Cars in Turkey are still seen as a luxury and the prices of vehicles, taxes and fuel can seem extortionate to most foreigners. The cost of an average second hand motor can be as much as three times the price you would expect to pay in the UK or Europe.
While foreigners can bring their car into Turkey for up to two years, there are rules regarding the import of foreign vehicles and, after two years, the vehicle must leave the country for at least 6 months or you face paying hefty taxes and risk the car being taken and impounded.
Bringing a car to Turkey
As of October 2015, visitors can bring a vehicle with a foreign number plate into Turkey for 730 days (two years). This applies to anyone (foreigner, or Turk) who resides abroad for more than 185 days in a year. If you have a residence permit, this won't apply to you as the offer is tailored to those who reside overseas. However, providing residents have spent the required number of days abroad they won't be denied entry with their foreign plate vehicle.
What documents are required to bring a car to Turkey?
The car's papers must be presented, and you must show that you have insurance, and a valid warrent of fitness. If the driver isn't the owner of a vehicle they will need a power of attorney. Initially, you'll be presented with a six-month permit. However, you can apply to have this extended to 730 days.
Who can use the vehicle?
Immediate family members are permitted to use the vehicle, provided they also live abroad.
What happens if the vehicle overstays?
Vehicle owners are liable to hefty fines for cars that overstay - especially after three months overstaying.
Blue-plate and tax free cars
We have come across exceptions to this rule with regards to those with a Turkish work permit issued by the Ministry of Labour, NATO staff, retired foreigners, diplomats and foreign press. In these cases it may be possible to either purchase a tax-free ‘blue-plate car’ or import your foreign owned car tax-free for use during your stay in Turkey. There are a number of laws and regulations surrounding this issue that are changing so please check with authorities if you believe you fall into one of the categories. We currently believe that these drivers can bring their foreign car, have it officially registered against their passport and permit providing they are the only drivers of the vehicle, and that they pay a touring tax (warranty to ensure that the car is returned to its country of origin when its touring visa has expired). These cars are often referred to as ‘blue plate cars’. If you do fall into this category do keep in mind that you may face difficulties when looking to sell your blue-plate car in Turkey as these cars can only be brought by others meeting the strict criteria.
Buying a Turkish car
For many ex-pats buying a Turkish car is only viable option. A foreigner with a valid license and residency should be able to buy a second hand or new Turkish car relatively easily from a dealership or privately. There are legalities and paperwork involved so, unless you have sufficient language skills, have a trusted Turkish speaker on hand to help out.
You can buy most makes and models of car in Turkey. The main dealerships tend to be in the larger towns and cities so travel to these for the best car prices. Do keep in mind that parts for fancy cars and those manufactured outside Turkey can be expensive and often difficult to find, most expats choose to buy Fiats, Fords, Dacias and Renaults to keep running costs to a minimum.
Once you have found your car you need to register the paperwork legally into your name. If buying from a dealership, they should walk you through the process. If buying privately you need to get the paperwork transferred legally and notarised. A check should be done on the vehicle to ensure that there is no outstanding debt registered against it, and you also need to ensure the all compulsory government taxes and insurances are paid up to date.
Note: Laws in Turkey change frequently, this information was correct at the time it was published, please only take this information as advice and seek out correct information at the time.