Foreign cell phone registration in Turkey

Samsung Galaxy SIII

 

There have been many questions about Turkey’s new law on cell phone registration.  In a recent article at Today’s Zaman, Berk Cektir attempts to explain it:

According to a new law, you must now pay a TL 100 registration fee on all cell phones purchased abroad and brought into Turkey. . .

It is important to note that this tax will be paid under the name of the cell phone owner, and the name on the receipt for the tax payment should be the same as it is on your passport. . .

Online registration is now available. . .

You still have to pay the TL 100 fee at a tax office or one of a list of banks determined by the Ministry of Finance. After that, you can complete the registration application on the Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) website using the e-government system (http://www.mcks.gov.tr/tr/index.php). . .

The other problem, the fact that no more than one registration is allowed under one name for a period of two years, still exists.

via Foreign cell phone registration in Turkey.

This information appears to conflict with that shown on the Turkish Consulate’s website in the UK:

“Turkish and foreign visitors are entitled to bring one mobile phone into Turkey within one calendar year for use during their stay in Turkey. A personal mobile phone brought in to Turkey in this manner is exempt from tax and duty.

At first blush, one might think these two sources conflict.  However, the UK information refers to bringing the phone into the country.  The new law relates to registration.  You can bring a new phone every year without paying tax.  You can only register one, according to the information gathered on the new law, every two years, and for that, you will pay a 100TL tax.

Both expats and natives will agree that it’s hard to keep up with the changing laws here.  But it’s even more difficult to understand them.  So if you have recent   information to share with us, please do!

A couple of other notes, the new iPhone 5 is still substantially more expensive than it’s unlocked version sold directly from Apple in the States (which starts at $649 or 1160TL versus 2200TL ($1230), the sale price in most Turkish stores for the New Year.

The prices of the Samsung Galaxy SIII, a far more superior phone in my opinion, are a little cheaper, but also almost double.  In the States, the unlocked version can be purchased for about $570 at Amazon.com (1020TL).  It’s current New Year’s sales price in Turkey is around 1650TL  ($922).

For more information, please see:  Additional Information of Registration in Turkey of Mobile Phones Purchased Abroad

NOTE: Please read the comments below for additional information.

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44 thoughts on “Foreign cell phone registration in Turkey

    • I think that is part of the confusion. Bringing one in is not the same as registering it. But I have heard every year for registering as well which then causes more confusion…what is a calendar year? Can i register one on12/31 and another on 1/1?

  1. Also, an important note is that when you go to register you phone you must have an entry stamp in you passport that indicates that you entered the country within the last 30 days. So you can’t have someone else bring the phone and register it yourself if you have not left the country. And as I found out the hard way, your passport cannot have expired – even by two days 😦 which makes no sense to me because when I renew my passport the number does not change!

    • Thanks for the comment Lori. The 30 day rule is very important! I believe it has to do with the almighty lira. These rules seem to be in place to protect Turkey from illegal imports. While it’s a big pain in the patootie, if they loosen these rules, they will have a lot of technology coming in. Turkish sales will go down and more importantly, the taxes they collect on these items will go down.

      Another point that I learned with my first phone registration, is to make sure that stamp in the passport is legible! If they can’t read it, no matter how any other reading would not make sense, you will be on your way to a little office in the main police station to get a printout of your entries and exits.

  2. So I have a question: What’s the point of bringing in a cell phone every year if you can’t use it? Don’t you have to register it in order to start using it?

    Secondly, can you register your phone under someone else’s passport (say, a family member who comes to visit and brings you an upgraded phone) even though that person is not the one who will continue to use the phone long-term?

    Lastly, I heard a hopeful rumor that the 100TL vergi was being lifted for yabancis, but a visit to the actual BTK building has proved that wrong.

    • Hi Kara!

      I love your first question. But I have stopped looking for the point. I just try to accept things here. 🙂

      Secondly, you can absolutely have some one else register it. Now, whether or not that is legal is a different story. But it’s done all the time.

      Last point, my most recent research shows there is still a 100tl “tax” too.

      Happy New Year!

  3. Pingback: Phone Debacle | Far From The Sticks

  4. Really not that bad. All done in Bahceli, Garanti bank to pay the 115TL registration fee / import tax / Recep’s retirement fund, then over to Avea with the receipt and another 15TL and they registered the phone. Not sure if it’s locked to one number or not, don’t think so as they never actually asked for my (existing) SIM.

    130TL.. $72.. £47. Still eclipsed by the price difference of the fancier phones.

    • Tim, can I ask what specific Garanti you went to? 🙂 Been looking for a bank in central Istanbul that does this because the tax office seems like a bad idea…

      Thanks!

      • As far as I know, most any bank will do it. I went to IsBank on Guvenlik Cad. There is a list of banks, although not the branches, and more information on this page: http://www.mcks.gov.tr/tr/KonuDetay.php?BKey=40. IsBank asked to see my Resident Permit and also needed my Yabanci Kimlik number. The kimlik number and the IMEI number from the phone were both on the receipt. Then I took my receipt, passport, and my resident card to Vodafon on Ataturk Bulv. in Kizilay. Another rule is that the residence permit must be valid for at least one month. I was two days short but after a call, they let me slide.

  5. hi, i bought phone as suprise gift for my friend who is in turkey and i send it through post office air cargo..without any idea that phone should be register in turkey before using it and needed a passport that that was stamp within 30 days…my question is, can my friend register it on her name? she is a turkish citizen and don’t have a passport stamp..any idea?

    thanks

    • Sorry for the late reply. Your friend will not be able to register it as far as I know. In fact, it is doubtful it will be received. Electronics are not to be imported as far as I know. There are exceptions to the rule. But most likely, someone at the border control will end up with that phone. Sorry to share this bad news.

    • What happened to the phone? Did they return it? I just had the same problem, they gave a notice at my house and I went to PTT headquarters only to see the box get opened in front of me to be packed up and sent back… hopefully.

      • They didn’t returned the phone, my friend recived the phone and registered it by her friends name who had a passport with stamped of entry in turkey

  6. I really wondering : why they impose 100 TL for registration ? why they need register our mobile phones ? is that related to security issues ? or for something else ?
    can anybody tell me..

  7. Thanks for clarifying this complex issue. Now if I can somehow find a way to explain this to the countless strangers who ask me to bring phones.

  8. So when I visit Turkey next month, can I bring in a new iPhone and register it on my passport then give it to my Turkish citizen friend for them to use? It doesn’t have to be me that uses it? Guess they will just use their own SIM card and should work okay? So confused!

    • Hello Sam! Thanks for reading the blog. To answer your question, no, you can’t register a phone if you are not living here. You need a resident permit to register it. One can use someone else’s phone that is registered, but a visitor (tourist) can not register a phone. (And yes, another sim card does work as long as the phone is unlocked. In the U.S., phones are generally locked to a provider company, and must be unlocked before traveling in order to use another sim card.)

      • Thank you for your response. So I guess I just bring the phone (it’s unlocked) and give it to my friend and she registers it herself (she is a citizen) then she can use it? Appreciate your clarification, this is the clearest info I’ve found so far!

  9. She would only be able to register it within a certain time period of entering the country. It was 30 days, it may be 60 now. But she has to show the stamp in her passport of entry. Turkey does not allow electronics to come in easily. They control it by allowing a resident or citizen to bring one in from abroad every two years. If she goes anywhere outside of Turkey, she can register it once she returns to Turkey (or if she has been out of the country in the last 30 days (maybe 60) she can do it. She pays a fee to a bank, I believe it is still 110 TL. She takes her passport, kimklik card, and the IMEI number from the phone when paying. Then she takes the receipt for payment to her provider who will register it for her.

  10. Hi,
    I feel really disappointed and I need your help please. Last year I registered my phone and at that time I didn’t have residence permit. I have residence permit now. I went on holiday 2 weeks ago, and I bought a phone and came back yesterday. I also renewed my passport. now my questions are:
    can I not register my phone as my passport number is changed due to the renewal ?I don’t use my ex phone and its not in Turkey anymore.
    If a family member comes and visits me, can I register my phone on her name?
    should I register my phone on a name of person who’s recently come to Turkey?
    please give me advice and I’m getting crazy!

    • Hi Roya – sorry about your problem with this. Again, I am not an expert and you have asked some questions that are outside of my knowledge, but I can offer my opinion on it. First, I didn’t realize you could register it without a resident permit. I am not sure how that works. When you say last year, was it actually 2014, or could it have been the end of 2013? That makes a big difference. If it was 2013 – you may be able to register it again, even though it’s less than two full years. I am in the process of it now – waiting for confirmation that my registration went through.

      The fact that you don’t use the old phone and it is not in Turkey does not matter. It makes not difference.

      If your “renewed” passport has a different number – that may make a difference. Technically, it should not – but who knows if the Turkish government would catch that or not?

      As far as I know, a family member can not register your phone. I am not positive, but I believe they have 60 days to use a phone. But to pay the tax for the phone, a passport and kimlik number was requested. To register it after paying the tax, those two documents and a resident card was requested. If you have a Turkish friend, or another foreign friend, who recently entered Turkey and is willing to register it for you, that is perfect. But they can not register another phone for 2 calendar years.

      If you try to register it yourself with your passport (assuming it is a different number than before) and your resident card, the worse thing that can happen if you are denied is that you won’t get the tax money back that you paid (currently 131.50 TL). If it doesn’t work, I believe someone else can still register the phone for you.

      • Thanks a million years for your help. Do you know how I can make sure if my new passport number works?where should I ask this?
        I registered my phone in 2014, in February I think.
        I came as a tourist and I could stay till 3 months without a visa… .

  11. I don’t know if there is a place to ask, Roya. I do think that if you ask any government office, you would be rejected. I don’t know if registration as a tourist prevents you from registering as a resident. Probably it does – but again, there’s the passport issue if it is a different number, so you might slip by.

  12. Hi,

    I recently went to Istanbul (17-23rd Feb 2015) and brought my used iPhone to be used by my Turkish friend without realising that it must be registered first. My friend just told me yesterday that he received a text message saying that the IMEI number is illegal and he can use it in 60 days.

    My question is: how can he register the iPhone so that it can be used in Turkey?

    I already left Istanbul, but can he register it using my passport number?

    Hope to hear from you soon..thanks in advance 🙂

    • Hi Lena, thanks for reading the blog. Have you also read the other posts on registration? I do not know for sure, but I highly doubt it. He needs the actual passport – which also works as an ID. There is a temporary registration for visitors, but as a resident here, he would need to leave the country and come back, in order to register it legally. Of course, if he has a friend here who leaves the country and returns, they could register it for him.

  13. Hi, thank you for answering me. Yes, I read other posts too, but I just asked here 🙂 Anyway, again much thanks for your guide. Appreciate it much.

  14. What happens if I didn’t register the IMEI phone number. I’m here to stay for 3 weeks only, then I am going to leave the country.

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