What you can & not bring in Turkey

Page update - Apr 5, 2023

There are dozens of laws that regulate imports into Turkey for tourists. The main ones are the Turkish Customs Code (Law 4458) and the Government Decision 15481/2009. They are relatively small documents, a little more than 100 pages each.

You don't have to read them all. But you can read this page to the end as it's easier and quicker. We describe the rules and give the legal acts numbers and full texts. We even provide links to download them so that our readers will be fully prepared in case they have to deal with customs officers.

The information on this page was updated in April 2023. Amendments to Customs Act 4458 came into force on 1 May 2022. Customs rates for excess goods have now been increased. For more details, see "4. General Limit" below on this page.

Important: Allowed and didn't get caught - these are different situations

Customs officials do not check everybody in the green corridor. The checks are selective. And this is logical, because a whole army of customs officers would be needed to check all passengers.

Therefore, many tourists manage to smuggle goods in excess of the norm. For example, more than 1 liter of strong spirits. And such people even write about it on tourist forums. However, this does not mean that it is allowed. It only means that they have not been caught.

We urge! Do not rely on luck. Bring everything according to the rules and the law. And everything will be fine with a 100% guarantee.

1. What is strictly forbidden to bring in

- Importing radioactive substances, narcotics, military equipment and weapons is forbidden. However, hunting weapons are allowed, but they require permits from the Turkish Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Forests and the Environment;

- Animals, other than dogs, cats, birds. So, according to Turkish law, animals may be imported under Government Decision 15481/2009. However, Circular 39/2011 clarifies that "animals" means only dogs, cats, birds;

- It is forbidden to bring in information material of an extremist nature, of obscene content, calling for interracial, religious or interethnic enmity;

- Animals listed in the CITES Washington Convention as well as any items made from parts of these animals. For example, a crocodile skin purse may not be taken, as all crocodiles are protected by the CITES;

- Antiquities are prohibited. It is prohibited to bring it as well as to take it out. It means that you can lucky pass with an antiquarian item at the entrance to Turkey, it could be a problem then exiting the country. Conclusion: leave at home all antique items.

2. Passenger personal belongings

Article 58 of the Turkish Government Decision 15481 (2009) allows duty-free importation of personal belongings by passengers. The whole list of personal belongings can be found in Appendix 9.

Now we will not list everything exactly, but try to put it in a nutshell:

- any second-hand clothing and footwear;

- all common-life goods such as hygiene products;

- any travel goods falling under the term "for personal use", such as travel bags.

In addition, separately, the law allows: 1 TV, 1 videocamera, 1 GPS navigator, 1 laptop or computer, 1 radio or tape recorder, up to 10 cassettes or discs, 1 games console, 1 phone or smartphone.

And the law also allows: 3 musical instruments, 1 baby carriage or wheelchair, children's toys, 1 iron, 1 bicycle, 1 binoculars, personal books.

To enable our beloved readers to have a reasoned conversation with customs officers (just in case), we give the full text of this document. Download Decision 15481/2009 (look for Article 58 and Annex 9).

3. Food products

Turkish Government Decision 15481 (of 2009) gives only a small list of food items allowed for free entry. Allowed:

- Up to 1 kilogram of tea;

- Plus up to 1 kg of instant coffee;

- Plus up to 1 kg of coffee;

- Plus up to 1 kg of chocolate;

- Plus up to 1 kg of other sweets.

These products are NOT included in the total limit for souvenirs and gifts (EUR 430, Article 61 of Decision 2009/15481). There is a special term described in Circular 39 (of 2011). It is possible to replace 1 kg of chocolate + 1 kg of sweets with either 2 kg of chocolate or 2 kg of sweets.

But fortunately, there is Circular 39 (of 2011). This document allows the following products to be imported as gifts (within the total limit of souvenirs):

- Up to 5 kilograms of food products of animal origin;

- Up to 3 kg of vegetables, fruit, dried fruit.

Please note: These 5+3 kilograms are INCLUDED in the total limit for souvenirs and gifts.

Download Circular 39/2011.

There is an important legal issue! There is Regulation 28149 from the Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock. This regulation requires all meat and dairy products to undergo a veterinary inspection at entry into the country. So tourists are not allowed to take the products in the country in normal situation.

Naturally, Regulation 28149 is not written for tourists. It is a document designed for commercial cargo. Unfortunately, Regulation 28149 does not mention exception for tourists. This is a common problem in customs documents in many countries, where officials write documents for commercial companies and do not even mention the existence of individuals.

As a result, customs officers may confiscate your milk, dairy, meat and meat products on the basis of Regulation 28149. Be morally prepared for this. But tourists usually have no problems if you bring a reasonable amount of these products.

4. General Limit

According to Article 61 of the Turkish Government Decision 15481 (2009), a passenger can bring free of duty gifts and souvenirs for a maximum amount of EUR 430 per person (aged over 15 years) or EUR 150 per person (aged 15 years or less).

The formula is as follows:

Value of gifts and souvenirs = all luggage - personal belongings and duty-free food (we've written about them above) - alcohol and cigarettes (we'll write about them below) - perfume.

The total cost must not exceed EUR 430. If you bring in more than this, you have to go through the red line, declare and pay duties and taxes.

If the amount does not exceed EUR 1,500, you have to pay 30% (till the 1st of May 2022 it was 20%) of the goods value. Or 18% if arriving from EU countries.

If the amount exceeds EUR 1,500, you have to pay according to the current rates for each item. Believe us, it's all very complicated. Duties can be as high as 150%. It is better not to get into this situation.

By the way, about perfume. You can take no more than 5 bottles, each with a maximum volume of 120 milliliters. The rule is described in Annex 9 of Decision 2009/15481.

We are often asked: how is the value of goods determined? The law says that the value is determined by receipts and other documents provided by the passenger. If there are no such documents, then the customs officers determine it themselves. Hence the conclusion: if you carry something of value, it is better to have receipts. Customs officers may calculate such an amount...... Let's not talk about sad things.

5. Mobile phone or smartphone

As we mentioned above, passengers may bring with them duty-free 1 mobile phone or smartphone. However, there are some important nuances.

Firstly, the law allows you to bring this one phone only once every two calendar years. That is, if you go to Turkey for the second time within two years, you lose the right to import the phone. That is the law. But in practice, no one checks what you brought in the last time. So you do not have to worry about it.

Secondly, there is a special tax on phones and the CEIR system in Turkey. We are not going to discuss it in detail now as it is not directly related to customs and customs procedures.

Thirdly, the telecommunications laws in Turkey are structured in such a way that you cannot bring in a second mobile phone at all. That is, you cannot bring it in under the EUR 430 limit. And you cannot bring it in with customs duties. Those are the laws there. They only make an exception for the staff of diplomatic missions.

In reality, tourists are never stopped for extra phones. Customs officers are quite loyal. After all, many tourists carry extra phones and they can't stop everyone. So there is no need to worry about these strict laws, but keep it in mind.

6. Alcoholic beverages

There is now a lot of various and often conflicting information on the internet about the rules for importing alcoholic beverages to Turkey. And no wonder, as the current customs regulations in Turkey are rather confusing.

The Customs Code does not regulate the rules for importing alcohol directly. These rules are described in Turkish Government Decision 15481 (of 2009). Article 60, paragraph 2(a) initially stated that one of the items in the table in Annex 9 (of the same Decision 15481) can be carried freely. That is, either up to 1 litre of drinks with an alcoholic content of over 22% or up to 2 litres of drinks with an alcoholic content of up to 22%.

However, Decision 1546 (of 2011) was later issued. In this Decision, the "either/or" clause was removed from Article 60. And now, according to the logic of the law, tourists are free to carry:

- Up to 1 litre of drinks over 22% ethanol content;

- Plus up to 2 litres of drinks with an ethanol content of up to 22%.

Naturally, only passengers of legal age (18 years and over) may carry alcohol. This is stated in Article 60 of Decision 15481.

In order to provide our beloved readers with the possibility to communicate with the customs authorities (just in case), we provide the full texts of those documents. Download: Decision 15481/2009 (in it look for Article 60 and Annex 9) and Decision 1546/2011 (in it look for Article 3, MADDE 3).

Bringing alcohol into Turkey is highly recommended if you are not going for AI. The prices of legal alcohol in Turkish shops are astronomical. See our in-depth review "Alcohol in Turkey" for details.

7. Cigarettes

The situation with cigarettes is similar to that of alcohol. First there was a list in Annex 9 of Decision 15481 (of 2009), then there was Decision 1546 (of 2011), which eliminated the "either/or" principle.

As a result, the import rules for tobacco products now look like this:

- Up to 400 cigarettes (20 packs of 20);

- Plus up to 100 cigarillos (up to 3 grams each);

- Plus up to 50 cigars;

- Plus up to 250 grams of cigarette tobacco (+200 pieces of cigarette paper);

- Plus up to 250 grams of pipe tobacco.

The norms look a little absurd, but de jure they are. Naturally, only adult passengers (18 years and over) may carry tobacco. This is stated in Article 60 of Decision 15481.

There is also Circular 39 (from 2011). This law allows for a further 200 cigarettes. But unfortunately, it does not explain where and how to buy more. From the logic of this law, it is clear that it means buying 200 more cigarettes in the local Duty Free shops.

The texts of Decision 15481/2009 and Decision 1546/2011 can be downloaded from the links above. Download the text of Circular 39/2011 here. Look for the line allowing the purchase of 200 cigarettes at the very beginning of page 2.

Does it make sense to bring a large supply with you? This is an open question. The prices of cigarettes in Turkey are low now compared with the US, UK or Western European countries. However, cigarettes can cost many times more in resort areas. See our in-depth review "Cigarettes and smoking in Turkey" for more details.

8. E-cigarettes, IQOS and similar

E-cigarettes and vaping devices are not exactly mentioned in the Turkish Customs Code. And for a long time there were no restrictions at all.

In 2019, the Turkish Ministry of Health threatened to ban the production and free sale of "New Generation Tobacco Products", which includes vaping devices, iQOS and all such items. It does not matter if the vape mix does not contain tobacco, it still falls into this category.

It has never been banned outright. But it did ban production and imports.

A Presidential Decree of February 2020 completely banned the importation of "New Generation Tobacco Products". However, the Decree instructed the Ministry of Commerce to determine whether these items could be imported as personal items for passengers.

The Ministry of Commerce thought about this problem for four months. In July 2020, Circular 2020/7 (document number 18723479-153.16) came out. Passengers are now allowed to bring in:

- either up to 10 single-use e-cigarettes;

- or up to one reusable device, plus up to 30 millilitres of liquids or up to 200 single-use items (sticks).

Read our detailed review "Vape and iQos in Turkey". Download the text of Circular 2020/7. It's a small document, you won't even have to search for anything there.

9. Money and jewelry

You can bring any amount of local or foreign currency into Turkey. There is no even declaring requirement.

WE STRONGLY recommend declaring (voluntarily) any amounts above 5,000 USD on entry.

This is needed in case for some reason the money will not be spent, and you will need to take the money home. You will need to declare any currency in excess of 5,000 USD (or equivalent in other currencies) when leaving the country. You also need to prove the lawful origin of the money you are taking out.

The entry declaration will prove that you have brought the money with you and not illegally obtained it.

Jewelry can be brought into the country, but with a limit - no more than 15,000 US dollars. The second condition is that the jewelry must be for personal use only.

All these rules are set by Circular 39 (of 2011). The link to download it was above.

10. Baby food

None of the legal acts we have discussed above say anything at all about baby food. Therefore, baby food falls under the general food limits we discussed above.

11. Sports equipment

Annex 9 of Decision 2009/15481 contains a precise list of sports equipment that may be imported duty-free. These are: 1 tent, 1 diving suit, 1 inflatable boat, 1 surfboard (may be with sail), 1 pair of flippers, 1 set of golf equipment.

If you bring any other sports equipment (not included in the list above). Then this equipment counts towards the general limit (EUR 430).

12. Medication

Article 60 and Annex 9 of Decision 2009/15481 permit the import of medication for personal use. Seemingly simple.

But in practice, some medicines may be prohibited or restricted in Turkey. And these may be drugs that are sold freely in your home country. In this case, have a prescription with a notarized translation, if you bring any special medication. This advice applies doubly to painkillers.

Good to know

- Before you bring something into Turkey, you should first take it out of your home country. Please learn your home country customs law;

- Chances are you will be bringing most of your belongings back with you. Read our review "What you can and can't take out of Turkey";

- For bans and restrictions already in Turkey, see our review "What you can't do in Turkey".

Have a great holiday in Turkey, and read our useful for tourists and interesting pages about the country (find the list of the pages below). © 2020-2024