Electronic Visa Application System (e-Visa)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Every year millions of foreigners visit Turkey. While citizens of certain countries are exempt from visa, some others need visa to enter the country. Before Electronic Visa Application System was introduced, visas basically could only be obtained by either visiting Turkish Embassies/ Consulates General or (if one is eligible) at the borders upon arrival. To be more specific, approximately 30 million foreigners visited Turkey in 2012. 62 % of them were exempt from visa. Remaining 11.4 million foreigners entered Turkey with visa. 10.83 million visitors obtained their visas at the airports upon arrival and Turkish missions issued 570 thousand visas for the rest. This visa practice proved to be problematic on four major accounts. First, slightly over 10 million foreigners had to line up in front of visa counters at the airports in Turkey to secure their entrance into the country. People, including elderly, women (some of them pregnant), kids and disabled were obliged to spend up to couple of hours in rush times standing in visa lines after long and exhausting travels. Second, people, who had (or preferred) to receive their visas before their travels, had to spend considerable time and energy for visa application at the Turkish missions. Third, some Turkish missions were so much consumed by visa applications that they did not have enough time for the other services that had to render. Fourth, foreigners who were not eligible for visa on arrival and who did not have any Turkish mission in the vicinity were deprived of the opportunity to travel to Turkey.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The solution to the problems described above was sought within the framework of information technologies and took the form as Electronic Visa Application System. The idea was proposed and masterminded by HE Naci Koru, Ambassador and Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey. He laid down the main architecture of the application, supervised (and still supervising) all processes related to it. Analysis, coding, design and tests were all conducted by the personnel of the Ministry. It is maintained and 24/7 assistance is given to the users, again, by the Ministry personnel. Electronic Visa Application System is accessible at www.evisa.gov.tr It was launched on 3 December 2012 on pilot basis, and on 17 April 2013 to the public. Citizens of 96 countries were eligible for e-Visa by then. Later the number reached to 98 and more countries are planned to be included. The overall visa process takes an average of 3 minutes (Some applicants can conclude it in less than 2 minutes). Applicants should fill up all the necessary information about their identity and travel documents, make payment (unless they are exempt from visa fee) and download their visa. They do not have to upload any pictures or documents to the system. The information is processed by the system (no manual action taken) and the names are cleared from the database of the Ministry of Interior before the visa is issued. In these regards, Electronic Visa Application System differentiates itself from other e-Visa applications in the world. To our knowledge, it is the most comprehensive e-Visa application system, which does not require any manual processing. The system solves the four major problems encountered in previous visa practice. First, foreigners who wish to visit Turkey do not have to line up at the airports in Turkey for visa anymore. Second, visiting Turkish missions for visa became unnecessary (for the majority of the visitors). Third, Turkish missions are largely relieved of visa applications and they can spare more time for other activities and services. Fourth, foreigners, who did not have a Turkish mission in the city or country where they live in, are now able to get Turkish visa over Electronic Visa Application System. The application brought about additional advantages. First, it gives positive image of the country to the visitors before they begin their visit. Second, it increases the number of visitors as it makes visa process no obstacle. Consequently, more tourism income flows in. Third, it facilitates interaction of Turkish businessmen with their foreign counterparts as businessmen from various countries can travel to Turkey more easily. Fourth, less cash handling became possible for Turkish missions. Physical transfer of money from the missions to the banks has been rather problematic in certain countries. Now that e-Visa fees are directly transferred to the Treasury, fewer risks have to be taken by our missions.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The initiative is creative and innovative in the sense that it e-transforms traditional visa application procedures, engages several government agencies and serves people from almost 100 countries. - It is a self-service application (It does not necessitate any manual involvement of the visa officers). - Applicants do not have to upload any files. - It is available 24/7 (It is not limited to office hours. It does not give break during weekends or holidays). - It can be accessed from any place with internet connection. - Users are assisted 24/7 by phone and e-mails. - Visa fees are collected in one currency and transferred to the Turkish Treasury automatically (Traditionally, fees are collected in cash and transferred to the banks physically, which carries several risks). - The overall process takes an average of 3 minutes.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
- Analysis: The idea was discussed extensively by the respective personnel of the Foreign Ministry. The basic tenets of the application were laid down. Related government bodies, such as Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Interior were consulted. - Design: A user-friendly design was created in accordance with the input of the respective personnel. - Coding: Coding was completed accordingly. - Tests: Comprehensive tests were conducted both in Ankara and in several countries. - An online Support Desk was formed to reply written requests and answers by the users. - Call Center of the Ministry was given the task to answer questions of the users regarding the application. - The application was launched on pilot basis. - The application was made available to public (the citizen of 96 countries) in English. - The application was introduced officially by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Finance. - Foreign Ministry signed a protocol with Turkish Airlines (Citizens of certain countries can get e-Visa with the condition that they travel to Turkey by the airline companies which sign protocol with the Foreign Ministry). - Embassies in Ankara were briefed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the new application. - Development: The application was modified and improved in line with the feedback received from the users. - The application was made available in French and Spanish. - New countries were added to the list. Citizens of 98 countries can obtain their e-Visas over the system now. - Continuous improvement is in process. - Chinese and Arabic pages will be available soon. - Kiosk application will be available in due course. - The number of countries will increase. - The practice of visa upon arrival will be replaced by e-Visa on 10 April 2014.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
A work group was formed in the Directorate for Information Technologies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The group was comprised of administrative personnel, analysts, designers, programmers, testers and user assistants. The group worked closely with the respective personnel from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Finance and Turkish Airlines.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The initiative was realized in-house by the Ministry personnel. Technical infrastructure of the Ministry was made use of. No additional budget was required to develop the application. Some of the personnel involved are employed under the UNDP project for the e-Consulate services of the Foreign Ministry. In this sense, UNDP contributed to the initiative indirectly. The sources were mobilized by the Directorate for Information Technologies of the Foreign Ministry to achieve user friendly and technically sound e-Visa application.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
- Up to now 650 thousand foreigners used the system to receive their e-Visas and they seem to be quite satisfied with it (Please have a look at the comments posted on https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/comments/) - Approximately, 10 million USD is collected as visa fee, which was directly transferred to the Treasury. - Significant amount of time saved on the side of Turkish authorities. - Considerable amount of time saved by the foreigners who visited Turkey with e-Visa. - We could reach out to thousands of people, who had not had a Turkish mission in their vicinity.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The application has been monitored over the admin panel, which instantly displays the number of e-Visas issued, the amount of money collected, the number of visitors of the web site, information regarding the applicants, as well as all several statistics that can be produced by using the available information. The questions and suggestions of the applicants are also replied over the admin panel. All feedback received from the users has been used to improve the system.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main obstacles were faced during the early days of the system. It took a while for the airport authorities to get used to the application. In the first weeks of the application some visitors had hard time to convince the airport authorities they had valid visas. To overcome this, we stayed in constant touch with respective authorities to ensure smooth transition. Another obstacle was to entertain all requests sent by the users. Local practices that bound us did not make much sense for the users in some cases. For example, some users did not want to enter their parents’ names in the related fields, as some of them claimed that they did not have this information. We had difficult time explaining this situation to our customs authorities. Yet we finally did and information about parents became optional to fill up.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Key benefits of the initiative can be summarized as follows: - The number of people lining up in front of visa counters at our airports dropped significantly and as of 10 April 2014 there will be no lines at all (Due to the success of the e-Visa system, the practice of visa on arrival will be abandoned). - The number of people visiting our missions for visa application decreased. - The number of people visiting Turkey from the countries where we do not have missions increased. - Considerable amount of time saved both on the side of the visitors and Turkish officers.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The application proved to be sustainable, so that Turkish Government decided to abolish visa on arrival practice as of 10 April 2014. All visitors eligible for visa on arrival are also eligible for e-Visa. It is a multilingual application and it can easily be transferred to other countries. As a matter of fact, we are already in contact with Foreign Ministries of some countries in this regard.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The initiative engaged hundreds and thousands of people from all over the world. We did our best to come up with something that can be used by a wide range of people with no difficulty. It was quite encouraging to observe that we mostly received positive feedback from the users. We read each and every line written to us. Replied them immediately and improved the system accordingly. By doing so, we managed to keep the number of messages at a certain level, even though the number of e-Visas issued skyrocketed. We learned to understand and serve people from different countries. It was and still is an amazing experience to know that what we created makes their lives easier. We give the most precious present to these people: time. As for the recommendations for the future; e-transform your services and bring more information technologies into our lives.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Yasin Temizkan
Title:   Acting Head of Department  
Telephone/ Fax:   00905301455766
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   ytemizkan@mfa.gov.tr  
Address:   Dr. Sadık Ahmet Cad. No:8 Balgat
Postal Code:   06100
City:   Ankara

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