Useful Tips in Turkey

Tax Refund

You Can Receive a Tax Refind for the Goods You Purchased In Turkey!

Refunds will be made to travellers who do not reside in Turkey.

All goods (including food and drinks) are included in the refunds with the exclusion of services rendered.

The minimum amount of purchase that qualifies for refund is 5.000.000 TL.

Retailers that qualify for tax refunds must be "authorised for refund." These retailers must display a permit received from their respective tax office.

The retailer will make four copies of the receipt for your refund, three of which will be received by the purchaser. If photocopies of the receipt are received the retailer must sign and stamp the copies to validate them. If you prefer the refund to be made by check, a Tax-free Shopping Check for the amount to be refunded to the customer must be given along with the receipt.

For the purchaser to benefit from this exemption he must leave the country within three months with the goods purchased showing them to Turkish customs officials along with the appropriate receipts and or check.

There are four ways to receive your refund

• If the retailer gives you a check it can he cashed at a bank in the customs area at the airport. If it is not possible to cash the check upon departure or if you do not wish to cash it then, .e customer must, within one month, send a copy of the receipt showing that the goods have left the country to the retailer who will, within ten days upon receiving the receipt, send a bank transfer to the purchaser's hank or address.

• If the certified receipt and check are brought back to the retailer on a subsequent visit thin one-month of the date of customs certification, the refund can be made directly to the purchaser.

• Retailers may directly refund the amount to trustworthy customers upon purchase

• The refund may be made by the organisation of those companies that are authorised to make tax refunds.

Postal System

Turkish post-offices are easily recognized by their black PTT letters on a yellow background. Major post offices are open from 8:00 a.m. till 12:00 p.m., Monday/Saturday, and 9:00 a.m. till 7:00 p.m., Sunday. Small post-offices have the same hours as the government offices.

Postal charges vary for different services depending on destination. Post restante letters should be addressed "postrestant" to the central post-office Merkez Postanesi, in the town of your choice. You have to show your identification card to collect your letters.

All PTT branches have the facilities to exchange money at the current international exchange rates, as well as international postal orders and travellers' cheques. There is also an express postal service (APS) operating to 90 countries for letters , documents and small packages. A wide variety of special stamps are available in all PTT centers for philatelists.

To phone from PTT telephone booths, which are extensively found in all areas; telephone cards , and tokens (";jeton") in three sizes are used. Local, inter-city and international calls can be made from all PTT offices. Besides these main offices there are also mobile PTT services in the touristic areas. For the area codes of major cities and touristic areas in Turkey, please see the "Area Codes" list. Foreign countries area codes are indicated in the International Telephone Codes list.

Children

Family is very important to Turkish people, and you will find that children are welcomed everywhere, which makes for a very relaxing and enjoyable holiday. It is perfectly normal for even very young children to eat out in the evening with their parents. Many restaurants do provide high chairs, and those that don't seem to be very good at improvising. Formula milk and nappies are easily available, although if you want a specific brand, then it is probably best to take it with you. It is not always easy to find baby food in jars, but restaurants and hotels are very accommodating and will usually be pleased to puree food for you. Again, if your child is used to a specific brand it may be better to take it with you. UHT milk is widely available in small cartons, with a straw, which is useful for toddlers and older children. Most hotels will provide cots if these are requested in advance. These can vary quite widely in standard, however, so it is a good idea to check in advance what type of cot is being provided and whether or not it is suitable for your child - some have lower sides than those common in the UK, for example, so are fine for a baby but not suitable for a more mobile toddler. Children's car seats are still seen as a luxury item in Turkey but most tour operators and car hire companies will be able to provide them for you on request. You should not, however, assume that this will automatically be the case. Many of the larger hotels have children's clubs and are able to arrange babysitting services. There are also some tour operators who provide these services.

In general, Turks and Turkey have a welcoming, relaxed approach to children and will go out of their way to be accommodating and helpful. As long as you are flexible you should have no problems.

Currency

Turkish Lira is available in the following denominations:

Banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50 anc 100 TL Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 Kurus and 1 TL

You can obtain currency before travelling to Turkey or on arrival. Exchange rates are usually slightly better in Turkey and all international airports have exchange facilities. Usually, cash can be exchanged without charging commission in exchange offices, banks or hotels. Please note that Scottish notes are not accepted in Turkey. Travellers' cheques can be exchanged in banks only. Cash point machines (ATM) are available in most areas, which accept major UK credit and debit cards and give instructions in English. It may be a good idea to inform your bank in advance that you are travelling to Turkey as some will automatically put a stop on cards after the first usage in an attempt to combat fraud. Exchange rates are published daily in Turkish newspapers. If you are planning to exchange currency back from TL before leaving the country, or are making a major purchase, which may need to be declared to customs, you will need to keep your transaction receipts in order to show that the currency has been legally exchanged.

Disabled Travellers

If you have any queries relating to any special needs for your holiday, it is best to check direct with us and/ or your tour operator before booking your holiday. The resorts which are located in relatively flat areas, and are, therefore, better suited to wheelchair users are: Marmaris, Ifmeler, Dalyan, Fethiye/ Calig Beach, Side. Anyone who has difficulty in walking should certainly avoid resorts on steep hills such as Kalkan and Turunc. Obviously, hotel locations vary so do check before booking. Some of the newer and larger hotels have rooms specifically designed for wheelchair users, however, even where hotels do not have specific facilities they will usually try their best to be helpful by, for example, allocating a ground floor room. Many Turkish resorts and cities are not planned for wheelchair access, which can make life difficult, however, you will find that Turks always try their best to be helpful and will gladly improvise to find a solution.

Driving

You can drive in Turkey with EU, US or International driving licence. You should have your driving licence, your passport and insurance documents of the vehicle with you in the car at all times, as you will need it if you are involved in an accident. All of the major international car rental companies, as well as a number of local ones, have offices at airports and all major centres.

Driving in Turkey is on the right, as in continental Europe. Turkish road signs conform to the International Protocol on Road Signs and archaeological and historic sites are indi¬cated by yellow signs. Turkey has a good network of well-maintained roads. There is a 50 km per hour speed limit within urban centres and 90 km outside urban centres (120 km on Motorways). Petrol stations are fairly easy to find and on main highways, they are often open 24hrs and have restaurants and other facilities attached. Unleaded (kurşunsuz) petrol is easily available. Garages for repairs are often concentrated on certain streets within a town or can be found on highways.

If you are planning on driving to Turkey, as well as your passport, you will need to take your international driving licence, car registration documents and international green card (insurance card) with the TR sign clearly visible (NB: This can be purchased on arrival at the border). You can bring your own car into the country for up to six months. If you wish to keep you car in Turkey for more than six months, you are liable to pay import tax.

Language

The official language is Turkish. English and German are widely spoken in major cities and tourist resorts, and you will find that most Turks welcome the opportunity to practise their language skills and will go out of their way to be helpful. Foreign visitors who attempt to speak even a few words of Turkish, however, will definitely be rewarded with even warmer smiles. It is not an easy language to learn, however, it does have one huge advantage in that it is completely phonetic. Unlike English, each letter of the alphabet has only one sound and is always pronounced in exactly the same way, apart from in combination with 'y' or 'g'. Even foreign words used in Turkish are adapted into Turkish phonetic spellings, which can offer some clues towards pronunciation - try saying the following out loud: ketçap, taksi, futbol, ofsayt. There is no 'q', 'w' or 'x' in Turkish and there are some additional characters. The accent usually falls on the first syllable in the word.

Living and / or working In Turkey

If you wish to stay in Turkey longer than the three month period allowed to tourists or to set up a business with or without a Turkish partner, you will need a residence visa. You will need to apply to the Turkish Consulate in London for your visa and it is advised that you submit all documents relevant to your application at least eight weeks before your intended date of departure. Your application will be referred to the relevant Turkish authorities for their approval.

After obtaining the visa, you are required to register with the local police within a month following your arrival in Turkey in order to obtain a residence permit. If you wish to extend your permit for a further period, you should apply to the same police headquarters before the permit expires. Household items may be taken into Turkey through a system called "temporary import" provided that the validity of the residence permit is at least one year. For details of the relevant regulations please contact the Office of the Finance and Customs Counsellor at the Turkish Embassy in London which can also provide information on the regulations concerning the temporary import of a car into Turkey.

Mobile Phones

The major GSM operators in Turkey are Turkcell, Vodafone and Avea. You can use your mobile phone in Turkey if your provider has enabled international roaming. However if you intend to stay for a long time in the country or make several calls, it may be preferable to buy a local prepaid SIM card. Take your mobile phone and passport to a Turkish mobile phone shop where your new SIM will be registered along with your handset's IMEI number and your personal information. (Unregistered phones will be blocked and unable to receive or make calls.) Turkey has very wide mobile coverage networks so you shouldn’t have any problems in the main cities and tourist resorts.

Police

There are two types of police in Turkey - civil police –polis- and military police –jandarma-. In many areas you will find that there is just one or the other, and that both fulfil the same function. In some places, there are also specialist tourist police. If you need to report a crime you should go to the nearest police station to where the crime occurred. In tourist areas there will usually be someone available who speaks English or you can request a translator. You will usually be asked to submit and sign a statement. It is advisable to request a copy of any documents in case you need them at a later stage.

Public Holidays

There are two types of public holiday in Turkey: those which are decided by the government and which fall on the same day each year; and the religious festivals which change according to the lunar calendar and, therefore, fall on different dates each year.

On public holidays, banks and government offices are closed. In general, life in seaside resorts is not affected as these are the times when Turkish people also go on holiday. Shops and businesses away from tourist areas may close, however, so you should bear this in mind when travelling inland or to city areas.

Public Holidays

New Years Day, 1 January

National Sovereignty and Children's Day, 23 April

Ataturk Commemoration and Youth Sports Day, 19 May

Victory Day, 30 August Republic Day, 28 (half day) 29 October

Religious Festivals

Ramazan Bayramı (Eid)

This is the festival which falls at the end of Ramazan, a period of fasting. Traditionally, sweets are exchanged as gifts. In more rural and conservative areas, you may find it more difficult to eat or drink in public during Ramazan period.

Kurban Bayramı (Great Eid)

Traditionally, a sheep or cow is sacrificed at this time and the meat distributed to the needy and friends, family and neighbours.

Public Transport

The preferred means of transport in Turkey is by coach, and the air-conditioned intercity coach services are comfortable, fast and inexpensive. Each town has a bus station (otogar), where each bus company has its own office, where you can make reservations and buy tickets. Alternatively, you can buy tickets from local travel agencies.

Within towns and between local villages, there are local bus services as well as the dolmus services. These are shared taxis, usually a minibus, and sometimes a large car, which operate along set routes, picking up and setting down passengers as they go. There is a set fare depending on how far you are travelling and you pay this to the driver. They are an in expensive way of getting around. The name “dolmus” literally means 'stuffed' - from the fact that they do not have a set timetable but wait until they are full before setting off.

Taxis

Taxis are easy to spot as they are all bright yellow in colour. All have a meter, and you should ensure that this is switched on at the beginning of your journey. There are two tariffs 'gunduz' for journeys which take place during the daytime and 'gece' for those which take place at night, which are charged at a higher rate. If you are travelling outside the city boundaries it is usual to agree a fixed rate in advance.

Visiting a mosque

Five times a day, the "müezzin" calls the faithful to prayer to mosque. Before entering a mosque, Muslims wash themselves and remove their shoes. Foreign visitors should also remove their shoes and show the respect they would any other house of worship and avoid visiting the mosque durin prayer time. Women should cover their heads and ams, and not wear miniskirts. Men should not wear shorts. (In certain famous mosques, overalls are provided for those not suitably dressed.)
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