Import regulations and customs duties
Since January 1990, all imports have been free except for purposes of public order protection, health, hygiene or national security. Administrative procedures of import have been considerably simplified since 1st January 1996 and since the application of the European Union's common customs tariff: the EU's Common External Tariff (TARIC).
The Common Trade Policy has particularly established certain import quotas for products such as textiles having their origin in third countries (multi-fibre agreements).
The import of pharmaceutical products and of some cosmetic products is subject to registration in the Ministry of Health. Moreover, import of certain food products must be accompanied by a certificate of laboratory analysis. One has to produce a phytosanitary certificate for the import of living animals and products of animal and vegetable origin. The Ministry of Trade and Industry must give its consent for the import of all electrical products and automobiles.
Alcohol,wine and tobacco meant for restaurants are allowed to be imported exclusively through the public sector company called TEKEL.
Import of metals and precious stones is only undertaken through banks under the authorisation of the Central Bank (Merkez Bankasi, decree No. 93/4143, March 21,1993).
4 types of documents of transport are required by exporters :
- A trade invoice in triplicate certified by the Embassy or Consulate with a full description of the merchandise. At least one copy must remain in the possession of the importer or the bank and another should accompany the goods shipment.
- An English certificate of origin in duplicate and drafted by the local Chamber of Commerce. This document must be certified by the Embassy or the Consulate and one copy must be handed over to the Customs authorities of the country.
- A Bill of Lading.
- A proforma invoice valid for 6 months after its date of issue: on which shipping, incoterm selected and the name of the importer shall be mentioned.
Turkey has nine free trade zones, regulated by the law 3218 of June 1985, in Mersin, Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya, Trabzon, Adana, Samsun,Mardin and Erzurum.
The Turkish Customs system applies the harmonised customs system. The customs duties are calculated on an ad valorem basis in relation to the CIF value of the goods.
The Business to Consumer (B to C) market
The consumption habits are very different between the rural and the urban society. The growing urbanisation of this country, its opening to the rest of the world and the fact that 50% of the population is less than 25 years old have favoured a strong trend towards westernization and consumption. The Standard of living has improved, thereby consolidating an urban middle class, which increases the demand for durable consumer goods even if the domestic consumption gives highest importance to the basic necessities of life.
The distribution sector is characterised by its extreme fragmentation and by its low diversification. At present, a deep changing process is under way especially with the appearance in Istanbul of large distributors (supermarket chains such as Migros, Tansas and a few hypermarkets such as Carrefour) then large commercial centres such as (Akmerkez, Gallery, Profilo, Capitol in Istanbul) and the development of new structures integrated at the national level. All these entities have been achieved within the framework of greater competition stimulated by the Customs Union with the European Union.
In spite of these changes, the system of distribution remains very complex with a large number of intermediaries. Retail sale of daily consumption products (food, hygiene, personal goods, cleaning accessories) remain essentially concentrated in the hands of nearly 170,000 small family sale structures. The sale outlet areas of more than 100 m² alone carry out 20% of the total sales.
The great importance of small retail sale companies is explained by the vast area of the country and the inaccessibility of certain zones, a small fleet of motor cars and the application of a confidence credit system with local traders.
The Business to Business (B to B) market
The sale of foreign products in Turkey is generally undertaken by the intermediary of agents and importers. Articles 116 to 134 of the Code of Trade (Law no. 6.762) regulate the contraction of commission agents.
Usually, commercial margins for consumer goods are below the EU average. Despite the privatisation process undertaken by the government, numerous companies remain State-owned and directly depend on Ankara for their purchase decisions. Public purchases are also decided in the Capital. To negotiate with the Turkish administration, it is necessary to have a representative in Ankara having relevant contacts at his disposal. Concerning private trade, more concentrated on Istanbul, an agent with good relations is necessary.
Numerous professional exhibitions are organised in Turkey. In order to obtain the list : TUYAP
Transportation of goods
The Turkish road network extends over 60,000 km of roads and highways, of which more than 80% are asphalted and 1,530 km are national highways. According to the estimates made by the Ministry of transport of Turkey, 76% of goods transport is carried out by roads. In recent years, the government launched massive investment programmes aimed at improving the road network. The creation of several trunk roads is in operation: Ankara-Pozanti, Pozanti-Tarsus, Gaziantep-Sanliurfa and Bursa-Izmir, with the help of the World Bank.
The principal highway of the country links Ankara to Istanbul, it then extends up to Edirne, on the Greek-turc frontier. Nearly 90% of the goods traffic and 95% of passenger traffic takes place on the roads. Since 1993, Turkey has been applying the CMR convention.
Turkey's railway network extends over 10,508 km, of which 8,607 km are the principal railway lines and 1,901 km are auxiliary railway lines. Only, 2,065 km of railway lines are electrified, which represents 19.6% of the total railway network. The principal railway lines are Ankara-Istanbul, Istanbul-Kapikule (Greece) and Divrigi-Iskenderun.
The D.H.L (General management for air, sea and rail infrastructures) has been attached by the Ministry of Transport. This General D.H.L management looks after all investments. Another General management called T.C.D.D (General Management for the Turkish railway Administration), is a public undertaking and is responsible for the exploitation of the country's railway infrastructures.
The main investments are meant for the construction of one railway line between Georgia and Turkey. There were projects of electrification and construction of a metropolitan railway in Istanbul for the year 2002.
Turkey has 8,333 km of coasts on the Black Sea, Aegean and the Mediterranean as well as the Marmara Sea. Since the country does not have a maritime tradition, Turkey does not have any seaports with sufficient infrastructures.
The principal ports of the country are Istanbul, Izmir and Mersin. Turkey stands at the 17th world rank concerning commercial fleet with 150 trade ports and a transport capacity of 120 million tons of freight per year. In 1998, 11,350 millions tons of freight traffic passed through the port of Istanbul.
The ports of this country are exploited by the State and managed by the state companies called T.D.I (Türkiye Denizcilik Isletmeleri) and T.C.D.D (Tûrkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demir Yollari).
Turkey has 6 international airports: the principal airports are Atatürk (Istanbul), Esenboga (Ankara) and Adnan Menderes (Izmir). The public sector company is Türk Hava Yollari (THY), which has the monopoly of international linkages. 10 private companies, among others, Turkisk Airlines and Istanbul Airlines offer local flights, both regular and chartered.
The infrastructures are supplied by the National airports Administration (DHMI). The part of air freight traffic is not more than 6 to 7% of the whole goods transport due to an insufficient infrastructure. But the sector has been experiencing a progression for a few years. In 1999, 182,466 tons of freight transited in Istanbul airport. This traffic represents 20.4% more than in 1998.
The competent institution in matters of standardisation is the Turkish Standards Institution(TSE). The TSE develops standards in all fields: materials, equipment goods, machinery, durable consumer goods, food products, electrical machinery and equipment, tools, processes and services. In order to make them compulsory, the standards must be ratified by the corresponding Ministry.
Since April 1995, there has been a list of products the import of which must be certified in conformity with the Turkish standards. It is sent by TSE. The TSE has also a number of abilities for quality certification according to the ISO, series 9000. Generally, imported industrial products have to respect ISO norms standards (International Organisation of Standardisation) or CEN (European Committee of Standardisation) and for electrical products, CENELEC standards (European Committee of Electrical Standards). But a TSE certificate in conformity with this extreme must also be obtained.
Patents and brands
Turkey is currently adapting itself to the legal framework of industrial property according to the directions given by the European Union. The principal advances made in this field are the creation of the Turkish Patent Institute (TPI), introduction of a system of penal sanctions and updating of the law of trademarks by means of a series of decrees.
Turkey is a signatory member of the Convention which created the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and of the Paris Convention relative to Industrial Property Protection. In specific matters of patents, the country signed the Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) and the Strasbourg Agreement concerning International Patent Classification.
Letters patents must be registered with the TPI and are protected for a 20-year period, although the law allows registration of the models of invention, with protection limited to 10 years. The registered trademarks are protected for 10 years and are extendable for identical periods.
Texts currently applying to patents/brands
||Date entered into law
||Period of validity
Period of validity of 20 years
Last modified in
2006 - ongoing update
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