The 1996 Turkish import regime abolished the requirement that every importer needs an import license and that the importer must obtain an import authorization from a bank. An importer only needs a tax number to import all but restricted items, e.g., firearms, hazardous materials, etc., which can be imported only by authorized establishments, or for which the approval of the Directorate General of Security is required. All agricultural imports require control certificates, which are issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs’ General Directorate of Protection and Control.
Turkish documentation procedures require a commercial invoice and a bill of lading or airway bill to accompany all commercial shipments. Depending on the type of the product importers may be required to submit a Certificate of Origin. Import licenses and phytosanitary certificates are necessary for food and agricultural commodity imports.
Commercial Invoice: The commercial invoice must be submitted in triplicate, including the original copy; and must contain a complete description of the goods and all required payment terms. The exporter must endorse the original as follows: "We hereby certify that this is the first and original copy of our invoice, the only one issued by our firm for the goods herein mentioned." It is advisable to have the Turkish Embassy or Consulate in the United States certify the document. At least one copy of the invoice should accompany the goods, and the original should be sent to the importer through the correspondent bank.
Certificate of Origin: The certificate of origin is to be prepared in duplicate. No corrections are permitted on this document, which is to be prepared in English by a local chamber of commerce. The Turkish Embassy or Consulate in the United States must certify the certificate of origin. One copy of the document must be surrendered to the 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 in triplicate along with 3 copies.
Proforma Invoices: The proforma invoice must not be more than six months old at the time of application. It must contain an unexpired option (if appropriate), indicate freight and insurance charges separately, and bear the importer's name. Products falling under the European Union 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. Please see the standards and CE mark section below.
Special health certificates are required for imports of plants, seeds, 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) at Tel: (301) 734- 7885 or Fax: (301) 734-6402 (Veterinary Services) and Tel: (301) 734-8537 or Fax: (301) 734-5786 (Plant Protection and Quarantine). APHIS inspects and certifies that plants, plant products and live animals conform to health and sanitary requirements as mandated by the Turkish government. U.S. exporters are encouraged to obtain information from the importer prior to shipment because of the complexity of phytosanitary regulations.
Special Import Requirements
Alcohol can be imported by the private sector by obtaining license and permission from the Tobacco, Tobacco Products and Alcoholic Drinks Market Regulatory Authority (TAPDK), which is an independent regulatory body. Despite these changes, non-tariff barriers, arduous document requirements, and high duty rates continue to limit trade in alcoholic beverages. Cigarettes can only be imported by TEKEL and cigarette producers, which are permitted by the government under a special decree (such as Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, British Tobacco, etc.). The Tobacco Law was enacted in 2001, however privatization of Tekel’s tobacco production has yet to be completed. Medical X-ray films can only be imported into Turkey by the Red Crescent Association that is a sister organization to the Red Cross.
The importation of precious metals (gold, silk, and platinum) can only be done by members of the Istanbul Gold Exchange. The Istanbul Gold Exchange consists of domestic or foreign banks, precious metals companies, currency offices, precious metals producing and marketing companies and precious metals refineries are members of the exchange. In 2003, Turkey signed an agreement to become a participant of the Kimberley Process Diamond Certification Scheme, which is a joint government, international diamond industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds. On 14 August 2007 Turkey officially became a member of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
Importing products such as pharmaceuticals; organic chemicals, especially those used to produce medicines and medical products; vaccines for both humans and animals; cosmetic products; chemicals used in cleaning and the food industry; live animals and plants; grains and plant seeds; and hormones require control certificates from the Directorate General of Curative Care Service of the Ministry of Health and Agriculture. The following documents must be submitted to the relevant Ministry to obtain the control certificates: pro forma invoice, health certificate, certificate of analysis, formula or list of contents of the product, pedigree certificate, and radiation analysis report. 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 Industry and Trade. In order 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 penetration of maintenance facilities over the country depends on the type of the product. Particular product groups that are being frequently used require a wide spread network of maintenance facilities in each of Turkey’s seven geographic regions. In July 2001, the GOT codified a regulation, which requires additional maintenance facilities to be established for companies importing automobiles into the Turkish Republic.
Telecommunications equipment such as all wireless equipment, automatic data processing machines, electrical apparatus for line telephony or telegraphy, and telephone answering machines need type-approval of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
Under a regulation published in the Turkish Official Gazette of December 31, 2007 (No. 26743-supplementary issue) 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, petrocoke, petroleum, arsenic, mercury, lead sulfides and carbonates, fluorocarbons, other chemicals and scrap metals.