What happens if you need to leave Turkey temporarily but your foreign registered car is still in Turkey.

If you’ve brought your foreign registered car into Turkey as a visitor you’re limited to a maximum stay of 6 months before you need to take it out of the country. But what happens if you need to leave Turkey in the interim to renew your tourist visa or go back to your country for a while?

I brought my UK registered vehicle into Turkey via Ipsala on the Greek border in October 2006. The vehicle was recorded in my passport next to my visa with a reference number and the date I needed to take the vehicle out again. However, I planned to return to the UK for a few weeks before Christmas so I decided to find out what I needed to do. I understood from a friend that I would need to leave the vehicle with Customs, but with the rules and regulations changing so frequently in Turkey I decided I would double check. So, the next time I was at Dalaman airport picking up a friend, I called into the Customs office (Signposted Gumruk) on the airport site to ask them. They confirmed the process and said it would take about an hour in total to complete. I thought this sounds straightforward so I left their offices feeling fairly happy not least because I could actually leave the country without the car.

We were departing from Dalaman to the UK on a Friday so we set off with plenty of time to spare. We arrived at the Customs office around 2:00pm – after their lunch break. We went into the Customs office and explained in our basic Turkish what we wanted. A man with a limp and a heavy Turkish accent shouted back something and then proceeded slowly to take us to the car pound where he continued to talk. We deducted from his actions and language that he was explaining that the car park was full! He then said Antalya, Denizli, Izmir.

We thought “Wonderful” or words to that effect! Our flight is due to leave in 4 hours so there’s no way we can do that. But we work out that this guy might just think we’re dumping the car here and he doesn’t want the hassle of doing all the paper work. Judging by cars in the car pound this seems to be a favourite pastime of many ex-pats who don’t want to drive their old cars back to the UK. There’s even an old Citroen and caravan in the pound!

{mosimage}So, we explained again that we were only returning to the UK for 3 weeks and would be back again to pick it up. Just at that moment our knight in shining armour appeared. He was a young employee who understood what we were saying and soon organised the other staff into action. He took my passport, driving licence and car registration document and began filling in a form within a large ledger. From time to time he would rouse the other staff  to do things for him. I was then given the form and my passport and asked to visit an office further down the building. I knocked and entered. There was a woman sat behind a large desk with a couple of people sat around – she was the boss. I gave her the paperwork and she called another person in. She asked the man a few questions. She then looked me up and down and started writing on a piece of paper. When she finished writing she gave me my papers back and I took all the pieces of paper back to the guy who then stamped my passport. Everything was then whisked away again to be signed by the boss. When the paper work was returned I was asked to move the car into the compound. They unlocked the gate and I parked up.

We returned to the office and I signed various forms including a receipt and handed them my car key. They put their own paperwork into an envelop along with the key, handed me my passport, registration form and my own copy of the receipt. I was free to go!

All in all it took just over an hour to complete the process and, besides the initial misunderstanding, was straightforward.

When we passed through immigration at Dalaman airport the immigration officer didn’t even register that the car stamp had been put into my passport. I would have thought he would have done a double take or even checked it but he just stamped my visa and let me through. I did go through my mind whether all this had been worth it. Maybe I could have chanced it and tried to get through without leaving it with Customs? But with a flight to catch this would have been a big risk to take.

Keep an eye out for our next article when we have to go through the whole process again to get the car back out of the compound and into our possession.


  1. Great Articles!
    Just wanted to comment on the last part about ‘chancing it’.
    I brought a UK registered car to Turkey last September, and have since left and re-entered the country three times without any hassle, while leaving the car ‘on the road’.
    They did not seem to give any notice to the car stamp.
    Now comes the process of exiting with the car, which will be liable to fine as it has overstayed by two months.
    Again thank you for the great articles!

  2. Vid Iv,
    how did you get on taking the car out of Turkey? I ask as I am in the same boat and I am loosing loads of sleep over it!



  3. I have driven to Turkey lots of time and leaving your car at customs could take between 1-3 hours depending on who deals with you. Good luck.