What you need to know about doing business in Türkiye
- Marcel Hoebink
- The basis
- 8 February 2021
- Edited 5 February 2024
- 7 min
- Managing and growing
Türkiye is an important trading partner of the EU. There are ample opportunities for Dutch exporters specialising in urban infrastructure, mobility and air quality. Thanks to the customs union between the EU and Türkiye, you will not have to pay import duties for most products. This makes doing business attractive for both importers and exporters.
In this article, you will find out more about business opportunities in Türkiye and what rules you will run into when importing and exporting goods and services.
- Current situation
- Bilateral trade
- Promising sectors
- Finding partners
- Business culture
- Putting contracts in writing
- Exporting goods
- Importing goods
Severe earthquakes struck southern and southeastern Turkey on 6 February 2023. There were many casualties and houses, businesses and roads were damaged. The cost of repair is huge. The earthquakes had a major effect on people and the economy. If you do business in Turkey, it may still have an impact.
According to TÜIK (in Turkish), the Turkish Statistical Institute, a rapid increase in exports fuelled 11% growth in the Turkish economy in 2021. In December 2023, inflation rose to over 65% year-on-year, significantly impacting the purchasing power of Turkish citizens. The weak Turkish Lira makes importing goods from the EU expensive and importing from Türkiye cheap.
Türkiye has been a candidate for membership (Rijksoverheid, in Dutch) of the EU since 1999. Negotiations have been difficult and the EU has even imposed sanctions on Türkiye. The sanctions target certain individuals and companies involved in Turkish hydrocarbon exploration in the waters surrounding EU member Cyprus. This is considered illegal by the EU.
In June 2022, the United Nations approved Türkiye's request to use Türkiye as its country name. Türkiye has been the country’s official name since 1923. Instead of Türkiye, use the name Türkiye on export documents you send to Türkiye.
In 2022, the Netherlands imported over €5.3 billion worth of goods from Turkey. These are mainly textile products such as clothing, yarns, and fabrics. Other important imports include fruits and vegetables, crude oil and petroleum products, and iron and steel.
Exports of goods to Turkey were over €8.4 billion in 2022. Turkey buys a lot of metal ores and metal waste, organic chemicals and primary plastics from the Netherlands. For more information about trade between the Netherlands and Türkiye, visit the website of RVO (in Dutch).
Located on the border of Europe and Asia, Turkey is 19 times larger than the Netherlands. With over 85 million inhabitants, it is a huge consumer market. The capital Ankara is located in the centre of the country. Other important cities are Istanbul and Izmir in the west. Turkey has many family businesses. Major sectors are the agricultural, automotive, petrochemical and machinery industries.
Opportunities exist for Dutch companies with knowledge of urban design, water management, and sustainable energy. RVO has market reports (in Dutch) on these and other sectors.
Looking for Turkish suppliers or customers? Then visit or participate in trade fairs. You can find overviews of Turkish trade fairs at The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of (TOBB). Or make use of RVO and the European Enterprise (EEN). They help Dutch entrepreneurs establish contacts.
Türkiye is a large country and the differences between urban and rural areas are pronounced. Before you take the plunge, familiarise yourself with the cultural differences between the Netherlands and Türkiye. Turkish business culture is hierarchical and formal, especially in family businesses. The director or owner will often have the final say on all decisions. In Türkiye, you are who you know, so building a personal relationship is very important. Some do's and don'ts (RVO, in Dutch):
- Avoid sensitive topics such as politics and religion. Show respect for the Turkish government, flag and Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic.
- Türkiye is a predominantly Muslim country, so respect the religious rules on clothing for women and avoid pork and alcohol. In large cities like Istanbul and Izmir, people tend to be less strictly religious than in rural areas and small towns.
- Negotiations are an essential part of Turkish business culture and can take up quite some time. Generally speaking, Turkish businesses will prefer a lower price in the short term than higher profits in the longer term.
- Bring a small gift when you meet your prospective business partner. Turkish people tend to appreciate this.
The Turkish lira is very sensitive to exchange rate fluctuations. Usually, payments in Turkey are made in euros or US dollars. Agree clearly on when payment will be made and in which currency. If you are an exporter, advance payment offers the most security. If you import from Turkey, payment after delivery is most appropriate. If your Turkish business partner does not agree to this, choose another form of payment. Ask your bank about the form of payment and currency that best suits the transaction. And check payment habits and payment behaviour.
Put agreements with your Turkish business partner in writing if at all possible. Have your contract (RVO, in Dutch) reviewed by a lawyer who knows the Turkish legal system. The Netherlands does not have an execution treaty with Türkiye. This means that a Turkish court does not have to enforce the ruling of a Dutch court.
Arbitration is another way to resolve disputes. Instead of a judge, an arbitration tribunal such as the Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC, in Dutch) will make the final ruling. Türkiye and the Netherlands are both parties to the New York Convention. As a result, they recognise each other's arbitral decisions and awards.
Make clear arrangements with your Turkish supplier about how they will ship the goods. With an Incoterm®, you make agreements about who will arrange the transport and to where, who bears the risk of loss or damage to the goods during transit from which point on, and who is responsible for arranging documents. Specify the Incoterms® rule you agreed on in the contract.
Export to Turkey requires an export declaration to customs, invoice, transport document, and packing list. Sometimes you will use additional documents. Usually your Turkish customer will ask for an ATR certificate. Your products must meet Turkish product requirements.
You charge your Turkish customer 0% VAT. Make sure that your administration proves that the goods are leaving the EU. You do this with a 'Confirmation of Exit'. This is the proof of export from customs. Also keep transport documents and proof of payment.
Because of the customs union, Turkish importers do not pay import duties on products originating in the EU. An ATR certificate demonstrates the provenance of your goods.
Payable import duties
Despite the customs union, Türkiye has levied import duties on several products originating in the EU since 2015. These products are only exempt from import duties if they are produced in the EU. To demonstrate that your goods have been produced in the EU, add an ATR certificate and a Certificate of Origin. Your Turkish importer can also use the Turkish BILGE customs system to check whether a Certificate of Origin is needed.
Agricultural goods and steel goods
Although most products fall under the customs union and ATR certificate, exceptions apply to many agricultural goods and some steel goods (Belastingdienst, in Dutch). For these products, you need an EUR.1 certificate for Turkish import duty relief. The exporter has to apply for this certificate in the Netherlands, where it is issued by KVK. For consignments under the €6,000 threshold, you may provide an invoice declaration as an alternative to an EUR.1 certificate.
An EUR.1 certificate and invoice declaration are valid only for preferential origin products. A term used for products that were wholly obtained or sufficiently processed in the EU. If you cannot get an EUR.1 certificate or invoice declaration, your Turkish importer will have to pay the import duty due.
Because Türkiye is not an EU member state, you will have to file an export declaration with customs. You do not have to do this yourself. Your carrier or freight will often liaise with a customs broker who prepares the export declaration. It is preferable to have your customer arrange customs clearance in Türkiye. After all, if you outsource the import process to a customs broker, you will have to pay local import taxes such as Turkish VAT and import duties if applicable.
What other export documents you need depends on the product you are exporting. Use Access2Markets to find out which documents you need to import your products into Türkiye. And who is responsible for requesting these documents, you or the Turkish importer. RVO (in Dutch) has drawn up guidance to help you look up information in this database.
Tip: also ask the Turkish importer which documents they need from you.
Your products have to meet Turkish product requirements. Access2Markets lists product requirements for various product groups. Be sure to ask your importer or agent about product requirements in advance. You may need to have your product certified or tested so you can prove that it meets all Turkish requirements.
If you import goods from Türkiye, you usually do not pay import duties. Do keep in mind European and national requirements and regulations that apply to the product you are importing. In the article on importing goods from Türkiye, you will find out everything you need to know about the import process.
The Netherlands and Türkiye have agreements on social security and posting. If you are only working in Türkiye temporarily, you will usually keep social security coverage in the Netherlands. Apply for an A1/certificate of coverage from the Social Insurance Bank. This will show the Turkish labour inspectorate that you have social security coverage in the Netherlands and do not pay contributions in Türkiye.
When you export services and goods, you will have to pay sales tax. It is difficult to say whether your service will be taxed in the Netherlands or Türkiye because there are many exceptions to consider. Use the following tools made by the Dutch tax administration to find out what you have to do:
- International delivery of goods (in Dutch. Possibly including installation or assembly).
- Domestic and international services (in Dutch).
Exhibition stand material and tools
You can temporarily bring exhibition stand materials and tools to Türkiye with an ATA carnet. The same goes for tools that you need for installation work. With an ATA carnet, you can temporarily export and import goods and avoid paying import duties, VAT or a deposit. You can use an ATA carnet for professional materials, exhibition goods, and trade samples.