Includes import documentation and other requirements for both the U.S. exporter and foreign importer.
An importer needs only a tax number to import all but restricted items, which include firearms, hazardous materials, and other products that may be imported by authorized establishments only or for which approval from relevant Turkish government agencies are required. Control Certificates are required only for animals, animal products, and certain plants such as seeds, seedlings, saplings and flower bulbs.
Turkish documentation procedures require that a commercial invoice and bill of lading or airway bill accompany all commercial shipments. Depending on the type of product, importers may be required to submit a Certificate of Origin. Import licenses and phytosanitary certificates are necessary for food and agricultural commodity imports.
Conformity Compliance (CE Mark)
Companies selling to the Turkish market must submit evidence of conformity compliance (CE Mark) either by providing a conformity certificate from a notified body or a manufacturer-issued declaration of conformity, which declares compliance with all relevant standards and directive annexes. The declaration of conformity must mention the applicable directive(s), the name of the manufacturer or its authorized representative, the name of the notified body (if involved), product information and reference to harmonized standards. If the notified body is also involved in the process, the type of examination certificate should also be submitted.
The technical file is a dossier, which includes a user manual, product specifications, technical drawings and standards applied per the appropriate directives and corresponding annexes. Although it may not be enforced by the Turkish government for every imported product with a CE marking, manufacturers are assumed to have prepared a technical file. Several U.S. companies have reported difficulties when submitting a technical file after their products were shipped to Turkey. Other companies have had intellectual property rights (IPR)-related concerns and have been reluctant to provide drawings or in-depth information about the technical specifications of their product(s). In order to avoid customs delays, the importer should be knowledgeable about relevant procedures and required documentation.
The commercial invoice must be submitted in triplicate, including the original copy and must contain a complete description, quantity, unit cost, HS code, delivery method of the goods and country of origin as well as all required payment terms and letters of credit, if the transaction was actualized through this payment method.
Certificate of Origin
A Certificate of Origin is required by certain foreign countries for tariff purposes, certifying the country of origin of specified goods. The certificate of origin is to be prepared in duplicate. No corrections are permitted on this document, and it should be in English. A Certificate of Origin is usually prepared by the exporter or the freight forwarder and notarized and attested to by a local Chamber of Commerce or a World Trade Center. The Turkish Embassy or Consulate in the United States must certify the Certificate of Origin. One copy of the document must be surrendered to customs authorities at the time of importation.
Bill of Lading/Airway Bill
Details in the bill of lading should correspond exactly to those given in other shipping documents. The original bill of lading should be submitted along with three copies.
The pro forma invoice must not be more than six months old at the time of application. The words “pro forma” must be included on the document. It must contain an unexpired option (if appropriate), indicate freight and insurance charges separately, and bear the importer’s name as well as the description, unit price, quantity and delivery/payment method of specified goods. Products falling under the EU New Approach Directives must be accompanied by either a self-declaration of conformity or a notified body’s issued certificate of conformity to be allowed entry into the Turkish market. See the Standards and CE Mark section below.
Special health certificates are required for imports of plants, seeds, live animals and animal products. Plants, including fruits and vegetables, must be substantially free from pests and diseases and must have been grown in an area substantially free from prohibited pests and diseases. Additional information may be obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS inspects and certifies that plants, plant products and live animals and animal products conform to health and sanitary/ phytosanitary requirements as required by Turkish regulations. U.S. exporters are encouraged to obtain information from the importer prior to shipment because of the complexity of sanitary and phytosanitary regulations.
Special Import Requirements
Alcohol can be imported by the private sector by obtaining license and permission from the Tobacco Products and Alcoholic Drinks Market Regulatory Authority (TAPDK), an independent regulatory body. Inspection of imported products is regulated by the Communique on Import Inspection of Tobacco, Tobacco Products, Alcohol and Alcoholic Beverages (Regulation on Product Safety and Inspection: 2018/19). Nevertheless, non-tariff barriers, arduous documentation requirements, and high duty rates continue to limit trade in alcoholic beverages. Cigarettes can only be imported by cigarette producers, which are granted permission by the government under special decree.
Importation of Precious Metals/Stones
Precious metals (e.g., gold and platinum) may only be imported by members of the Istanbul Precious Metals Exchange operating under Borsa Istanbul (Istanbul Stock Exchange). The Istanbul Stock Exchange consists of domestic or foreign banks, precious metals companies, currency offices, precious metals producing and marketing companies and precious metals refineries. Turkey officially became a member in 2007 of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, the joint government, international diamond industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds.
Importing products such as pharmaceuticals; organic chemicals, especially those used to produce medicines and medical products; vaccines for both humans and animals; chemicals used in cleaning and the food industry; live animals and plants; grains and plant seeds; and hormones require control certificates from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture. Upon entry of specific food and agricultural products, the importer should be prepared to present the approved Control Certificate (if required) together with originals of invoice, ingredient list, Certificate of Origin, veterinary health certificate or plant health certificate, etc., as well as other import documentation such as the bill of lading. Imports of food products into Turkey are permitted only if they conform to regulations related to import controls and the Turkish Food Codex. Turkey is harmonizing its food import regulations and Turkish Food Codex Regulation with those of the EU. If the product in question is not covered by the Turkish Food Codex, officials can refer to international regulations such as International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Codex Alimentarius or relevant EU Directives if it is not harmonized yet, on a case-by-case basis.
All documents must be obtained from and/or approved by the relevant authorities in the country of origin. Documents must be submitted in the original language with a translation into Turkish. Control certificates must be presented to customs authorities upon import.
Products requiring after-sales service such as motor vehicles, household electrical goods, office equipment and computers, cash registers, TV and video equipment, heaters, gas-fired burners, industrial machinery, automobiles, and wireless equipment require an import permit from the Ministry of Trade. To obtain such a permit, importers must guarantee that they will provide service and spare parts either by establishing offices or by signing agreements with existing service/parts firms. The number of maintenance facilities throughout the country depends on the type of product. Some product groups, including vehicles, require a widespread network of maintenance facilities in each of Turkey’s seven geographic regions. For vehicles, the existing import regime instructs an importer to provide services and to maintain necessary parts for at least 10 years, following the importation of the last vehicle.
Type-approval is no longer needed for imported telecommunications equipment. Under the framework of the EU Customs Union, telecommunications equipment that meets certain conditions such as harmonized frequencies in Turkey can be imported without the approval of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. There is a national frequency plan if the equipment’s frequency is not harmonized (which it typically is) then it is necessary to apply to the Authority for approval.
Importers are required to obtain a control certificate from the Ministry of Environment for materials considered detrimental to the environment. Such materials include hard coal, lignite, pet coke, petroleum, arsenic, mercury, lead sulfides and carbonates, fluorocarbons, other chemicals and scrap metals.
Risk-Based Trade Control System (TAREKS)
The Ministry of Trade launched a Risk-Based Control System (TAREKS)” in 2010 to carry out safety and quality checks on exported and imported goods electronically and on a risk basis. Designed to be accessible online using an e-signature, the main purpose of this control system is to increase the efficiency of foreign trade, to provide safe and quality products to consumers and firms by controlling the entry of “risky” products and traders to the market and to reduce waiting times at customs.
TAREKS encompasses goods like toys, medical devices, telecommunication products, personal protective equipment, machinery, electrical equipment, gas appliances, and some industrial raw materials and agricultural products.