Edition 47: 29 June 2017
Editorial Team:
Orçun Çetinkaya, LL.M., Ezgi Baklacı, LL.M., and Pelin Oğuzer, LL.M.
Turkey Introduces Certification System to Indicate Payment Processing Security During e-Commerce Transactions

Turkey has introduced a voluntary certification system for e-commerce websites and intermediary service providers, allowing them to easily show consumers that the website meets minimum security requirements for payment processing. The standards address technical and procedural elements, as well as the information which customers must receive during transactions.

The Communiqué on Security Stamp in Electronic Commerce (“Communiqué”) was published in Official Gazette number 30088 on 6 June 2017, entering into force on the same day.

Obtaining a Security Stamp

To obtain a Security Stamp, e-Commerce service providers and intermediaries will be required to meet the following minimum standards:

– All transactions containing personal data and payment information should be processed via either:

– EV SSL for websites and mobile sites.

– SSL for applications.

– Have processes which comply with legislation regarding e-commerce transactions, internet, e-commerce and payment systems.

– Take measures against any information used during transactions which could adversely affect children.

– Present supply and logistics processes to customers in a clear and understandable manner.

– For services sold via e-commerce, present information about who will provide the service, as well as the service’s scope and duration.

– Provide dedicated systems to efficiently receive and address customer requests and complaints.

The Role of Security Stamp Providers

Security Stamps will be granted by Security Stamp Providers (“Providers”), which are authorised by the Ministry of Commerce and Custom (“Ministry”).

The Communiqué states that Providers are authorised to:

– Confirm whether applicants meet the minimum standards (above).

– Annually audit whether service providers and intermediaries continue to meet the minimum standards.

– Track validity of EV SSL and SSL.

– Take any measures necessary to prevent unfair use of security stamps.

– Notify authorities and the Ministry about any matters identified during audits which require judicial or administrative sanctions.

– Provide an activity report to the Ministry by the end of March each year.

Institutions which obtained an activity certificate under Banking Law number 5411 and The Law on Payment and Instrument Settlement Systems, Payment Services and Electronic Money Institutions number 6493 are excluded from the Communiqué.

Please see this link for the full text of the Regulation (only available in Turkish). 

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Turkey Extends Retailers’ Deadline for Labelling House-Brand Goods

The deadline for retailers to ensure house mark-branded goods comply with the Regulation on Principles and Rules for Retail Trade has been extended for 12 months. Retailers must now ensure that the name, trade name, or brand of both the retailer and manufacturer are added to the labels of house mark-branded goods by 6 August 2018.

The Regulation on Principles and Rules for Retail Trade was published in Official Gazette number 30081 on 30 May 2017. It amends the Regulation on Principles and Rules on Retail Trade, published in Official Gazette number 29793 on 6 August 2016 (more). Please see this link for the full text of the latest Regulation (only available in Turkish).

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Turkey Announces Details of Work Permit Regime for Foreign Employees in Free Trade Zones

Turkey has announced detailed requirements and processes for applying and granting work permits to foreign employees who work in Free Trade Zones. The work permit rules are largely the same as for foreign employees who work outside Free Trade Zones.

The Regulation on Working Permits for Foreign Employers Who Will Work in Free Trade Zones (“Regulation”) was published in Official Gazette number 30078 on 27 May 2017, entering into force on the same day.

Applications are made by the employer (which holds an operating license in the Free Trade Zones). Applications can be made either to:

– The directorate of the relevant Free Trade Zone, or

– The Turkish Foreign Representative Office in the foreign employee’s home or residence country.

For applications made within Turkey:

– The foreign employee must be in Turkey legally and have an identity number.

– Both the foreign employee and employer must have an e-mail account registered with the Information and Communication Technologies Authority.

For applications made outside Turkey the employer must also send copies of the documents to the directorate of the relevant Free Trade Zone, with a petition stating the application was made outside Turkey.

Other notable provisions include:

– The foreign employee’s original passport (or equivalent document) must be included in the application, having at least 60 days’ validity at the time of application.

– The foreign employee must work in an executive role, or be deemed to be qualified personnel.

– If a work permit is granted outside Turkey, the foreign employee must enter Turkey within six months of the issue date.

– Applications to extend a work permit must now be made sixty days before an existing permit expires.

– The first extension can be for up to two years, while subsequent extensions can be for three years, provided these extensions involve the same employer. 

Please see this link for the full text of the Regulation (only available in Turkish).

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Turkey Widens Scope of State Reimbursement Available for Promoting Turkish Products at Foreign Fairs and Exhibitions

Turkey has updated various aspects of the state reimbursement scheme for participation in foreign fairs and exhibitions, aiming to support the image of Turkish products abroad. 50% reimbursement for fair attendance costs is now possible under the changes. The amendments also include new definitions, change the currency of reimbursements, as well as introduce limits on the amount and duration of possible reimbursements.

Communiqué No. 2017/2 Amending Communiqué No. 2006/4 (“Amendment Communiqué”) was published in Official Gazette number 30083 on 1 June 2017, entering into force on the same date. The Amendment Communiqué makes changes to the Communiqué on Branding Turkish Products Abroad, Creating the Image of Turkish Goods and Supporting TURQUALITY®.

Notable provisions of the Amendment Communique include:

– The maximum limit for reimbursement amounts will now increase annually by half of the sum of the consumer price index and domestic producer price index.

– State reimbursement is now also possible for costs related to licensing, testing, clinical research and processes, as well as related counselling, provided these are necessary to enter foreign markets or to provide advantage in some way.

– The state will now reimburse expenses for employment of ten designers or engineers for the development of Turquality branded products (previously five).

– Definitions are introduced for:

– The System where applicants can file reimbursement applications.

– Development Road Maps, outlining key criteria, qualifications and thresholds for entities which wish to receive state support. To access the reimbursement, the Ministry of the Economy must approve each applicant’s Development Road Map.

The currency of state reimbursements has changed from US Dollars to Turkish Liras.

– The Turkish Exporters Assembly (or other association exclusively representing the sector) will now be reimbursed 80% of projects, up to two million Turkish Lira per project. The cap will one million Turkish Liras per entity for projects involving multiple associations.

– Reimbursements can now only be received for between one and four years, with an association at most two projects being supported at the same entity at any given time. There was previously no limit on the number of years.

– A 1.6 million Turkish Lira cap has now been placed on the 50% reimbursements of costs to attend fairs and exhibitions within the Trademark Support Program.

– Up to 50% of costs for attending foreign fairs will now be reimbursed. 

A range of transitional provisions also apply for expenses incurred before 1 June 2017, generally allowing applicants to benefit from the advantageous provisions in the revised regime.

Please see this link for full text of the Amendment Regulation (only available in Turkish).

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Turkey Introduces 90 Day Time Limit for Launching Tobacco Products to the Market

Turkey’s Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority has introduced a 90 day time limit for launching tobacco products to the Turkish market once it has issued a supply conformity certificate. Conformity certificates allow the holder to sell, price, and distribute tobacco products freely in Turkey. If the tobacco product has not been launched to the market within this period, the certificate will lapse.

For certificates issued before 27 May 2017, where the tobacco product has not entered the market yet, these products must enter the market within 90 days from 27 May 2017, or else the certificate will lapse.

The Regulation Amending the Regulation on the Procedures and Principles Regarding the Production and Trade of Tobacco Products was published in Official Gazette numbered 30078 on 27 May 2017, entering into effect on the same date. Please see this link for the full text of the Amendment Regulation (only available in Turkish).

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Turkey Announces Corporate Requirements for Companies Operating Small Fixed and Rotating Wing Aircraft

Turkey has announced requirements for fixed wing aircraft (under 750 kg) and rotating wing aircraft (under 600 kg) which operate in Turkish airspace. Secondary legislation now outlines rules for the legal characteristics which the related company must possess, including share ownership, licensing, aircraft registration and subscription amounts.

The Regulation on Commercial Aviation Activities with Very Light Aircrafts (“Regulation”) was published in Official Gazette number 30078 on 27 May 2017, entering into effect the same day. 

The Regulation applies to (“Very Light Aircraft”):

– Fixed wing aircrafts with engine equipment and maximum take-off weight of 750kg and under.

– Rotating wing aircraft with engine equipment and maximum take-off weight of 600 kg and under. 

Under the Regulation, companies established to perform commercial aviation activities using Very Light Aircraft must:

– Have a Turkish citizen hold majority shares and sole authority to represent and bind of the company.

– Have at least two Very Light Aircraft in their fleet registered with the Turkish Civil Aircraft Registry in the company’s name as either property or rental.

– Have US $10,000 subscribed capital per aircraft (unless total subscribed capital is less than US $100,000)

– Have an operating license granted by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation.

Companies will receive up to six months to rectify any failures to comply, before administrative sanctions under the Turkish Civil Aviation Law will apply.

Under the Regulation, Very Light Aircraft can be used for:

– Commercial passenger transportation.

– Commercial flights intended for publicity and travel.

– Commercial aviation activities and training activities.

– All aviation activities which are not considered to be commercial within the scope of the General Aviation Regulation.

Please see the link for full text of the Regulation (only available in Turkish)

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New Rules in Turkey Combat Noise Pollution from Neighbouring Properties

Turkey has introduced new obligations to take precautions against adverse effects of noise on neighbouring properties. The rules involve technical specifications for building insulation systems used to combat noise pollution. They aim to minimize negative effects to human health caused by noises arising both inside and outside buildings, via design, construction, use, maintenance and operation rules.

The Regulation on Preventing Building Noise Pollution (“Regulation”) was published in Official Gazette number 20082 on 31 May 2017, entering into effect on the same date.

From 31 May 2017, the rules will apply to construction of new buildings, as well as essential amendment projects for pre-existing buildings.

Construction permits will not be granted to projects which fail to comply with the Regulation’s requirements.

If compliance failures are detected during construction or renovations, occupancy permits will be withheld until the failures are rectified.

Please see this link for the full text of the Regulation (only available in Turkish).

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Turkish Constitutional Court: Shareholder’s Property Rights Not Breached During Company Seizure, Provided Proceeds Used to Offset Debts to Saving Deposit Insurance Fund

Turkey’s Constitutional Court recently considered a shareholder’s failure to receive any revenue from sale of a company he held shares in. The company held a minority stake in another entity (a bank). The government seized the company and sold all its assets due to debts owned by the bank. The Constitutional Court ruled the limitations on the shareholder’s property rights were justifiable in these circumstances and did not breach his constitutional rights, provided the sale proceeds were used to repay the bank’s debts to the Saving Deposit Insurance Fund (“Fund”). 

In the case at hand, the company held minority shares in a bank. The Fund seized all of the company’s assets, due to the bank’s debts. The Fund sold all of the company’s assets to repay the bank’s public debts, with the shareholder receiving no compensation for the asset sales.

The shareholder applied to the Administrative Court seeking compensation. However, the court rejected his claim on the basis that there was no contradiction in law to offset amounts received from asset sales against the Fund’s receivables (Articles 134 and 135 of the Banking Law).

The shareholder appealed to the Constitutional Court, claiming breaches of his property rights, as well as his right to be tried within a reasonable time (Articles 35 and 36 of the Constitution, respectively).

The Constitutional Court ruled that since the proceeding had lasted for seven years and 11 months, the shareholder’s right to be tried within a reasonable time had been violated. Accordingly, it awarded the shareholder 8,400 Turkish Lira for non-pecuniary damages.

However, the Constitutional Court held the shareholder’s property rights were not violated in these circumstances. It ruled that the present case complies with the principle of legality, aims to achieve a legal purpose, and complies with the principle of proportionality.

The Constitutional Court decided that protecting public interests outweighs the shareholder’s individual interests. It sent the matter back to the Administrative Court and Ministry of Justice on the basis that:

– Property rights under Article 35 are not unlimited and can be restricted by laws, in order to support public interests.

– Limitations on the shareholder’s property rights in these circumstances:

– Are based on former Law Number 4389.

– Aim to collect public receivables, which arose due to the bank causing damages to the public.

– Are proportional, because holding companies acting on the bank’s behalf fully responsible (rather than proportionally) for the bank’s debts is not unbearable.

Please see this link for the full text of the Constitutional Court’s decision (only available in Turkish).

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Turkey and Ukraine Agree to Extend Scope of Reciprocal Visa Free Travel

Turkey and Ukraine have agreed to changes in their reciprocal visa rules. Most notably, the changes mean that nationals of either country will be able to enter the other’s territory without a visa for up to 90 days, within any 180 day period. Previously, the limit was 30 days per visit.

The Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on amendments to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on conditions of mutual travels of the nationals was signed on 14 March 2017 (“Amendment Agreement”). Turkey’s Council of Ministers approved the Amendment Agreement via decision number 2017/10324 on 1 May 2017, which was published in Official Gazette number 30071 on 20 May 2017.

Notable changes introduced by the Amendment Agreement include:

– Turkish identity cards and Ukrainian passports (with contactless electronic carrier) and are now accepted as valid travel documents between the countries, provided these are machine readable as per the standards outlined in ICAO 9303 and its annexes.

– Nationals of one country can now enter, exit, transit through or stay in the other country without a visa, provided their stay does not exceed 90 days within any 180 day period. Previously, the limit was 30 days per visit.

– Nationals who cannot exit the other country’s territory by the relevant visa or residence permit’s deadline due to force majeure can now continue their stay uninterrupted without a visa, provided the force majeure’s source can be documented or proved. Their travel documents will be extended as necessary to allow them to return to their home country.

The changes will come into force once both countries formally notify each other that they have each respectively completed the internal procedures required for the changes.

Please see this link for the full text of the Agreement (only available in Turkish).

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