Turkey has a sound banking infrastructure with plenty of local and foreign options for expats to choose from. Expats moving to Turkey on an employment package may be surprised to find that they generally don’t get to choose the bank they would prefer to use. Rather, employers choose a single bank to work with. Employees are then responsible for opening the appropriate bank account to receive payment.
Money in Turkey
The official currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira (TRY), which is divided into 100 kuruş.
5 TRY, 10 TRY, 20 TRY, 50 TRY, 100 TRY and 200 TRY
5 kuruş, 10 kuruş, 25 kuruş and 50 kuruş and 1 TRY
Banking in Turkey
Of the local banks in Turkey, Garanti Bank is known for making a more pointed attempt at employing staff who can communicate in English and is often chosen by employers hiring foreigners for its efforts (though not necessarily successful) to cater to expatriates. Alternatively, İşbank owns several European branches and may be more convenient for expats relocating from the EU. Akbank is another local option that offers a full range of services for expats.
Foreign banks in Turkey include Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Citibank. Internet banking services are provided by nearly all banks, and local banks offer web pages in English as well as Turkish.
Most banks operate between 9am and 5pm. Some Turkish banks remain open during lunch hours, but this tends to be the busiest time of the day and queues can be long.
Opening a bank account
Opening a Turkish bank account is relatively easy for expats. Generally, a copy of one’s passport, a tax number, residence permit and proof of address are required.
To obtain a tax number, expats need to go to the local tax office with their passport.
ATMs and credit cards
There are ATMs in most malls. Bureau de change offices are available in commercial areas in Turkey's main cities.
Visa and MasterCard are commonly accepted in Turkey, including for home delivery as the delivery person will bring a portable machine.
Personal cheques, however, aren't commonly accepted in most places, and banks do not routinely issue cheque books.
Taxes in Turkey
Income tax in Turkey ranges from 15 to 35 percent and is levied against all income. Expats who have lived in Turkey for longer than six months in a calendar year are considered tax residents and must pay income tax on their worldwide income.
That said, some exceptions exist for foreigners who stay in Turkey for six months or more for a specific job or business, or particular purposes as specified by Turkish income tax law. Non-residents are only subject to pay tax on their income derived from within Turkey.