It was written on 16 June 2017. The law and practice in Turkey change all the time. Our guides are updated as frequently as possible - typically every three years - but may be out of date.
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This guide is about driving in Turkey. It looks at driving conditions, the rules of the road, and their enforcement.
Driving in Turkey is pretty simple - especially if you come from a country where they drive on the right-hand side of the road. Simple, but not unexciting. Turks tend to drive very quickly, usually weaving through traffic and often whilst speaking on their mobile phone. Too frequently (though less often than before), they do this after consuming alcohol.
Its traffic laws are similar to those in most European countries, as are the rules about who can drive.
There are lots of police controls, looking for drunk drivers, drivers with no licence or insurance and vehicles that are dangerous. They are also looking out for general criminality, wanted people and so on.
The two things that make driving in Turkey a little more complicated - and off-putting to some people - are the poor secondary and local roads found in most of the country and the foolhardy courage of some Turkish drivers: no gap is too small, no straight too short to overtake and no speed quite high enough! However, this stereotype of the Turkish driver is getting a little out of date and standards have improved enormously over the last few years.
If you have brought your foreign registered car or vehicle to Turkey on a temporary basis you are allowed to drive it in Turkey on the basis set out above. You must be able to produce proof of ownership of the car.
The right is a strictly personal right. Only you, your spouse or your children may drive the car. It may not be used for commercial purposes.
These rules are a result more of the restrictions on importing vehicles than they are the law relating to driving licences.
When driving a vehicle in Turkey you must (at least in theory – many don’t bother) carry with you:
Your driving licence
Your vehicle registration document
Your vehicle insurance document (usually a green card is needed)
Headlight converters, if your vehicle is right hand drive
A first aid kit
A fire extinguisher
A tow rope
A vehicle jack and tyre changing kit
A portable hazard lamp
Two European-style warning triangles, which must be placed at least 50 metres in front of and behind the vehicle if you break down
In parts of Turkey, during the winter, snow chains
If you're driving a foreign car you must display the internationally recognised plate showing the vehicle's country of origin.
See our guide to insuring your vehicle in Turkey (coming soon).
There is no annual vehicle safety test.
In Turkey, they drive on the right-hand side.
Generally, the speed limit in towns is 50kph. In some places it is 30kph
The speed limit on all other roads except motorways (freeways) and two-lane highways (dual carriageways) is 90kmph.
On the two-lane highways is 110kph.
On motorways (Freeways): 120kph
There is a general tolerance of 10% over these limits.
There are a few exceptions (for example, near schools) but these will be clearly signposted.
There are a growing number of speed cameras in Turkey - and lots of cows around blind bends!
The permitted blood alcohol level is low – 50mg of alcohol in every 100ml of blood.
Pedestrians have an absolute right of way on pedestrian crossings – in theory. You must stop if you see a pedestrian on the crossing or about to step on the crossing. If you are a pedestrian, don't rely on this happening!
You and your passengers (front and back) must always wear seatbelts if your vehicle is fitted with them.
Children under less than 1.35m (about 4'6”) tall or under 36kg in weight must be restrained in proper child seats.
Car parks are marked with the internationally recognised 'P' symbol or “Otopark”.
The road signs are, in the main, the conventional European road signs. See this page for some translations of text-based signs.
In Turkey, parking is a cross between an art form and a type of medieval warfare. In the towns, and in many of the developments by the sea, parking is in short supply. Finding and occupying a parking space can, therefore, be challenging and – once he’s found one – any local Turkish driver would feel that he had failed miserably if he did not seize it and, somehow, squeeze his car into it.
If the space is a little too small for the car, this process can involve him gently (or not so gently) pushing the cars in front and behind out of the way.
Having said all that, there are various types of parking available:
In small towns, unless the road is labelled to say that parking is restricted in some way, there is no need for any permit to park on any street in Turkey. Nor is there any charge for such on-street parking.
However, in the major towns and cities, in most streets parking is restricted in some way. This is often by the presence of a parking warden, who will charge you the appropriate parking fee.
Most towns and villages have off-street parking.
Some of it is privately owned and cannot be used by the general public.
Some of it (such as supermarket car parks) is privately owned but can be used by the general public upon the terms stated. These are, normally, that it can only be used by customers and only for a maximum of two hours.
Some is publicly owned and can be used by anybody upon payment. Proof of payment is almost always by displaying a voucher in your car. The cost of parking and the length of time for which you park varies from place to place.
Fuel is widely available. In the last few years thousands of large new fuel stations have opened. You will seldom be more than a few kilometres from a place where you can buy fuel.
Prices vary from place to place. Typically (March 2017):
Petrol/gasoline (benzin) - TRY5.16 (£1.14/€1.30/US$1.46) per litre
Diesel/gazoil (dizel) - TRY4.50 (£0.99/€1.14/US$1.27) per litre
Autogas/Gas (LPG gazı) - TRY3.11 (£0.68/€0.78/US$0.87) per litre
In rural areas, tax-free diesel is also often available. It is cheaper. It may only be used in agricultural vehicles. If you’re found using it illegally, you will be subject to a large fine and your vehicle will be seized and not returned to you.
There are many, the main ones being:
Dangerous driving is very broadly defined and very subjective. It can cover driving too quickly, driving too close to another vehicle, overtaking on bends, passing when not permitted, using your mobile phone whilst driving and all sorts of things pretty much at the discretion of the police officer who stops you. If you disagree with their assessment you can, of course, try to persuade the judge that what you were doing was not dangerous.
In most circumstances these are treated as administrative offences (and fined as such) rather than full criminal cases. Each offence has a different penalty. Typical penalties are a fine of TRY100-200. There is usually no loss of your licence. However, if you put the public in serious danger you can be taken before the criminal courts.
If you are stopped, breath-tested and fail the test – 0.05mg/ml of blood (as of January 2013) for cars and 0mg/ml for commercial drivers or those towing – your licence will be suspended immediately for at least 6 months, the vehicle will be banned from the road and there will be an administrative penalty.
On a first offence the penalty is TRY876 (£193/€221/US$247). On a second offence, the penalty is TRY1,098 (£241/€277/US$310) and the licence will be taken for two years. On a third offence, the penalty is TRY1,763 (£388/€455/US$498), plus at least six months in jail and the licence will be taken for five years. You will also have to take a fresh test at the end of the five years.
You can refuse a breath test. If you do you will be taken to a hospital for a blood test.
As in most countries, it is a criminal offence to drive without valid insurance. In Turkey, the fine is usually a modest TRY95 (£21/€24/US$27) but your car will be impounded until you produce proof of insurance.
Read our guide to Accidents on the Road in Turkey.
There is a heavy police presence on the roads in Turkey and they routinely stop drivers to check on their insurance and other driving documents.
Random stops are permitted.
The police officers are invariably courteous, but they are also invariably strict. If they discover that you have committed any offence or that your car is in any way defective you can expect a fine or a summons to attend court.
Despite what many people believe, the fines levied by the police do not go into their pockets!
If your vehicle fails a safety check for anything other than the most trivial of reasons (for example, a failed stop lamp bulb) it will usually be impounded and then taken away by the police to a vehicle storage centre where it can only be recovered by an officially approved garage who will then carry out the necessary repairs to it. The fee for releasing your vehicle varies from place to place.
Driving in Turkey can be slightly frightening for someone not used to it, but you'll soon become accustomed - although we do NOT recommend picking up other drivers' bad habits!
Stick to the rules of the road, as police are strict and getting stricter. Dealing with a fine or an impounded vehicle in a new country is even more of a disaster than it is "back home".
|Turkey Country Guide
Essential facts and figures about Turkey
|Transport & Transport Links in Turkey
Getting to - and getting around - Turkey
|Driving Licences in Turkey
Making sure you're driving legally in Turkey
|Safe Driving in Turkey
"How to avoid accidents in Turkey."
I hope you have found this guide useful. If you need any further help, please contact me.Başak Yıldız Orkun 16 June 2017
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