What do superyacht captains need to know about immigration and customs formalities in Turkey?
In a series of articles focusing on entry and exit formalities and logistics for superyachts in various destinations, SuperyachtNews speaks to Ugur Kara, managing partner of BWA Yachting Turkey, about the pertinent issues that superyacht crew should consider when visiting the country.
Q: What do yacht crew need to know with regards to immigration requirements in Turkey?
A: As far as customs clearance is concerned, there are two options:
- The Electronic Visa (e-Visa) Application System was launched on 17 April, 2013 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey. This system allows visitors travelling to Turkey to easily obtain e-Visas online in approximately three minutes. It is possible to obtain an e-Visa 24/7 from anywhere with internet connection. The applicants can obtain their visa after they fill in the necessary information concerning their identity, passport and travel dates and pay the visa fee online. To ensure a smooth and swift customs clearance, we recommend this option.
- If, for any reason, the crew can’t get the visas online, the yacht agent can also obtain the visas upon arrival of the yacht, under the condition that all necessary documentation and information has been provided by the captain (or person responsible of the yacht) beforehand to the agent.
Q: As yacht agents, what information do you typically need from yachts and crew visiting Turkey?
A: The following documentation is required to clear the yacht and its crew into the country: Certificate of Registry; insurance document; Letter of Attorney (for captain); captain’s Certificate of Competency; crew list and passenger list and seaman’s books and passports.
The agents will have a significant advantage if they know the duration of the stay of the yacht and crew. If a yacht intends to stay a longer period, crew will have to obtain residence permits to be able to stay in Turkey. As agents, we do assist yacht crew in getting these residence permits. We always ask yachts to provide the necessary documents as early as possible, but the deadline is 24 hours before arrival of the yacht, as authorities require notification of at least a day in advance. It is the yacht’s responsibility to provide all particulars in a complete and proper way and in the timeframe requested.
For yachts over 1000gt, there might be additional documents required in 2018. The regulations concerning this will be announced soon.
Q: When are yachts likely to encounter problems during the customs process in Turkey?
A: First of all, crew must have a travel document or passport valid for at least six months from the date of arrival in Turkey and a valid visa. Depending on the nationalities, there may be different visa requirements. The requirements for all nationalities can be seen at the website of the Turkish Government. In general, Turkey does not have very strict visa regulations. However, it is more difficult for some nationalities than for others. To avoid any problems during the customs process, we recommend investigating the link above and contacting us before arrival in case of any uncertainties.
Another problem might arise if a crewmember exceeds the duration of the visa. In this case a penalty fee must be paid when leaving Turkey. Paying the fee is not mandatory but the problem is, if you don’t pay, you won’t be allowed to come back to the country for two years. If the crewmember leaves Turkey on board the yacht, we always take care of this and pay the penalty on behalf of the crew. However, if the crew leaves by air, we have no influence on this. Crew might leave without paying the fee and then encounter problems if they try to return to Turkey within two years. For this reason, we always recommend paying the fee regardless of whether leaving by air or sea.