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Free Trade Zones of Türkiye - Part II


Source: Export Promotion Center of Türkiye - Trade Point Ankara

How to Operate in Free Zones  How to Start Operating in a Free Zone  Principles With Regard to Work Permits  Criteria to Assess Operating Licence Applications

How to Operate in Free Zones  In order to engage in operations in free zones, an Operating License have to be obtained from Undersecretariat of Foreign Trade General Directorate of Free Zones. An application form for Operating License can be obtained from General Directorate of Free Zones, Zone Directorates or Zone Operator, Founder/Operator Companies and has to be completed and the documents mentioned below have to be attached to the copy of the said form.

(i) Descriptive information about the Applicant and its Free Zone operation, (ii)Authorization document and specimen signature of the signatory and power of attorney (if any) and specimen signature of the representative of the firm (if any), (iii) Turkish Trade Registration Gazette that announces the establishment of the applicant firm showing its current capital composition (For foreign firms Trade Registration Document ratified by the related Turkish Consulate), (iv) Last three years’ balance sheets, income statements of the firm, (v) The original receipt of application fee deposited to the Central Bank of Türkiye, and its copy, (vi) Documents related to the foreign currency brought to Türkiye during the last three years, (if any), (vii) Branch Establishment Permit obtained from General Directorate of Banking and Foreign Exchange for Banks, Off-Shore Banks and Financial Leasing Institutions and from General Directorate of Insurance for Insurance Institutions. The above mentioned documents have to be sent to Undersecretariat of Foreign Trade General Directorate of Free Zones through Zone Operator, Founder/Operator Company. Top

How to Start Operating in a Free Zone Tenant users may start to operate when they receive their Operating Licenses. On the other hand investor users after receiving their Operating License must obtain a “construction license” to implement their construction projects. When the construction is completed they must get a permission to settle in before they start to perform their activities. However they may perform their free zone activities by renting a closed area during the construction period.

Principles With Regard to Work Permits (CIRCULAR 98/3)                      


1) ‘Foreign Personnel Application Form’ and its attachments must be completed and submitted to the Undersecretariat together with a petition. 2) In the presence of a Work Permit issued earlier by the Undersecretariat of Treasury, General Directorate of Foreign Investment, this permit must be cancelled and the certificate in evidence of this cancellation must be attached to the application file. 3) If the person in question requesting the Work Permit is the owner or the partner of the firm, a translation and a copy of the diploma is not required. 4) In order to extend the term of a Work Permit, a fully completed Foreign Personnel Application Form, an original copy of the prior work permit, six photographs and payment documents showing the social security payments in relation with the working period must be attached to a petition.


1) If the foreign citizen requesting work permit is not the owner or the partner of the firm, he/she must be a qualified personnel or a manager scarce in the native country. It is essential to prove his/her expertness with a diploma, otherwise with a certificate or reference from his/her prior employers. 2) The number of Turkish workers stated in the Operating Licence Application Form will be taken into consideration during the foreign personnel requests. 3) If the number of requested foreign personnel exceeds the amount stated in the Operating Licence Application Form, this must be justified to the Undersecretariat. 


1) The Work Permit is cancelled if a foreign personnel who has received a residence permit from the Ministry of Interior, has not started to work in the free zone within one month or the social security registration is not documented within the framework of the prevailing provisions of the Turkish social security legislation according to Article 21 of the Free Zones Governing Regulation. The Ministry of Interior is informed accordingly on this situation and the Residence Permit is also cancelled. ( However, in cases when there is an agreement between Türkiye and any other country regarding social security, provisions of such an agreement shall also apply.) 2) If it is proved that a foreign personnel who has a Work Permit is employed in Türkiye, the Operating Licence of the employer is cancelled according to article 14 of the Free Zones Governing Regulation. 3) The Work Permit of the foreign personnel is kept by the user during the employment period and the user is responsible of the Work Permit in every aspect. If the Work Permit is lost, The Undersecretariat must be informed accordingly. Furthermore, the original of the Work Permit of the personnel who has left the job or whose Work Permit is cancelled must be returned to The Undersecretariat within a week. Top

Criteria to Assess Operating Licence Applications (CIRCULAR 98/4)   Free zone users must comply with the declarations stated in the Operating Licence Application Form during the operation period. Investor users must start their commercial/production activities after the issue of settlement licence and tenant users must start operations within six months after the date of issue of the Operating Licence. Unless there is force-majeure, continuance is sought in free zone activities. Therefore; it is important that Operating Licence Application Form include correct information on the activities to be performed.

Assessment Criteria

1) In principle, most of the final consumption goods produced or goods subject to purchasing-selling activities in a free zone must be sold to third countries on a yearly basis. Users holding purchasing-selling operating licences are allowed to purchase and sell goods other than the goods mentioned in the Operating Licence on the condition that, they inform the Free Zone Directorate accordingly. However; in this case too, most of the final goods must be sold abroad.

2) If real or legal persons intend to operate in a free zone have an operational business either in Türkiye or in a foreign country, this situation shall be preferable in granting Operating Licences. Top


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