Having read the horror stories concerning foreigners trying to import their possessions into Turkey once they'd made the leap to expat life and deciding I was not going to be one of those poor souls, I had done some research and came upon a company by the name of 9ekim group who, by all accounts had helped a few people import their personal possessions with minimal fuss and without the 'fees' & bribes that Turkish customs is notorious for. And so I were introduced to Andrey, my friendly Turkish broker who assured me that they are indeed experienced licensed customs brokers, "expert in customs clearance". Excellent!
Over the next few days emails are swapped back and forth; Andrey asking questions regarding volume & type of goods, origin and destination with me providing the answers. All is going well. With an initial quote of €1950.00 and a promise from Andrey that his "primary objective is quality, ease and speed of delivery" I feel I am in good hands.
Next I ask for a list of requirements to get the ball rolling - the first is the packing list. I had some replica antiques such as suit of armour, guns (not working) etc... but decide not to import them as the procedure for replica or real antiques is both time consuming and costly - something I was at a pains to avoid. It is also pointed out to me along the way that as I am importing personal belongings there will be a $1000 US deposit to be paid by on top of the initial fee which, I am told, will be refunded after 3 years should I decide to claim my goods as permanent. Next, with the pick-up date finalized all that remained was to send ahead copies of my passport, residence permit & TAPU with the originals to be sent to the agent as soon as I arrive in Turkey. In the meantime Andrey has advised me of "some good news" in that due to new regulations that came in force in July, I no longer have to pay the $1000 US temporary import deposit. Things are looking good! - Mmmmmmmm
With this false sense of security fully in place it all started to go downhill from there. The day before we (my husband and I) left Romania I got an email: Oh! buy the way just one more thing. "On your way through the border can you please go to the customs police and obtain a Giriş Çıkış Belgesi? (entry & exit history authorized by the police) Right then! Never heard of it but will get it nonetheless - Uh, no! Unfortunately not, as neither had the border police who looked totally 'doe eyed' by the request. So on 9th of August, the day after we arrived in Fethiye, with the help of a good friend I fronted at the customs police only to be asked "Why?" "Nobody needs this piece of paper & no one has ever asked for one." Once again, Mmmmmmm. Mine is not to reason why just to get the bloody thing! Two days and several trips back to the police and Voilà! One piece of irrelevant paperwork in hand and sent straight off to our 'professional' broker to do with what he may. Finally I can breath and relax. Date: 10th August - Not long now!
Friday 12th August (The day my goods were supposed to be delivered) I received an email from Andrey stating that all the customs procedures had been finalized barring one final signature and stamp from an official they could not get due to the closing of the business day, but rest assured we will have it (the signature) tomorrow. The customs procedures will be finalized on Monday 15th and the goods will leave Istanbul that night and be received by me on Tuesday 16th. Yes! Home and hosed!
Monday 15th August - I received yet another email from Andrey to explain that the customs official with the power to issue the final stamp - or not, had decided, based on the new procedures issued in July (procedures that my 'professional removalist friend Andrey is paid to be aware of) that there was some paperwork "missing". My reply was "How can it be missing when you never asked for it in the first place?" So here below you will find yet another list of documents needed, apparently, to assure the said customs official that I am indeed who I am quite forgetting the fact that I have proved this time and time again when I purchased the apartment we now live in with my residency permit, tax number etc.. - Not documents you can get over the counter at Migros!
"1) Giris-Cikis belgesi (Entry records) – is taken by you only from 01.01.2011, but customs officer needs it for whole period (at least 3 years, since 01.01.2008)
2) Personal records documents (yours and your husbands) – This document must contain your names, birth places, birth dates, address abroad, father’s name, mother’s name, id number. This document must be approved by a British Embassy (in Fethiye there is one) (if possible made in Turkish language)
3) 24 months living abroad document – in this document there must be written that you at least 24 month was living abroad (in Romania or UK), that’s all. This document must be approved by a British Embassy (in Fethiye there is one) (if possible made in Turkish language)."
My response was thus:
"Good evening Andrey,
As per our conversation please note the following:
1. - My previous UK passports are not 3 years old.The one before I was married was issued in December 2009 and only shows to the beginning of this year when we had it changed to my married name. The one previous to that was stolen .....and had only two entries into Turkey in it as we only started coming to Turkey in April 2009.
2. - My husband is not English he is Danish, so none of his documents will be approved by the British embassy.
I have no documents with my parents names or details on them because they are not required in the UK once you turn 18. One is considered an adult and therefore can sign anything on your own without parental consent. As I am now 46 I find it ridiculous!
- Regardless, any personal documents we don't have with us already will be in the shipment of goods customs holds in Istanbul.
3. - The residence document I have for Romania is only from March this year because once again it was changed into my married name and therefore only shows the date from then.
As the Turkish customs now seems to be making impossible demands (these documents were not 'missing' as they had never been requested from us in the first place) and clearly does not wish for me to retrieve my belongings thereby costing me more time and money I respectfully request my belongings to be returned back to the Romanian address from whence they came and I would assume a refund would be in order for services not met. Please let me know when the goods will arrive back in Romania so Jens can go back and meet with them.
If Turkish Customs has a complaint department I would gladly have the contact details to pursue this matter further. In the meantime you can let them know I will be lodging a formal complaint with the British embassy. Any names you have would be greatly appreciated.
17th of August - 5 days longer than the originally quoted time frame I receive a phone call & an email for a bill of € 700.00 plus tax for extra storage time due to the 'extra missing' paperwork. Paperwork that I was not aware of until the original delivery date. All of this from a 'professional, experienced import broker' who has now informed me that he cannot give me an original receipt from customs because the payment for the € 700.00 was in cash and so I received a discount. Once again, Mmmmmmm.
Anyhow the 'ransom' money has been paid and all I await is my belonging. Tick, tick, tick!
Friday 19th of August - Finally my belongings have arrived. Slightly beaten up with the odd broken mirror & knick-knack (quite frankly half the boxes have either been ripped open or tapped danced on) but never the less they have arrived!
- So what's the moral of this story?