Turkey tightens its Custom Tax Policy for individual imports

24 May 2019


Recently, the Presidency of Republic of Turkey rendered a decision that amended custom tax ratios and exemptions for certain types of goods. The decision numbered 1111 was published on the Official Gazette numbered 30775 and dated on May 15, 2019 ("Decision").

The Decision amends the previous Cabinet of Ministers Decision on the Implementation of Certain Articles of Customs Law Numbered 4458; dated September 9, 2009 and numbered 2009/15481, relating to the tax exemptions applicable to purchase of certain goods for personal use with the amounts below certain monetary thresholds. The amendments on customs tax introduced by the Decision can be categorized under amendments on custom tax applied to goods that are (i) delivered to Turkey by mail or express cargo services and (ii) brought by passengers.

Firstly, on goods that are delivered to Turkey by mail or express cargo services, the Decision abolishes the custom tax exemption that was formerly applicable to the goods whose prices are lower than EUR 22.00. The Decision maintains the existing customs tax exemption for books and other printed publishing which are not exceeding EUR 150.00 in terms of purchasing price; indeed, it further grants customs tax exemption for books and other printed publishing, which are not exceeding EUR 1,500.00 in terms of purchasing price.

Secondly, on goods brought by passengers, the Decision revises the customs tax exemption that is applicable to the personal mobile phones brought to Turkey (i) along with the passengers, or (ii) either 1 month prior to, or 3 months after the passenger's entrance. According to the new regime, a passenger who brings a personal mobile phone to Turkey will be exempt from paying a customs tax for it, so as long as it brings only 1 mobile phone within a 3 calendar years period and it will use the mobile phone only with cellular subscriptions owned by itself. Before that, the passenger would be exempt so as long as it brings only 1 mobile phone within a 2 calendar years period, without any matching-up requirement between the owners of the cellular subscription that will use the brought mobile phone and the mobile phone brought.

Apart from above, the Decision, increases the authority limit of the Ministry of Trade from 5 times to 10 times, while determining the monetary thresholds to be applicable to the exemptions as well as to the goods that are subject to the export regime.

In light of the foregoing, it could be construed that Turkey's government pursues a strategy for hindering personal demand for direct import goods. Accordingly, it could be asserted that the Decision will diminish Turkish customers' demand for online marketplace goods that are shipped to Turkey due to increased customs costs.


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