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Which ships are eligible for registration in the national shipping register(s) and which parties may register ships?

Ships that satisfy the conditions under Article 940 of the Commercial Code for hoisting the Turkish flag may be registered with the Turkish National Ship Registry. The registry operates under strict rules in relation to nationality and, among other requirements, only ships owned by Turkish persons or companies with a Turkish majority both in the shareholding and the board membership can be registered in the National Ship Registry.

There is a second registry, the Turkish International Ship Registry, under which ships may be registered if they are owned by:

  • a company incorporated as per Turkish law; or
  • private persons if they reside in Turkey, regardless of the nationality of the shareholders and the board members.

There is also a special registry called the Registry for Ships under Construction.

The fourth and final registry is the registry established for commercial ships of less than 18 gross tonnes and private vessels.


What are the procedural and documentary requirements for registration?

An application to register a ship must be made to the relevant ship registry within the Harbour Master’s Office. Depending on the method of transfer of the ship to one of the Turkish shipping registries, the authorities may require some of the following documents to be presented:

  • a building certificate;
  • a tonnage certificate;
  • the owner’s certificate of good standing;
  • the owner’s articles of association;
  • the owner’s signature circular;
  • information regarding shareholders;
  • an apostilled and translated bill of sale;
  • originals of the deletion certificate (if the deletion certificate cannot be obtained, a free of encumbrances certificate and an undertaking for the submission of the original deletion certificate at a later date);
  • the protocol for delivery and acceptance;
  • a flag certificate; and
  • a custom’s clearance certificate.

Grounds for refusal

On what grounds may a registration application be refused?

If the application does not meet the applicable criteria or include the documents for registration, it may be refused. 


Are there any particular advantages of flying your jurisdiction’s flag?

Trade between Turkish ports can be exercised only by Turkish-flagged vessels fulfilling the criteria stipulated under the Cabotage Code. This provides exclusive privilege to Turkish-flagged vessels to trade within the Turkish waters. Further, earnings from the operation and transfer of vessels registered with the Turkish International Ship Registry are exempt from income and corporate tax. Additionally, contracts for the purchase, sale, mortgage, registration or loan in relation to a vessel registered with the Turkish International Ship Registry are exempt from stamp duty and several other tax duties.

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