Turkey imposes tax on all imported e-commerce goods

Turkey will charge import taxes on all goods ordered from abroad, with the exception of books, abandoning an existing waiver for lower value items.

The government was responding to complaints from local businesses that previous arrangements created unfair competition.

Turkey will impose import duties of up to 20 percent on the e-commerce goods, as well as other items arriving by post, from the end of May, according to a decree by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday.

Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who is Erdogan’s son-in-law, said in February that Turkey would take steps against tax avoidance by digital e-commerce firms after meeting with businessmen in Ankara. Turkey received 26 million packages between zero to two kilograms during 2018 from just one country, he said at a Tax Council Meeting on Feb. 27.

The tax on the imports will be 18 percent on items sourced directly from the European Union and 20 percent on other goods. The limit on the value of the imports was set at 500 euros. Books with a total value of up to 150 euros are exempt and can be sent into Turkey free of customs taxes.  

Turkey has charged a tax of up to 20 percent on goods coming from abroad since last year but only if the declared value exceeded 22 euros.

The government also imposed a stricter limit on the import of items such as televisions and mobile phones in personal luggage carried from abroad, according to Wednesday’s ruling. People have the right to import such goods once every three years, an increase from once every two years.