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Shipowner Eligibility 

Registration is restricted to Turkish nationals and firms where the majority of shareholders, executive committee members, and representatives are Turkish nationals.

Foreign persons may hold part ownership of Turkish flag vessels. In accordance with Article 823 of the Turkish Code of Commerce, vessels belonging to companies registered in Turkey are considered Turkish vessels under the following conditions:

• The majority of the executive committee votes are held by Turkish nationals;
• The representatives of the company are Turkish citizens; and
• The shares are registered shares in the names of owners with transfer of these shares permitted only with proper authorization by the executive committee of the company.

Turkish law also allows for the employment of a vessel in trade under a partnership agreement. In such cases, all partners must be co-owners of the vessel in question and must have concluded by mutual agreement the intended nature of employment of the vessel registered in their names. The partnership has no legal personality; however, some of the provisions that apply to legal entities have equal application to partnerships.

About the Flag

Turkey is a member of NATO, the OECD, the United Nations, the European Custom’s Union and the International Maritime Organization. Strategically located straddling both Europe and Asia with substantial Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea ports, the country considers maritime trade and the shipping sector to be of great importance. Turkish is the official language, the capital is Ankara, and the government is a republican parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister is the Head of Government, and the President is the Head of State. There is a unicameral Grand National assembly. The laws are derived from various continental legal systems.

The unit of currency is the Turkish lira. Major trading partners are the European Union nations, the CIS countries, and the United States. The principal industries are iron, steel, machinery and metal products; tobacco, cereals, cotton and barley are the chief crops. Tourism has also developed considerably in the last two decades.

The National Vessel Registry (MGS) is regulated by article 839 and other articles of the Turkish Trade Law no 6762. A ship registry office is established in each of the Trabzon, Samsun, Zonguldak, Istanbul, Bandirma, Canakkale, Izmir, Antalya, Mersin and Iskenderun ports. Geographical boundaries of the registry offices to which the ship ports of registries are dependants are determined and established by the Council of Ministers upon the proposal by the Ministry of Transportation.

The Turkish International Vessel Registry (TUGS) and its regulations were established on December 12 1999 in accordance with the Law No. 4490. The office of TUGS has been established in Istanbul under the body of the Undersecretariat for Maritime Affairs (“The Administration”) in order to carry out the activities of TUGS.

If deemed necessary by the Administration, it may open, upon the approval of the Ministry, TUGS liaison offices in Trabzon, Samsun, Zonguldak, Bandirma, Çanakkale, Izmir, Mersin, Antalya and Iskenderun where there are MGS departments.

Where the policies for registration with the National and International Vessel Registries differ, the distinctions have been outlined appropriately. The complete sets of regulations for the MGS and TUGS, respectively, can be found through contacting the National Vessel Registry (MGS) or the Turkish International Vessel Registry (TUGS).

Company Formation

Turkish law permits four types of corporations to be registered with the Commercial Registry. Anonim Sirket (joint stock/Societé Anonyme type corporation) and Limited Sirket (limited liability company) are the only two forms of organization open to foreigners as shareholders. There are two other types of corporations, the Kollektif (société en nom collectif ) where the liability of the partners is unlimited and the Komandit (société en commandite) where the liability of some partners is unlimited.

Ownership and management of these types of corporations are restricted to Turkish nationals. The Anonim Sirket (“AS”) requires at least three officers and five shareholders while the Limited Sirket, Kollektif and the Komandit require at least one officer and two shareholders. The identities of the shareholders are not kept confidential, and interested parties may obtain a copy of the company’s articles and any other information subject to registration at the trade register. Although in the case of an Anonim Sirket, shares may be issued “to the bearer,” companies who own vessels are required to issue nominative shares so as to be eligible to register their vessels in the Turkish Ship Register. Nominative shares may be issued to corporations or real persons. Companies incorporated under Turkish law are deemed to have their registered office in Turkey.

Companies founded with foreign capital must hold an annual general assembly meeting by the 30th of March each year with the minutes subsequently recorded and published at the trade register. Any increase in the total capital or change in the share allocation to foreigners must be authorized by the General Directorate of Foreign Capitals of the Under Secretariat of Treasury. The AS form of corporation is popular with foreign investors, especially where the amount of capital investment is substantial. To form an AS with foreign capital, the articles of association indicating equity proportion must be drawn up in accordance with the initial license as granted by the Under Secretariat of the Treasury in the department of the General Directorate of Foreign Investments. Notarized articles of incorporation must be presented to the Directorate of Domestic Trade of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Upon approval, the Ministry then issues a Certificate of Incorporation and an application do not differ when forming a Limited Sirket.

A foreign company may also operate through a branch office in Turkey, conditions governing its operation being the same as those governing subsidiaries. Application to establish a branch must be made to the local Registrar of Trade and be accompanied by relevant excerpts from the foreign parent’s articles of incorporation, minutes of the meeting authorizing the branch’s establishment, and a copy of the foreign exchange
purchase receipt issued and ratified by Turkey’s Central Bank. Full details on the various incorporation procedures may be obtained from the Turkish Chamber of Shipping.


National Ship Registry

Income generated by Turkish registered vessels is subject to corporation tax. Currently, shipowning companies are required to pay corporation taxes at the rate of 44%. In order to attract foreign currency, some tax reductions and allowances are granted.

Turkey has entered into double taxations agreements with the following nations: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Isle of Man, Italy, Japan, Jordan, the Republic of Korea, The Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia (for air transportation), Sweden, Tunisia, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

In respect of taxation upon workers’ earnings, the earnings of seafarers in international waters are taxed at lower levels — the current rate applied to seafarers working in domestic waters is 25% whereas the rate applied to seafarers working in international waters is only 10%.

International Ship Registry

The earnings to be acquired from the operation and transfer of the vessels and yachts registered in the Turkish International Ship Registry shall be exempt from the income and institutional taxes and funds.

Purchase, sales, mortgaging, registration, credit and freight contracts related to the vessels and yachts to be registered in the Turkish International Vessel Registry shall not be subject to stamp tax, fees, taxation for banking and insurance transactions and funds. However, as to the sales and transfer of the vessels and yachts subject to the motored vehicles tax, in accordance with Article 13/C of the Law on Motored Vehicles Tax No. 197, a document showing that the unpaid motored vehicles tax, delay payment, delay interests and tax punishments are duly paid shall be requested from the taxation office to which they are connected in respect of motored vehicles tax.

The wages paid to the personnel to be employed in the vessels registered in TUGS shall be exempt from income tax and funds.

Registration and Documentation

There are ten registration offices in the main ports of Turkey (Antalya, Bandirma, Canakkale, Iskenderun, Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin, Samsun, Trabzon, and Zonguldak).

In accordance with Articles 845, 846 and 847 of the CCT, the following original documents must be presented at any of the Turkish Registration Offices:

• • Petition for entry into the registry
• Copies of the identity declaration of residence for natural persons
• Trade Register Gazette and book of authorized signatures for trading companies
• Resolution of the Board of Directors concerning the purchase of the vessel
• Flag Certificate, if any
• Statement from the Under Secretary of Shipping regarding the name of the vessel
• Documents regarding the type of vessel and her material of construction, place of construction and the date of her launch
• Statement concerning the choice of the port of attachment
• Tonnage measurement certificate
• Original, notarized and apostilled Bill of Sale and Turkish translation
• Memorandum of Agreement and notarized translation
• Call sign
• Contract of maritime mortgage, if any, and notarized translation
• Photocopy of import permission
• Certificate of Delivery and Acceptance, along with translation (for the sale of both newbuildings and used tonnage)
• Customs Entry Declaration (essential for taxation and nationalization)
• Commercial invoice
• Original Certificate of Deletion from prior registry and Turkish translation (Pursuant to CCT Article 847, a vessel cannot be registered in the Turkish Registry until her registration in a foreign registry is deleted.)
• Encouragement Certificate and/or Certificate of Exemption issued in accordance with relevant Turkish laws

Faxed documents or photocopies are not acceptable for registration. Upon filing and approval of the above listed documents, the registrar records the vessel and issues the Certificate of Ship which is evidence of entitlement to hoist the Turkish flag. A vessel acquired abroad may obtain a Certificate of Ship from a Turkish consulate before she is permanently registered in Turkey. Such a provisional certificate is valid for up to one year. A mortgage can be constituted by annotation upon a provisional certificate and will be automatically recorded when the vessel is permanently registered at the Turkish Ship Registry.

Bareboat Charter Registration

NAn employed, foreign vessel under the management of Turkish citizens or companies for a period of not less than two years pursuant to a bareboat charterparty may fly the Turkish flag upon the authorization of the Ministry. Bareboat charter registration procedures are the same as outlined above and such persons or companies managing the vessel must fulfill the same conditions required for ownership of Turkish vessels. Foreign vessels are registered in a special bareboat registry. Similarly, an employed, Turkish vessel may be authorized to fly a foreign flag for a period not more than two years when she is under the management of a person or company who is not subject to the conditions required of Turkish flag registration.

The vessels and yachts that are in the scope of bareboat may not be registered in the International Registry (TUGS).

Vessel and Yacht Eligibility & Survey Requirements

There are no age or tonnage requirements for registration of a Turkish flag ship. However the registration of Turkish merchant vessels is obligatory when tonnage exceeds 18 GRT.

The survey and issuance of all international trading certificates are overseen by the Turkish Maritime Administration. However, the International Load Line Certificate, the International Oil Pollution and Prevention Certificate, and other certificates may be issued upon special request by any of the following classification societies:

• American Bureau of Shipping
• Bureau Veritas
• Det Norske Veritas
• Lloyd’s Register of Shipping
• Nippon Kaiji Kyokai
• Registro Italiano Navale
• Turkish Lloyd (Türk Loydu)


National Register

Turkey requires that officers and crew of vessels registered with the National Vessel Registry be Turkish nationals.

International Register

The master shall be a citizen of the Republic of Turkey. Where the deck chief is a Turkish citizen or a company falling in the scope of article 823 of the Turkish Trade Law No. 2627, then at least 51% the personnel excluding the cabotage line shall be Turkish citizens.

The seamen employed in vessels and yachts registered in the TUGS shall be subject to the legislation on Turkish social security and individual and collective labor law.

However, the foreign seamen shall not be subject to disabled, old age and death insurances provided that the provisions of international or bilateral social security contracts are reserved and that they are able to prove that they are subject to a compulsory insurance in their country or to a special insurance in any other country.

Entrance-departure and accommodation of foreign seamen in and from the country

The seaman identity cards of the foreign seamen employed in the vessels and yachts registered in the TUGS, which are recognized by the Ministry, shall be used instead of passports without prejudice to the provisions of the legislation in force regarding the acceptance and deportment of foreigners and provided that the principle of reciprocity is abided.

a) The seamen working in the vessel with which they have made a contract shall not be asked for passports during their entrance in and departure from Turkey for entering/leaving the vessel.

b) They shall not be asked for passports in the harbor cities or during their accommodation in a location adjacent to the harbor city.

c) For the validity of the transactions above, the person concerned shall receive a certification from the vessel owner or the authorized or responsible representative of that vessel, showing that he works or will be working for a vessel registered in TUGS.


Mortgages (in the sense of hypotheque maritime or schiffshypothek) on Turkish vessels must be drafted in accordance with the special articles of the Turkish Code of Commerce. According to the principles of Turkish law, a Turkish mortgage can be effected only on a registered Turkish vessel. The mortgagor and the mortgagee must agree in writing and the signatures must be notarized by a notary public or by a Turkish Consulate if the transaction is carried out abroad. Thereafter, the mortgage must be registered at the Turkish Ship Registry. In case of plurality of mortgages, priority is accorded to the mortgage registered at a higher degree (degrees are the value slices into which the total imaginary value of the mortgaged vessel is divided); the chronological order of registration is of no relevance. If the mortgage of the higher degree is subsequently deleted, the owner can constitute another mortgage at that degree and the mortgages of lower degrees will not gain priority unless a so-called automatic promotion clause is registered in favor of the mortgagee. If this is the case, upon the deletion of the mortgage of a higher degree, the mortgage at the lower degree to which an automatic promotion clause is attached will take the place of the deleted mortgage to the extent of the slice of value granted to the degree occupied by the latter. The rights of the shipyard owner arising from the construction or repair and maintenance of the ship are secured by law by a mortgage over the vessel, but this mortgage must be registered to have any legal effect.

Upon nullification by payment or otherwise of the credit secured, the mortgage ceases to exist and will be deleted from the register at the request of the mortgagee, or, in the instances of refusal in making this request, the mortgage is deleted following a court decision. Turkish law is generous in its provision of articles enabling claims to be secured through maritime liens over a vessel. The existence of maritime liens cannot, however, be detected by examination of the ship Registry as the law does not require registration. Some claimants by an order of the court obtain the registration of their liens as a preventive measure.


Please contact:

Republic of Turkey
Ministry of Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications
Hakkı Turayliç Caddesi No. 5
Phone: +90 312 203 11 16-19
Fax: +90 312 212 49 30

Undersecretariat of Maritime
Gazi Mustafa Kemal Bulvarı No. 128/A
Phone: +90 312 232 38 50 pbx


Republic of Turkey
Ministry of Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications
Hakkı Turayliç Caddesi No. 5
Phone: +90 312 203 11 16-19
Fax: +90 312 212 49 30

Undersecretariat of Maritime
Gazi Mustafa Kemal Bulvarı No. 128/A
Phone: +90 312 232 38 50 pbx

Stockholm Agreement 96
IMO Convention 48
* IMO amendments 91 
* IMO amendments 93
SOLAS Convention 74
SOLAS Protocol 78
SOLAS Protocol 88
LOAD LINES Convention 66
LOAD LINES Protocol 88
TONNAGE Convention 69
COLREG  Convention 72
CSC Convention 72
CSC amendments 93
SFV Protocol 93
STCW  Convention 78
STCW-F Convention 95
SAR  Convention 79
STP Agreement 71
STP Protocol 73
IMSO Convention 76
INMARSAT amendments 94
INMARSAT amendments 98
IMSO amendments 2006
IMSO amendments 2008
FACILITATION Convention 65
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex I/II)
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex IV)
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex V)
MARPOL Protocol 97 (Annex VI)
London Convention 72
London Convention Protocol 96
INTERVENTION Convention 69
CLC Convention 69
CLC Protocol 76
CLC Protocol 92
FUND Convention 71
FUND Protocol 92
FUND Protocol 2003
NUCLEAR Convention 71
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex III)
PAL Protocol 76
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02
LLMC Convention 76
LLMC Protocol 96
SUA Convention 2005
SUA Protocol 2005
SALVAGE Convention 89
OPRC  Convention 90
HNS Convention 96
Cape Town Agreement 2012
SUA Convention 88
SUA Protocol 88

IMO Conventions

Status of Conventions Turkey

IMO Convention 48 x
SOLAS Convention 74 x
SOLAS Protocol 78 x
SOLAS Protocol 88
SOLAS Agreement 96
LOAD LINES Convention 66 x
LOAD LINES Protocol 88 x
TONNAGE Convention 69 x
COLREG Convention 72 x
CSC Convention 72 x
CSC amendments 93
SFV Protocol 93
Cape Town Agreement 2012
STCW Convention 78 x
STCW-F Convention 95
SAR Convention 79 x
STP Agreement 71
Space STP Protocol 73
IMSO Convention 76 x
IMSO amendments 2006
IMSO amendments 2008
FACILITATION Convention 65 x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex I/II) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex III) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex IV) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex V) x
MARPOL Protocol 97 (Annex VI) x
London Convention 72
London Convention Protocol 96
INTERVENTION Convention 69
CLC Convention 69
CLC Protocol 76
CLC Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 76
FUND Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 2003 x
NUCLEAR Convention 71
PAL Convention 74
PAL Protocol 76
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02
LLMC Convention 76 x
LLMC Protocol 96 x
SUA Convention 88 x
SUA Protocol 88 x
SUA Convention 2005 x
SUA Protocol 2005 x
SALVAGE Convention 89 x
OPRC Convention 90 x
HNS Convention 96
HNS PROT 2010 x
OPRC/HNS 2000 x

x= ratification

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