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Importing Your Possessions into Turkey

This guide was written by Başak Yıldız Orkun, Managing Partner at Orkun & Orkun (info@orkunorkun.com) in collaboration with Guides.Global (office@guides.global).

It was written on 02 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 Our guides are updated as frequently as possible - typically every three years - but may be out of date.

Our guides are prepared by professionals from many countries. They are, of necessity, both brief and general and can take no account of your personal circumstances. They are intended to be a good introduction to the subject BUT ARE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PROPER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE, which our contributors will usually be happy to provide upon request.

The advice and opinions contained in the guides are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Guides.Global.

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The scope of this guide

This guide gives advice on bringing your existing possessions with you when you move to Turkey.

Introduction

When moving - especially when moving to another country - having your personal possessions with you can be comforting.

Moreover, it can be less daunting to bring stuff with you than it is to sell or find storage old possessions - and buy everything again!

Can a foreigner import their possessions into Turkey?

Possibly. It depends upon their circumstances.

People may import their used possessions, that they have owned for at least six months, for their own personal (non-commercial) use, free of all import duties, provided that:

For EU citizens, since Turkey joined the Customs Union, things should be simple but they are not. See this PDF or this online guide for some idea of the complexity.

Whether you are an  EU citizen or not, there are lots of detailed requirements and restricted items. 

Despite this, for most people who are going to live in Turkey, importing at least some of their possessions is a good idea. Remember you only get the opportunity to do this once.

You must apply before you arrive in the country or within six months of your arrival.

There is lots of documentation required. It is bet to use a specialist customs agent to help.

What should I bring with me to Turkey?

There are a number of things you should take into account. We would suggest:

Many people find that the most sensible arrangement is to take with them valuable items such as antiques which they ‘can’t live without’, and which it may be difficult to replace; items of personal importance; clothing and small, expensive items.

How can a foreigner import possessions into Turkey?

The best way of doing this - by far - is using a good removal company and customs agent. They will deal with all the paperwork on your behalf (they have systems for doing this which are different from those which you would have to follow) and they will have customs clearance to pass through any countries en route to Turkey.

An added reason to use a removal company is that they are far less likely to break your possessions in transit!

If you really don't want to use a removal company, then you can import your possessions yourself.

In this case, the person making the application, or somebody having valid power of attorney on his behalf - usually his lawyer or a customs agent - must attend the offices of the Turkey Department of Customs when the goods arrive.

If you are not going to use a removal company and you need help with importing your possessions into Turkey, there are two main options. First, have a friend or neighbour make the application on your behalf. They will need a Power of Attorney. This can be prepared by your lawyer. The typical cost is TRY600 (US$170). They will also need to speak Turkish.

Or you can employ a customs agent. These can be found by a Google search but it is much better to get a recommendation from your lawyer or the estate agent dealing with any property purchase on your behalf. The cost is likely to be about TRY1,200 (US$340).

Packing

You can either pack your goods yourself or you can have your possessions packed by an international removal company. Obviously, there’s a cost associated with this service. However, it’s probably money well spent. They are experts and are likely to pack things in such a way that they don’t break. Not only are your goods more likely to reach the destination in one piece but, if they don’t, there is far less likely to be an argument with your insurance company over who is responsible for the damage.

How long does it take?

If you're using a removal company, the length of time will depend upon whether you have a full load (or are prepared to pay a full load price). This is quite a lot of possessions; far more than most people wish to bring with them to Turkey. If you do have a full load, the process can be remarkably quick. People have received their possessions within a few days of dispatching them. Clearly, the time will depend upon the distance and the availability of a truck and driver.

If you do not have a full load, then most companies will gather together shipments from several customers and transport them all, as a full load, at the same time.

They might make a trip to Turkey weekly or, more likely, monthly. It is worth checking with the company you intend to use how long it is likely to be before your load is shipped.

If you are coming from across the ocean – say, from the US or Singapore - the time factor will be much greater. In this case you will probably want to put all your goods into a standard container - for most people a 20ft container is more than sufficient - and ship it as a private shipment to you alone.

Of course, depending upon where you want these items in Turkey, there could be significant transport costs after arrival in Turkey.  It is usually both simplest and best of you obtain an estimate from one company for a door-to-door service. It is less likely to go wrong and it is often cheaper.

Once you've assembled all the documents and presented them to the Customs department, the Customs process will typically take just a few hours.

If you are bringing the goods yourself, by car or van, it is better to obtain the paperwork before you arrive with your van, but it can be done upon arrival.

Once your application has been approved you will be issued with an import permit, which is presented to the docks when you arrive with your possessions.

How much does it cost to import possessions into Turkey?

This depends on how you choose to do the work. See above.

There are four main ways of shipping your goods to Turkey as a conventional shipment (rather than bringing them yourself). The first is to send them, by sea, as a full load. These loads are charged on a cubic metre basis. Obviously, the cost depends on where you’re shipping from! Shipping from the UK would probably cost you about TRY400 (US$112) per cubic metre, shipping from the US probably about TRY800 (US$224) per cubic metre. Goods shipped in this way are likely to take about 10 days to arrive in Turkey from the UK and 21 days from the US.

The second is to put all your goods into a shipping container, as described above. This is much more convenient, much more secure and – often – cheaper.

From To Cost
London Istanbul US$730
New York Istanbul US$1,000
Singapore Istanbul US$1,300

The third method would be to ship - again, by sea - as a part consignment. This means that you would leave your goods with the shipper, who would keep them until he received other goods from other people sufficient to make up a full load. This can be quite a lot cheaper but, of course, it could be quite some time before you receive your possessions.

The fourth method is to ship them as an urgent shipment by air. This is considerably more expensive but sometimes not as ridiculously expensive as you might first expect. This is particularly so if you can take advantage of last-minute availability. However, if you can’t get some sort of discount, you could expect to pay about TRY50 (US$14) per kg from the UK and TRY70 (US$20) per kg for a shipment from the US - both of which would also be subject to limits on the weight per cubic metre which, for air travel, is more important than the physical size of the package.

Conclusion

Please be aware that there may be no or few members of staff at the Customs office who speaks English. You will almost certainly turn up when he's on lunch or leave so it's a good idea to have this done by someone who speaks Turkish.

Remember that most people will have to take their possessions through other countries in order to get to Turkey. You may need to produce paperwork for use when going through those countries in order to satisfy their customs officers. The advent of the Schengen agreement makes this problem a lot less serious than it used to be, but it can still be an issue for many people.

Other guides of interest

 Description Link 
Turkey Country Guide
Essential facts and figures about Turkey
Click to see this guide
Importing Your Car into Turkey
The regulations surrounding bringing your car with you
Click to see this guide
Importing Your Pet into Turkey
The regulations surrounding bringing your animals with you
Click to see this guide
Importing Your Boat into Turkey
The regulations surrounding bringing your boat/yacht with you
Click to see this guide

You may also want to read:

 Description Link 
Importing Personal Property Into Turkey
PDF download of rules and regulations
guide to importing possessions into Turkey
Export to Turkey
DHL's fairly thorough overview
guide to exporting into Turkey

Readers' Comments

 

Further information?

I hope you have found this guide useful. If you need any further help, please contact me.

Başak Yıldız Orkun

02 June 2017


 

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