Driving in Turkey with US Driving License – Full Guide

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When coming to Turkey, most of my American clients and friends ask me if they can drive in Turkey with their US Driving License.

As a Turkish lawyer, I can shortly answer your question. As a general rule, you can use your US driving license for up to 6 months starting from the day that you enter Turkey. Provisional Driving Licenses are not valid in Turkey. (Turkish Road Traffic Regulation Article 88)

If you want more details, please keep on reading. In this post, I will share information and my experiences about

  • using your US driving license in Turkey,
  • what documents to carry with you when driving, and
  • other helpful tips when driving in Turkey.

This guide is intended for US Driver License holders, and you can also read my “Can Tourists Drive in Turkey?” article for more general information.

Contrary to common belief, you do not need an International Driving Permit in Turkey. You can drive and also rent a car with your US driving license in Turkey.

Driving in Turkey may start new adventures.

1. Duration that you can use your US Driving License in Turkey

From the date you enter Turkey, you can use a US Driver’s License for 6 months. The time you spent on your previous trips is not added together. Every time you exit and enter Turkey, this 6-month term will restart.

At the end of 6 months, you should get a Turkish Driving License to continue driving in Turkey. If you need more information, click to check my article about obtaining a Turkish Driver’s License.

There is another exception for Turkish nationals with valid US driving licenses.

Turkish nationals can use their US driving license for 2 years on one condition. If you are a Turkish national, after 6 months, you need to translate your driver’s license. (Turkish Road Traffic Regulation Article 88)

Driving license translation needs to be approved by a public notary or Turkish consulate. This procedure is pretty simple, and it will take one to two hours.

If you’re ready to get your car rental in Turkey, my short answer is,  I recommend and personally use Discover Cars. The website searches for both international and local companies, so you always get the best rates.

I also always get their full coverage insurance — which is usually less than $10 USD per day.

2. You DO Need to Have Your Passport with Your Driving License

Turkish people have the compulsory duty to carry their ID cards with them at all times. All foreigners/tourists are also expected to carry IDs with them.

The valid ID for an American citizen is his/her Passport or Turkish Residence permit.

In a regular control, the police ask for

  • your passport,
  • your driving license,
  • vehicle registry documents, and
  • mandatory vehicle insurance.

On holiday spots, police are usually okay with seeing your driving license only.  They may skip controlling your passport.

You need your passport also to prove your entry date to Turkey. As your US Driving license will be valid for 6 months, police need to check the entry date stamped on your passport.

Yet, most of the time, police are very easy going towards tourists, especially during the summer holiday season.

3. You do NOT need to Translate your Driving License

There is no specific regulation obliging foreigners to carry a translation of their driving licenses.

Only Turkish citizens who want to use their license for more than 6 months up to 2 years, need to translate their US Driving License.

But, if you are staying longer than a usual holiday, I advise you to get a notarized Turkish translation of your driving license. This is the best practice to avoid any arguments.

There are one or more public notaries in every major town. With a visit to one of these public notaries, you can get a notarized translation quite easily.

The process will not take much time, but it will depend on the speed and availability of the translator. The cost will be around $60.

4. NO International Driver License (IDB) is required for US Driving License Holders

International Driver’s License is also accepted as a valid driver’s license in Turkey.

If you want to, you can use an International Driver’s License, as well. Yet, if you have a US Driving License with a photo, you do not need it.

A sample Turkish Driving License
Courtesy of the Turkish Population Registry

5. You can Rent a Car With a US Driving License

You can rent a car with a US Driving License in Turkey. Your US Driving Licence must have a photo. Some rental companies may deny renting a car to people who are younger than 21.

You can hire a car from Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Alamo, Budget, and many other local and international rental companies in Turkey.

Before renting a car, I usually check car rental companies’ scores and reviews at Discover Cars.

Renting from local companies with low ratings in Discover Cars may not be the best idea.

These rental companies may demand additional charges at the end of the contract. (like scratches in the paint of the car, which you are not responsible for)

🚗💨 Ready to book your car rental? Click the link to book directly with Discover Cars, which searches all national and local companies to get you the best rates.

5.1 I advise you to get full insurance when renting a car

All cars insured in Turkey are insured by mandatory traffic insurance for damages you may inflict on other people or cars.

Due to the heavy sales tax on motor vehicles, cars are a lot more expensive in Turkey than in Europe or the USA.

Sometimes mandatory insurance coverage limits are low to cover all third-party losses. Plus, compulsory insurance does not reduce your liability if you are the faulty one.

As a Turkish lawyer, I would suggest you obtain full insurance from your rental company to protect you from unwanted liability. Better safe than sorry.

5.2 Renting a car costs between 15-40 US Dollars

The price of renting a car in Turkey is around 15-40 Dollars per day. The cost does not include fuel. The availability and the price significantly differ from city to city.

Click to read my article for additional renting and driving tips in Turkey.

6. For longer stays, You Need to take exams to get a Turkish Driving License

American citizens can obtain Turkish Driving Licenses by following the necessary steps.

American citizens need to attend driving courses (30 Hours) and 12 hours of driving lessons and then pass the written exam and driving exam.

You can find more information on this subject in my article “2 Ways for Foreigners to get a Turkish Driver’s License.”

7. Driving in Turkey is similar to driving in the USA, but with its differences

Both Turkey and the USA drive on the right-hand side of the road, which may make the transition easier for American drivers in Turkey than those from left-hand driving countries.

The most significant difference is the drivers’ behaviors.

Compared to American drivers, Turkish drivers are often described as more assertive. For example, horn honking is common in Turkey, which is less prevalent in the USA.

Other than road signals and rules have slight differences but feel very similar to the USA.

8. Do Not drive after you drink alcohol

Drinking is legal in Turkey, but Do Not drive after you drink alcohol. The alcohol limit is very low in Turkey, and the police are very strict about it.

It was easy to bribe traffic police officers in my childhood days, but those days are long gone.

In the USA, 0.08 BAC (blood alcohol content) is the legal limit when driving. In Turkey, the legal limit is lower.

Non-commercial drivers like tourists and regular citizens have a legal limit of 0.05% BAC. Commercial drivers have no legal limit BAC.

It is very easy to pass this limit, even if you drink a glass of wine or just a beer depending on your personal conditions. The alcohol test is a breath test carried out by police officers.

If your test results are above the limit, your driving license is suspended for 6 months, plus a monetary fine will be applied.

In more serious cases (like accidents), you may be subject to a blood test for alcohol.

If alcohol is found in your blood, there may be more severe consequences. Even if you have no fault in the occurrence of an unwanted incident, you may be deemed guilty. You may also be charged seriously, and insurance may not cover your losses.

So be safe and use taxis when you use alcohol. You can come back later to retrieve your car.

9. City Entrance Checkpoints are important

There are checkpoints at the exits and entrances of every major settlement. These are both traffic and security control points.

Please drive carefully and slowly when nearing these checkpoints. Follow the lead of the police on these points.

You are not stopped because you have done something wrong. These checks are random controls. Turkish police are usually hospitable to tourists, and you will be on your way within a few seconds.

Enjoy the scenery while driving in Turkey

10. Condition of the roads in Turkey

According to the World Economic Forum 2019 data, Turkish road quality is better than Italy, Greece, Australia, and South Africa.

Turkey has a higher road quality than many developed European countries.

Turkish Road quality has a score of 5.0, and the USA has a 5.5 Road quality score in the same index. (Click for WEF Road Quality Index) Turkey ranks 32nd among 141 countries worldwide.

Most roads between and around major hubs are in excellent condition, but you should be careful on some rural roads that are frequently used.

Turkish speed limits

The speed may be confusing because of conflicting speed signs. These are the general speed limits.

  • 50 km/h inside town and cities
  • 90 km/h on regular intercity roads
  • 110 km/h on inter-city divided roads
  • 120 km/h on motorways/highways

11. Parking in Turkey

In Turkey, roadside parking is free unless otherwise indicated in writing or forbidden by a sign. Observe the locals, and you can park as locals do.

12. Gas Stations and Toilets

The service level that you get in gas stations differs very much. If you are a fan of clean toilets like me, my first choice is OPET. The other brands I like are Shell and BP. By the way, the toilets are free of charge.

Gas stations are plentiful. Most of the gas stations also have a small shop where you can buy snacks and drinks. Most gas stations have a windshield cleaning service available for free.

13. Emergency Phone number in Turkey

112 is the general emergency phone line in Turkey. The Turkish police phone line is 155, and you can also call gendarme with 156 in rural areas. 

Also, you should call your rental car company for specific instructions in case of any car damage.

Turkey Travel Planning Guide

🚑 Should I buy travel insurance for Turkey?

100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10 USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from SafetyWing, one of the biggest names in travel insurance.

💧Can you drink tap water in Turkey?

Rarely — You’ll want to buy a Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water so you don’t get sick from drinking water in Turkey, and helps keep you hydrated while traveling Turkey. (Read more)

🚙💨 Is it safe to rent a car in Turkey?

Yes — Renting a car in Turkey is one of the best ways to explore the seven regions of Turkey! I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Turkish companies, so you get the best rates. (Read more)

🏩 What’s the best way to book my Turkey accommodation?

For Turkish hotels and hostels, Booking is the best site. If you’re considering an Airbnb, don’t forget also to check VRBO, which is often cheaper than Airbnb!

✈️ What’s the best site to buy flights to Turkey? For finding cheap Turkey flights, I recommend Skyscanner and Google Flights. (Read more about the best Turkish Airline Companies.)

🎫 Do I need a visa for Turkey?

Likely Not — U.S., Canadian, and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Turkey but check here to see if you do need a Turkey travel visa.

2 thoughts on “Driving in Turkey with US Driving License – Full Guide”

  1. Hi. This is a great site. So clear!!
    I do have a question you may know about. Benim eşim Türk kadın. Datca’da yaşıyoruz. Normal bir iki defa Amerika’ya gidiyorum. Ama uyuzden covid var , gitmedim. Sekiz buçuk ay önce, Makedonya gittim. Şimdi, iki ay arabam kullanmadım. Yunanistan kapalı. Güzel fikir var mı?

    Üzgünüm, benim Türkçem çok iyi değil.

    Kendine iyi bak,
    Steve Sands
    Thank you

    • If you want to take you out of Turkey to reset its period. Maybe you want to try Turkish Cyprus.
      You can take your car to Turkish Cyprus by ferry from Mersin. For all purposes, Turkish Cyprus is recognized as an independent country by Turkey.

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