Turkey - Formalities
Officials are particular about the Turkish courtesy flag, which must be flown from the correct position between 0800 and sunset when cruising. The courtesy flag may be left up permanently when in port.
Yachts flying the ensign of the Republic of Cyprus will be refused entry to Turkish ports. This situation will, presumably, change if/when Turkey becomes a member of the European Union, but at present this rule is being enforced.
Any yacht coming from abroad must fly the Q flag and complete formalities at an official port of entry.
On entry, formalities are completed with Harbour Master, Health, Passport Police and Customs in this order. There seems to be some confusion as to whether it is possible to clear in and out on your own. Due to language difficulties, it may be easier to use an agent. Many marinas can act as an agent, alternatively, shop around, agents are not just on the waterfront, many travel agents act as yacht agents as well. Fees can vary greatly. The agent will provide the transit log and deal with formalities.
Each yacht must purchase a Transit Log, which is the travel document of the yacht during her stay in Turkey and states the yacht's master, owner, intended ports in Turkey and registered inventory. See Documents for further details.
The skipper's name should appear on the yachts' registration certificate or on some official proof of ownership. Generally, it is wise to ask for receipts for any payments.
Remaining in Turkey
Foreign-flagged yachts, on condition that they are sailed by their owners once every two years, can remain in Turkey up to five years without a requirement for any permission. For further details see Customs.
Transiting The Bosphorus or The Dardanelles
When within 5 miles of the entrance into either the Bosphorus or the Dardanelles, boats should contact Traffic Control for further instructions. Although this provision only applies to boats over 20 metres LOA, it is recommended that smaller boats also comply with it. Boats in possession of a transit log are no longer required to stop at Canakkale and may proceed through the Dardanelles without stopping. The regulations are similar for boats going through the Bosphorus, who may continue towards ports on the Turkish Black Sea coast without stopping.
Departure from Turkey must be from an official port of entry. If a yacht is leaving Turkish waters (even for a brief period) and planning to return within the time the transit log is valid, it must be surrendered on departure, and a new one obtained on re-entry.
When departing for foreign ports, yachts are required to complete full clearance procedures and surrender of the Transit Log with Harbour Master, Passport Police, and Customs, in that order.
Prior to clearing out it is recommended cruisers speak to the Harbour Master first. Double handed yachts (just 2 crew) have reported that they were not required to use an agent for clearing out, in particular in Bodrum. Agents charge approx. 85 Euros for this service.
Please note that Visas for individuals are multiple entry, but the Transit Log is not. If Turkey is left in an emergency, without having been able to clear out correctly, the completed Section V should be handed in to a Turkish consulate abroad within one month, otherwise the yacht cannot return.
It is recommended to avoid zigzagging between Turkish and Greek waters. Both countries insist on arrival from abroad to be made only at an official port of entry.
Last updated February 2014.
As from 1 January 2015 passports must be valid for at least 60 days from the date of expiry of the traveller's visa, visa exemption period or residency permit to be able to enter the country. For example, a traveller with a visa expiry date of 20 May 2015, must hold a passport that is valid until at least 20 July 2015.
It is no longer possible to get a visa on arrival in Turkey. Visitors must now obtain an e-visa online before travel.
The e-visa has increased to 20 USD per person, but is a multiple entry visa valid for 180 days from the date of issue.
The e-visa applies to 63 countries including UK and European passport holders. For a list of countries eligible to apply for an e-visa see the section "get information" on the web page.
Whilst e-visas are valid for 180 days, holders are only allowed to stay in Turkey for up to 90 days in ANY 180 day period. Multiple visits are allowed provided the total number of days does not exceed 90. All calculations should include both the entry and exit dates, no matter what time of day or night.
These rules bring Turkey in line with Schengen countries and the rules are being interpreted along the same lines. Prior to 2014 enforcement of these rules was somewhat lax and many people benefited from that. However, the rules are now being strictly enforced and fines for overstaying have been issued. Regular visitors should be careful when planning their dates as the 90 day in ANY 180 day period could span more than one visa.
Remember - whilst the visa is multiple entry, the boat's transit log is not. So checking your boat in and out multiple times may not be practical.
Foreigners who intend to stay in Turkey longer than the visa or visa exemption period, or in excess of ninety days, are obliged to obtain a residence permit (see information below).
Note: the residence permit will become invalid if not used for six months.
Visa fees are charged in UKP for the United Kingdom, Euros for Euro zone countries and in US$ for all others.
Entry Requirements - Passport validity & space for visa stamp
You must hold a valid passport to enter Turkey. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Turkey and have at least three months validity from the date you are exiting Turkey.
You should ensure that your passport has a blank page for a visa stamp. If it does not you will be refused entry.
Remember, this applies to both visitors on a visa, and also residents with an ikamet. Foreign residents still have their passports stamped with 'in and out' visa stamps, (they just don't get a visa sticker).
Overstaying your Visa
Staying in Turkey beyond the date of your visa is taken seriously by the Turkish Authorities. If you overstay you will be fined upon departure. Fines vary according to the length of time you overstay. If you overstay and are fined, you must apply for your next visa at a Turkish Embassy or Consulate overseas before you travel. You may also be banned from re-entering Turkey for a period of time.
A “special” policy for the yachting community, for resident permits and all other documents, is currently under consideration and study, with the support of marinas (Netsel, Yat marinas) and other relevant agencies (Ankermarine). The possibility of having such a yachtsmen/women separate category will take time. Until there is such a special category for the yachting industry, the current laws/polices remain in effect.
Helpful advice about the current regulations can be found at the Marmaris Bay Cruisers website.
The good news is that there is no longer a requirement for a Turkish bank account (but you do need to show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself).
It is a requirement to have health insurance (not required for applicants over age 65), and if it is from another country, it must be international health insurance that will cover you while you are in Turkey. The policy needs to be translated into Turkish.
It is also a requirement to have a Turkish address (i.e. a marina contract). This does not however have to be an annual contract.
Short term residence permits are now only granted for 1 year (not five as previously).
Important Note: If you are out of Turkey (on a resident permit) 120 days of the year (including time out for intermittent travel), then your resident permit can be cancelled. This ruling starts 1 April 2015 and is relevant for old, current, or new residence permits.
An agent can smooth the way with applying for a Residence Permit, although of course there will be a fee involved. It is highly recommended that before applying for a residence permit that you contact an agent and ask questions. There is no charge for asking questions. It is advisable to take a native Turkish speaker with you to avoid any misunderstandings.
The cost of a residency permit was reduced to 50 Turkish lira (US$24) from 206 lira (US$98). Agencies charge approximately US$60 per person for obtaining a permit.
For further visa information call 09068 347348.
See this Turkish Ministry website for details of the forms required.
- Passports must be stamped if leaving by other means than by yacht, as the police do not normally stamp passports of people entering by yacht and these stamps are necessary to leave the country overland or by air.
- It is illegal not to carry some form of photographic ID in Turkey. It is therefore advisable to carry a photocopy of your passport with you at all times.
Last updated February 2015.
There are some regional differences in Customs formalities. In the past, some captains have been asked to produce a certificate of competence when clearing in, and if unable to do so the yacht was not allowed to leave port.
A detailed inventory must be completed and stamped by Customs. This form will be compared with a similar produced on exit from the country. Any differences must be supported by a purchase receipt or sales receipt (with customer details).
All types of firearms must be declared, and will be sealed on arrival by customs. Also, diving tanks must be declared.
Antiques cannot be exported. If carpets are bought, Customs will require to see proof of purchase. Antique objects must be accompanied by a non-objection certificate issued by the Ministry of Culture.
Getting the customs duty waived on yacht equipment that has been ordered from abroad is a lengthy and frustrating procedure, so it might be easier to try and bring any equipment needed into Turkey as personal luggage or use an agent. Although the agent's fees may be very much higher that the value of the item.
Such items MUST be marked "YACHT IN TRANSIT". It has been reported that this is easier in Istanbul than some other ports. Since Turkey is now in a customs union with the European Union, imports from other parts of Europe may be easier in future.
In such a case it is advisable to have a copy of the ship's papers as well as some form of proof that the yacht has been left temporarily in Turkey. Items brought in personally with a value over US$300 will be registered into one's passport. This will be cancelled when the entry is transferred to the transit log. Equipment couriered directly should be addressed to the marina, and the marina's advice should be sought in advance as to the correct procedure as well the best company to use.
It also helps to be near a major airport or seaport such as Antalya, Istanbul or Izmir.
A better solution might be to ask a local chandlery to order the parts for you, as the price then paid will probably be cheaper and involve much less hassle.
Leaving your yacht in Turkey
Yachts may be left in Turkey for 2 to 5 years (depending on the port) without incurring duty.
Special formalities must be completed if the yacht is to be left unattended in Turkey and the crew leave the country by other means. The forms are available from marina offices and must be stamped by Customs.
Yachts can be left for up to two years in bond at a boatyard or marina for maintenance and repair purposes. In this case marinas must make an application to the local customs office.
A yacht laid up for the winter in a marina or boatyard that is used by the owner at least once every two years may remain in Turkey for up to five years without needing to obtain further permission. Extensions may be available to this five-year period. When the owner leaves Turkey the yacht must be placed in Customs Bond; however, to take a yacht out of bond it is no longer necessary to obtain a new transit log if it has not expired.
Last updated February 2014.
Hepatitis, polio and typhoid vaccinations are recommended.
There are good medical facilities in towns and cities.
A free interpretation service is now offered 7 days 24 hours for
foreign persons calling the 112 emergency call command centre. This service is also available to foreign persons calling up 184 SABÝM (the ministry of health communication centre), calls to all private and public hospitals under the Ministry of Health, provincial organization and administrative units of the central organization and foreign persons coming to these units.
In addition, this service is available to all foreign patients and tourists for health-related issues and includes translations of medical reports of foreign patients treated in the hospitals under Ministry of Health.
Although water is mostly potable, it is recommended that drinking water is purchased in bottles or other containers.
Whilst the Greek authorities (especially in the south) do ask for an international certificate of competence (ICC), the Turkish authorities do not seem too bothered. Cruisers have reported being told by the authorities, "If you are a foreign flagged vessel and your country does NOT require you to have a certificate of competency to operate a boat, we as Turkey cannot make you get one nor fine you".
Each yacht must purchase a transit log at the first port of entry. The cost is not high, approx. 40 Euros. This is the travel document for the yacht during her stay in Turkey and states the yacht's master, owner and intended ports in Turkey.
There used to be an inventory section on page 1 of the transit log. However if an agent is used, cruisers report that they are no longer looking for an inventory list.
Foreign flagged yachts may cruise on the routes shown in their transit log and call and anchor at harbours along the route where there is no Customs office, for sightseeing purposes, on condition that there are no other restrictions.
The transit log is valid for one year (365 days) and is renewable several times. The boat needs to leave the country (for one day) at least once every five years. The transit log remains valid even if the yacht is laid up. If the owner leaves without the yacht, the transit log will still be valid on return provided that date is within the 365-day period.
The transit log is single entry, if you check out, you need to buy a new one at re-entry. The existing Transit Log must be cancelled and a new one obtained if there is a change of owner.
Any crew changes must be entered on the log and authorised by the Harbour Master at the port where the change takes place.
The Transit Log can now be used as "proof of accommodation in Turkey" for every crew member listed on it, when applying for a Residence Permit.
There is a small fine if you are still in Turkey when your Transit Log expires.
A great deal of confusion surrounds the regulations concerning restrictions imposed on foreign yachts cruising in Turkey, which are suspected of chartering. A change of crew, even if these are friends of the owner, is sometimes interpreted by some harbour Masters as being equivalent to the arrival of a charter party. However, regulations have been greatly eased in recent years and the ownership issue (i.e. the owner must be on board and Turkish law does not allow more than four co-owners) is no longer applied with such severity.
Last updated February 2014.
Clearance Costs July 2014:
The charge to check in to Turkey is approx. 100 Eur including transit log, blue card and agents fee. The cruise port fee is excluded from this price.
Cruise Port Mooring Fee for an hour:
- up to 15m is 35 TL;
- boats 15m - 24 m is 50 TL
The Transit Log costs 65 Euro.
The Blue card itself costs 10 TL, plus you will need to give some waste upon activation of the card when it is purchased.
Yachts chartering can obtain a license which costs upwards of US$1500.
Agencies will charge between 35-100 Euros for checking-in.
An agent will charge approx. US$50 for obtaining a residence permit. The permit (or Blue Book as it is called) will cost around US$100 per person.
Lighthouse Fees by Directorate General of Coastal Safety of 1.2 USD/Net Ton for yachts over 101 Net Ton.
Health Office Duty Charges of 0.20 TL/Net Ton for yachts 51 Net Ton +
A navigation aids fee is payable by boats over 30 tons.
There is a charge of 40 to 50TL for stamping a yacht inventory form.
Overtime charges seem to vary from place to place, so if at all possible it is advisable to clear in and out during office hours on normal working days.
Visa fees are payable for some nationalities, approx. 25 Euros.
Last updated May 2015.
Discharge of Waste - Regulations now apply to all Turkish coastline.
The discharge of both toilet waste and grey water is prohibited even if more than 3 miles from the shore.
The regulations require vessels cruising in the area to have both black and gray water tanks. This regulation is not limited to larger boats or boats with over a given number of crew/passengers.
Since the start of 2015, all yachts must have a 'Blue card' - a smart card obtainable from marinas or from Harbour Masters offices, that records boat and crew details. If you don't have one, you may face a hefty fine. The penalty for boat owners with no blue card is said to be TL 10.400 (USD 5200).
From the yacht's details programmed into the "Blue Card" (i.e. size of waste bin and capacity of holding tank), using a scale based on the number of persons aboard relative to the size of the holding tank, the local authorities work out how often you are "obliged" to have your tank emptied. Fines are levied for not pumping out.
January 2015: For latest reports from cruisers in Turkey as to how effectively this new scheme is being carried out see this noonsite report.
Past reports indicate that the Blue Card programme is being heavily enforced in the popular SE bays (e.g. Gocek, Fethiye), Istanbul area and Sea of Marmara. The coastguard are patrolling asking yachts to present their cards. It is therefore advisable to secure a Blue Card on arrival from the marina or port police office, and behave with common sense and sensitivity to Turkey's environmental concerns.
Note that actual pump-out points are few and far between and pump outs during the winter are greatly restricted.
If one of the owners (a yacht may have up to four co-owners) is not on board, it is up to the skipper to convince the authorities that the yacht is not chartering.
A foreign yacht used for commercial purposes on entering Turkey will receive a Transit Log just to visit one Turkish port and will have to sail from there to a foreign port only. A charter yacht intending to be based in Turkey may obtain a Charter License which will cost around US$1,500 (or more), which will permit the yacht to be subject for one year to the same regulations as Turkish flagged yachts.
Another option is for a foreign yacht to obtain a Turkish flag by being registered on the "Second Register", regardless of whether the yacht in question has been subject to Turkish VAT and Customs Taxes. An initial fee of US$10,000 is levied, followed by an annual fee of US$ 0.50 per Registered Tonnage.
Commercial, Fishing and Charter Boats (vessels over 15m)
From 1st Jan 2010 all such vessels must be equipped with an AIS system.
Prohibited areas for yachts are: no anchoring at the entrance and exit of the Dardanelles (Canakkale Bogazi, especially Gokceada and Bozcaada, region of Kumkale, Mehmetcik, Burnu, Ani, Korfezi); the zone north of the Bosporus, Gulf of Izmir, isles of Uzin and Hekim; the Bay of Karaagac; Oludeniz, Fethiye; parts of the ports of Mersin and Iskenderun; the submarine base in the inner port of Bartin Liman.
Entering some historical areas (like Hamam Bay) is prohibited.
Additional Restrictions in the Gocek Dalaman Area
- It is planned this area will be designated a sea park (as similar ones in Italy).
- Discharge of black and grey water is forbidden in this area (therefore a holding tank for all waste water is essential).
- Other than in the marinas, mooring is only permitted to fixed points (bouys, rock rings etc).
- Anchoring is prohibited to protect the ecological underwater system. Only dedicated mooring points can be used.
- Maximum mooring period for boats in Gocek-Dalaman Coves is limited to 11 days.
- Speed limit is maximum 6 knots.
- Disturbing music is prohibited.
- Cooking on deck is prohibited.
- Diving in some coves is also prohibited.
Taking archaeological souvenirs can lead to confiscation of the yacht.
Skin diving is permitted everywhere, but diving with tanks is restricted. Originally divers must have registered with a Turkish diving club and be accompanied by a Turkish instructor when diving, but now these restrictions have been lifted, although it may be sometime before all authorities are aware of this.
The only areas prohibited from diving are military zones, those conducting scientific research and areas under protection.
Fishing is permitted for sport in certain areas, but there is a minimum size for fish caught and also the amount per person is controlled.
It was reported July 2014 that a license for recreational fishing would soon be introduced.
Last updated January 2015.
Turkey is largely a Muslim country and Islamic law must be respected. Sensitivity regarding standards of dress should be observed. Women should dress conservatively and men must not wear shorts or go shirtless in public.
During the month of Ramazan (Ramadan), one should not eat, drink or smoke in public. Ramazan is set according to the cycles of the moon. Tentative dates for this year, 2014, are 27 June – 28 July. This holy month of fasting ends with Bayram, a 3 day holiday, 28 – 30 July. Many Turks fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramazan. Restaurants are less busy at lunch, and there’s even less Turkish tea. If you’re in Turkey during Ramazan, it’s polite to refrain from eating and drinking in public during daylight hours. Rather, do it inside a restaurant, tea house, cafe or other private or semi-private area.
An agent is now required for clearance into Turkey and securing a Transit Log. In addition, agents can help with Visitor and Permanent Residency permits, Export and import, Gaining a permit to operate your yacht as a charter boat and Yacht registration.
Samet is an official SSCA Cruising Station Host and similarly affiliated with the Cruising Association, Base Manager of Trans-Ocean, “German Cruiser Yacht Association” Kreuzer-Abteilung, Port Officer of Ocean Cruising Club and contact point for the Danish Ocean Cruising Association.
Animals require a recent health certificate from the country of origin. A rabies vaccination certificate must show that the animal received the vaccination between 15 days and six months before arrival in Turkey.
NOTE : If you have an official certificate, you may bring one cat, one dog and 10 fish into the country.