New arrivals to Turkey may drive with their valid driving licence regardless of its country of issue; carrying an International Driving Licence/Permit (IDL/P) is optional but not obligatory unless the foreign licence does not display an identity photograph.
Foreign residents in Turkey may drive using their valid foreign licence; however, a notarised translation of the licence must be kept with it at all times. A notarised translation can be provided, for a fee, by a Turkish translation firm offering notarisation and certification services, or by the relevant consular office (or embassy) in Turkey which has certified translators available.
Anyone without a valid driving licence must take a driving test before being able to drive on Turkish roads. The information below is a basic guide to the process when applying for and taking a Turkish driving test. For detailed or specific information, enquire at a driving school.
How to Get a National Driving Licence in Turkey?
There are nine categories of driving licence in Turkey. Licence holders may only drive a vehicle in the category (categories) for which their licence is valid.
- Category A1 is a scooter licence
- Category A2 is a scooter and motorcycle licence
- Category B is for passenger cars. The minimum age for a category B driving licence is 18
The Turkish driving test includes a written exam and a practical test. Applications for the theory and the practical test are made at the local Road Traffic Office (Karayolları Trafik Müdürlüğü). There are no compulsory lessons for these examinations; however, ten hours of first aid classes (ilkyardım) and eight hours of road-traffic awareness with a certified organisation are mandatory. It takes a month to complete the course. Learner drivers may not be absent for more than one-fifth of the course hours without an excuse. Candidates must also get a medical certificate and have an eyesight test before starting to learn to drive.
To obtain a driving licence, it is necessary to register with an authorised driving school and pass a theory and practical test.
The theory test is based on knowledge of the Turkish highway code and can only be taken in Turkish, however, a translator may accompany the candidate to the test. It is necessary to correctly answer 70 percent of the 100 questions.
If informed in advance, the General Directorate of Educational Technology can organise a room or suitable setting for the theory test for candidates with disabilities.
Once the learner driver has successfully passed the theory test, the candidate may take the practical test. This takes place on Saturdays or Sundays and lasts a minimum of 15 minutes and tests the candidate’s driving skills on the road.
Both theory and practical tests take place on specific dates and candidates may have to wait up to four months before being able to take the tests.
Once these tests have been successfully passed, present the relevant documents at the local Transport Registrar (Trafik Tescil Müdürlüğü), which is situated at the local police station. After presentation of the following documents the driving licence is issued:
- Certificate issued after passing the theory and practical tests
- Original and copy of proof of identity, translated into Turkish and notarised
- Copies of school diplomas, translated into Turkish and notarised
- Document stating blood group and medical certificate
What is the easiest way to get a driving license in Turkey?
Please note that if you will register in any authorised driving schools, they will help you with all procedures. The only thing you will need to do is to pay them the due amount and follow their instructions.
Roads in Turkey
The roads in Turkey are fantastic. They are far better than in Australia. Most of the time we were the only car driving on four or six lane highways. The road from Asmara to Sinop along the Black Sea coast is still being worked on but after the first part of the road that winds around the hills you arrive in Inebolu and from there it is an easy drive as it follows the coast. Turkey is not Italy or France where you want to get off the main road all the time but you certainly have to pick the roads you take for they can lead you nowhere!
Navigation in Turkey
I love maps but on this occasion, we used both the Tom Tom navigation system and the Ipad.
The Tom Tom was the winner…taking us on the major roads instead of small dirt tracks that seemed to be the best way to go according to the Ipad. I found it was easier to use the Ipad in a town when we were trying to find our way to a hotel.
Sign posts – Driving in Turkey
Road signage is excellent in Turkey. There are large signs on highways and major roads to indicate the next town and the turn you have to make. Signs follow the international colours of blue for towns and brown for tourist attractions. There are also many signs on the smaller roads.
Police – Driving in Turkey
The police are active on the roads with radar guns checking that speed limits are being adhered to. They also like to randomly stop you to check your car papers so make sure they are handy.
Drivers – Driving in Turkey
Turkish drivers are, on the whole good but you do have to be aware of the erratic few who like to pass on a bend or feel they can make a new lane.
Driving in Istanbul is not as bad as some wish to portray….we picked up our car near the airport and followed the ring road out of the city and over the bridge virtually staying in the one lane the whole way.
Toll charge cards in Turkey
There are not as many toll roads as you might expect considering the high quality and condition of the roads.
Check with your rental company to see if you have a HGS or OGS card that automatically charges you as you go through tolls. We paid 20euro to the car company to keep their card valid for the time of the hire. As you go through the toll gates, you choose the lane for the company your card is. Easy!
Parking in Turkey
You really should not even consider parking in the centre of major cities such as Istanbul. Your best bet is to park on the outskirts and take public transport into the centre which will save you money and a lot of headaches. All of the major cities have marked zones which dictate whether or not you can park and how much it costs. All of the major airports in Turkey have extensive parking both on and off site, and short and long term.
When you park in the street, you will be greeted by a parking attendant who will put a ticket on the windscreen stating the time you parked. Somehow he always seems to know when you are coming back…he will be waiting for you with the bill.
What are the speed limits?
50 kilometres per hour in built up areas.
90 kilometres per hour on open roads.
120 kilometres per hour on motorways.
Fuel – Driving in Turkey
Both petrol and diesel are expensive. Prices varied from 3.70TL to 4. 50TL a litre for diesel which is what most cars use!
The toilets in almost all larger chain service stations are very clean.
What is the Alcohol Limit in Turkey?
The Drink Driving limit in Turkey is 50mg alcohol per 100ml blood. If you drink drive in Turkey there is every chance that the police will stop and breathalyse you. If over the limit, they will either give you a 537 YTL fine or confiscate your licence for six months.
Costs of Driving in Turkey
We booked our car through cartrawler. You do not find out the name of company you have booked with until after the booking has been confirmed. We were happy to do this as the cost was nearly half that quoted by Avis.
Our initial car hire for 35 days cost 852E for a compact, category C car. The Fiat Linea, a basic car from Circular Car Hire was perfect for the job! Extending your car hire does not seem to be problem. Our rental company was happy to do this and I’ve heard that others do the same. They even picked the car up from our apartment in Istanbul at the end of the trip!
We calculated that it cost $US50 per day for the car hire including fuel. We love the freedom that hiring a car gives us and would not do it any other way however this does not suit everyone’s lifestyle or budget.
There are other options. Turkey has a great bus service. The buses that travel from town to town are air conditioned, some have wifi and others even have a bus boy who serves coffee and snacks! Whilst you may not be able to get off the beaten track or stop on the way between villages, it certainly is easier on the pocket!
What phrases might I find useful when driving?
- Dur – Stop
- Dikkat – Attention
- Park yapilmaz – No parking
- Bozuk satih – Rough surface
- Tamirat – Roadworks
- Giremez – No entry
- Tek yon – One way
- Yavas – Slow
- Yaya gecidi – Pedestrian crossing
- Yol kapali – Road closed
Checklist Requirements for Driving in Turkey
If you’re staying for more than 3 months, or if you don’t have a photo card licence, you’ll need an International Driving Permit. Please note that regulations might change regarding different countries in case.
Your motor insurance certificate
Two warning triangles inside the car in case you break down
Headlamp converters (stickers you put on your headlights when you’re driving on the right, so your lights don’t dazzle motorists coming the other way)
- A first aid kit
- A fire extinguisher
- An ‘A’ category standard motorbike licence to hire motorcycles over 50cc – if you have an ‘A1’ category light motorcycle licence you can only hire bikes below 50cc
- You must also:
- Be 18 or over
- Make sure everyone in the car wears a seatbelt at all times
- Wear a crash helmet if you’re riding a motorcycle
- It’s a good idea to have the following:
- Spare bulbs for your car’s external lights
- A Green Card valid for both the European and Asian parts of Turkey – it’s a useful back-up to your motor insurance documents and shows you’ve got the minimum legal level of cover. If you’d like to find out more, contact your insurance company
- Other things you should know:
- You will have to pay tolls for some motorways
- Petrol (leaded and unleaded), diesel and LPG are readily available
- The speed limit is 50kph in built-up areas, 90kph on open roads and 120kph on motorways
- If you’re caught committing a driving offence, you’ll be given an on-the-spot fine
- The drink driving limit is zero – so there must be no alcohol in your blood when driving
- You must use dipped headlights during the day, when driving through Turkey
- You shouldn’t use your horn except in cases of extreme danger
- Children under age 12 can’t sit in the front
- If you’re driving at night, or in rural areas, watch out for livestock or unlit farm vehicles
- If you have an accident, you need to call the police and get an accident report from them
What number do I call for the emergency services in Turkey?
The traffic police are on 154.