Traveling overland in Turkey with your own vehicle but need to leave for some time? Here’s a guide to leaving your foreign vehicle in Turkey (Türkiye), based on my experience leaving my foreign motorcycle in Turkey for 2 months.
Traveling around the world is complicated enough as is—but those of you with vehicles know that once you add some wheels, the trip gets even more complicated! Permits, customs, carnets; the bureaucracy never ends.
Turkey is particularly infamous for having finicky customs laws regarding vehicles. This is because a lot of Turkish people living and working in the European Union try to bring back cars and motorcycles from the EU, where taxes are far less than in Turkey.
While traveling in Turkey, I found it very difficult to figure out how long my motorcycle could stay in the country over the span of one year… and when I had to leave my bike in the country to lead a motorcycle tour in Pakistan, things got even more confusing. But, the process is now all said and done, and I now know firsthand about what it’s like to leave a motorcycle in Turkey. If you’re planning on leaving your foreign vehicle in Turkey, read on for everything you need to know!
Table of Contents: Leaving your foreign vehicle in Turkey
- Is it possible to leave a foreign vehicle in Turkey?
- How long can you leave a foreign vehicle in Turkey?
- Do you need to have residency to leave your vehicle in Turkey?
- Fines for leaving a vehicle in Turkey
- How to leave your foreign vehicle in Turkey
Leaving your foreign vehicle in Turkey – is it possible?
Yes, it IS possible to leave a foreign-plated vehicle in Turkey and leave the country. Not forever, naturally, but it’s possible to do so for several months. Many people told me it wasn’t possible, but you can’t believe everything you hear on the internet. Firsthand experience only!
How long can you leave a foreign vehicle in Turkey?
If you need to leave a vehicle in Turkey while you leave the country, you need to be considerate of time. Foreign vehicles are only allowed in Turkey for 3 months out of every year. However, if they overstay up to 3 months, the penalties are negligible. If they overstay for more than 3 months, you will have—as a girl working in the customs office put it—a “very big problem”.
In short, that means you can have your vehicle in Turkey for around 6 months in total, including both the time you spend traveling inside the country with it and the time you’re away.
Do you need to have residency in Turkey to leave your vehicle?
No, you do not need to have any kind of residency to leave your foreign-plated vehicle in Turkey.
However, if you have residency of any kind in Turkey, that means your vehicle is allowed to be in the country for up to 2 years. If you can get residency, that’ll make life easier (and fines cheaper).
Are there fines for leaving your foreign vehicle in Turkey?
Alas, it’s not free to leave your vehicle in Turkey for more than 3 months. That is to say, if you leave it past the initial 3 months entry allowed to foreign vehicles.
When I left my motorcycle in Turkey for several months in 2023, I had to pay a fine of around 1,000 TL per month for every month after the initial 3 months allowance. At the time, that was around US$40-50. Not the worst, in my opinion, but certainly not free.
However, when I paid in cash at the border when exiting to Bulgaria, they gave me a discount on the fines. I’m guessing it’s because I paid in cash, but since most of the customs officers didn’t speak any English, I couldn’t be 100% sure. In the end, I ended up paying around 1,600 TL for 2 months of vehicle overstay when I left my foreign motorcycle in Turkey in 2023.
How to leave your foreign vehicle in Turkey and exit the country
If you’re planning on leaving your foreign vehicle in Turkey and exiting the country, you need to get permission to do so from Turkish customs. Don’t try to be over-smart and skip this step; when you enter the country with a vehicle, customs officers use a different stamp to indicate that you came in with a vehicle, when it entered, etc. Officials at whatever exit point you choose can easily ask you about your vehicle and why you’re not taking it out of the country.
Here’s how to get permission to leave your foreign vehicle from Turkish customs:
Step 1: Pick an address to leave your vehicle
You’ll need to note down an address at customs. Not that they actually check. I *cough* may or may not have actually left my motorcycle at the address I gave them. Not intentionally, but an opportunity for a better parking spot arose and I took it.
Where it’s safe to park a vehicle in Turkey for a while is another matter entirely; one you’ll have to figure out on your own. For my motorcycle, I ended up paying the owners of the MotoADV Garage in Antalya to watch over my bike and luggage for several months. You’re best asking local people about options for safe parking for an extended period of time. Airport parking is one option for people driving cars/trucks that can actually lock.
Step 2: Make sure your vehicle insurance is valid
It’s very important to have valid vehicle insurance for the entirety of the time that your vehicle is left in Turkey. Your policy will be checked in the office. Make sure to have a print out or proof of it. In my case, I had green card insurance from Belgium that was valid in Turkey for several months.
Step 3: Go to the nearest customs office a couple of days before leaving your foreign vehicle in Turkey
Two or three days before you’re due to leave Turkey (without your vehicle), head to the nearest customs office. It might be uncomfortable to wait until the last minute, but Turkish customs prefers that you do this process close to your departure date.
Make sure to bring your passport, insurance, and vehicle registration documents with you.
Customs offices can often be found close to major airports, but might be found in other places as well. You can search for “Gümrük Müdürlüğü” (Customs Directorate) or simply “Gümrük” (Customs) on Google Maps to find an office in your area. In my case, I went to the customs office near Antalya airport (Google Maps location).
Once there, tell people you want to leave a vehicle, and they should direct you to the correct office.
Step 4: Fill out a permissions form
The actual process to get permission is pretty simple. A customs officer will check your documents and your vehicle’s file in their system. Then, you’ll fill out a form with the following information:
- Your personal information
- License plate number
- Address where you’ll leave the vehicle
- Date of entry of the vehicle
The form is essentially an official statement declaring you’re leaving your foreign vehicle in Turkey at this address, and no one will drive it or use it in your absence.
The customs officer will fill in the 3 month expiry date (after this point, your vehicle is overstaying and you’ll have to pay the fines I mentioned before), sign it, and then you’re good to go.
Important: Make sure to take a picture of the permissions form, as you do not always get to keep it. You might be asked for it later, so it’s good to take a photo and print out a copy.
Step 5: Leave Turkey
Got the form? You’re good to go! If they ask about leaving your foreign vehicle in Turkey when leaving the country, show them the photo of the form stating you got permission to leave your foreign vehicle in Turkey.
Step 6: Return to Turkey, then exit again with vehicle
Whenever it’s time to return to Turkey, you simply go and collect your vehicle from wherever you left it. No need to go to customs to declare anything; you’ll manage any fines at the border when you exit.
In my case, I simply picked up my motorcycle from Antalya, traveled around a bit, then paid the overstay fines at the border when exiting to Bulgaria. I brought a print out of the customs form for good measure, and people appreciated it. Again, I got a discount for paying in cash, and ended up paying around 1600 TL.
And… that’s it! Leaving your foreign vehicle in Turkey is a relatively simple process, once you know it’s possible and how it works.
If you have any updates or questions about leaving your foreign vehicle in Turkey, let me know in the comments. Otherwise, ride safe, and good luck with your questing in Turkey and beyond.