Israel: Facts & Figures

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 …

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The Guides Global book about Turkey

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 …

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Contributor Information – Burak Orkun

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.

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Facebook Groups for Expats in Turkey

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.

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Dealing with the Administration in Turkey

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.

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Trusts in Turkey

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.

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Inheritance Planning in Turkey

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.

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Renting a House in Turkey

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.

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Property Development in Turkey

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 buildings

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Child Abduction to Turkey

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.

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Defective Products in Turkey

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.

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Contracts in Turkey

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.

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Powers of Attorney in Turkey

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.

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Notaries in Turkey

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.

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Lawyers in Turkey

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).

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The Turkish Legal System

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.

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Tax Planning in Turkey

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
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
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.
Tax savings
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!
Financial planning
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.

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Taxes on Companies in Turkey

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.

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Starting a Business in Turkey

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.

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Receiving Your Pension in Turkey

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.

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Religion in Turkey

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.

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Drink & Drugs in Turkey

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.

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Healthcare in Turkey

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?

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Education in Turkey

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.

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Health Insurance in Turkey

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. …

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Home & Contents Insurance in Turkey

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.

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Local Press and Other Turkish Media

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!

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Public Holidays in Turkey

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.

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The Climate in Turkey

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 …

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New book by Guides.Global

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 …

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Investing in Property in Turkey

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.

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Learning Turkish – in Turkey or ‘back home’

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!

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Bringing Your Money to Turkey

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.

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Bringing Your Pet to Turkey

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.

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Bringing Your Car to Turkey

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?

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Bringing Your Possessions to Turkey

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!

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Coming to Turkey as an Asylum Seeker/Refugee

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 – …

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Coming to Turkey to Join Your Family (Immigration/Visas)

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 …

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Coming to Turkey as a Student (Immigration/Visas)

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 …

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Coming to Turkey as a Tourist (Visas)

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 …

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Residence Permits in Turkey

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 …

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Immigration & Visas in Turkey

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!

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Transport Links to and around Turkey

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 …

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