Oops! It appears that you have disabled your Javascript. In order for you to see this page as it is meant to appear, we ask that you please re-enable your Javascript!

Driving in Turkey: all you need to know

HAVING DIFFICULTIES READING?

Is driving in Turkey safe? People ask this question a lot. Would we recommend it? Is it a good way to travel through the country? Driving in Turkey is easy, and, if you ask us, a great way to explore the country. While there is a vast choice of alternative transportation options for those of you who are reluctant to a self-drive road-trip, nothing will give you the freedom of your ‘own’ car. Unless, of course, you’re talking about visiting Istanbul. There’s no better way to discover Istanbul than using public transportation. To explore any other part of the country at your own pace, and cost-effectively, check out this complete guide about driving in Turkey to prepare your own ultimate Turkey road-trip. This guide covers anything from rules & regulations, to how to deal with the toll system, or handling the frivolous driving style of the Turks.

Quick Facts about driving in Turkey – the basic rules

Below is a list of important things you need to know about driving in Turkey. Who is allowed to drive? Do you need a special driving license? What documents do you need to carry? And what are the basic rules and regulations regarding driving in Turkey?

  • In Turkey, people drive on the right-hand side of the road.
  • The Turkish highway code is similar to the code of other European countries, and the International Protocol on Road Signs is followed. So you should be able to follow signs easily.
  • The minimum driving age is 18 in Turkey. You need to be at least 21 to rent a car.
  • You can use your driving license to drive in Turkey if it shows your photo & it’s issued in one of the countries under this reciprocal agreement. If not, or if it’s written in a non-Roman alphabet, you will need an international driving permit. Turkey wants a ‘1949 Convention IDP’. Make sure to verify that yours is valid! Please note that you cannot drive more than six months per year in Turkey using your driving license. This rule also applies when combined with an international driving permit with longer validity. Anyone wishing to stay longer than six months uninterruptedly in Turkey will need to obtain a Turkish driving license.
  • Mandatory documents to carry at all times when driving in Turkey: your passport, your tourist visa, your driving license (and, if applicable, your IDP), proof of vehicle registration, and vehicle insurance.
  • Speed limits in Turkey are as follows: in towns: 50 km/h – two-lane highways: 90km/h – motorways: 120 km/h, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Blood alcohol limit: 50mg of alcohol for every 100ml of blood. Beware, the fines are hefty!
  • Do not use your mobile phone while driving, unless you have a hands-free set.
  • The use of seatbelts is mandatory! So, be cool and wear them!
 

Fun facts about driving in Turkey

Some rules about driving in Turkey are less obvious or not very well known. Still, we felt it wise to share them with you. It’s always good to know, and some will probably put a smile on your face!

  • Pedestrians have an unconditional right of way on pedestrian crossings. As a driver, this means you should stop whenever you see someone about to use a pedestrian crossing. As a pedestrian, DO NOT EVER RELY ON SOMEONE STOPPING! Come to think of it, no matter what your means of transport are, never assume you can use your right of way. Rely on your eyes and instincts only.
  • The letter P indicates a parking spot. Still, Turkish drivers tend to use any surface of public space as a parking spot if this is where they need to be. Double and triple parking is no exception, so embrace the chaos. We do advise you only to use dedicated parking spaces during your travels!
  • Traffic lights mean the same thing as everywhere else in the world, except, in Turkey, nobody seems to care. Much like with right of way, never only rely on the traffic lights, always do a visual check before you enter the road.
  • Smoking in your car is forbidden. Yes, that includes your own vehicle! You will find that Turkish people are rather resourceful when it comes to solving problems like these. The video below is in Turkish, but self-explanatory and hilarious!

  • Roundabouts are difficult to get your head around! Whatever the signs or traffic regulations say doesn’t matter. Be prepared to go with the flow.
  • From December 1st until April 1st, tires with a profile below 1.6 mm must be replaced with winter tires. Some roads even require you to carry snow chains.
  • The use of indicators works in mysterious ways. You have a few scenarios, none of which are any help. Drivers do not use their indicators but still take a sudden turn, or they do use them, but they end up driving in the opposite direction. Another common scenario is the use of the indicator to indicate that you can overtake someone. There you are thinking this car will take a left turn soon, while all this time, the driver was trying to tell you the road was clear to overtake him. Lastly, the situation where a driver indicates he will go left (which he will eventually). Instead, he moves to the right side of the road to let all the traffic pass before he turns left. Each case is equally confusing, so our best advice would be not to pay too much attention to it.
  • Using the car horn is forbidden between 10 pm and sunrise, a rule that people ignore nationwide.

Driving in Turkey with kids

If you look at other cars, you will see whole families in them, with women holding their babies in their arms, and children jumping up and down all over the car. Despite appearances, there are laws in place for driving with children as a passenger. If you want to blend in and you’re trying to live dangerously, you could choose to ignore these regulations. But for both your peace of mind and the safety of your passengers, sticking to the rules is the safest bet.

  • Children under 1.35m or weighing less than 36kg must be seated in proper child seats.
  • Children under the age of twelve can’t sit in the front of your car.

 

The Turkish toll system explained

Turkey has a network of well-maintained motorways connecting all major cities. Some sections are part of the HGS toll system, including the Izmir-Aydın motorway, Izmir-Çeşme motorway, Bosphorus Bridges, European motorway, Anatolian motorway, and Niğde-Mersin-Şanlıurfa motorway. HGS stands for Fast-Pass System or Hızlı Geçiş Sistemi in Turkish. How does the Turkish toll system work?

The principle is very straightforward, and the whole system is automated, thus promising what it stands for: a fast transit through the toll gates. Every car using the HGS toll roads has to be equipped with an HGS label or tag. This tag looks like a sticker with the HGS logo on it, and it usually sits just behind the rear-view mirror on the front windshield. The transponder in the label automatically collects the toll as you drive through the toll gates. Upon arrival at the toll booths, follow an HGS-marked lane and slow down to 30 km/h. The system will show you the exact amount of toll that has been collected automatically.

What about the toll system and rental cars? If you are renting a car in Turkey, and you plan on using one of the toll motorways, make sure to check that your rental car has an HGS tag. Some rental car companies will charge you a flat fee for the use of the tag; others will charge you the correct amounts when you return the car.

What if you’re driving your own car in Turkey? Then you should register the car and buy a tag and credit as soon as possible in a PTT-branch (post office). What if you haven’t found a PTT yet? Or you didn’t know about this? And you’ve crossed the entry point of a toll motorway? Time to start panicking? Not really! The police won’t chase you, no warrant will be out for your arrest, but you might want to keep your eyes open for the PTT-branch right after you exit the tollway. You’ll notice that, usually, that’s where you’ll find a branch if you didn’t spot one upon entering the toll road. Most of the time, PTT personnel will only speak Turkish. Don’t worry about that. Just enter the office carrying your car’s paperwork, your passport, and visa, and your driving license. They will do the paperwork for you and, after payment of the registration fee and the minimum amount to load the tag, you’ll be on your way again. It is, however, always better to have your HGS tag in place before accessing a toll motorway.

You will also receive a piece of paper with a manual on how to install the tag correctly. Alternatively, you can check out the video below. While it is in Turkish, it shows the entire HGS flow from start to finish. Make sure that you do not have any outstanding HGS debts before you leave the country, or you won’t be allowed to leave once you’re at the border! You can read more about the HGS toll system on the government website. If you need to add more credit to your transponder, you can do so at any PTT branch. You also have the option to top up your HGS tag online if you purchased it at PTT. Unfortunately, the website is only available in Turkish. You would need to use the barcode number from the tag, and we are unable to confirm whether the system accepts foreign credit cards or not. So, if you’ve successfully used a foreign credit card to add credit to your HGS account online, please let us know?

Does the HGS toll system also apply to motorcycles? Yes it does! Motorcycles can register to HGS as Class 6 vehicles and can pass toll bridges and motorways for half the price of Class 1 vehicle toll. The users get a card because there is nowhere on a motorcycle to put a sticker. Someone needs to ‘show’ the barcode to the camera. We’ve been told that you eventually get the hang of placing it at the right angle.

We’ve been informed by a reader of the following: “Actually the HGS toll system now recognises your number plate, so you don’t need the sticker in your car. How do I know? Because I had a windscreen replacement and when I asked about my sticker on the broken screen, they told me it’s number plate recognition, as I have found to be true after travelling without a sticker.” 

Bring your own vehicle or rent a car in Turkey?

Renting a car in Turkey is easy. There are plenty of established car rental companies, especially in tourist areas. Unless you are familiar with the area that you are visiting and the local company that you want to rent a car from, we would advise you to have a look at Europcar. They offer 24-h roadside assistance, 24/7 service in most airports, and there are no hidden charges. You can quickly get a quote and book online, so you know exactly what your rental will cost you. Print your confirmation and bring it with you, so that you accurately understand what you paid for. What we particularly like about Europcar is its young fleet. They also have the option of extra coverage, such as super collision damage waiver (SCDW), theft protection, or personal accident protection. But the biggest plus for us is their big network. That allows you to plan a proper road trip, with the pick-up of your rental car at one point, and drop-off at a different location. This way, you can start your journey in Antalya, for example, and return your rental vehicle in Izmir if you want to. Please note that you need to be at least 21 years old to rent a car in Turkey, and you will have to provide a valid credit card.

Are you not only thinking of driving in Turkey but also about driving to Turkey, so that you have your own car at your disposal while in the country? Great idea! Just make sure that you have international insurance documents (green card), covering third-party damage, and the car’s registration papers. You will notice that your car will be added onto your passport with an entry stamp to ensure that you take it back out again when you leave the country. If you do not have a green card, you can easily buy one at the Turing offices at the border. Please note that you can only use your foreign driving license in Turkey for six months, which will never be an issue if you’re visiting the country on a tourist visa.

General tips for happy-go-lucky driving in Turkey

Driving in Turkey is easy if you’re prepared to go with the flow. In general, the roads are good, though you may end up on some dirt roads if you decide to venture off the beaten path. Most of the time, you will find that the signage is clear, making it easy to navigate around the country. And with our top tips for carefree driving in Turkey, you’ll find that a self-driving tour of the country has a lot of perks.

  • Getting petrol or diesel: There’s an abundance of petrol stations in Turkey. Even when you travel to more remote areas, you shouldn’t have a problem to fill up the tank. Self-service is not an option. Everything will be done for you, including a mandatory glass of steaming hot Turkish tea.
  • When staying in the city center, book a hotel that has parking. It seems like this is not a big deal, but ensuring there’s parking available at your hotel avoids a stressful search for a parking spot. Look at it this way: instead of driving around, hoping to find a place to park your car, you will be having your apéritif at a hotel with parking!
  • Download your maps for the trip: Signage is everywhere and is reliable in Turkey. Still, it’s always good to have a backup, especially if you’re somewhere more remote, and you’re having connection issues. We use Google Maps a lot when on the road, and we seem to be arriving at our destination each time!
  • Parking tips: You’ll often find open spaces in town or city centers are converted into a car park. Parking your car there is convenient, usually cheap, and safe. It does require you to leave your car keys with the attendant in most cases. The reason is obvious; they try to squeeze in as many cars as they can and want to be able to move cars around whenever needed. If you’re using paid street parking, don’t go on a frantic search for the machine. There is none. You’ll find a ticket under your wiper, and someone will come up to you to collect payment when you leave.

Driving in Turkey FAQ’s

In this section, we’ll cover the most frequently asked questions about driving in Turkey. The perfect way to instantly find the answer to any questions you may have about driving in Turkey. Let’s start with the most pertinent one: should you drive in Turkey? (Click on the plus sign to reveal each answer.)

Should I be driving in Turkey?
Definitely! Driving in Turkey gives you the freedom that no other way of traveling will. You’re in control of your trip. You decide when you travel, and when and how long you stop.
Is renting a car in Turkey expensive?
No, not if you see what you get in return. While public transportation is cheap, it has its limits, and it undeniably takes A LOT more time.
What to do in the unfortunate event that I am involved in an accident in Turkey?
If your car suffers any damage, or if you have cause any, don’t move the car before the police were able to provide you with an accident report or kaza raporu in Turkish. Also, if you’re driving a rental car, get in touch with your car-rental company as soon as possible and make sure to submit the accident report within 48h to the rental company.
Is driving in Turkey safe?
For every place we write about, we drive through Turkey to visit it. The road network is well-established and maintained, and signage is easy to follow. Admittedly, it takes some getting used to the frivolous driving style of Turkish drivers, but this is not something to get nervous about. Trust your instincts and remain observant at all times.
What are the speed limits in Turkey?
The speed limits in Turkey are as follows: in towns: 50 km/h – two-lane highways: 90km/h – motorways: 120 km/h, unless otherwise indicated.
What should I do if I receive a traffic fine in Turkey?
If you’re driving a rental car, you will need to pay the fine directly to the rental company. If you receive a fine driving your own vehicle, you can pay your fine at the tax office (Vergi Dairesi), and at authorized banks or PTT branches. You will need to bring the traffic-fine, as well as your car documents and passport. If you try to leave the country without paying your fine, you will be asked to pay at the border gates, some of which accept debit or credit card payments.
What is the alcohol limit when driving in Turkey?
The blood alcohol limit is 50mg of alcohol for every 100ml of blood.
Do I need an international driving permit for driving in Turkey?
You can use your driving license to drive in Turkey if it shows your photo & it’s issued in one of the countries under this reciprocal agreement. If not, or if it’s written in a non-Roman alphabet, you will need an international driving permit. Turkey wants a ‘1949 Convention IDP’. Make sure to verify that yours is valid! Please note that you cannot drive more than six months per year in Turkey using your driving license. This rule also applies when combined with an international driving permit with longer validity. Anyone wishing to stay longer than six months uninterruptedly in Turkey will need to obtain a Turkish driving license.
What are the emergency numbers in Turkey?
Let’s hope you won’t need to call any of these numbers during your stay in Turkey, but if you do need them, here they are: Ambulance: 112 – Police: 155. The ambulance services work in collaboration with a dedicated International Patient Support Unit that offers its translation services 24/7 in six different languages. You can reach the call center directly at +90 850 288 38 38. They assist in English, German, French, Russian, Farsi, and Arabic. You will find more emergency numbers here.

We hope this post provides you with a better insight on what to expect of driving in Turkey. We’ve covered the legalities, but also the other aspects of driving in Turkey for tourists. If you’re looking for information about driving in Turkey or keeping your car in Turkey on a residence permit, please check out this Facebook group. It covers all administrative aspects of being an expat in Turkey.

A self-drive road trip is a relaxing and independent way to explore this magnificent country. Your car will take you to places that are not easy to reach using public transportation. Hidden gems that are off the beaten path, plenty of which we’ve covered on our website. Have a look at our interactive map of Turkey and start planning your trip! If you still have questions, drop us a line. Or why don’t you join our dedicated Facebook group? Seasoned travelers and expats in Turkey are ready to answer your questions about driving in Turkey or any other question you may have about traveling to Turkey.

While our first aim is to inspire you with our Turkey travel guide, we also want to cover the practical side of your Turkey travels. That is why we make accessible guides such as this one about driving in Turkey. Your go-to page for all practicalities is our Turkey travel resources page. It answers questions such as where to get a tourist visa, how to travel through the country, or even what to expect from the weather in Turkey. You will also find free Turkish allergy cards, a complete calendar with all religious and public holidays in Turkey, and much more!

Comment on Facebook
238 Shares

You may also like these posts:

Market days in Turkey

Market days in Turkey

Never miss another market day in Turkey! Fethiye market? Marmaris market? Bodrum market? Find any market in Turkey with this online tool.

You may also like these posts:

Market days in Turkey

Market days in Turkey

Never miss another market day in Turkey! Fethiye market? Marmaris market? Bodrum market? Find any market in Turkey with this online tool.

Check the weather

Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

Prepare your trip

How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

What about public transport?
Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

General Turkey travel information, essential to help prepare your trip, on one page!

Work with us

Get direct access to your target audience with a proven interest in Turkey. People call us their Turkey Bible!

Contact us for a feature on our map, a destination guide, a photo shoot, or any form of professional Turkey-related content.

Ask a traveler

Are you unsure about a destination, activity or hotel? Why don’t you ask other travelers about their experience?

We have a closed Facebook group where you can ask all Turkey-related questions. You’ll get solid advice and travel inspiration.

Check the weather

Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

Prepare your trip

How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

What about public transport?
Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

General Turkey travel information, essential to help prepare your trip, on one page!

Work with us

Get direct access to your target audience with a proven interest in Turkey. People call us their Turkey Bible!

Contact us for a feature on our map, a destination guide, a photo shoot, or any form of professional Turkey-related content.

Ask a traveler

Are you unsure about a destination, activity or hotel? Why don’t you ask other travelers about their experience?

We have a closed Facebook group where you can ask all Turkey-related questions. You’ll get solid advice and travel inspiration.

JOIN THE TRIBE, FOLLOW US

Worried about #driving in #Turkey? Stop right there! Check out this comprehensive guide, including how to use the toll system or drive like a local!