Doing Business In Turkey

  1. Turkey’s Doing Business 2013 overall ranking is 71, recording a 3 point decrease from last year.
  2. According to the latest Enterprise Surveys (2008), the top 3 obstacles to firm investment in Turkey were Access to Finance, Tax Rates, and Political Instability.
  3. The Turkish Law on Foreign Direct Investment provides equal treatment for foreign and domestic investors. The fundamental rights and freedoms of foreigners may only be restricted by law in a manner consistent with international law according to Article 16 of the Turkish Constitution. It takes 8 procedures and 8 days to establish a foreign-owned limited liability company (LLC) in Turkey (Istanbul). This is much faster than both the IAB average for Europe and Central Asia and the IAB global average.
  4. Turkey’s economic freedom score is 62.5, making its economy the 73rd freest in the 2012 Index. Its score is 1.7 points lower than last year, reflecting higher growth in government spending mitigated to some extent by a notable improvement in financial freedom. Turkey is ranked 34th out of 43 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is higher than the world average.

Source: World Bank


Visa Information

Working visas
» Nationals of countries including Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland don’t need a visa to visit Turkey for up to 90 days.
» Nationals of countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, the UK and the USA need a visa, but it is just a sticker bought on arrival at the airport or border post. You will be given a 90-day multiple entry visa. 
» Nationals of countries including Slovakia and South Africa are given a one-month multiple-entry visa.
» Check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ( for the latest information.
» The cost of the visa varies. At the time of writing, Australians and Americans paid US$20 (or €15), Canadians US$60 (or €45) and British citizens UK£10 (or €15 or US$20).
» You must pay in hard currency cash. The customs officers expect to be paid in one of the above currencies, and don’t give change.
» No photos are required. 
Residency Permits
» There are various types of ikamet tezkeresi (residence permit), which you must apply for within 30 days of arrival.
» Plug (the foreign department of İstanbul’s emniyet müdürlüğü – security police) into Google Translate for more information.
» If you don’t have a Turkish employer or spouse to support your application, you can get a permit for touristic purposes.
» Touristic permits are theoretically available for anything from one month (TL78) to five years (TL3186), with administrative charges amounting to a few hundred lira. In practice, different lengths are available to residents of different countries. 
» You have to show evidence of accommodation, such as a hotel booking or rental contract. 
» You also have to show you have US$1000 to support yourself for every month of your intended stay.
» This evidence can be in the form of a currency exchange slip showing you changed the relevant amount into lira, or a statement from a Turkish bank account.
» To open a Turkish bank account, you need a rental contract or similar showing your Turkish address and a Turkish tax number. Go to a big branch; small branches will say you need a residence permit to open an account.
» A Turkish tax number is relatively easy to get; take your passport and some photocopies to the belediye (town hall).
» To apply for a residence permit in İstanbul, make an appointment with the emniyet müdürlüğü in Fatih; visit The process is demoralising and the bureaucrats are unhelpful; those behind the desks in cities such as İzmir ( are reputedly far more helpful.
» Little English is spoken, so take a Turkish-speaking friend with you if possible. 
» If your application is successful, you will be given a ‘blue book’, which is like a mini-passport.
» There are more details in Pat Yale’s A Handbook for Living in Turkey, a comprehensive source of information for people planning to settle in Turkey.
» The websites mentioned under Work are also sources of (anecdotal) information and advice.
Working Visas
» Visit www.e-konsolosluk. net for information on obtaining a çalışma izni (work permit).
» Your Turkish employer should help you get the visa. If it’s an employer such as a school or international company, they should be well versed in the process and can handle the majority of the paperwork. 
» The visa can be obtained in Turkey, or from a Turkish embassy or consulate.

Business Etiquette

Relationships & Communication
  • Turks prefer to do business with those they know and respect, therefore spend time establishing a personal relationship. 
  • Relationships are fostered in the office, over extended lunches, dinners, and social outings.
  • Courtesy is crucial in all business dealings.
  • Turks do not require as much personal space as many other cultures and will stand close to you while conversing. 
  • Do not back away, as this can be construed as unfriendly.
  • Discussions may start slowly, with many questions that may seem irrelevant to the purpose of your visit. It is extremely rude to insist that your colleagues get to the point. 
  • Ask about his/her family without prying. Questions about children will be welcomed.
  • The Turks are proud of their country and will enjoy answering questions on their culture and history although be sure to avoid political history.
  • Most Turkish men love football (soccer) and usually support one of three teams: Galatasaray, Beþiktaþ or Fenerbahçe. Asking after their team's recent fortunes will always produce lively and animate responses.
  • Once a relationship has been established, communication is direct. 
  • It is vital that you maintain eye contact while speaking since Turks take this as a sign of sincerity.
Business Meeting Etiquette
  • Appointments are necessary and should be made 1 to 2 weeks in advance, preferably by telephone. 
  • Many Turks take vacation during July or August, so it is best not to try to schedule appointments at that time.
  • It is also not a good idea to schedule meetings during Ramazan (Ramadan). 
  • Punctuality is expected although you should be prepared to be kept waiting. 
  • First appointments are more social- than business-oriented since Turks prefer to do business with people they know.  
  • Small talk helps establish a rapport. Do not immediately begin discussing business.  
  • Have all printed material available in both English and Turkish. 
  • Presentations should be well thought-out, thorough, and backed up with visual aids such as maps, chart and graphs.
Business Negotiation Etiquette
  • Always come to Turkey knowing two things. Your success is defined by your ability to build effective personal relationships combined with a clearly outlined and well presented proposal.
  • Business is personal. Although this is changing with the influx of big multi-nationals and a more corporate culture in some of the larger companies, many businesses are still family owned and run.
  • Turks will want to do business with those they like, trust, feel comfortable with and with those that can provide a long term relationship. If they feel you are hiding something or there is an element of suspicion about your motives you may not get very far.
  • Building a relationship with your Turkish counterpart(s) is therefore critical. The first meeting at least should be solely focused on getting to know each other. Once a relationship has been established you can safely move on to business matters.
  • As well as looking to the person, Turks are also astute business people. Ensure your proposal clearly demonstrates the mutual benefit and profitability of any agreement or partnership.
  • Turks are primarily oral and visual communicators so in addition to written statistics, projections and the like try to present information vocally or with maps, graphs and charts.
  • Decision making can be slow. It is most likely that you will meet and negotiate with less senior members of a family first. Once you are seen as trustworthy and your proposal financially viable you will then move on to meet more senior members. A decision is ultimately made by the head of the family/company.
  • When negotiating, the Turks will start at extremes in order to gage your response. Prior to negotiations know your target figure and work slowly towards it through meaningful concessions. When conceding ensure you present this as a favour and a decision made out of respect and liking for your counterpart(s). Try and concede only once you have gained agreement on a reciprocal concession on a separate or related issue. 
  • Do not use deadlines or pressure tactics as the Turks will use this to their advantage and reverse the tactic by threatening to cancel agreements or end negotiations. Be patient.
  • It may not always be necessary to focus on financial benefits when negotiating. It is just as useful to point to areas such as power, influence, honour, respect and other non-monetary incentives. 
Business Dress Etiquette
  • Business dress is conservative. You will be expected to wear a suit and tie. Similarly women should wear smart professional outfits.
  • In the summer, and especially in the cities of Istanbul, Izmir and Anakara the weather is very hot and humid. It is acceptable to just wear a shirt with trousers and in most cases to not wear a tie. 
  • Outside the big cities and especially in the East of Turkey both women and men should wear more conservative clothing. Women are advised to refrain from exposing their legs and arms and to ensure clothes are not tight-fitting. Men should not wear shorts.
Naming Conventions
  • When addressing a Turk the most common method is to call a man by his first name followed by 'bey' (pronounced bay). So, Ertan Gonca, would be Ertan Bey. Similarly a woman's first name would be followed by 'hanim' (pronounced ha-num).
  • Where professional titles exist such as Doctor or Professor, always use them either on their own of before the first name. Curiously this is also the case with many other professions such as lawyers 'Avukat' or engineers 'Muhendis'. Within Turkish companies and organisations senior ranking staff will be addressed accordingly. A common example is Mr. Manager, 'Mudur Bey'.
  • A common phrase you will hear Turks using is 'efendim' (literally 'my master'). You may hear this from a waiter, a secretary, taxi driver, doorman, shop staff and many others. It is simply a polite way of addressing people you are not familiar with.
Business Card Etiquette
  • Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual. 
  • Use both hands to exchange cards. 
  • Present your business card to the receptionist when you arrive.  
  • Have one side of your business card translated into Turkish. Although not a business necessity, it will impress your business colleagues. 
  • Quite often Turks do not give their business card unless they are certain that they wish to establish a business relationship. 

General Business Hours

Government departments, offices and banks usually open from 8.30am to noon and 1.30pm to 5pm Monday to Friday. Shops are open from 9am to 7pm Monday to Saturday. During the summer the working day in some cities, including the Aegean and Mediterranean regions, begins at 7am or 8am and finishes at 2pm. During the month of Ramazan the working day is generally shortened to 2pm or 3pm.
In tourist areas food and souvenir/carpet shops are usually open from around 8am to 11pm or later if it’s very busy. Elsewhere, grocery shops are usually open from 7am to 7pm or 8pm daily; other shops are usually closed on Sunday. Friday, the Muslim Sabbath, is a normal working day in Turkey.
Many museums close on Monday, especially in Ä°stanbul. From April to October museums usually open half an hour earlier and close 1½ to two hours later.
Internet cafes usually open from around 9am until late at night, or until the last customer has left.