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Turkey as a destination for 2012 - Regulations and costs

By Sue Richards last modified May 22, 2012 09:56 PM

Published: 2012-05-22 21:56:46
Countries: Turkey

Our thanks to Fred Hoette of SV Escape Key for this extremely useful and informative report on the current situation in Turkey for visiting cruising yachts.

Turkey is, in my opinion, by far the best cruising destination in the Mediterranean. However, new regulations have made life more difficult and expensive to the point that many long-time cruisers are leaving the country. We find that the benefits here still well outweigh the costs.

Entry formalities

A transit log is required (nothing new), the cost is not high, around 40E. It's valid for one year and renewable (in practice) ad infinitum. Your boat needs to leave the country (for one day) at least once every five years. The transit log is single entry, if you check out, you need to buy a new one at reentry.

The downside is that you no longer can do your own formalities (no cost), but must use an agent. This has been an employment act for agents who charge from 30E to 100E for their check-in services. Shop around for an agent and be sure you understand all charges beforehand. Agents are not just on the waterfront, many travel agents are now also yacht agents.


As stated elsewhere, if you wish to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days in a 180 period (starts when you get your visa), this is now only possible with a residence visa. On a tourist visa, you can spend 90 days in Turkey, check out, then spend 90 days in Greece, check out, then come back to Turkey for the next 90 in 180-day period. The visa is multiple entry, but the transit log is not, so checking your boat in and out multiple times is not practical. You need to be very careful about counting the exact days.

The residence visa, on the other hand, has been (at least in Mugla province) greatly simplified. It is a fairly simple well-documented process that you can do yourself (in Marmaris with help from the marinas and the cruising community) or you can use an agent. It took ten days in mid-May 2012 to get the visa. It did not require a Turkish bank account, we were not asked for proof of financial viability (though I had documentation) and there were (so far) no other strings.

The so-called "Blue Book" costs 172TL pp (US$101). That's supposed to be a one-time fee. At the tax office we paid 140TL pp (US$82), which is the annually recurring visa cost. This is actually a reasonable cost even for those of us who only spend the summer here, considering that the prior tourist visa cost US$20 pp per 90 days after which one would either have to take the day ferry to Rhodes (US$65 return) or check the boat and people out and then on return pay for a new transit log (probably US$100 including agent fee).

Black/Gray Water Tanks

Mugla province (encompasses the rightly popular SW cruising areas from north of Bodrum to west of Fethiye) has passed regulations requiring both black and gray water tanks. Yachts are legally required to carry "Blue Cards" that are scanned with each pump-out. Unfortunately, how that data is then used is the subject of unsubstantiated (so far) rumor and innuendo. The reality is that few boats under 45' are equipped with or will find it easy to install practical gray water tanks. The gray water regulation is not limited to larger boats or boats with over a given number of crew/passengers. Turkey has been reasonable in enforcement and hopefully this regulation will also be. It is, of course, unconscionable to dump anything that will compromise these beautiful waters.

Generally Increased Costs

Turkey used to be a low-cost destination. When we arrived here in 2003 the daily rate for our 43' boat at the largest marina in the E Med was 10E/day, 130E/month. These costs have quadrupled. Still a reasonable value, but no longer a bargain. When the additional cost of formalities is added to the increased marina costs, Turkey is probably more expensive than Greece, for non-EU boats in any case. If Greece returns to the drachma, it may become a bargain destination.

It remains to be seen how aggressively the recent changes in rules will be enforced. It's unfortunate that live-aboard cruisers comprise a very small part of the total marine economy and that we therefore aren't much of an economic force. It's clear that a charter boat with a crew of 6 persons on a short vacation for whom money is not an issue will be more welcome in a crowded port than a cruising boat with a crew of two retired people on a budget.