How do I cruise with my foreign flagged yacht in Turkey and what is the current fees’ structure?

Foreign flagged yachts are welcome in Turkey and they enjoy “duty free” and “VAT free” stay over long periods, nearly indefinitely – unusual in most countries and economic zones.

During this stay, the so called Transit Log is an important national legal instrument keeping record about the “history” of the yacht in Turkish waters. The Transit Log, permitting passage between declared ports of Turkey has a validity of one year. Leaving the country earlier than one year or the change of the skipper or the repeated change of the crew disvalidates the Transit Log. Decommissioning a yacht does not disvalidate the Transit Log.

The “normal” situation: When one of the owners -a yacht may have up to four co-owners – is on board the Transit Log costs USD 30.00. The owner of the boat can be a Turkish or foreign national and may have foreign or Turkish guests on board for the purpose of travel, sport and leisure as long as there is no commercial interest involved.

If a yacht sails within Turkish Waters without the owner on board, the Transit Log costs USD 50.00. It is upon the skipper to convince the authorities that the yacht is not pursueing a commercial interest in Turkish Waters and thus is not subject to the Cabotage Restrictions.

A commercial yacht cruising into Turkish Waters will receive a Transit Log just to visit one port within Turkish Waters and will have to sail from there to a foreign port only. Thus, Cabotage is not permitted for foreign flagged commercial yachts, unless they obtain a “charter license”, see below. The Transit Log will cost USD 30.00. In the past a Charter Transit Log costing at times USD 300 and upwards was issued. This is not applicable any more.

The distinction between Private and Commercial is, by the way, not very clear. While Turkish flagged yachts are classified by the Registrar strictly as Private and Commercial, this is not so in many other countries and therefore, it is now practice, that yachts belonging to major charter companies are classified as “commercial” and all other yachts as “private”.

A commercial yacht, usually based in Turkey or intending to be based in Turkey may obtain a Charter License. This procedure will cost about USD 1.500 upwards and will permit the subject yacht to benefit for one year from about all the operational benefits of Turkish flagged yachts.

Finally, a Turkish built yacht may obtain a Turkish flag through the so called “Second Register”, which permits foreign yachts and ships to fly the Turkish flag, regardless whether the yacht in question has been subject to Turkish VAT and Customs Taxes. To be registered into the “Second Register” an initial fee of USD 10.000 is levied , followed with an annual fee of USD 0,50 per Register Tonnage.

What is the 2 years clause?

A yacht may be left at a licenced marina/ boatyard for the period of two years without utilizing the yacht. On basis of unusual circumstances (health problems, death within the family etc.) this period may be extended.

What is the 5 years clause?

A foreign flagged yacht may be left in Turkey for up to 5 years without clearing out of the country. The Ministry of Tourism and Culture is entitled to extend this period

How do I keep a motor vehicle in Turkey while I also have my yacht there?

Foreign yachtspeople are allowed to use their foreign-registered motor vehicles in Turkey for six months in any one year. At the end of six months their vehicles must be taken out of the country. Usually at the border a car permit of only three months is issued. To obtain one for six months it is recommended, to mention at the borderpoint the existence of a yacht in Turkey. Ship’s certificate and a photostat of the Transit Log are instruments to prove the point.

It is recommended, whenever practicable, that the motor vehicle is registered into the passport of a crew member, as otherwise when the yacht owner/ skipper wishes to leave Turkey with the yacht, the car has to be put under customs bond. For Bodrum and Marmaris the bonding may prove not to be convenient as the closest Customs Areas entitled for bonding are Izmir and the Airport in Dalaman.

The vehicle may be left in bond for up to four months. Before expiry, an application may be made for an extension of this period for a further two months.

How is the stay of foreign yachtspeople regulated in Turkey?

Regulations for foreign yachtspeople wishing to stay in Turkey differ from nationality to nationality and are kept in a reciprocal form.

Yachtspeople may obtain a visa from the Turkish embassy or consulate in their country or from the Turkish missions in one of the country on their cruise.

Some nationals, in particular nationals of the EU and USA nationals may obtain a “visa sticker” at the Port of Entry into Turkey.

For a number of nationals, including European nationals, the regular tourist visa entitles for a stay in Turkey of 90 days.

Yachtspeople who wish to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days should apply for the renewal of their visa at the district center office before the expiry date of their visa.

If yachtspeople leave Turkey for a foreign port and return even on the same day, a further 90 days visa will be issued.

Be careful: 90 days are not 3 months and the Customs Police will count the days. Penalties for overstaying can be disturbingly high.

The yacht of a yachsperson is considered an abode and a foreign yachtsperson will receive a “Residence Permit” if an uninterrupted contract with a licensed marina can be shown. The duration of this permit will be limited to two years at first, then to three and then to five years. The procedure is rather straightforward albeit slow. The protection starts with the application. Holders of a “Residency permit” can leave and enter Turkey without being subject to visa regulations. The above applies for the owner of the yacht, for family members and probably also for permanent crew.

May I scuba dive in Turkey?

In particular within the area of Bodrum and Marmaris many locations are restricted to diving with scuba equipment. The areas are clearly marked on the relevant sea charts. In non-restricted areas amateur scuba diving is permitted. Foreign divers should have licenses and must be accompanied by a licensed Turkish scuba guide. In order to protect what is left of the already plundered archeological and cultural treasures, it is strictly forbidden to posses antiquities or natural specimens in Turkey. Archeological and cultural objects purchased should be accompanied by a proper invoice and by a “non objection certificate” of the Ministry of Culture.

How do I import yacht spares?

Under the “Ship in Transit Procedure” foreign yacht-owners can transfer through Turkey spare parts and equipment duty free for use on their yachts under customs authority control. For many parts it may be advisable to obtain them on the local market, as under the “VAT Exemption Regulations” VAT is reimbursed for sales to be exported within one month of invoice. Please contact yachtWORKS for further details.

How do I bunker tax-free fuel?

Tax-free fuel is available for use only by foreign flagged yachts and is obtainable only from marinas and shipyards licensed by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture, for example at D-Marin in Turgutreis. For bunker requirements under 5 tons please contact yachtWORKS.

The owner of the yachts must be a person having a permanent place of residence outside of Turkey. It is of no concern whether the owner is a Turkish national or not.

The yacht may be brought to Turkey with the owner or may be brought two months earlier or later than the owner’s arrival in Turkey.

The yacht may receive tax-free fuel only in the presence of the owner.

Which are the Ports of Entry into Turkey?

Black Sea
Hopa, Rize, Trabzon, Giresun, Ordu, Samsun, Sinop, Inebolu, Bartin, Zonguldak, Eregli,

Sea of Marmara and the Turkish Straits
Istanbul, Derince, Gemlik, Mudanya, Bandirma, Tekirdag, Canakkale,

The Aegean
Akcay, Ayvalik, Dikili, Izmir, Cesme, Kusadasi, Gulluk, Turgutreis, Bodrum, Datca, Marmaris, Fethiye,

The Mediterranean
Kas, Finike, Kemer, Antalya, Alanya, Anamur, Bozyazi, Tasucu, Silifke, Mersin-Icel, Botas-Adana, Iskenderun.

The Ports of Entry indicated with bold letters are those with a substantial traffic of yachts and therefore accustomed to the procedures applying to yachts.