Introduction to Israel Israel’s borders are not internationally recognised. Its population is therefore disputed. Foreign relations are a minefield. Israel’s politics, and its civilians’ lives, have been heavily affected by war since its birth – and there seems to be no real end in sight. And yet despite all that, and despite having a small population (around 8.5million, even including …Continue reading
Our own book about Turkey is an in-depth manual telling you everything that you need to know if you are living, working or doing business in Turkey. It was co-authored by John Howell, Başak Yıldız Orkun, and Burak Orkun. Read about the authors here. Everyone who is living, working or doing business in Turkey should have a copy: whether in printed form …Continue reading
Burak is a partner at the Orkun & Orkun law and accountancy firm, which was founded by his father, Süleyman Orkun. The accountancy side of the business provides a full range of book keeping and accountancy services for both Turkish and foreign individuals and companies.Continue reading
Joining a few Facebook groups is a good way to get a feel for the expat community in Turkey. Find expat events in Turkey and chat and share ideas, experiences and – occasionally – frustrations with like-minded people. Tell us if you’re part of a group that you’d like us to add.Continue reading
Dealing with the administration in any new country is tough. Turkey is better than some, and worse than others.
It’s probably worth remembering during the more trying moments that you will experience that there will probably be some Turk in your country at that very moment having exactly the same difficulties with your administration.Continue reading
As in many countries, Trusts can be a very useful tool when managing your affairs in Turkey. They’re useful for both foreigners and native Turks. They are especially useful when managing your inheritance but they have other applications too.Continue reading
Inheritance planning (sometimes known as ‘estate planning’) is a concept that does not have a universally agreed definition. Here, the two terms are used interchangeably. It is different from, but related to, general financial planning.Continue reading
Nowhere on this website is our oft-repeated disclaimer more important than in this guide. When thinking about your investment plans, everything depends upon your personal circumstances. There is, most definitely, no ‘right’ answer: no ‘one size fits all’.Continue reading
Making a Will is one of the most important things that you need to do, especially if you own any property in Turkey. It can save you a huge amount of money. It costs very little. It gives you peace of mind. It is easy.Continue reading
There are many things that we use infrequently: a holiday home, a boat, a luxury car or a 4×4. Even expensive jewellery.
For some people, the thought of sharing the use of those things is something totally unacceptable. Read no further.
Others can see a compelling logic in sharing the use of expensive items:Continue reading
It’s possible to make a good profit by letting (renting out) a property in Turkey. Just make sure you’re aware of the issues. As always, we recommend seeking advice from your lawyer and accountant before going ahead with any big plans!Continue reading
Many people coming to Turkey decide to rent a property here. There are several reasons. They may just prefer renting property. They may be sent to Turkey for a fairly short time in connection with their work and find that renting a property in Turkey is more cost-effective than buying. They may decide to rent for a year whilst they look for a property to buy. They may decide to put their cash into a business rather than into a property in which to live.Continue reading
The process of selling a property in Turkey is much more straightforward than the process of buying a property in Turkey. So much so that most Turks would simply choose an estate agent and then, with the agent, look after the rest themselves.Continue reading
Property development is the process of building new property: homes, hotels, factories etc. It can either be the development of land into buildings – in which case it can either be previously undeveloped land (green field sites) or land that has previously been used for some other purpose – or it can be the re-development of existing buildingsContinue reading
To build or alter a house in Turkey, as in any country, there are various requirements that must be satisfied. Many people ignore these regulations, but we strongly recommend you are not one of them!Continue reading
In the past, many foreign buyers of property in Turkey used to take a mortgage from a bank in Turkey to help with the cost of the purchase.
As you will see, the position has now become more complicated, but it is still possible to obtain mortgage finance in Turkey.
Buying commercial property can be a little more complicated than buying residential property.
Commercial property is, in essence, anything that is not residential or agricultural. The definition includes shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, warehouses, car parks and the like.Continue reading
An off-plan property is a property that you agree to buy before it is fully constructed. You might be buying when no work at all has been done: when it is a mere concept or architect’s drawing. Alternatively, you could be buying when the building works are partly completed.Continue reading
The abduction of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. Not only is it extremely distressing but it is also going to be difficult to fix the problem, particularly when you may be living many thousands of miles away from the place to which the child has been taken.Continue reading
There are many reasons that parents choose to adopt children. Whatever the reason, the ease and security of the process depends massively on the country. Is it possible to adopt a child in Turkey?Continue reading
Disputes occur in any country.
Often, they are the result of genuine misunderstandings. Very often, they are the result of poorly prepared contracts. Occasionally, they are the result of bad faith. Very infrequently, they are the result of fraud or other criminal activity.Continue reading
Many people are injured each year as a result of defective premises in Turkey. Some of the injuries can be extremely serious: even life-changing. Others can be less dramatic but still cause you significant pain and financial loss. For example:Continue reading
Accidents on the road are a sadly common phenomenon, particularly in Turkey where the combination of badly-maintained roads and a tendency to ignore for the traffic laws leads to a higher-than-average rate of collisions.Continue reading
Unfortunately, accidents happen. When they do you need not only to take the correct action but also to do so swiftly.
This guide focuses on road accidents, but many of the principles apply to accidents of all kinds.Continue reading
In Turkey, defective products are dealt with under the general law and, in particular, under the Code of Obligations and the Consumer Code.
However, there are some issues regarding claims arising out of defective products which are worth grouping together and it is those issues that form the substance of this guide.Continue reading
Most countries have laws intended to protect the consumer. Turkey is no exception. The need for consumer protection arises because of the usual imbalance between the power of the trader and the power of the consumer.Continue reading
Most countries in the world use one of two basic systems when it comes to contracts: the Continental European (Roman Law/Napoleonic Law) system or the Anglo-American system. The system in Turkey is modelled on the Continental European system but has been updated and (in some respects) simplified.Continue reading
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that authorises another person to do something such as signing a document, opening a bank account, or attending a meeting on your behalf and with your full (or, at least, some limited but defined) authority.
The contents of a Power vary a lot depending upon what it is to be used for. However, the process of making one is always the same.Continue reading
Mediation and arbitration are both alternatives to going to court if you have a dispute. They’re intended to be much cheaper alternatives. They are different from each other and it’s important to understand the differences if you’re thinking of using either service.Continue reading
Notaries play an important role within the Turkish legal system. This will be of no surprise if you come from a mainland European country but quite surprising if you’re used only to systems in places such as the US and the UK: the so-called Anglo-Saxon legal tradition.Continue reading
The main source of professional legal help available in Turkey is the lawyer (avukat). There are about 95,000 practising lawyers in Turkey. About 90% are generalists, covering most or all aspects of the law. All of them are professionally qualified and regulated by the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (Türkiye Barolar Birliği or TBB).Continue reading
Turkey has a very effective legal system: sometimes slow, but fully functioning.
Unlike in some countries, you do not need to ‘buy’ the judges, but you do have to be diligent and pursue your case to make sure things happen without any unnecessary delay.
Recent changes following the 2016 ‘coup’ have not helped either its efficiency or credibility.Continue reading
However, some degree of tax planning is usually a good idea and it can, surprisingly often, allow you to make substantial savings in tax by making some relatively small adjustments to the ways in which you might otherwise have organised your affairs.
What is tax planning?
Tax planning is the analysis of your financial situation – or your proposed plans of action – from a tax perspective. Its purpose is to ensure tax efficiency. Ideally, it is part of a broader financial or business plan which works to deliver what you want to do in the most tax-efficient way possible. It is about arranging your affairs to produce the smallest amount of tax liability.
In a way, you can think of tax planning as being a means of avoiding tax wastage. Governments intentionally create many legitimate opportunities for you to reduce the amount that you pay in tax. They may give you incentives to make investments of certain types or they may allow you to claim allowances for doing things that align with their policy – for example, giving to charity, research and development in a company or educating your children.
Two examples applicable to Turkey, at the opposite ends of the tax planning spectrum, would be:
• Opting for a small engine in a car to avoid paying more car tax
• Investing millions in a government-supported industry for big tax exemptions
In every country, even local people are not familiar with these quite legitimate opportunities. For example, in the UK in 2016 official estimates indicated that about €5billion of tax was paid to the government by people who didn’t need to pay it or who wouldn’t have had to pay it if they’d known about all the allowances they could have claimed.
The position is even worse for people who have moved to a new country. They will very rarely know about all the opportunities that exist in that new country and they will usually not be familiar with the other opportunities (often just as big) that exist because of the interaction between the tax rules in their new country and those in the place where they used to live.
Some of these tax planning opportunities arising because of the interaction of tax systems are transient: they may only be available for a short period as you make your move from your original country to Turkey, so to take advantage of these it is important to take prompt advice.
So, tax planning is about arranging or rearranging your affairs to take advantage of all these things.
What tax planning is NOT
Tax planning is not about concealing your activity from the tax authorities. Nor is it about lying to the tax authorities about your affairs. Both are illegal and can be heavily punished.
Tax avoidance vs tax evasion
Tax avoidance is arranging your affairs to reduce the amount of tax that you must pay. Extreme examples would be choosing to have more children to reduce the overall inheritance tax payable or paying your employees more to reduce your profit and so your taxes. There are countless examples of tax avoidance used on a day-to-day basis.
In Turkey, as in most other countries, tax avoidance – more sensibly called tax reduction through planning – is perfectly legal and considered to be part of good business planning.
Recently, politicians around the world have started to talk about ‘aggressive tax avoidance’. This is pushing the existing rules up to their very limit and sometimes beyond. The Turkish Tax Department is concerned about this and spends some time trying to clamp down on it.
Generally, with the relatively simple tax regime in Turkey and the relatively low rates of tax payable, aggressive tax avoidance should not be necessary.
Tax evasion is not paying the taxes that the law requires you to pay.
This might be by not declaring part of your income. It might be by claiming more expenses than your business legitimately incurred. It might be failing to tell the Tax Department when you sell your Picasso for a large profit or when you win a lot of money at the casino.
Tax evasion is illegal.
The enforcement division at the Turkish Tax Department employs many people checking people’s tax returns and chasing tax evasion. For foreigners, they also work closely with the tax departments in the foreigner’s own country.
If you are caught trying to evade your taxes, then the following will happen:
1. You will have to pay double the tax originally due.
2. You will have to pay interest at 16.8% per year from the date when the tax should have been paid to the date when it actually was paid.
3. If the issue is considered an organised tax fraud by the tax inspector, the case will be taken to the local criminal court for sentencing, which is likely to result in imprisonment.
When you first arrive in Turkey and you start talking to all the ‘old hands’ – particularly, the old hands who you meet in bars or at the golf club – they will probably tell you that you don’t need to bother with the tax man. They will tell you that they have lived in Turkey for 20/30/40 years, that they’ve worked illegally for much of that time, and that they don’t tell the tax man about any of their earnings, at home or abroad.
They will tell you that there is no way that the tax man can know how much time you’ve spent in Turkey or what you have earned whilst you’ve been there.
This might have been true 20 years ago, but it is definitely not true today.
The advent of the computer and a greater emphasis on collecting tax has changed everything. The Tax Department is under great political pressure to collect the taxes due from foreigners. Remember that no politician ever lost votes by taxing foreigners!
It is now very simple for the tax man to know whether you are in the country or not. Your mobile phone record will disclose this in a few minutes. The tax department also has the power to require you to produce your bank account and credit cards records, which will also show where and when you have withdrawn money.
Turkey has a sophisticated tax computer system so that the information received from businesses and individuals on the island is collated and any discrepancies identified.
It is simply not worth taking the risk of evading paying the taxes that you owe, particularly when the tax system is so generous and the taxes due so small.
Remember that the difference between tax avoidance (legal tax planning) and tax evasion is the thickness of a prison wall.
Do not underestimate the amount of money that can be saved by simple but effective tax planning. Private individuals can often save hundreds of thousands by minor adjustments to their plans and the savings for companies could easily run into millions. This is why tax advisers are well-paid!
Tax planning is a part, and a very important part, of financial planning – but financial planning is a much broader subject. For example, your financial plan would deal with things such as making sure that you are likely to have enough in the way of savings to see you through your retirement and investing your savings in ways that reflect your personal attitude to risk and reward.
Your tax advice should complement your financial plan but it should not dominate it. In other words, your broader financial objectives must take priority and the purpose of the tax planning is to tweak those objectives and the ways of delivering them to make sure that you do not pay more tax than is absolutely necessary – either in Turkey or in any other country.
Some businesses operate as sole traders. These businesses are not taxed separately as businesses (but do have to account for VAT). The profits that they make are simply treated as the income of the sole trader.
These are seldom used by foreigners.
Turkey is very welcoming when it comes to people wanting to set up new businesses. They realise that new business boosts the economy and creates local employment – and they also recognise that, for historical reasons, Turkey lacks some of the skills required by innovative businesses in the 21st Century.Continue reading
It is often difficult for a foreigner to find legal employment in Turkey and so the obvious question arises as to whether, if you can’t work for somebody else, you can set up your own business and work for yourself.Continue reading
There is a constant demand for people to teach English in Turkey. There is also some demand for people to teach other foreign languages such as French, Spanish, Russian, or Chinese – but the bulk of the demand is for people who can teach English.Continue reading
Working within the expat community is a tempting option for foreigners arriving in Turkey. It is, in many ways, simpler and more straight-forward than finding a job with a local employer. However, it does have its downsides…Continue reading
A knowledge of employment law will make your life much easier, whether you’re an employer or an employee. Every country’s employment law is different and the employment law in Turkey contains many unusual features.Continue reading
There may, for various reasons, come a time when you decide that you want to leave Turkey and return ‘home’. This is something that worries many people thinking of settling in the country but it is, in fact, a rare thing to happen.Continue reading
Dealing with the death of a loved one is always distressing. It can also be stressful, time consuming and expensive. The stress, time factor, and expense are often worsened by distance, language, and differences in procedure.Continue reading
When you live in Turkey there are no restrictions upon receiving any pension to which you are entitled in another country. It is, in essence, treated just like any other income – although it is sometimes taxed at a lower rate. The policy on this changes often.Continue reading
Religion in Turkey is as old as Turkey itself – which is very old. Islam is still a massively important part of Turkish culture, even though increasing numbers of Turks (and, in particular, of younger Turks living in the western part of the country) are becoming more secular and less strict in their observance of religion. At the same time, many in the centre and east of the country are becoming more religious and conservative.Continue reading
Turkey is rather schizophrenic when it comes to its attitude to alcohol and drugs. As a substantial wine producer it is, perhaps, not surprising that social attitudes to the consumption of alcohol are very relaxed. As an Islamic country, it is perhaps equally unsurprising that their attitudes towards drunken behaviour are unaccepting and uncompromising.Continue reading
Healthcare is right at the top of people’s concerns when moving to – or even visiting – a new country. Will it be of a good standard? How do I access it? What will it cost? Will the doctor – and the nurses and other health workers – speak my language?Continue reading
Your children will have a great time living in Turkey. Because of the climate and the freedom that children still enjoy in a country largely free of crime, they will probably lead a far more active and outdoor life than they would have done in your own country.Continue reading
This guide looks at short-term health insurance in Turkey (travel insurance), as well as health insurance for residents – going over options for state insurance and private insurance. Will I be able to obtain health insurance in Turkey? Fortunately, there are now many more products on the market than there were ten years ago. Just as fortunately, many offer good cover. …Continue reading
Your home in Turkey is a very expensive asset that you should think carefully about insuring. Whilst your contents are not as valuable as your home, they will still cost a lot to replace and so most people will also want to insure these. If you insure them at the same time as you insure your home, the extra cost is often small.Continue reading
Moving to or doing business in another country always throws up issues arising from the basic cultural differences between your ‘home’ country and the ‘new’ country. Turkey is no exception.Continue reading
Turkish media is varied and competitive on the surface – but much of the media, across all mediums, is owned by large conglomerates with other business interests. This means that Turkish news media, whilst it does cover stories from different angles, is somewhat restricted in its viewpoints.
Despite this, I would recommend that anybody living, working or doing business in another country makes an effort to consume local media. It is a great way to learn about the culture, as well as current events, and Turkey is no exception!Continue reading
This guide lists the national public holidays of Turkey, and gives a little background on the meaning and importance of the days.
Turkey is a secular country, but its population is almost entirely Muslim; so it is no surprise that this is reflected in their national holidays.Continue reading
So, instead, we’ll take a look at the seven regions of Turkey. Truth be told, even the regions are large enough and varied enough in weather and climate to make it worth your while to check out the average climate in specific cities – but this guide should give you some idea of what you’ll experience. The date below was …Continue reading
Our book about Turkey is an in-depth manual telling you everything that you need to know if you are living, working or doing business in Turkey. It was co-authored by John Howell, Başak Yıldız Orkun, and Burak Orkun. Read about the authors here. How Things Really Work in Turkey is over 520 pages of detailed information. It covers everything from how to start …Continue reading
Turkey still has one of the highest rates of marriage in the world: about 7.75 women out of every thousand in the population get married each year. We’re also blessed with a low – but growing – divorce rate (20%).Continue reading
When you’re looking for property in Turkey, the first thing you need to know is what’s available: not the specific houses or apartments but the types of property commonly found. Just as important are the typical prices you will have to pay for any given type of property.Continue reading
This guide deals with some of the more stressful and upsetting times in a person’s life. As always, though, the more information you have, the better prepared you are for what lies ahead.Continue reading
In each country, the criminal system is unique: probably more so than any other part of the law except for family law. In both cases, this is because the law in these areas goes right to the heart of a nation’s values, traditions, and culture.Continue reading
Learning Turkish is important if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in Turkey.
The good news (if you’re a Westerner): it is written in the (slightly modified) latin alphabet. You won’t have to learn a completely new script.
The bad news: the language may not seem intuitive to most Europeans and Americans. Turkish base words can stand alone – prefixes are not part of the language – but are built in complexity by the addition of suffixes. Words can therefore get very long!Continue reading
When you move to Turkey you will have a major decision to make about what to do with your money.
Obviously, your day-to-day expenses will be in Turkish lira, but it will probably be that all or part of your income will be coming to you in another currency; and it will almost certainly be that your savings and investments will be in another currency.Continue reading
Many people worry more about how they’re going to take their pet to Turkey than they do about any other aspect of their move.
Fortunately, the rules aren’t complicated and most people don’t experience any major problems when importing a pet into Turkey.Continue reading
In Turkey, cars and fuel are expensive. The price of a car, both new and second hand, is likely to be much higher than ‘back home’.
It therefore looks an attractive option, especially if you live in Europe, to drive or otherwise import your car to Turkey. An added advantage is that you can take some of your possessions with you. Can this be done?Continue reading
When moving – especially when moving to another country – having your personal possessions with you can be comforting. Moreover, it can be less daunting to bring stuff with you than it is to sell or find storage old possessions – and buy everything again!Continue reading
Introduction Turkey is the world’s largest host country of registered refugees. Almost all of the refugees in the country come from Syria – there are some 2.7million displaced Syrian citizens currently in Turkey. Despite this, expats have, in the main, been largely unaffected by the refugee crisis. Firstly, the overwhelming majority of refugees are in the east of Turkey – …Continue reading
Foreigners wishing to join their family in Turkey will need to obtain a Family Residence Permit. See our Guide to Residence Permits in Turkey for information about residence permits. Can I get a Family Residence Permit? Family Residence Permits can be granted to: A foreign spouse (but not an unmarried partner) Foreign children (under 18) Dependent foreign children (typically, disabled) A spouse’s …Continue reading
Introduction People wishing to come to Turkey on a long-term basis in order to set up or run a business will need to apply for an Independent Working Permit. Independent working permits are very hard to obtain unless you are going to create lots of jobs for local people. Many people thinking of applying for such a visa might find …Continue reading
Introduction If you’re lucky enough to be skilled in the right field, you might find it relatively simple to get a working permit – if not, and if your heart is still set on it, a professional will be able to give you advice as to proceeding. Just to be clear, this guide does not apply if you merely wish …Continue reading
Retiring to Turkey – or simply living there as an ‘economically inactive person’ – is pretty easy. It’s worth talking to an immigration specialist to make sure you’re choosing the right sort of residence permit, and to ensure your application is properly filled in (especially if you aren’t fluent in Turkish).Continue reading
Introduction Turkish schools (primary & secondary education) and its colleges and universities (tertiary education) are of high quality and relatively cheap. Most international students come to Turkey from Western China (the Xinjiang Uyghur region, where Turkish is spoken) and other Turkic countries such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. There are very few Western students in Turkey specifically for the …Continue reading
In 2015, 41million people visited Turkey. In 2016, largely as a result of the combination of the conflict in Syria, political uncertainty in Turkey and terrorist attacks, the number fell to about 31million. Local reports suggest that tourist numbers increased sharply in 2017, mainly because of an influx of tourists from Russia and the former Soviet Union. Video guide to …Continue reading
This guide looks at Turkey’s brand new “Turquoise Visa”. We will be updating it as more information emerges. Introduction This new Turquoise Visa (turquoise being the national colour of Turkey) was announced on 14 March 2017. Who can get a Turquoise Visa? This visa is for highly skilled people. Highly skilled people means people who are one or more of …Continue reading
A person wishing to live in Turkey will, in many cases, need a special visa authorising entry to the country (see our other guides on immigration). However, in other cases, they will merely need a residence permit. Any person who wishes to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days in a 180-day period requires a residence permit. This is …Continue reading
Immigration into Turkey has changed a lot in recent years. Generally, it’s easier. We have a more settled system with only one department – the Department of Immigration – in charge. Thank goodness. A great deal of information is now available online. All of this is a huge change from only ten years ago!Continue reading
Getting to Turkey is simple. Getting around Turkey requires a little more thought, but the public transport system is fairly modern and the roads are improving all the time. If you don’t know the language, it is particularly important to plan ahead if you want to use public transport in Turkey. Work out your route from the comfort of your …Continue reading