Top tips for export to Turkey

The Turks are traditionally a hospitable people and this colours the prevailing business etiquette. Although appointments are important, many business people will see visitors without one if they are able to do so.

A firm handshake is required at the start of the meeting but not on departure. Once relations develop you may expect a kiss on the cheek. In the West women may shake hands with men but this may not be the case the further East you go.

Personal friendships are very important and when entering a meeting it is better to exchange a little small talk before coming to the main business at hand. Family, food and sport are always good topics to break the ice. Differences in body language are also important. A nod of agreement is the same. But when a Turk means “No” they will nod their head up and back while raising their eyebrows. Moving your head from side to side does not mean “No”. It means, “I don’t understand.”

Giving gifts is central to Turkish culture but avoid making them too lavish. Although relatively informal, at meetings Turkish business people use titles such as Doctor or Mrs but you may be referred to as Mr and then your first name. Business cards (printed in Turkish on one side) should be handed to your colleague with both hands at the start of a meeting. You will always be offered tea or coffee and it is seen as impolite to refuse.

When negotiating don’t always focus on the financial benefits. Other non-monetary incentives such as respect, honour, influence and prestige are equally important.

Dining in restaurants is also another key ingredient in Turkish business life. If invited out it is impolite to refuse. The meal should be used for non-business conversation. Be aware that protocol dictates that your host pays for the meal. Thank them warmly and invite them out for a meal a few days later at which you foot the bill.

Atradius 'Trade Successfully with Turkey' guide


UK Trade & Investment
Akoto Agyeman
Tel: 020 7215 4741

British Consulate General Istanbul
UK Trade & Investment
Mesrutiyet Cad No 34
Beyoglu – Istanbul
Tel: 00 90 212 334 6400
Fax: 00 90 212 334 6402

British Embassy
UK Trade & Investment
Sehit Ersan Caddesi, 46/A
06680 Cankaya, Ankara
Tel: 00 90 312 455 3344
Fax: 00 90 312 455 3351

British Chamber of Commerce in Turkey (BCCT)
MeÅŸrutiyet Cad. No:10 Aslı Han Kat:6 34435 Galatasaray - Ä°STANBUL 
Tel: 90 212 249 04 20 - 249 06 58
Fax: 90 212 252 55 51
UK Phone: 0208 144 09 14