Turkish Transit Log Procedures – Istanbul (Atakoy Marina) October 2013

Cruising on a yacht in Turkish waters requires a Transit Log which must be purchased and then authorised before it becomes active. Coming from the Danube or other points on the Black Sea, Istanbul may be the closest port of entry. It also may be the easiest entry point for boats coming directly from Mediterranean waters, bound for the Black Sea.

After a passage in 2010 the yacht Orca documented the entry procedure they followed after mooring at the Kalamis & Fenerbahce Marina which is on the Asian side of Istanbul. In 2013 Maringret followed the entry procedure documented by Orca and found some changes had occurred:

  • the Kalamis & Fenerbahce Marina will no longer allow yachts to moor there without already being in posession of a Transit Log
    – this means that Kalamis & Fenerbahce Marina can no longer be used for the purposes of clearing into Turkey
  • the Transit Log procedure now requires a statement from the marina or harbour office stating where the yacht is laying
    – this requirement tends to indicate that obtaining a Transit Log may only be done from an organised harbour (i.e. it is not possible if lying at anchor and possibly not if in a fishing harbour)

After attempting to moor in Kalamis & Fenerbahce Marina we were told by the marina manager that only Pendik or Ataköy marinas could be used by yachts without a Transit Log for the purposes of clearing into Turkey. Pendik was just down the coast and closer so we went there first. We were surprised to find that it was €100 to tie up your boat, you had to remain outside of the marina where there is terrible swell from ferries (who share the harbour with the yacht marina), commercial traffic and power boats roaring in and out of the marina. The boats trapped there were told they would only move inside the marina if they stayed for more than one night. Additionally Pendik Marina insisted that an agent of their choice be used for the clearance procedure and that self clearance was not an option. Seeing the terrible situation the boats were in on the outside of the marina (tied up to pontoons that had been decommissioned as being unsafe for local boats) we decided that anywhere else was preferable. We crossed to Ataköy Marina.

Upon entering Ataköy we were met by the marina RIB that guided us to our berth and explained where we would find everything in the marina. As we were put on the G pontoon the marina office was immediately at the end of our pontoon. In the Marina Office we met Ilyas Korkmaz who is Marina Operations Chief and had all the information at his fingertips as to how we would complete the process of entering Maringret into Turkey. As he explained we could either self-clear or retain an agent who would do it for us. Of the 5 boats clearing while we were there, 2 self-cleared and the other 3 retained the services of an agent. The remainder of this page is a description of self-clearing from Ataköy Marina in the fall of 2013. Most of that information we owe to Ilyas Korkmaz.

It is always hard to know what the situation for procedures is in Turkey, from what we gathered the process documented by Orca is still correct (we did the same steps in the same order) but aside from Pendik there does not seem to be a marina on the Asian side who will allow boats in without Transit Logs. Nor any Asian side marina who will issue the letter stating where the boat lies.

Below are the steps of the procedure for self-clearing from Ataköy Marina with comments and links to pictures of the relevant buildings or office signs:

Documents Required

  1. A letter on Ataköy Marina letterhead stating the boat is moored in the marina.
    – this was produced for us by the Marina Operations Chief
  2. Boat registration
  3. Captains license (if required by flagged country)
  4. Passport(s)
    – passports will be requested for everyone listed as crew on the Transit Log
  5. Clearance paper from last country before entering Turkey (if issued)

Steps to Follow

  1. Moor in the berth assigned by the Ataköy control tower, collect the required documents and proceed to the Marina Office where you must pay for your first night in order for the marina to issue a letter stating that you are a “berth holder” under contract and that your boat is lying in the marina.
    – If you are newly arrived in Turkey and need local currency than there are about 5 ATMs by the fast ferry terminal which is reached by going to the right from pontoon “G” and walking around the restaurant complex.
  2. With your documents in hand head to the Golden Horn
    – the railway is being rebuilt and so as of 2013 only the busses are running, take bus BN1, BN2 or 81 (we never saw an 81 bus)
    – bus tickets are on electronic cards which you buy for a specified number of trips, Ataköy to the Golden Horn is considered a single trip, the cards are available for 1, 2, 5 and 10 trips, they are bought from the kiosk to the left of the ATM machines, immediately at the beginning of the walkway to the bus stop and the pedestrian overpass, for two people traveling on one card the card is simply swiped twice when entering the bus
    – take the bus to the last or second to last stop (these two stops being on either side of the southern end of the Galata bridge over the Golden Horn), walk across the Golden Horn to the area at the north end which is called Karaköy. As a point of interest Karaköy is an area with multiple chart agents, ships agents and ship’s chandlers. Although directed towards commercials shipping they have some supplies of use to yachts.
  3. Chamber of Shipping, Meclisi Mebusan Caddesi No: 22, Findikli
    Either walk up the tram line (about 20 minutes) or take tram T1 Kabatas to the second stop Findikli (token for tram is 2 lira, from auto-mat, but not the same as for the ferries). Get off the tram and cross the street to the right, towards the harbor, turn right and proceed 300 m, to the Chamber of Shipping Building (Deniz Tacaret Odasi).
    – closed 1200 – 1330 for lunch
    – The transit log costs 136.00 lira and can be paid for in lira, euros, etc or with a credit card.
    – Previously the log would be registered into the computer system at the Chamber of Shipping, when we purchased our Transit Log we were the first yacht they could not enter, their computer system told them to send us to the Harbour Master (who we visit twice)
  4. Harbour Masters Office
    Retrace your route back to the north end of the bridge over the Golden Horn, follow the street closest to the waterfront until you come to an open square. The harbour master building is facing the water on the righthand side of the square.
    When you enter the main door immediately go down 3 steps on the lefthand side of the main staircase (immediately across from the security guard). Here the Harbour Master will enter the Transit Log into the computer system and give it back to you.
  5. Coastal Health Control Center (Sahil Saglik Denetleme Merkezi)
    As you exit the Harbour Master building, turn to the right and enter the next building which is the Health Control Center. It is a small yellow building with the blue sign at the top.
    This is where you get your first required transit log stamp.
  6. Personal Visa(s) (Istanbul Gumruk ve Muhafaza Basmudurlugu)
    If any persons who will be on the Crew List of the Transit Log require visas then they must be purchased prior to going to the Passport Police.
    – visas requirements and the cost may be checked here
    Exit the square beside the Harbour Master building and turn right onto the street Kemankes Cadesi. Pass the first building which is the Cruise Ship Terminal and contains Passport Police (these are not the police you need). As a point of interest there is a Tourist Information counter inside the Cruise Ship Terminal to the far left as you enter the building and they proved very helpful to us in sorting out the English and Turkish languages while completing visa purchases. Passing the Cruise Ship Terminal building there is a gap and then the second building. Continue to the far end of the second building where there is a gate to a little park with seating and a small fountain (hidden by some parked cars).
    Enter this garden and on the end of the building, facing the garden is the entrance door you need.
    There is a security guard and behind him the elevator which you take to the 4th floor. Turn right when you exit the elevator and the visa stamp office is on the left. The visa costs are in Euros or US Dollars and CAN NOT be paid for in lira or with a credit card. In our case, exact change was greatly appreciated. The visas stamps are adhesive but it is probably best not to apply them to your passport but rather carry them to the Passport Police who will apply them.
  7. Passport Police (Pasaport Polisi) in Zeyport
    Return across the Golden Horn bridge and take the bus (BN1, BN2, 81) towards Ataköy. Zeyport is the cargo terminal with docks for small freight ships and Agent boats which is located across the bay from Ataköy Marina. The closest bus stop is near the fuel station, cross the overhead walkway and walk about 200m to Zeyport.
    The small building inside the gate is the security for the dock area and they will take you out the rear (i.e. water side) of the building and direct you to a building to the right which is where you will get the second stamp. For us the Passport Police took the passports and determined who would need visas. They then asked for the visas as a second step. obviously expecting us to have them with us. Note that although they administer the visas they do not sell them. They then affixed the visas to the passport and stamped over them, it was at this point we were glad we had not entered them into the passport ourselves.
    Your Transit Log will then get its second stamp.
  8. Customs
    Return to Ataköy Marina where the Customs Office is located near the Travel Lift in the boat yard.
    This will be the third required Transit Log stamp.
  9. Harbor Masters Office
    Take bus (BN1, BN2, 81) back to the Golden Horn bridge and walk across to the north side. Return to the Harbour Master who will stamp the Transit Log, he will remove his copy and the Health Control copy of the Transit Log, returning to you the original which still has the copies for the Police and Customs.
    This will be the fourth and final required Transit Log stamp.
  10. Return to Zeyport and then Ataköy Marina and let the Police and Customs remove their copies of the Transit Log.
    – as a note, Customs did not check any documents on our initial visit but wanted to check all documents when we returned for them to remove their copy, even though some copies had already been removed. Hence it is probably best to carry all the documents for all of the process.
  11. Finally go to the Ataköy Marina reception where they will photocopy your Transit Log.
    You are now “street legal”, officially in Turkey and officially in Ataköy Marina.

Note: We split our check in over an afternoon and the following morning. When we returned to offices for the second time it was always a new person on the second day which may be part of the reason that different boats encounter different procedures.

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