Turkey

General Information Banking
Business Etiquette Tips Embassy Locations and Registration
Employment-Legal Requirements Entry and Exit Requirements
Intellectual Property Legal and Registration of a Business Entity
Safety and Crime Taxes

General Information

TurkeyA country of distinct cultural differences, Turkey is the only secular Muslim country in the world.  From mosques, palaces, and famous archeological ruins (including the city of Troy), to a day on the town shopping or experiencing a Turkish bath, Turkey is a fascinating and beautiful country to visit with an immense history to discover.  A modern, democratic society that successfully blends traditional Muslim values and social structures, Turkey's mix of cultures embodies what one might expect from a country that straddles two continents (Europe and Asia). The country has been considered a center of world trade since its earliest beginnings, and its strong ties with the United States date back to late 18th century.

The second-largest country in Europe, Turkey is a middle-income country that has worked successfully to recover from the past. Weak economic strategies, inflation, recessions, and high unemployment were indicative of the 1990s. The country has maintained a steady pace of growth even as the rest of the world falters economically. 

Interesting tidbit: Mount Ararat (previously known as Urartu) is believed to be the legendary landing place of Noah's ark. The mountain is located in the far eastern portion of the country and close to the borderlines of Armenia, Iran, and Iraq.

Major Cities Capital:  Ankara
Other cities:  Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa, Adana, Gaziantep
Official Currency Turkish lira (TRY)
Time Zone UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, D.C. during Standard Time). Daylight Saving Time: +1 hour, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October.
Language Turkish (official), Kurdish, Dimli (or Zaza), Azeri, and Kabardian


Legal System and Government

Type of Legal System

Turkey's legal system is a civil law system derived from various European continental legal systems. It has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction.

Form of Government

Republican parliamentary democracy.

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Banking

Available Banking Services

ATMs
Online banking
Loans
Banking in English
Overdraft protection

Bank Holidays

New Year's Day (Yilbasi)
National Sovereignty and Children's Right 
Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day
Victory Day (Zafer Bayrami)
Ramadan Feast
End of Ramadan 
Republic Day
Cumhuriyet Bayrami
Start of Feast of the Sacrifice 
Feast of the Sacrifice 


U.S.  and Other Major Banks in Country

(Note:  Addresses and contact information subject to change.)

Standard Chartered
Principal Office-Representative Office
Is Kuleleri, Kule 2, Kat 12, 
4. Levent, / Besiktas 34330,
Istanbul, Turkey
Phone:  +90 2122834031
Fax: +90 212 2830758
Web: http://www.standardchartered.com/tr/index.html

Citi (Citibank A.S.)
Eski Buyukdere Caddesi No:
209 Levent/Istanbul 34394
Turkey
Phone:  + 90 212 3194430
Web:  http://www.citibank.com.tr/gcb/english/index.htm

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Business Etiquette Tips

Business Attire

Conservative dress consisting of a suit and tie is preferred for men. Women also typically wear either business suits or conservative dresses. During the hot summer months, lighter dress is permitted although one should probably strive to dress in the same manner as one's counterpart.

Business Negotiations

Building a strong personal relationship is critical to successful business negotiations, and time should be set aside for this purpose. Equally important is thorough knowledge of your topic and excellent preparation of all conference materials and visual aids.

Proper Greetings

Shaking hands upon initially meeting one another is acceptable, though it may not be practiced upon departure. 

Scheduling Appointments

Meetings are generally scheduled one to two weeks in advance by phone, and punctuality is both appreciated and expected.

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Embassy Locations and Registration

Americans living or traveling in Turkey are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department's travel registration Web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Turkey. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the embassy or consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

(Note: Addresses and contact information subject to change.)

Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
2525 Massachusetts Avenue NW,
Washington, D.C. 20008
Phone: (202) 612-6700
Fax:  (202) 612-6744
Web: http://www.washington.emb.mfa.gov.tr/

U.S. Embassy in Turkey
10 Ataturk Boulevard
Kavaklidere, Ankara 06100
Phone: (90) (312) 455-5555
Web: http://turkey.usembassy.gov/

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Employment-Legal Requirements

A typical work week in Turkey consists of 45 hours generally divided over a six-day period. Overtime is paid at one-and-a-half times the regular salary. Hourly employees required to work on a holiday are to be reimbursed at 7.5 times their hourly rate.  Salaried employees required to work on a holiday are to be paid an additional day's salary for each day worked. All employees receive one paid day off per week provided they have worked the prior six days of the week. Probationary periods of two to four months are permitted if included in a written contract or in the case of a four-month period, if a collective agreement has been received (i.e., union approval).

A written employment contract is required for all employment expected to last for a one-year period or longer, including indefinite employment terms. For short-term employment that extends beyond two months but less than one year, a written document outlining hours, pay, and general conditions is still required that includes the expiration date. Both employees and employers are expected to give notice before terminating an employment contract that is for an indefinite period. 

Terminating Employees

All notices of termination must be provided in writing and include the reason for the request. The following terms of notice apply provided an employee has worked the stated amount of time:

If an employer prefers, in lieu of the appropriate amount of notice, severance payments equivalent to the required term of notice can be paid in advance. But if an employer elects not to provide proper notice or make advance payment, they are then liable for paying an amount equal to three times the required notice term. Termination of employment in situations where a valid reason applies does not require notice or payment of severance. 

Legally Mandated Benefits and Leave

Mandatory Vacation 14 days (Based upon 1 to 5 years of service)
20 days (Based upon 6 to 15 years of service)
26 days (Based upon 15 years of service)
Maternity Leave 16 weeks paid (8 weeks prior, 8 weeks following)
(Multiple births receive additional 2 weeks leave)
(Up to 6 months additional unpaid leave can be taken if employee desires.) 
Personal Leave 3 days (marriage or loss of family member)
Sick Leave 1-week maximum

 *Nursing mothers are also permitted an additional hour and a half per day for nursing children under the age of 1 year. This time is counted as part of their working day and does not count against any other leave.

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Entry and Exit Requirements

A passport and visa are required for entry for all U. S. citizens. Currently, holders of all types of passports can purchase a 90-day sticker visa at the port of entry if traveling to Turkey as tourists. Any traveler planning to stay more than three months must obtain a visa from a Turkish embassy or consulate and apply for a residence/work permit or Turkish ID card within the first month of arrival in Turkey.

All travelers are required to obtain an entry stamp on the passport page containing their visa at the first port of entry before transferring to domestic flights. Failure to obtain entry stamps at the port of entry may cause serious difficulties, including being detained, upon departure from the country.

The Turkish government tightly controls entry and exit across the borders with Iraq. All travelers wishing to cross into Iraq from Turkey must have valid travel documentation, and those entering Turkey from Iraq need valid travel documents and a current Turkish visa.

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Intellectual Property 

Turkey is a signatory to a number of international conventions, including the Stockholm Act of the Paris Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, and the Strasbourg Agreement. Turkey has been accepting patent applications since 1996 in compliance with the TRIPS agreement "mailbox" provisions.

Nature of Rights and Terms 

Further detailed information regarding patent laws, licensing, and the use of patents and the application process can be found on the Turkish Patent Institute Web site.

Patents

The term of a patent granted with (substantive) examination is a nonextendible period of 20 years from the filing date.

The term of a patent granted without (substantive) examination is seven years. Where the (substantive) examination request is made within the period of seven years and the patent is granted after a substantive examination is conducted, the term of the patent will then be 20 years from the original filing date.

Industrial Design Patents

A registered design is protected five years from the filing date. The term is renewable for periods of five years each up to a total of 25 years.

Trademarks

A trademark is protected for 10 years from the filing date. Protection, once obtained, can usually be renewed every 10 years indefinitely or for as long as desired.

Copyrights

Copyrights are protected for a period of 70 years although current enforcement is not consistent.

Enforcement

Turkey's intellectual property rights protocol has improved in recent years, but it still contains some contentious issues. As a result, Turkey was on the United States' Special 301 Priority Watch List in 2005 regarding insufficient protection for confidential pharmaceutical test data and continued high levels of piracy and counterfeiting of copyright and trademark materials. 

Notwithstanding the above, a patent owner whose rights are infringed is entitled to request: (1) cessation of the act of infringement; (2) an appeal for remedies and request for compensation of material and moral damages/prejudices incurred; (3) confiscation of the products manufactured or imported; (4) precautionary measures be taken to prevent continued infringement including destruction of the infringing products created; and (5) public disclosure, to the public and those related, regarding the court's final judgment against the infringing party who shall also bear the costs for such publication.

A person who infringes upon a patent will be held liable to remedy the situation and to compensate financially for any prejudice and/or damages he has caused. Enforcement allows for penalties for infringement of up to 3 years in prison, or fines, or both, and closure of business for up to one year.

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Legal and Registration of a Business Entity

Foreign companies are typically established as a corporation (Anonim Sirket, "A.S.," or "Societe Anonyme" type corporation), private limited company (limited liability company), or a branch office. The A.S. form is preferred by larger enterprises, and the limited liability form is generally used for sales and distribution entities. Foreign companies may also choose to operate through a liaison office. Liaison offices, however, are restricted to conducting market research and feasibility studies regarding investment opportunities for the head office. They are not permitted to carry on any commercial activity, and they must have special permission from the General Directorate of Foreign Investment prior to opening an office.

Foreign investors are able to make direct investments in Turkey, and they are subject to equal treatment with domestic investors regarding profits, dividends, proceeds from the sale, or liquidation of all or any part of an investment as well as profits from licensing and/or other agreements. Additionally, foreign offices that have been established and registered under the rules of Turkish Commercial Code can also acquire real estate on the same basis as Turkish nationals.

Registration Formalities (Including Timing)

Establishing a business presence in Turkey is an easy, straightforward procedure involving only six steps and taking approximately six days to do so. The steps as listed on the World Bank's Web site and included here in abbreviated format:

  1. Execute and notarize articles of association, signature declaration of the managers and commercial books.
  2. Deposit a percentage of capital to the account of Competition Authority.
  3. Deposit the initial capital in a bank and obtain the certificate of paid-in capital.
  4. File the incorporation notice form, commitment letter, and Chamber registration statement at the Trade Registry Office.
  5. *Have a notary certify the legal books.
  6. Follow up with the tax office on Commercial Registry's notification.

*Takes place simultaneously with another procedure.

(Source:  The World Bank, Doing Business - Turkey) 

In some situations, depending upon the nature of the office to be opened (e.g., limited company, joint venture, etc.), starting a business can be accomplished in as little as one day in some cases. 

Below is an additional listing of resources to assist in establishing an office.

Invest in Turkey

http://www.invest.gov.tr/  (One-stop shop for business registration)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

www.mfa.gov.tr

Prime Ministry-Under Secretariat of Treasury

http://www.treasury.gov.tr/irj/portal/anonymous?guest_user=treasury

 

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Safety and Crime

Terrorism may occur targeting U.S. and other Western interests. See the U.S. State Department Web site for current information about travel safety. Travelers are cautioned not to accept letters, parcels, or other items from strangers for delivery either in or outside of Turkey.  Travelers are also advised to exercise caution and good judgment and remain vigilant with regard to their personal security.

The rate of street crime is relatively low in Turkey, though it has increased in large urban areas such as Istanbul and Izmir. As in other large metropolitan areas throughout the world, common street crimes include pocket-picking, purse-snatching, and mugging. Often the crime is preceded by some sort of diversion such as an argument, a fight, or someone bumping you. 

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Taxes

Turkey has one of the most competitive corporate tax rates in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) region. There is a double taxation agreement between Turkey and the United States. The standard tax year for individuals follows the calendar year and ends on December 31st.  But companies may elect to follow a fiscal year.

Individual and Employee Taxation

Determining Tax Residence

Individuals staying in Turkey for a continuous period of six  months or longer are treated as residents for tax purposes. (This rule, however, excludes foreign nationals that are in Turkey for specific projects, educational reasons, or on vacation even if the time period extends beyond six months.) Turkish residents are taxed on all worldwide income received, but they can receive a tax credit for taxes paid abroad. Personal taxes on income from foreign countries may be deducted from taxes due in Turkey on the same income, but only up to the amount of the Turkish taxes assessed. An updated individual income tax rate listing can be found on the Worldwide-tax Web site for Turkey.

Nontax Resident Employees

Nonresidents earning income in Turkey through employment, ownership of property, carrying on a business, or from other activities giving rise to income are subject to tax, but only on their Turkish-derived income.

The income of nonresidents is taxed at the same rate as residents, but nonresidents are not entitled to deduct the general allowance and receive no credit for foreign taxes. The salaries of the personnel working in foreign corporations' liaison offices are not subject to income withholding if these offices do not deal with commercial activities in Turkey, and the salaries of the personnel are paid by the remittances in foreign currency sent from abroad.

Corporate and Employer Tax Obligations

For tax purposes, companies are grouped as limited liability companies (corporations and limited companies) and personal companies (limited and ordinary partnerships). The same standard corporate tax rate also applies to limited liability companies.

Whether a company is subject to full or limited tax liability depends on its status of residence. A company whose statutory domicile or place of management is established in Turkey will be required to pay income tax on their worldwide income. If a nonresident company conducts business through a branch or a joint venture, it will have limited tax liability. That is, it will be fully subject to corporate tax on profits earned in Turkey on an annual basis. If there is no presence in Turkey, but services are provided in Turkey, the double taxation treaty will be in effect and reduced rates of withholding tax will apply.

"Social security is not a tax but rather a payroll cost to the employer. The social security system is comprised of items such as sick pay, work related accidents, unemployment coverage, pensions, and other programs." 

More information about corporate tax rates and social security responsibilities can be found on the Worldwide-tax Web site for Turkey.

Tax Residency for a Business

A company is considered resident in Turkey if it has its management or head office located there-that is, its "legal seat."  For companies deemed resident, tax is assessed on all worldwide income. Credit will be given for foreign tax payable in respect of income from foreign sources (up to the amount of Turkish corporate income tax). Those corporate entities with an established branch office in Turkey will be subject to annual payment of taxes based on all income received from doing business within Turkey. The income of a branch that originated in Turkey will be taxed the same as a resident corporation would be.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Deliveries of goods and services are subject to VAT at rates varying depending on the specific good or service and the amount of the value added.  Payments made to nonresidents regarding technical and professional services received or rights and other intangible assets acquired are also subject to VAT. This tax responsibility is carried out by those receiving the service or asset.

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Online Resources Used for This Template

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