Turkey - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel

Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements,acceptable business etiquette, dress, business cards, gifts, etc.

Last published date: 2020-10-07

Business Customs

Turkish people take pride in their traditions and culture. However, having ties with Western countries, Turks in major cities have adopted a more internationally minded way of life. A foreigner visiting any one of the large cities in Turkey will find him/herself in an atmosphere similar to that in a contemporary European city. Turks are extraordinarily hospitable people and visiting businesspeople will do well to offer normal courtesies and respect as well as to take the time to know their Turkish counterparts. In general, a personal relationship is an important basis for a successful business relationship in Turkey. It is usually important to allow time for friendly conversation before commencing with a business agenda. Business cards are almost always exchanged, and visitors are usually offered a glass of tea or a cup of Turkish coffee. It is customary to accept these offers.

Travel Advisory

See the latest State Department consular information sheet for Turkey.

Visa Requirements

A passport and visa are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Turkey. Foreigners wishing to enter Turkey must carry a passport valid for six months beyond the date of entry.

U.S. citizens should obtain their visa prior to their arrival in Turkey. Visa applications can be submitted at Turkish missions abroad or online through the e-Visa application system.

One exception to the visa requirement applies to U.S. citizens traveling to Turkey by cruise ship. They may enter Turkey without a visa for a maximum of 72 hours, with permission from local security authorities at the port of entry.

For all tourism and commerce-related entries, the traveler is allowed to remain in Turkey for a total of 90 days within a 180-day period.

For additional information, visit the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs FAQ.

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s):  State Department Visa Website

Currency

The Turkish currency is the Turkish Lira. There are banknotes in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 Turkish lira denominations in circulation. There are also coins, of which the highest is 1 Turkish lira, equal to 100 kurus.

Major foreign currencies such as the U.S. dollar and the euro can be easily changed into Turkish lira at all banks, post offices (PTT), and foreign exchange offices. 

ATMs are ubiquitous in Turkish cities and towns. Most banks have ATMs in addition to numerous free-standing ATMs at strategic locations. It is possible to withdraw cash from MasterCard, Visa, or other major international credit cards as well as international debit cards. ATMs operate in the same way as in the United States.

Major credit cards are accepted at almost all hotels, most restaurants, department stores, grocery stores, and big retailers. However, unlike in the United States, Turkish credit cards typically operate with a PIN. Therefore, while most transactions can be done using a U.S. credit card, some transactions, such as those in taxis, may not be authorized without a PIN.

Banking hours in Turkey are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. It is also possible to find bank branches that are open on weekends in major shopping malls in large cities.

Telecommunications/Electronics

The telephone and cellular phone coverage in Turkey is extensive and nationwide. Turkey’s cellular phone operators are Turkcell (900 Mhz), Vodafone (900 Mhz), and Turk Telekom (1800 Mhz). All offer 3G and 4.5G LTE networks. To avoid international roaming costs, travelers and businesspeople are advised to utilize GSM cellular service prepaid cards. However, some U.S. operators allow unlimited data use in Turkey, albeit at much lower (typically 2G) speeds. Please communicate with your current provider prior to coming to Turkey to ensure that your U.S. cell phone is usable in Turkey.

WiFi internet access is common throughout Turkey. Most hotels, restaurants, cafes and businesses as well as transportation hubs offer free WiFi. However, in many cases, WiFi use requires registration with a Turkish cell phone number.

In Turkey, the standard voltage is 220 Volts and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Outlets are European style so travelers from the United States will need a plug adaptor for their U.S. devices.

Transportation

The national flag carrier, Turkish Airlines (THY), together with its subsidiaries, dominates air passenger service and flies non-stop daily to most major European, Middle Eastern, Asian cities and U.S. gateways. European airlines also have frequent non-stop flights to Turkey. Lufthansa offers service to Istanbul, Izmir, and Ankara from its Star Alliance Frankfurt and Munich hubs. Though THY dominates domestic air travel within Turkey, the Turkish government has liberalized domestic air service, and new airlines also serve the domestic market. Pegasus and Sun Express are among these and they also have direct flights, primarily to European countries, especially during the summer months.

Rail transportation, recently enriched with high-speed train lines, is also available between select major Turkish cities.

Comprehensive networks of long-distance buses operate between many major cities. Car rentals are reasonably priced and in line with European prices. Public transportation is available in major cities; however, businesspeople are advised to use taxis. Metro transportation, though limited to specific routes, is also available in some major cities. Particularly in Istanbul, because of very heavy traffic, using the metro (subway) is strongly recommended on specific routes, like Taksim-Levent, which otherwise might take hours to traverse by vehicle.

Language

The official language spoken by more than 90% of the population is Turkish. Many educated Turks have a command of at least one foreign language, with sufficient fluency to carry out business transactions. Many company executives were educated in Western countries. English is the dominant language for international business, though there is relatively low overall English language penetration in the country.

Health

Medical facilities are available but may be limited outside urban areas. The care provided in Turkish hospitals varies greatly. New private hospitals in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Antalya have modern facilities and equipment, numerous U.S.-trained specialists and international accreditation. 

Anyone coming to Turkey should have comprehensive medical insurance. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, can be found at the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website.   

It is strongly recommended to drink bottled water or water that has been filtered and boiled. Bottled beverages are safe to drink.

Vaccinations recommended for Turkey and other health precautions can be viewed at the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website.

Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays

Time in Turkey is UTC/GMT + 3 hours, and following a decree passed in 2016, this does not change. Therefore, Turkey is 7 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Daylight Time (spring/summer) and 8 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time (fall/winter).

Business hours are typically from 08:30 AM to 5:30 PM, Monday through Friday.

Annual Turkish Holidays:

January 1 – New Year’s Day (Yeni Yil)

April 23      – National Sovereignty and Children’s Day (Milli Egemenlik ve Cocuk Bayrami)

May 1 – Labor & Solidarity Day (Emek ve Dayanisma Gunu)

May 19 – Ataturk Memorial, Youth & Sports Day (Ataturk’u Anma, Genclik ve Spor Bayrami)

July 15 – Democracy & National Solidarity Day (Demokrasi ve Milli Birlik Gunu)

August 30 – Victory Day (Zafer Bayrami)

October 28 (1/2) & October 29 – Turkish Independence Day (Cumhuriyet Bayrami)

Ramadan Feast (Ramazan Bayrami) – 3.5-day religious holiday at the end of the month of Ramadan (dates vary)

Sacrifice Feast (Kurban Bayrami) – 4.5-day religious holiday beginning 70 days after Ramadan (dates vary)

Please note that the U.S. Mission in Turkey is closed for both U.S. and Turkish holidays. A current list of U.S. and Turkish Holidays can be found at the U.S. Embassy to Turkey website.

Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings

Travelers entering Turkey on a temporary basis and carrying items such as laptop computers and accessories, display and exhibit materials, catalogs, brochures, pamphlets and similar advertising materials are permitted to bring these items into Turkey duty free. For additional information about temporary entry, please see the Trade Regulations and Standards, Temporary Entry section.

Customs regulations may be found at the Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Trade website.