Cablegate: Turkish Laws Regarding Cargo Handling

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

Ref: State 55415

1. The Turkish Customs Undersecretariat provided
information in response to questions on cargo handling
posed in reftel. The following is an informal Embassy
translation of Customs' written response.

2. Begin Embassy Translation of Customs U/S Note:

Shipping/Cargo Manifests:

Cargo manifests are required in connection with the
shipment of goods on board while ships, trains, and
aircraft are departing the country, and entering the
country. The vehicles, which are subject to cargo
manifests, should be inspected by the Turkish Customs
authorities according to the law.

Those vessels transiting Turkey's territorial sea should
proceed directly towards their target destination without
stopping and being in connection with other ships. These
ships cannot be stopped unless emergencies or "force-
majeure" conditions. These ships - if they have to stop -
can only stop at a port where a customs authority is
located. Transit ships are governed under the Montreux
Agreement and according to the "Most-Favored-Nation" rule
cannot be subject to an inspection. Transits are watched
from outside.

Otherwise, loads of vessels and all related documents are
inspected. If required, the goods in port warehouses can
be sealed.

Turkey takes all the precautions, and inspects during
loading and unloading process from vessels or aircraft.
Turkish authorities are fully in control to prevent any
illegal loading activity for goods and passengers of

Unless there a suspicious situation or a warning exists,
those vessels entering into the Straits are inspected at
their destination port. If a formal request is received
from the warning side, owner and/or agent of the vessel,
for the inspection to be made before arrival at the
destination, then the request is evaluated by the related
Coast Guard. The action is performed if the request is
found suitable. The Guard detects any unusual situation
and/or a suspected violation, and an official report is

Turkey's law does not permit officials from another
country, even with the consent of Turkey, to detain
individuals on vessels operating under Turkey's flag in
country's territorial sea.

Customs authorities at the airports are in charge of the
inspection of incoming and outgoing carriers.

The following rules should be met, for all carriers
traveling to and from Turkey:

A) All vehicles should enter into and depart from Turkey
from the Customs gates.
B) All air carriers should land on and take off from an
airport where a customs authority exists.
C) Any vessel entering into Turkish sea territory cannot
change its original route unless an extraordinary
situation, or a "force-majeure" condition exists.

At least 3 hours before vessels' arrival to and departure
from Turkish ports, the owner or the agent should inform
Turkish Customs Administration.

The information should include all call cargo details;
i.e. number of passengers, size of cargo,
arrival/departure time, taxi period, arrival port. Unless
this information is received, the Customs authority does
not permit the vessel to taxi or depart. Vessels can
leave the port after Customs officials complete the

The vessel can be searched under a warning or a violation
is detected. The inspection is registered by an official

If the vessel stops at more than one port within Turkish
territory, all passengers and cargo are subject to Customs
control at all these ports.
Captains of the ships arriving to the port or departing
the port must fill in the questionnaire provided in the
Customs Regulation Annex 8 and must submit the
questionnaire to the customs authority of the port.
In the case where the final point of arrival is not a
Turkish port or airport, ships or aircraft transiting
Turkish territorial waters or air space, or goods brought
to Turkish Customs Region, except the ones loaded in
aircraft, must be handled in accordance with the
procedures and essentials identified by the
Undersecretariat as follows:

A) They must be taken to a determined customs office or a
place found appropriate by the customs office,
B) They must be taken directly to a free zone via sea or
air or via highway without passing through a Turkish
Customs Region.

The person, who brought the goods to the Turkish Customs
Region, or the person, who assumes the transfer of the
goods after arrival, must submit the goods to customs by
bringing them to the customs office or to the place
determined by the customs office in accordance with the
procedures and essentials identified by the

Customs is notified that the goods, which entered into the
Turkish Customs Region, are brought to customs office or
to a place determined or found suitable by the customs
office. This process is called "submission to customs".

After submission to customs, general information related
to the vehicle and the goods submitted to the customs are
declared in accordance with the form in Customs Regulation
Annex 9, this is called "summary declaration". The
original manifest or main consignment must be attached to
the summary declaration.

A summary declaration is submitted to the related customs
office by the close of business of the day following
submission of the goods customs. It is also possible that
the summary declaration is registered to the customs
office before the vehicle arrives in the Turkish Customs
Region. In this case, the approval procedures for the
summary declaration, where the vehicle is registered
before its arrival to customs area, are not performed.

Instead of the summary declaration, in the case a document
such as original manifest, consignment, CMR, CIM, CIV, TIR
card or Free Zone Operation Form is submitted by the
carrier or representative, that document is also accepted
as a summary declaration. However, in the offices where
the customs operations are computerized, the carrier or
the representative must register the summary declaration
by using the software system, without the obligation to
take hard copies.

The goods brought to Turkish Customs Region are unloaded
under the control of customs. An unloading list is
prepared by sea, land and air vehicle owners, or captain,
pilot, driver or authorized personnel of the agency and
temporary storage place administrative officials within 24
hours after unloading of the goods, and it is signed by
the customs official and vehicle owner, driver or
representative and the temporary storage place official.

The kind of goods and their gross weight, number, kind,
brand and number of containers, name of the vehicle and
trip number are indicated in the unloading list.

The summary declaration or information presented in
commercial or official documents used as summary document
and submitted to the customs by the owners of the
vehicles, captains or agencies, is compared with the
unloading list prepared during the unloading process. If a
discrepancy is seen, it is noted on the summary
declaration or documents used as summary declaration, and
an official report is prepared related to the situation
which will lead to investigation of absence/excess in
summary declaration.

The goods, which are listed in the summary declaration but
not in the unloading list, are considered a mistake in the
summary declaration. The goods, which are listed in the
unloading list but not in the summary declaration, are
considered an over-declaration.

Goods Departing Turkish Customs Region

The goods departing Turkish Customs Region are subject to
the controls made by customs offices according to the
legislation, and are deported under customs control
according to the methods set previously.

Before the vehicle sets off, the carrier or
representatives submit summary declaration related to the
goods departing Turkish Customs Region to the customs

However, for the exports made via sea, summary declaration
may be submitted by the close of business of the day after
the ship departs. In this case, summary declaration,
statement and transportation bill are compared and, if
found appropriate, the summary declaration and statement
are closed. In case of a discrepancy between statement and
transportation bills, a fixed fine is charged for the
cases other than discrepancies in type, variety, quality,
quantity and value of the goods, and for differences not
exceeding 5 percent surplus in the tax accrual resulting
from type, variety and quality.

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