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Etiquette and Social Security in Turkey

If you thought of Turkey mainly as a tourist destination, think again! Many expats are drawn to Turkey not only due to its hospitality and warm climate, but also for the many business opportunities. Our guide has details on working in Turkey and tips on the job search and business etiquette.

The Key to the Turkish Business World

The dress code in Turkey’s business world does not differ much from standards in other European countries. Women, though, may tend to dress rather conservatively and refrain from using too much make-up, perfume, or lipstick.

Quality pens and other items which are used in the office are acceptable gifts for your business partners. However, you should make sure to avoid giving away alcoholic beverages of any kind. Islam is the most important religion in Turkey, and practicing Muslims are not allowed to drink alcohol. If you are unsure of whether or not your contacts are particularly religious, a bottle of wine or scotch might not improve your business relationship.

When you receive a dinner invitation to someone’s home, you should make sure to bring a small gift as well. Luxury chocolate, a decorative scarf for the hostess, or flowers are good choices.

Business Meetings: Building Relationships

First-time meetings in Turkey are about building a relationship with your new business partners. Small talk is encouraged, show interest in your business partners’ children, family and home country. It is important that you avoid any controversial or political issues in order to avoid upsetting anybody.

Your business partners may take you out to a business dinner at some point. As their guest, you will not, under any circumstances, be allowed to pay for your share of the bill. Instead, thank your host by reciprocating with a dinner invitation at a later opportunity.

Personal Business Contacts

Business relationships are personal in Turkey. Turkish people will hesitate to do business with anybody they do not know or trust. An excellent proposal demonstrating the mutual benefit of the professional relationship is essential, of course. However, building a strong personal relationship has an even stronger effect. Therefore, business is done at a slower pace than what some expats may be used to.

Many businesses in Turkey are family-owned and run. First-time meetings are often held with younger members of the family. However, you will have to work your way up to the head of the family. Be patient and refrain from using deadlines and pressure tactics. This may upset your business partners and lead them to pull out of the deal.

Social Security: All the Support You Can Get

To be covered by the Turkish Social Security System, you have to have a work contract with an employer in Turkey. The Social Security System covers:

  • social security (health insurance, sick leave, maternity leave)
  • pensions (disability, old age, survivors)
  • unemployment benefits

If you are working in Turkey, you are entitled to full coverage under the Social Security System. Contributions are made by you, the employee (9% of your gross salary), and by your employer (11%).

Employers have to file an application with the Social Security Institution to register their employees. Only if the employees have come to Turkey through a sponsorship agreement or contribute to a national security scheme in their home country are they exempt from paying contributions.

A certificate of coverage has to be filed with the respective Turkish authorities. If you do not meet the conditions for an exemption, you must contribute to the Turkish Social Security System.

Social Security Agreements

Moreover, Turkey has Social Security Agreements with the following countries, and you should ask your social security office at home about the respective regulations before leaving:

  • Albania
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Canada (including Québec)
  • Cyprus (nothern part)
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Libya
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Sven Baudach

"My business partners, also mainly expats, and me, we always use the wonderful InterNations Events as an informal get-togethers."

Maggy Roswick

"With all the great information and contacts provided by InterNations, it was no big deal to get settled in Istanbul."

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