Istanbul has indeed many soccer clubs including three mythical ones: Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray.
Asking to see if I could buy tickets in advance, I discovered a rather strange system: it is mandatory to have a Passolig card to buy tickets and attend the game. There is no alternative.
The Passolig system is a bit complicated to understand but once you get your card, it’s very practical. You will be able to buy online, on a single website, tickets for all the matches, whatever the club.
Here’s how it works.
The Passolig card: what is it?
The Passolig card is a payment card (similar in appearance to a credit card). This card is personal (your name, passport number and even your photo are written on it).
Since 2014 and the introduction of the Passolig, tickets are no longer physical, they are 100% dematerialized. This card will therefore be used as a means of payment and ticket: it is this card that you will have to present to enter the stadium.
Passolig was officially established to better control access to the stadiums and limit violence. Fans denounced a big brother card allowing systematic registration.
For foreigners, the system isn’t easy to understand, the card isn’t very easy to get but once you have it, it becomes very easy to buy tickets.
If you stay only a few days in Turkey and you want to attend matches, it is necessary to have requested Passolig beforehand, otherwise it may unfortunately be too late.
Which Passolig card to choose?
There are three types of Passolig cards:
- The Passolig “Credit Card
- The Passolig “Debit Card
- The Passolig Cüzdan Pre-paid Card.
It isn’ted on the site that the Cüzdan Pre-paid Card is reserved for under 18s (probably so that kids don’t spend just anyhow – because the other two cards work like a bank card). But everyone can actually use this one.
I chose a Debit Card and I was given the Cüzdan Pre-paid Card, maybe because I’m not Turkish?
Where to buy the Passolig card?
Everything is done online on Passolig’s website which fortunately is translated into English 🙂
The form is pretty well done and you will have to :
- Give personal information (name, e-mail, passport or identity card number, …)
- Uploading a photo, not very practical but it is done after a few unsuccessful attempts.
- Choose your team, read the details below for this point
- Indicate your phone number to receive a validation code (remember to indicate a number that you will have when you travel, you will also need to receive SMS for the purchase of tickets. Your French number will do the trick perfectly)
- Pay the card 🙂
How do I enter a French phone number?
When requesting the telephone number, the form imposes a format with an area code that does not correspond to French telephone numbers.
Enter your number as below, it works perfectly.
Which club should I choose on my Passolig card?
When making your request, you must mention the club you support, the club logo will be present on your card.
When I asked, I indicated that I didn’t support any team without really knowing if it had an impact, there is no explanation on the subject.
In the end, there was a fairly strong impact that I learned from contacting the support because I couldn’t buy my tickets.
- If you don’t choose any club, you will be able to buy tickets for any team but only in the last 24 hours before the match. For the most expected matches, this may already be full.
- If you choose a club, you will be able to buy tickets as soon as the ticket office opens but only for the matches concerning your team.
For my part, I’m happy with my choice, I’m staying 45 days in Istanbul and intend to attend matches of several teams. If you just come for a WE to attend a big match like Besiktas – Galatasaray, it is surely better to indicate that you support the club that receives to have more chance to get a ticket.
How much does a Passolig card cost?
If you choose not to support any team, it will cost you 41.5 TL.
It’s about half the price if you choose a club.
I have the impression that it’s an annual fee, it’s not very clear.
How long does it take to obtain a Passolig card?
The announced delay is 15 days.
I couldn’t verify this time frame because I didn’t receive a message indicating that it was ready.
3 weeks after my request, without any news, I contacted the support who answered that my card was ready.
If the delay is too short, it seems that it is possible to get a temporary card valid for only one match (I don’t know how it works).
Edit of October 30, 2018: one of the readers of this blog reported to me that he was able to obtain a temporary passolig simply at the stadium ticket office by presenting his passport or identity card. It is only possible to get a temporary passolig if you have done all the registration process explained above, don’t expect to show up unexpectedly to ask for a temporary passolig 🙂
If your card is ready and you couldn’t retrieve it, you can install the Passo application that will act as a card. The application is only in Turkish, so clearly not a practical solution if you don’t master the language, but it can help.
Edit of April 11, 2019 : According to a reader of this article. The Passolig card is functional as soon as you have paid, instantly. It is the issuance of the physical card that takes a fortnight.
How do I get my Passolig card back?
At the time of your request, you must choose a stage where you want to retrieve your card.
Many stadiums are available, just choose the one closest to your accommodation. In my case it is the Besiktas stadium: Vodafone Park.
Check the opening hours and simply go to the stadium’s ticket office to pick up your precious sesame, you will need to show your passport or ID card.
It’s okay, I have my Passolig! 🙂
The logo that you can see in the bottom left corner isn’t that of a team but that of the Turkish soccer federation. 1923 is the date of the creation of Turkey.
How long is a Passolig card valid for?
I got my Passolig in September 2018, it is valid until December 2024, more than 6 years.
I don’t know how the annual renewal system works yet.
Can a Passolig card be used for more than one person?
No, the Passolig card is strictly personal. Each person who wishes to attend a match must have his/her own Passolig card.
Where can I buy tickets?
Once you have your card, you have to create an account on the online ticketing site Passo, it’s a unique selling site whatever the club is, it’s very convenient.
To create the account, enter your passport number and the same phone number used on the Passolig website.
How do I credit my Passolig card?
EDIT April 2019: the procedure has changed a little bit, now you have to go to this link: https: //www.passolig.com.tr/para-yukleme
The card I have (cüzdan) works like a prepaid card.
You will therefore have to feed it to pay for your tickets. If you have a debit card, I read that you can also use it as a means of payment for everyday purchases.
On Passo’s website, in the “Match Ticket” menu, click on “Top Up Passolig Card”.
You will then need to re-enter your passport number and phone number, select your Passolig card and enter your credit card number and the amount you wish to credit.
Your Passolig card will be credited instantly.
How do I buy tickets with my Passolig card?
The purchase of tickets is therefore done on the Passolig website, without any particular difficulty.
You can choose the grandstand and the place you want according to availability.
A short video explains the process:
After the tickets have been selected, you will need to allocate them. Click on “Foreign national”, choose your country, passport number and click on “Assign”.
At the end of the process, you must pay with your Passolig card. Enter your phone number (in the format 33601020304) and enter the code that you will receive by SMS.
If you don’t have enough credit on your card, credit it and renew the transaction.
What does the message “Not Assigned” mean?
When I first tried to buy tickets, I was very careful in assigning my seat.
After entering my country and my passport number, I systematically had the message “Not assigned”, “No valid club card for this category” which prevented me from continuing.
I made a lot of tests in all directions by trying on several different games, in different stands, … without success.
I was afraid that I would be very limited by my choice not to select a club on my Passolig.
In the end, I contacted the support team who answered me quickly. The only problem was the one mentioned above: if you don’t support a club, you have to wait the last 24 hours before buying your tickets.
Knowing that, it works perfectly 🙂
Can I buy tickets if I have not yet received my Passolig card?
Yes, the card is associated with your ID number, so you can buy tickets without physically having it.
The problem is to retrieve his card number on the application which is only in Turkish.
As a comment, Ian was kind enough to explain the process to us, you can find his comment by clicking here.
How do I print my tickets for the game?
It isn’t possible to print your tickets. Your ticket is your Passolig card.
So you can go to the stadium simply with your Passolig card. Your passport will not be required.
However, remember to write down somewhere your grandstand number, rank and seat number. Otherwise you will have a hard time finding your seat.
Can I buy tickets through intermediaries such as Viagogo, StubHub or TicketBis?
Yes, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
You will buy your tickets for much more than the normal price.
You think that you will receive your tickets at your home or at your address whereas no, the tickets are dematerialized and must be transferred to your Passolig card (which remains obligatory in all cases).
I have read many comments from tourists who bought their tickets on one of these platforms, who had never heard of Passolig, and who were unable to attend the game?
I advise you to go through these intermediaries only in extreme cases: there are no more places available on the official website of Passo and you absolutely want to attend the match.
In this case, upon purchase, contact the site support with your Passolig number to request the transfer to your card.
The important thing to remember is that in any case, it is mandatory to have a Passolig card for each spectator, there is no alternative.
However, the resale platforms are probably your only chance to get your place for a derby…
Are European Cup matches affected by the Passolig system?
Yes, same fight! You absolutely need a passolig card to attend a Champions League or Europa League match.
Tickets are available for purchase at the Passo site approximately one week before the game.
Can I attend a derby in Istanbul?
Yes, with your Passolig you can attend all the games.
On the other hand, the derbies are the most anticipated matches and are therefore in great demand.
It seems impossible to get a seat if you have a Passolig “without an associated club” (which, as a reminder, only allows you to buy tickets the day before the match).
I tried to buy tickets for Fenerbhace – Galatasaray (in November 2018), everything was already sold out the day before, even the most expensive categories.
On the other hand, the tickets are more expensive than for a more classic match.
Below are the rates for Fenerbhace – Galatasaray from November 2, 2018.
Is it possible to buy tickets in a physical store?
Yes, if there are still places available you can buy them at the stadium ticket office.
While walking next to Taksim, I also came across a store in Galatasaray (Google link). On the lower floor, it is possible to buy tickets. There are several Galatasaray stores (Gsstore) but I don’t know if they all offer tickets.
Of course you must have your Passolig card with you.
Which hotel should I choose to attend a match in Istanbul?
Istanbul has a wide range of hotels with all price ranges and comfort. Public transportation is efficient and cabs are reasonably priced, so there is no need to stay close to the stadium.
However, it is more convenient to stay close by to avoid the crowd effect that can be impressive when you aren’t used to it.
For the Fenerbahce matches, it is necessary to book a hotel near the stadium Şükrü-Saracoğlu (link booking to find an available hotel nearby).
For the Besiktas matches, it is necessary to book a hotel near Vodafone Park (link booking to find a hotel available nearby).
For the Galatasaray matches, the Türk Telekom Arena is a little bit isolated with no hotels in the immediate vicinity. Probably the easiest way is to book a hotel next to the Levent subway which is only two stations away from the stadium and has several hotels (booking link to find a hotel available nearby).