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, you can also read my “Can Tourists Drive in Turkey?” article for more general information.
How long can you drive with 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 info about obtaining a Turkish Driver’s License, check my post about the topic.
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 driving 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.
Do you need your passport while driving in Turkey?
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.
Do you need to translate your US Driving License to drive in Turkey?
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 $.
Is an International Driver License (IDB) Valid in Turkey?
Yes, International Driver License is also accepted in Turkey. If you want to, you can use it, as well. On the other hand, if you have a US Driving License with a photo, you do not need it.
Can American citizens 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), 12 hours of driving lessons, and 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.”
My tips on renting a car in Turkey
I would advise using an internationally known brand for renting a car. You can hire a car from Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Alamo, Budget, and many other local and international brands in Turkey.
Renting from local companies may not be trustworthy. They may demand additional charges at the end of the contract. (like scratches in the paint of the car, which you are not responsible for)
Should you 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 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.
How much to rent a car for a day in Turkey?
The price of renting a car is around 15-40 Dollars per day. The cost does not include fuel. The availability and the price significantly differ from city to city.
What is the one essential thing you should avoid doing while driving in Turkey?
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 the alcohol limit is 0.08 (blood alcohol content). BAC is the legal limit when driving. In Turkey, the legal limit is lower.
Non-commercial drivers like tourists and regular citizens have a limit of 0.05% 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 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 at 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.
City enter and exit 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.
How is the condition of the roads in Turkey?
The World Economic Forum 2017 report states that Turkish road quality is the same as the United Kingdom and better than South Africa. Turkey has a higher road quality than many developed European countries. Turkish Road quality has a score of 5.1, and the USA has a 5.6 Road quality score in the same index. (Click for WEF Road Quality Index) Turkey ranks 28th among 138 countries worldwide.
Most roads between and around major hubs are in excellent condition, but you should be careful in 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
Where can you park your car 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.
For a clean toilet break, which fuel stations should you use in Turkey?
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, 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.
What phone number to call in case of an Emergency 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 damages.