary documents to obtain a Turkey transit visa. The following are the documents required for a Turkey transit visa. 

  • Completely filled and signed online visa application form
  • Valid visa from the destination country
  • Flight or reservation ticket for the destination country
  • A valid passport with 6 months validity beyond the departure date
  • Applicant’s color photographs 
  • Additional documents such as accommodation proof, travel insurance, bank statement, etc., if necessary

Is Istanbul Airport safe to visit?

Yes, Istanbul Airport is safe to visit and layover. The airport has security officers and police officers serving to ensure the safety of passengers. However, follow the airport protocols and keep an eye on your luggage.


Check your eligibility for Turkey Visa and apply for Turkey e-Visa 72 hours in advance of your flight. Barbadian citizens, Chinese citizens, South African citizens and Mauritius citizens can apply online for Electronic Turkey Visa. Should you need any help or require any clarifications you should contact our Turkey Visa helpdesk for support and guidance.