Doesn’t it feel good? Because you have finally arrived at your destination. Yes, I am talking about Istanbul, the very place that you have heard of a million times and have always wondered about going to see for yourself! I believe you are curious to see the magnificent historical artifacts. Discovering Istanbul will definitely be fun, but first, there is a particular asset we need to clarify; how will you stay tax-free while discovering this majestic city?

Shopping in Istanbul

To be honest, discovering Istanbul will directly lead to shopping in Istanbul since prices are pretty affordable, and the environment is eligible to make you want to wear that ultra-soft silk dress. Imagine the Grand Bazaar, seeing unending kinds of endemic spices of the highest quality, and imagine the gifts you could buy for your loved ones! But just because prices are affordable and shopping in Istanbul is so attractive, will we not conserve our money? Fear not! It is relatively easy to save your money by staying tax-free while shopping throughout Istanbul.

Tax-Free Shopping

See, there is a certain kind of tax that almost every country implements for sales regarding the end customer. You might have heard of it as Value-Added-Tax (VAT), but in Istanbul, it will show itself as KDV on the receipt. This is the tax which we are trying to stay tax-free from. Unlike the United States of America and some other countries, in Turkey, when you buy a product, this VAT tax is involved in the receipt. Every citizen is obligated to pay it. But hey, you are a tourist discovering Istanbul. Unless you decide otherwise, you will only visit Istanbul for a certain amount of time. And these taxes are not your concern. Thankfully, the Turkish constitution allows you to be tax-free in Istanbul.

If you are at an international airport in Istanbul, you can notice there is a place called the “Customs Office”. That is the place where you can get your tax refund. Also, if you fly to another international airport anywhere in Turkey, you can still get your money back. Now you might be asking, “What are the terms and conditions to get my money back?” Well, it is actually pretty easy.

What to Do?

In order to become tax-free in Istanbul, you will need to focus on a couple of simple details. While discovering Istanbul, you will have to keep the receipts of the products you bought. Saving the receipts safely until you visit the international airport at the end of your trip will get you a sweet tax-free experience. In this case, the airports you are looking for should be Sabiha Gökçen Airport or Istanbul International Airport. You will have to visit the “Customs Office” in those airports. Remember, Istanbul is enormous, and the airport will probably be pretty active and thus crowded. Also, remember to visit the “tax-free” before you check in your luggage because if you export items with a high price tag, they will most definitely ask to check your items. 

Customs Office

You might need to visit the “Customs Office” sometime before your flight departs since various factors can delay you. Being a couple of minutes early won’t hurt anyone. The amount you receive will be equal to the amount of VAT at your receipt per item that you have the receipt of. If you happen to fly to another city in Turkey, you can still become tax-free by visiting the Customs Office in that airport. But please remember that only International Airports have this specific service. There are also a couple of simple details necessary to shop tax-free in Istanbul. 

First and most importantly, you must present the receipt you received from the stores while shopping in Istanbul, and you must also be over the quota. Being over the quota means you will need to spend a certain amount of minimum money while shopping in Istanbul to shop tax-free. This amount is declared annually and depends on the inflation rates every year. Do not worry; since Istanbul is relatively affordable and has plenty of things to offer, it will be worth going over the quota. Then here comes another rule, you will have to take the products you bought in Istanbul, out of Turkey, in three months. Also, you must not have been in Turkey for more than 6 months, and you must purchase from tax-free shops.

After complying with every single rule and being over the minimum quota, there are a couple of methods for you to receive your money. As a first and most straightforward choice, you can receive money in cash at the tax-free (Customs Office) at the airport. You can get your refund amount transferred to your credit card by sending the stamped Tax Free Point Cheque to related tax-free companies. 

So, this is it, now that you know how to discover Istanbul while still conserving your money by tax-free shopping, now you can enjoy your visit even better and more responsibly. Next time, while buying that silk dress or maybe that spice you have never heard of before, remember to buy a little more for your neighbors since it will be tax-free. But most importantly, enjoy discovering this legendary city. 


Frequently Asked Question

Where can I buy authentic oriental souvenirs in Istanbul?
Grand Bazaar.
What is the most prolific airport in Istanbul?
Sabiha Gokcen Airport.
What is the rule to purchase from tax free shops?
You can’t be in Turkey for more than 6 months to purchase tax-free.