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Research by Country/Region January 16, 2018  

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A. Is this country a member of the Information Technology Agreement?

B. Customs documentation requirements for IT products

C. Software: duties and taxes, updates, licenses, electronically delivered

D. IT services: tax treatment and other regulations

E. Refurbished, used, or repaired computer equipment imports


Signatories to the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) have eliminated their import duties on a wide range of information technology products, including software and computer hardware. For more information on the ITA, and exact tariff elimination schedules of signatories, click here.


What are the documentation requirements for the physical import of software? For other information technology products?
Turkish documentation procedures require a commercial invoice, a certificate of origin and a bill of lading or airway bill to accompany all commercial shipments.

Commercial Invoice: Consular invoices are not required for shipping, but a commercial invoice is needed. The commercial invoice must be submitted in triplicate, including the original copy; and must contain a complete description of the goods and all required payment terms. The exporter must endorse the original as follows: "We hereby certify that this is the first and original copy of our invoice, the only one issued by our firm for the goods herein mentioned." The Turkish Embassy or Consulate in the United States must certify the document. At least one copy of the invoice should accompany the goods, and the original should be sent to the importer through the correspondent bank.

Certificate of Origin: The certificate of origin is to be prepared in duplicate and issued by a Chamber of Commerce showing the country of production. No corrections are permitted on this document, which is to be prepared in English. The Turkish Embassy or Consulate in the United States must certify the certificate of origin. One copy of the document must be surrendered to the customs authorities at the time of importation.

Bill of Lading/Airway Bill: Details in the bill of lading should correspond exactly to those given in other shipping documents.

Proforma Invoices: The proforma invoice must not be more than six months old at the time of application. It must contain an unexpired option (if appropriate), indicate freight and insurance charges separately, and bear the importer's name.

Insurance Policy: If goods are delivered under INCO term CIF.

Customs authorities provide spot checks on the goods arriving at the customs. Descriptions of the goods, weight, etc. should comply with the goods, otherwise very high fines are imposed.

Turkish Customs bases all taxes and duties on the invoice sum. Hence, regardless of how the product is packaged, or the medium of presentation, the sum of the invoice is used to calculate all taxes and duties.

Import duties are calculated on the CIF value. The VAT is calculated on a C.I.F. basis plus duty rate and any other applicable charges levied before the goods clear customs. The importer is responsible for paying the VAT.

Turkey is a signatory to Article VII of the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The agreement stipulates that the customs valuation is the transaction value (the price that is actually paid or payable plus costs and expenses). Turkey is also obliged to comply with other Article VII provisions including the rapidity of clearance of goods, currency convertibility, and appeal privileges and rights. Turkish regulations do not allow for advance rulings on customs HS classification or on the applicable import duties on particular products.

Besides the customs duties there are other factors that determine the cost of customs clearance. One such example the VAT (Value Added Tax) of 18%, (25% for luxury items) which is added onto the invoice sum. The VAT, which is collected at the entrance of the goods to the country, is eventually reimbursed to the seller and only the difference of VAT paid and the VAT charged by the seller is owed to the Government. For example, if a product’s invoice value is 100 USD the VAT of it is (18%) 118 USD ($100 + $18 VAT), the importer pays the 118 USD plus duty tax(dependant on harmonized system classification) in order to have the goods cleared. If the importer is the end user, than the system ends here, however, if the importer is to re-sell its product with a 50 USD profit for example, then the item now is invoiced by the importer to its third party customer at 150 USD plus VAT (18%) which for the end user is 150 USD + 27 USD VAT ($ 177). The importer now turns around and reclaims the initial VAT paid at entry of goods ($ 18) from the government thus owes the government $9 VAT tax (27-18 USD. VAT amounts due are collected monthly, differentiating itself from the yearly income / corporate tax.

Customs surcharges including a value-added tax (VAT) being levied on most imported, as well as domestic, goods and services. The VAT is calculated on a C.I.F. basis plus duty rate and any other applicable charges levied before the goods clear customs. The VAT is divided into three tax levels. Raw commodities and unprocessed food is assessed a VAT of one percent; processed foods is assesses a VAT of 8 percent; and industrial goods is assessed at 18 percent. Capital goods, some raw materials, imports by government agencies and state owned enterprises, and products for investments with incentive certificates are exempt from import fees.

Are duties assessed on the intellectual property of the software or on the medium on which is it presented?
Turkish Customs bases all taxes and duties on the invoice sum. Hence, regardless of how the product is packaged, or the medium of presentation, the sum of the invoice is used to calculate all taxes and duties.

Is customized software treated differently than packaged software?


What are the customs duties and tax implications for software sold with updates when the full sales price, including cost of updates, is shown on the original commercial invoice? Are duties and taxes paid on that amount? What happens when the updates are sent at a later date? Are duties/taxes applied again? If so, based on what value? How should information presented on the commercial invoice for the original and subsequent shipments to avoid paying duties/taxes more than once on a single sale?

Each product to be cleared through customs is to be presented with an invoice. That is the starting point of the procedure, hence, products of future shipments in an invoice are not valid. Also, if you are to send the updates at a future date, that particular shipment also needs an invoice and each shipment is treated as a separate process.

If there are software updates which do not have any commercial value and are very low in quantity (5-10 cd’s for example) the package may be shipped as a “sample” which usually does not even enter the customs process. If the updates are considerable in quantity, then the exporter must put in a very low value on the invoice, 1 USD per unit may suffice for procedures to begin for example, a reasonably low amount on the invoice will have the outcome of lower duties and VAT.


Are software licenses classified in Harmonized System 4907?
Software licenses are not classified in particular in the harmonized system nor are they regarded as “products”.

Are import duties/taxes applied? If so, on what cost/price base are they levied?
The invoice value on the product is the basis of all customs calculations. No other additional tax burdens are placed because the product is a “license”.

Are withholding or other additional taxes applied on software licenses? If yes, how?

If a U.S. license agreement is included in the packaging or is part of the installation/registration of shrink-wrapped software imported from the United States, would that agreement be binding on consumers in the market? If so, would U.S. or local laws pertain?
All intellectual property rights such as license agreements and copyrights, regardless of packaging and media of record (cd, dvd, floppy, cassette etc.) are binding in Turkey. Although software piracy is an issue and a fact in Turkey, software piracy is a crime. Recently, increased controls and punishments resulting in IPR infringements have been discouraging the piracy sector but it is still a fact. Local laws are applicable for IPR infringements.


Are taxes applied to software delivered to the end-user over the Internet? If so, on what value?
Software delivered over the Internet is not taxed because it cannot be taxed at this stage. If software is to be downloaded and used by the end user then there seems little the governments can do in order to collect tax. However the downloaded product can not be resold. For the firm to re-sell the item it needs to have entered the goods into its inventory via customs clearance, within this aspect a distributor who can produce the product may be an option if the product is to be resold to third parties.

Would the situation be different if this software were instead delivered to a distributor who has a license to produce (replicate) and sell the software?

What are the documentation requirements for the electronically delivered import of digitized products (i.e. software, movie downloads) over the Internet or other networks?

Must an electronically delivered software import be accompanied by a physical shipment of the same product?
For foreign goods to be legally sold in Turkey, the items imported must pass through customs. To be able to resell the goods and to be able invoice the product to a third party, the importer must have entered it into its accounting system with the customs clearance documentation accompanied by the invoice of the exporter.

Even if the goods are readily available via an internet download, a physical shipment of the good is required. The appropriate law/regulation for this process is based on the Customs Law made legal as of the publishing of the Government of Turkey, official gazette December 28, 2001, number 24624.


Are services (i.e. training, set-up, etc) relating to the sale of software taxed? If so, at what rate and based on what value?
Training, set-up and other laborious tasks are not taxed unless the exporter ads these to the cost of the product i.e. invoice.

Are U.S. IT solution providers permitted to send personnel into the country to set up hardware/software-related systems?
Yes. U.S. IT solution providers enter Turkey to set up hardware/software and it is accepted that these services may be in coordination with the sale of the product. Employment on longer terms will require work permits - longer term meaning longer than validity of visa.

Are special visa, work permits, and/or professional certification by an accredited body required?



Is the import of refurbished computer hardware, parts, and accessories (including toner cartridges) permitted?
All IT hardware items must be manufactured after the year of 2000 for the goods to be allowed into the Turkish market. This regulation had come into effect just before 2000 due to the scare of the Y2K bug, is however still in effect. The exporter must accompany the products with a letter from the manufacturer stating that the products have been produced after the year 2000. All IT hardware must comply with the TSE (Turkish Standards Organization), which is similar to a CE mark for Europe. TSE compliance is required for each hardware model. Also in order to be able to import IT goods into the country one needs to have fulfilled a service requirement stating that service and parts for the products can be readily available after sales. The service agreement required is dependant on sales amounts and geographic market spread expected of the goods. The Ministry for Industry and Commerce will issue the right to import these items after this service requirement is fulfilled. The importer may sign a contract with a service company who is already providing this service and need not to build a service network of their own.

If so, what are the documentation requirements?
See answer to question B.

What value should be shown on the invoice?
The value of the goods itself is to be shown on the invoice.

How are duties and taxes assessed?
Duties and taxes are assessed on the invoice sum of the equipment and CIF value.


Is the import of used computer hardware, parts, and accessories (including toner cartridges) permitted?
The same requirements are needed for used equipment as for refurbished equipment. Please see answer to question E-1.

If so, what are the documentation requirements?
See answer to question B.

What value should be shown on the invoice?
See answer to question B.

How are duties and taxes assessed?
See answer to question B.


Are duties and taxes assessed on the re-import of repaired computer equipment?
According the harmonized tariff schedule chapter 98 (hence tariff codes starting with 9801.00) do not yet exist in Turkey. The U.S. Government has been notified that in order for imported equipment to be sent back for repair and upgrade is allowed via a written permission by the Under Secretariat of Customs. If the product however gets upgraded the value of the upgraded amount is then charged and duty is applicable on that portion only.

How should the commercial invoice appear?
See answer to question B.


The responses were prepared by U.S. Department of Commerce/Commercial in Ankara, Turkey, in winter/spring 2003. For more specific questions, please contact:


Special Note: The above information is intended to serve only as unofficial guidance. In seeking to obtain government rulings in specific cases, it will often be necessary to refer to special laws, separate regulations and announcements, and case-by-case decisions by the government. Beyond the general guidelines shown above, legal counsel should be retained at an early stage of consummation of a major procurement contract, and before entering into any legal commitments.

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