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Real estate law

Since 11 March 2008, the legal situation for a foreign investor when buying real estate has not always been easy. Since the ruling of the Turkish Constitutional Court of 11  March 2008, domestic companies with foreign capital are in principle no longer treated equally with domestic companies with domestic capital.

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Purchase of real estate by a Turkish company with foreign capital

Up until 11 March 2008, domestic companies with foreign capital were subject to no restrictions whatsoever when purchasing real estate in Turkey.
Due to the fear of the "sell-outof the country through foreign investors", however, the Turkish constitutional court ruled the relevant provision of Article 3 d of the law on foreign investment to be unconstitutional.


The new Article 36 (4) of the Turkish land register law, made public on 12 Nov. 2008 in the official journal, clearly states that domestic companies with foreign partners are permitted to purchase real estate. The bureaucracy seems, however, to be monstrous. Thisis also the case if a Turkish company, which originally only had Turkish partners, then passes on shares to foreigners. This is even the case if the sale of the property took place before the share in the business was transferred to a foreigner. A retroactive examination is conducted, as to whether the prerequisites for the purchase are still being fulfilled.


Four authorities are to be involved in the sale of real estate: the land register, the prefecture, the treasury and also the military if the land lies in a military safety zone. In this case, the General Staff must issue a clearance certificate.

Foreign legal entities

The purchase of real estate is subject to special regulations


The specific procedure is as follows:

  1. The company with foreign capital makes an application to the prefecture, divisionion for planning and coordination (Valilik İl Planlama ve Koordinasyon Müdürlüğü). The following documents are to be provided

    • Application with information as to the object of the purchase and the details of the plot of land
    • Submission of the shareholders’ resolution that the company is permitted to purchase real estate and that the shareholders’ representative has proof of a suitable power of attorney
    • Information as to the responsible tax office and the tax number
    • Proof of the statutory purpose of the company, names or company names of all partners, their citizenship, the shares with confirmation issued by the chamber of trade and industry, no earlier than one month before
    • For foreign individuals: a notarised copy of an identity document; for foreign legal entities: a copy of the “activity report”, notarised by the competent Turkish diplomatic representation or by a notary, including an Apostille
    • Names and addresses of the directors and, if applicable, the members of the board and their identity data
    • The balance sheet for the past three years if the company has been in existence for such period of time
  2. The prefecture then obtains a statement from the provincial office for trade and industry. This office has a deadline of seven days to submit a statement. This office has a deadline of seven days to submit a statement.
  3. The prefecture then obtains an additional statement from the General Staff or a Commander who has been authorised by the General Staff, as to whether the property lies in a military security zone or a strategic zone. The deadline for the statement by the military is thirty days.
  4. The prefecture then obtains a further statement from the General Office for Security (highest police authority), as  to whether the property lies in a special security zone. The deadline for this statement is twenty days.
  5. If the land lies in a "special safety zone", a commission which is to be set up according to Art. 36 (2) of the Turkish land register law is to be asked, whether there are any objections to the purchase of property in this zone. This commission has no deadline by which it must have issued its statement. It meets at the most twice per month and can call in representatives of other administrative authorities over and above those members called for by the regulation
  6. When these prerequisites have been fulfilled, the company and the land register receive a notification allowing the purchase of the property. Should there be any obstacle, the purchase of the property cannot go ahead.


The regulation also sets out that Art. 36 (3) of the Turkish land register law decrees that “real estate properties that have been purchased or used contrary to the law”, are to be "liquidated", i.e. sold compulsorily.
It is here that the investment security provided by the liberal commercial system that had recently been created in the Republic of Turkey has been visibly weakened.

Purchase of real estate by foreign private individuals

Foreign private individuals can purchase real estate in Turkey when the principle of reciprocity and the legal prerequisites have been fulfilled. The principle of reciprocity means that Turkish citizens can also purchase real estate in the country of origin of the potential purchaser. This is, for instance, the case in Germany. The restriction of reciprocity does not exist in Germany, Turks can readily purchase real estate.

Special regulations for restricted military areas

The purchase of real estate by foreign nationals is not permitted in restricted military areas and safety zones, so that permission has to be obtained from the military authorities for every purchase. This is usually granted within three months. The restrictions of the village regulations, according to which foreign nationals were not permitted to purchase property outside the municipal land utilisation plan, have been abolished.

Role of the land registry

In Turkey, the land registry (tapu dairesi) is based on similar principles as in Germany. However, the purchase contract for the transfer of property is concluded at the land registry office. A contract on the covenant to transfer title (satış vaadi sözleşmesi) is the instrument which is used for more extensive transactions. It is concluded with a notarised confirmation, and only contains the covenant, which means that its effect in law is purely between the parties (and not "in rem"). Therefore, immediately after the conclusion of this contract, the reservation should be entered into the land register in order to safeguard the transaction.

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