The latest Foreign Office advice for anyone travelling to Spain, Greece and Turkey – Wales Online

Wildfires, entry rules and laws around drinking are just some of the things your should familiarise yourself with
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With the weather being so bleak lately the temptation to bag some guaranteed sun along the Med can become overwhelming. While the vast, vast majority of overseas trips go off without a hitch, it is always important to check what the latest travel advice is to make sure you and your family stay both safe and on the right side of the law.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises UK citizens on travel to all countries and has plenty of important information to people travelling to Greece, Spain and Turkey. We have put together the latest information below.
Whether you like culture, relaxing, partying or sunshine, Spain has you covered. These are the things you need to be aware of according to the FCO.
Additional documents required by tourists
If you enter the Schengen area as a tourist, you may need to provide additional documents at the border. As well as a valid return or onward ticket, when travelling to Spain you could be asked to show:
You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reason.
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Spain.
Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. The Spanish authorities take measures to protect visitors. Be aware of your surroundings and follow the instructions of the local authorities.
In January 2023, there was a terrorist-related incident where a man carrying a machete attacked two churches in the southern Spanish city of Algeciras, in Cadiz, resulting in injuries and the loss of one life.
In 2017, there were two terrorist-related incidents where vehicles were driven directly at pedestrians, resulting in injuries and loss of life. These were in the Las Ramblas area of Barcelona and in Cambrils, near Salou (100km southwest of Barcelona).
Political situation
Demonstrations, political gatherings or marches can take place with little or no warning, particularly in cities. Follow the advice of police and local authorities.
While most demonstrations are peaceful, there is a risk of unrest or violence. If you’re in and around areas where demonstrations are taking place, be aware of what is happening around you and move away if there are signs of disorder.
Most visits to Spain are trouble-free, but be alert to street crime. Thieves use distraction techniques, and often work in teams. Take care of your passports, money and personal belongings, particularly when collecting or checking in luggage at the airport, and while arranging car hire.
Do not carry all your valuables in one place. Keep a photocopy or scanned copy of your passport somewhere safe.
Make sure your accommodation has adequate security. Lock all doors and windows at night, or when out. If concerned about the security of your accommodation, speak to your travel operator or the property owner.
‘Highway pirates’ target foreign-registered and hire cars, especially those towing caravans. They may (forcefully) try to make you stop, claiming there is something wrong with your car or that you have damaged theirs. If you decide to stop to check the condition of a vehicle, stop in a public area with lights, such as a service station. Be wary of anyone offering help.
When driving, be wary of approaches by people posing as police officers in plain clothes travelling in unmarked cars. In all traffic-related matters, police officers will usually be in uniform. All police officers, including those in plain clothes, carry official ID. Unmarked police vehicles have a flashing electronic sign on the rear window which reads Police (‘Policía’) or Civil Guard (‘Guardia Civil’), and may use blue flashing lights. Genuine police officers will only ask you to show them your documents and will not ask for your bag or wallet.
In an emergency call 112. Attacks, including sexual assaults, are rare but do occur.
Avoid splitting up from your friends, do not leave drinks unattended and do not go off with people you do not know. Save the location of your accommodation on your maps app, so it’s easy to find.
Be alert to the possible use of ‘date rape’ and other drugs including GHB and liquid ecstasy.
Buy your own drinks and always keep them in sight to avoid them being spiked. Alcohol and drugs can reduce your vigilance, making you less in control. If you drink, know your limit. Drinks served in bars in Spain are often stronger than those in the UK.
Thieves posing as police officers may ask to see your wallet, claiming they need to see it for identification. Genuine police officers will ask to see ID, but will not ask for wallets or purses.
Timeshare ownership is well established in Spain. There are respected companies, agents and resorts who operate legally and fairly. However, there are also unscrupulous companies who falsely claim to provide incentives.
Personal ID

You must provide photo ID if requested by a police officer. This includes the Guardia Civil and national, regional and local police forces. The police have the right to hold you at a police station until they have confirmed your identity. Ignoring direct requests of a police officer can be considered as ‘disobedience’, which is a criminal offence.
Hotels, tourist accommodation and car rental companies have a legal duty to register passport details of tourists when they check-in or collect a vehicle.
When checking-in to your accommodation, wait until hotel staff have registered your passport details, or taken a photocopy of your passport. Do not leave your passport at reception to collect later.
You may need to show ID when buying goods with credit or debit cards. Your driving licence or a photocopy of your passport may be accepted, but they may need you to show your original passport.
You cannot drink alcohol in the street in some areas of Spain. You can be given an on-the-spot fine. There are strict controls on drinking and sexual activity in public places, including on beaches.
Local laws limit the sale and availability of alcohol in areas of some resorts on the islands of:
Mallorca
Magaluf (Calvià)
Playa de Palma
Ibiza
San Antonio (San Antoni de Portmany)
This prohibits:
happy hours
Hotels and other establishments are obliged to evict customers who behave dangerously on balconies. Both the customer and the establishment can be fined for such behaviour.
Possession of even a small quantity of drugs can lead to arrest and detention. Possession of large quantities will usually result in prosecution and a prison sentence.
In some parts of Spain it’s against the law to be in the street wearing only a bikini or swimming shorts. Being bare-chested is also illegal in some areas in Spain. You may be fined if you’re caught wearing swimwear on the seafront promenade or adjacent streets.
For security reasons, some public authorities in Spain do not allow the burka or niqab to be worn in their buildings. If you visit town council buildings wearing a burka or niqab, you may be asked to remove it while inside.
Spain is a generally tolerant and progressive place for LGBT+ travellers. There are active LGBT+ communities and social venues, particularly in big cities. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005. Since 2007, transgender people are able to register under their preferred sex in public documents such as birth certificates, identity cards and passports without undergoing prior gender reassignment surgery. Spain does not recognise a third gender.
There have been a number of very serious accidents (some fatal) as a result of falls from height, including balconies. Many accidents have involved British nationals, and have had a devastating impact on those involved and their loved ones.
Do not take unnecessary risks around balconies or other high places, particularly if you’re under the influence of drink or drugs. If you are staying in a room with a balcony, follow the safety advice and watch out for friends who may be at risk.
In some regions you may be fined or evicted from your hotel if you are found to be behaving irresponsibly around balconies. Your travel insurance may not cover you for incidents that take place on a balcony or if you were under the influence of drink or drugs when the incident happened.
Every year, people drown in the sea and in swimming pools in Spain. Children should always be supervised, even if they can swim or there is a lifeguard present. Take care when swimming in the sea. Some beaches, especially around Spanish islands, may have strong undercurrents.
Avoid swimming at beaches that are close to rivers. Do not dive into unknown water as hidden rocks or shallow depths can cause serious injury or death. Many beaches have a flag system. Make sure you understand the system and follow any warnings (a red flag means you must not enter the water). Take extra care and seek local knowledge if there are no lifeguards, flags or signs.
If you are walking along unmanned beaches, be aware that waves can come in further than expected and have strong undertows. Follow local advice if jellyfish are present.
The Catalonia region has started billing climbers, skiers and other adventurers whose negligent behaviour causes them to need to be rescued. Altitude sickness may be a risk in some of the higher mountain ranges in Spain, particularly in the regions of Granada, Huesca and Tenerife.
Only use official registered or licensed taxis, or reputable transport companies you recognise. Licensing regulations differ across Spain and in certain cities pre-booking is required. Passengers caught using unlicensed taxi services are liable for fines of up to 600 Euros. Make sure you book your taxi or airport transfer through a licensed firm.
If you are planning to drive in Spain, see information on driving abroad and read the RAC guide. In 2021 there were 1,508 road deaths in Spain. This equates to 32 road deaths per million population and compares to the UK average of 24 road deaths per million population in 2021.
If visiting Spain, you can drive on your full UK driving licence. Provisional licences are not valid for driving in Spain. If you are using UK insurance, always carry your certificate with you in case you are stopped. Check that your UK insurance will cover you to drive in Spain, and for how long. This certificate is generally only valid for a stay of less than 3 months.
You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. In 2021 UK stickers replaced GB stickers.
Motorists drive on the right-hand side of the road in Spain. Driving rules and customs are different from those in the UK.
You must carry two red warning triangles which, in the event of an accident or breakdown should be placed in front of and behind the vehicle. They should be at least 50 metres away from the vehicle in each direction. You must have a spare wheel and the tools to change it. If you get out of your vehicle during an accident or breakdown, or while waiting for the arrival of the emergency services, you must wear a reflective vest or you may face a fine.
Motorcyclists (including drivers of mopeds and quads) must wear an approved safety helmet and other protective clothing. Not wearing one is considered a serious offence and can result in a fine.
It is illegal to use a mobile phone when driving, even if you have pulled over to the side of the road. You must be completely away from the road. Using an earpiece is also illegal. Only completely hands-free units are allowed to be used.
Extreme temperatures are currently affecting many areas of Spain. For severe weather warnings and updates, visit the Spanish Meteorological Office (AEMET) and European Meteorological Services website.
Forest fires occur frequently in Spain (including in the Spanish islands) during the summer months, when temperatures regularly reach over 40ºC. Be aware of your environment when visiting or driving through woodland areas. For information on forest fire risk visit the Spanish Meteorological Office (AEMET).
Causing a forest fire is a criminal offence in Spain, even if unintentional. Make sure cigarette ends are properly extinguished, do not light barbecues and do not leave empty bottles behind. You can be heavily fined for not following the rules against lighting outdoor barbecues in forest areas. Make sure you know the rules if considering a barbeque.
For information on what to do in the event of a forest fire, visit the Civil Protection website (only available in Spanish). Immediately report any fire you see to the emergency services on 112. In the case of wildfires, the situation can change quickly, so you should stay up to date with official advice.
The birthplace of democracy, Greece has everything a culture vulture could want (not to mention it is heaven for the sun worshippers).
Fires
Extreme temperatures are affecting many areas of Greece. There are active wildfires across Greece, including in populated areas on the mainland and a number of islands. The ‘state of emergency’ in Rhodes, declared by the Greek authorities on 26 July, has now been lifted.
Wildfires are highly dangerous and unpredictable. The situation can change quickly. There are active wildfires affecting parts of Greece.
You should:
Causing a forest fire is treated as a criminal offence in Greece even if unintentional. If you see a forest fire, call the emergency services on 112.
If you are due to travel to an area that might be affected by wildfires, contact your travel operator or accommodation provider before you travel to check that it is not currently impacted. Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
Be cautious if you are in or near an area affected by wildfires. You should:
follow the guidance of the emergency services
call the Greek Emergency Services on 112 if you are in immediate danger
contact your airline or travel operator who can assist you with return travel to the UK.
enable the “Emergency Alerts” option to receive the Greek government’s emergency alerts. For:
read the Greek Government’s protection guidelines in the event of a forest fire.
register via the Greek government’s Emergency Communication Service (in Greek)
The Greek government has set up a Crisis Management Unit to facilitate the evacuation of foreign visitors from Rhodes due to the ongoing forest fires. Contact them for advice on:
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Greece. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners.
There have been several attacks involving explosives and automatic weapons against Greek institutions, shopping malls, banks, media offices, diplomatic premises and the police. British nationals aren’t normally considered a specific target, but attacks could happen in places visited by foreigners.
Strikes and demonstrations
There are regular strikes, sometimes called at short notice that can cause disruption to public transport (including air travel and ports), as well as road networks and borders. Political demonstrations can also occur frequently.
Avoid demonstrations wherever possible and follow the advice of the local authorities. Some demonstrations in the past have turned violent. If you do find yourself unexpectedly near a demonstration, move away to the last known safe place. Security forces often use tear gas to break up demonstrations, which can harm your breathing and vision.
Demonstrations take place regularly around major squares in central Athens, in particular Syntagma Square. Nationwide strikes and protests can occur at any time and may disrupt road, air, sea travel and cause delays or diversions at border crossings.
Theft
Theft of passports, wallets and handbags are common on the metro and in crowded tourist places, particularly in central Athens. Don’t carry all your valuables in one place, and remember to keep a photocopy or scanned copy of your passport somewhere safe. Maintain the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK.
When driving on holiday, keep your valuables out of sight and lock your vehicle at all times. Always park in a well-lit area or secure car park. Be alert to car crime.
Sexual assaults and personal attacks may occur in Greece. This includes attacks on foreign visitors in tourist areas and cities.
We recommend that all travellers follow this advice:
You should immediately report anything you see that doesn’t feel right to local authorities or hospitality management.
Personal ID

Carry a copy of your passport or other photographic ID which confirms British nationality at all times, this is a legal requirement.
The majority of visitors experience no difficulties related to race, but there have been some racially motivated attacks, particularly in inner-city areas.
The Greek police won’t accept behaviour they find rowdy or indecent, especially where excessive drinking is involved, this behaviour may be illegal. The police will make arrests and the courts are likely to give heavy fines or prison sentences if you behave indecently.
Some fancy dress costumes may be regarded as offensive and therefore against decency laws. Your travel insurance may not cover you after drinking.
Possession of even small quantities of illegal drugs can lead to a long prison sentence. Alcohol, drugs and use of nitrous oxide can make you less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. Nitrous oxide is illegal to buy or sell for recreational use in Greece. You can be arrested or fined if found in possession.
Same-sex sexual relations are legal in Greece and civil unions between same-sex couples have been legal since 2015. The age of consent in Greece is 15, this applies to partners of both the same sex and opposite sex. Transgender people are able to change their legal gender. Anti-discrimination and hate speech laws apply to gender identity.
Public attitudes towards same-sex sexual activity vary throughout the country; showing affection in public by same-sex couples may be frowned upon, especially in rural areas. Attitudes are generally much more welcoming in Athens and on many Greek islands, particularly on Lesvos, Mykonos and Skiathos.
It is illegal to approach or take photos or videos of military installations, vehicles or buildings at any time. The Greek authorities will arrest and possibly prosecute anyone doing so. Certain border areas are also militarily sensitive. Although you can visit these areas, you should avoid taking photos or video footage.
If you are planning to drive in Greece, see information on driving abroad and read the RAC guide.
Make sure any vehicle you hire is in good condition and check that you’re insured. When renting mopeds or quad bikes, insurance sold by the hire company usually only provides third party insurance, which only covers the cost of damage to another vehicle. Any damage sustained to the rental vehicle in many cases may need to be paid for by you, or you may face arrest if you do not pay and the hire company decide to press charges.
You can drive in Greece with a UK driving licence.
You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. Check the GOV.UK displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK.
Greece can experience earthquakes and earth tremors. You should:
The Greek General Secretariat for Civil Protection website has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, and reports on incidents.
Straddling two continents and historically the bridge between east and west, Turkey is somewhere everyone should experience. There are some things to be aware of if you are travelling there however.
Passport and entry
If you are visiting Turkey, your passport must:
If entering Turkey through a land border, make sure your passport has a dated entry stamp before you leave the border crossing. If you’re visiting Turkey for tourism or business for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, you do not need a visa.
Terrorism in Turkey
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Turkey.
Most terrorist attacks have happened in southeast Turkey, Ankara and Istanbul. Citizens from western countries may be targets or caught up in attacks, particularly in major cities.
Terrorists may target places visited by foreigners, such as:
Terrorist groups sometimes call for attacks around religious occasions and public holidays.
Previous attacks have included:
There is also a heightened risk of terrorist attack against the aviation industry in Turkey.
You should:
ITerrorist and insurgent groups include Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL), PKK, and THKP/C-Acilciler (Turkish People’s Liberation Party/Front) and the DHKP/C (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front). There’s a domestic terrorist presence in the southeast of the country including in Van, Bitlis, Bingol, Elazig, Mus, Batman, Erzincan, Diyarbakir and Agri provinces.
Extremist groups based in Syria including Daesh and Al-Qaeda linked groups have the capacity to carry out attacks in neighbouring countries, including Turkey. Daesh has previously targeted border crossings and nearby locations on the Syrian side of the border.
Street robbery and pick-pocketing are common in the major tourist areas of Istanbul. Be aware of your personal belongings and make sure they are always secure.
Buy your own drinks and always keep sight of them so they are not spiked. Be wary of strangers approaching you offering food and drink (which may be drugged), to change money, or to take you to a restaurant or nightclub.
In 2022, 51 cases of sexual assault, including rape, were reported to British consular staff in Turkey. Most sexual assault cases reported to British consular staff in Turkey have happened during summer holidays in coastal tourist areas. Many were committed at night by someone the victim met during the day, including hotel workers. There have also been sexual attacks on minors visiting toilet facilities alone. Be extra vigilant in these situations.
Accepting lifts from strangers can be dangerous. Find a registered taxi and note the registration number before entering.
Personal ID

It is illegal not to carry some form of photographic ID in Turkey. Always carry your passport or residence permit. In some busy areas, especially Istanbul, the authorities may stop people for ID checks. There are also several police checkpoints on main roads across Turkey. Cooperate with officials conducting checks.
Dress modestly if you’re visiting a mosque or a religious shrine to avoid causing offence.
Smoking is illegal on public transport and in all indoor workplaces and public places. Smoking is restricted in some outdoor areas where cultural, artistic, sports or entertainment activities are held.
Turkey has strict laws against the use, possession and trafficking of illegal drugs. You may receive a fine or prison sentence of four to 24 years.
Most towns and cities have stray dogs. Packs congregate in parks and wastelands and can be aggressive. Take care and do not approach stray dogs. If you’re bitten, get medical advice immediately. Rabies and other animal borne diseases are present in Turkey.
The possession, sale and export of antiquities is illegal. You could be fined and receive a prison sentence of five to 12 years. Some historical items found at local markets and in antique shops can be sold within Turkey but are illegal to export. Confirm the legal requirements before purchasing or exporting such items.
Do not take photographs near military or official installations. Ask for permission before photographing people.
Homosexuality is legal in Turkey. However, many parts of Turkey are socially conservative and showing affection in public could result in unwelcome attention.
It is illegal to insult the Turkish nation or the national flag, or to deface currency. This can include comments about the Turkish state. These laws also apply to comments made online. You could get a prison sentence of between six months and three years
Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Turkey, see information on driving abroad. You must carry a green card in Turkey.
Take care when travelling by road, particularly at night. Approach checkpoints slowly and follow the instructions of security personnel. Roads between major cities are generally in excellent condition, but can be poor in remote, rural areas. Accidents are common and mainly due to poor or reckless driving. Do not drink and drive. The police fine drunk drivers and your licence could be confiscated for six months.
Forest fires happen frequently in Turkey during summer. Take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas. You could get a fine or prison sentence for lighting a fire of any kind in forbidden areas. This includes barbeques and discarding cigarette butts in the woods.
If there is a forest fire in your area, local authorities may tell you to leave your accommodation. Follow the directions of local authorities. If you see a forest fire, call emergency services on 112.
Many parts of Turkey regularly experience earthquakes and tremors. These can be a high magnitude, cause damage to infrastructure, and pose a risk to life.
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Gaziantep and neighbouring provinces in the south-east of Turkey in February 2023. Strong earthquakes may continue to affect the region and it remains heavily damaged.
No go areas- The FCDO advises against all travel within 10km of the border with Syria, against all but essential travel to Sirnak (city) and to Hakkari province.
Mount Ararat, in Ağrı province, is a special military zone. You must have access permission from the Doğubayazıt Government Office, and pay a fee in the local Governor’s Office. If visiting with a travel agent or tour group, confirm with them whether you need an individual permit.local authorities.

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Originally posted 2023-08-25 20:30:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter