RV travel in Turkey: Crossing the border

When I looked into taking my UK registered motorhome / RV into Turkey I found the information available online not as clear as I would have liked. So here, with a series of ongoing posts, I’d like to share my experience hopefully in a way it might help you, should you be considering going to Turkey in your RV.

I entered on the main route between Bulgaria and Turkey.

Yes, there are major major queues for the trucks. You’ll start seeing them on the sides (sometimes both) of the road and eventually taking up a lane.

Just keep going past them and take the same lane as is indicated for cars.

On the Bulgarian side, they asked for my passport and car registration, but did not want to see my dog’s passport.

Then there was a bit of (expected) confusion on the Turkish side. Before you get there, there is a “duty free” shop and atm.

The first booth on the Turkish side is for your passport and visa (if required). Again they are not interested in your dog’s paperwork.

Regarding my visa, I got mine online but a) for a later date and b) I forgot to print it! (whilst they were happy to look at the visa on my phone, the dates were incorrect..)

They were however incredibly friendly and sent me running across many lanes to a guy in some obscure booth where I managed to get a special sticker for about €15, despite the guy speaking zero English. With this sticker, the original border agent was happy to give me a 6 month visa, all stamped into my passport.

Then you proceed to what they call baggage control, effectively customs, where they check the inside of your vehicle and also your vehicle insurance. My default UK insurance does not cover Turkey and I had to buy insurance there, but this is only available after this step. So you effectively exit this stage, head to a building marked D3 with a huge sign saying auto insurance and present yourself. They will need your passport and vehicle registration doc (V5 for the UK) and it is vital the name in the V5 matches your passport name.

I paid € 155 for 3 months insurance, for a motorhome. After he gives you the papers you have to go to the booth next door where the guy stamps it, and also in your passport. (you have to leave Turkey with the vehicle you arrived in.)

Then I tried to exit but the guy at the final check said “computers says no” (I kid you not) and said I have to go back to the baggage check as I skipped that for the insurance.

I subsequently reversed about 400m across about 10 lanes, much to the amusement of most of the police and other officers. At baggage control a very friendly guy showed me to a booth (on foot) and then, after a few more stamps and entries in a computer, they waived me off without checking any of my motorhome contents!

This time, the guy in the end booth was happy but he had one question. He asked me “why did I reverse back to baggage control?” He said I could have simply turned around (and drive into the traffic flow) but anyway, they were all very impressed with my reverse driving skills. I could only accept the compliment, thank the man and drive off…

Right after you exit there is a major service station with restaurant, and a guy in there selling Turk telecom sim cards. You can grab a 5gb one from him for about €15, which is a bit more than you’ll pay in Istanbul but still not bad.

From there the next hassle was to buy a toll pass (HGS) but three of the first petrol stations I tried said their system was down, try the next one. By then I’ve gone through two toll gates with alarms blaring and cameras flashing, so I’m expecting a fine in the UK post, but it’s not much (and I could do nothing about it).

I eventually found a guy that sold me a “nationwide” pass for about €60 but I suspect I was conned, as at a few subsequent tolls I still had to pay… So who knows!

All in, not a terrible experience. My advice would be to try and get insurance beforehand, maybe even in Bulgaria, and do more research about what to expect to pay for the toll pass, and how to check the credit has been applied to your account (they have an app to can install for that).

That’s it for now. In my next post I’ll talk about the drive to Istanbul and parking options there.

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