The border procedures at the Istanbul International Airports are not that complicated but follow strict rules. And if you’re a duty free fan, you’ll love Turkey. After you shopped duty free prior to boarding the plane, you’re also allowed to buy duty free goods after arriving in Istanbul. Although I’ve never been asked by the customs to open my suitcases, you better stick to the rules. So, if you don’t want to waste time at either check-point, follow the guidelines below.
Border Control Procedures
Every time I return from a trip abroad, I witness at least once the following story unfold. First time visitors to Istanbul are very excited to have finally landed at their destination and head for the border control. Signs are omnipresent in the arrival hall, so that goes pretty smooth. Once there, they avoid the section for Turkish passport holders, and correctly queue in the Other Nationalities part. So far so good. And after waiting for sometimes 20 minutes or more, it’s finally their turn.
They proudly present their valid passports to the border control officer. He flips through the passport back and forth, looking for their Turkish visas. The tourists tell him to look no further. They were told they could buy their visas at the border, and hand the officer the required money. This is where the tourists’ good moods fade away and is replaced with disbelieve, annoyance, yes sometimes even anger.
The officer explains them that he merely checks and records who crosses the border, and that they first have to buy their visas from the booth next to the border control section. So, the tourists are back to square one, and will have to stand in line again.
It may seem obvious to you, but it still confuses too many people: make sure you have a valid Turkish visa before you queue for the border control.
Duty Free Allowance for Items Purchased Abroad
- 200 cigarettes plus 10 cigars plus 200 grams of tobacco to include cigarette papers OR 200 grams of pipe tobacco OR 50 grams of snuff OR 200 grams of chewing tobacco.
- 1 liter bottle of wines or spirits OR 2 x 70 cl bottle of wines or spirits.
- 5 bottles of perfume not exceeding 120 ml each.
- 1 kg of coffee beans
- 1 kg of instant coffee
- 1 kg of tea
- 1 kg of chocolate (1kg).
- personal gifts to the maximum value of €300 and €145 for those under 15.
Please note: that you must be over 18 years of age to carry duty free goods.
Duty Free Allowance for Items Purchased at Airport Arrival Hall
In addition to the items above, you can buy the following goods in the duty free shops in the arrival hall:
- 600 cigarettes
- 3 liters of beverages containing less than %22 of alcohol OR 1 liter of beverages that contains %22 or more of alcohol and 2 liters of beverages with less than %22 of alcohol
- 1000 ml of perfume
- 2 kg of chocolate
Duty free allowances change, so please check before you travel or ask the staff of the duty free shops.