Three of us will be arriving at Ataturk airport @ 4:30 PM from Boston for a 3+ day stay in Istanbul. How easy/difficult is the visa purchasing process? I understand only cash is accepted, no credit cards or Turkish lira. What currency is accepted…USD, euro?
You MUST get an e visa in advance. You CANNOT get a visa on arrival. Look at the above link from the Turkish foreign ministry which clearly explains the process.
And in relation to your other question about the currency dispensed by Turkish ATMs you are right - they dispense the national currency.
This post and response is interesting because this was not my experience. I landed at Ataturk Airport in early September, 2014, flying in from Gatwick/London. I did not have a visa. I was directed to a window where I paid $30 (or was it $35) USD and had a stamp attached to my passport. The eVisa page says that their system went into effect in April, 2013, but I did not have any problem showing up without a visa with the exception that I thought the fee was only $20. Maybe someone can explain all of this in greater detail
Note: My passport is for the United States.
I just did a google search, and the few web sites that address this question indicate that USA passport holders can get a 3 month multi-entry visa (sticker) at the airport. The suggestion is to do this rather than to file a visa application because of the additional paperwork, lead time..... My recommendation would be to contact the nearest Turkish consulate, embassy.... to get this clarified. But again, I landed without a visa just a few months ago and purchased a sticker at the airport.
The change to online e-visa was announced last year (and included on p. 9 of Rick's latest edition Istanbul book). It's easy to get the visa at https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/, with no wait time, so go ahead and do it now. They probably are accommodating visitors who don't know the new rule, especially at the primary port of entry, but visitors shouldn't count on it.
I did it in online in September from home. I believe it is cheaper doing it online with a credit card. There are some details to pay attention to, so read the website carefully. Most of the details have to do with dates and you don't want to get it too early, if I remember correctly. You get a receipt for the purchase and the documents themselves which you can print out at home.
We arrived in Istanbul on 4 October. There was also a staffed desk there and I thought we were going to have to do it again because my husband, ever the scatterbrain, couldn't find his print out of the online document. But he did find it and we sailed through.
This is copied directly from eVisa's FAQ:
"I do not want to apply for an e-Visa. Can I get a visa on arrival?
"Yes. If you are a citizen of one of the countries listed below and you meet the required criteria, you can obtain a visa on arrival. Kindly visit the Ministry's website (www.mfa.gov.tr) to learn more about these requirements."
The USA is one of the countries on the list, so you can arrive at the airport without a visa and buy one on the spot with American dollars (about $35).
If you need to convince yourself of this policy please use the link shown in a previous posting to get to the eVISA page and drill down to the FAQs.
Let me add that when you read the FAQs you will see that there are many conditions which will invalidate an eVISA so you will have to reapply and make another payment. This reminds me of Ryan Air or one of those other discount airlines where you will be charged $50 to have a boarding pass reissued to you if the first one has your name misspelled. Again, I believe the safest method is to buy your sticker visa at the airport.