Page update - Apr 6, 2023
The situation with bans on taking items out of Turkey is very interesting. The laws are set up in such a way that the Turkish customs office has the right to make a claim against most every tourist. But in fact, the customs officers do not stop anyone. The strictness of the laws is compensated by the fact that they are not obligatory. We are going to tell you in detail.
The information on this page was updated in April 2023.
If you visit the website of the Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade, you will not find any information on what is prohibited for tourists to bring out. It politely advises you to consult Turkish Customs Code, Law 4458 dated 27th October 1999.
The latest changes to customs laws were made in July 2019. But they did not affect the average tourist, so we will not talk about them in detail. Let's tell the situation as of April 2023 for the ordinary tourist.
Tourists have to navigate through other sources that have already formed lists for tourists. The most popular is the IATA (International Air Transport Association). It is their data that we will rely on here.
Antiques are strictly prohibited. It is also forbidden to bring antique items into Turkey. When buying a souvenir that looks like something ancient, be sure to take a receipt to present it to customs and avoid potential trouble.
The general list of bans for exporting is the same as for importing. For the full list, see our detailed review "What is allowed and forbidden to bring into Turkey";
The next group of bans looks ridiculous, but it is de jure exist:
- Grain products;
This list overlaps with the list of popular tourist souvenirs and gifts from Turkey. See the list and prices in our review "Gifts and souvenirs from Turkey". In theory, customs officers could "grab the arm" of most every tourist, if not every first tourist, because tea, coffee or spices are brought in by many. Turkish baklava also theoretically falls under the ban.
Why is this situation the case? The reason is that the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is compiling a list of foodstuffs that are banned from export. This is done to regulate domestic food prices. For example, in November 2022, the export of potatoes and onions was banned (in addition to the already existing long list).
So, there is a long list of bans. And from a legal point of view, these bans should apply to ordinary tourists. But in fact, customs officers do not pay attention.
In addition, the list is constantly changing, and customs officers simply do not want to read and remember it. For example, at the time this page was updated (April 2023), the list consists of almost 100 articles. The strongest addition to this list was in March 2022, for reasons everyone understands.
In practice, no claims are made against tourists for tea, coffee, spices, or baklava. Holidaymakers in Turkey pass through the green corridor with no problems.
In theory, there are no bans on exporting these from Turkey. In practice, the stones may be considered a cultural value and the coral may be an endangered species. In this case, customs officers have the right to send it all for inspection and detain the tourists until the circumstances are clarified.
Our advice: don't take chances in vain. Are pebbles or shells from the beach worth the risk? If you buy something like this, keep the receipts.
Cigarette prices in Turkey are very low now, and tourists take cigarettes back firstly because of the prices. Also, tourists like to bring hookah tobacco back from Turkey. See the current prices in our detailed review "Cigarettes in Turkey".
Up to 2 kilograms and up to 3 boxes of tobacco can be taken back freely - these are very soft regulations. Please remember you will need to import the tobacco into your home country. And your home country limits are probably much stricter. Please, learn the customs laws of your home country.
Turkish strong alcoholic beverage Raki is a popular gift. And local fruit and berry wines are also popular.
Up to 5 liters and up to 12 bottles of local alcoholic beverages can be taken out of the country. Please remember you will need to import the tobacco into your home country. And your home country limits are probably much stricter. Please, learn the customs laws of your home country.
Their cost should not exceed 100 Turkish liras. The mass of each product must not exceed 5 kilograms. See the current rates of the Turkish lira in our review "Money in Turkey". The limit of 100 lira is no longer observed by anyone. This figure is from the "bearded" law, which was adopted at a time when it was still a significant amount.
Please, learn the customs laws of your home country to know the import limits.
Their total value must not exceed 5,000 Turkish Liras. If more, you have to present a currency exchange receipt and prove that you exchanged money to buy souvenirs.
At the time this page was updated (April 2023), 5,000 liras is 257 USD, or 235 EUR, or 207 GBP. Many readers will ask: how can one accumulate souvenirs and gifts for such an amount? You can if you buy carpets, fur coats, leather clothes. Our advice: if you decide to buy something expensive in Turkey, be sure to keep currency exchange receipts and receipts for the goods themselves.
Turkish liras can be taken out of Turkey freely, unlike e.g. Egyptian pounds or Tunisian dinars. The Turks are very keen on making their currency freely convertible, hence the freedom to take it out of the country.
Turkish currency (pictured below, click to enlarge) is rarely taken out by tourists. Only coins are taken out as souvenirs or for collection purposes. If you have Turkish liras in your pockets when leaving the country, we strongly recommend exchanging them for dollars, euros, or pounds.
The Turkish lira is constantly going down in value. For example, in June 2015 the TRY/USD exchange rate was 2.7, in November 2016 it was already 3.4, in early 2020 it was already 6.5, in mid-2021 it was already 9.5. This page was updated in April 2023, and the dollar is already worth 19.3 lira!
In other words, holders of Turkish Liras have lost 7 times in 7 years! Be sure to get rid of your Turkish money.
Amounts of up to 5,000 USD or the equivalent in other currencies can be taken out freely. If you take out more than this, the amount should be declared. These regulations are in place to combat the export of illegally obtained money.
If you bring in (then entering Turkey) any currency more than 5,000 USD worth, declare it. The declaration stamp proves you brought the money with you and the money is legal. If you take out another currency, you will probably need to present the exchange receipts.
- Exchanging the remaining lira is easy. Reverse currency exchange (from liras to dollars or euros) is free. However, rates are not always and everywhere good. See our review "How and where to change currency in Turkey" for details;
- After passing Turkish customs control, you will need to bring in your luggage into your home country. These are other rules and regulations. Please learn your home country customs law in advance.
Have luck dealing with Turkish Customs, and read other interesting pages about Turkey on our website (see the list of the links below).
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