Applications for Turkey's green passport which will be given to the executives of companies exporting over $1 million in exports are now being accepted according to a decision by the Council of Ministers published in the Official Gazette.
The green passport grants visa-free travel to many countries across the globe and will be issued to the executives of exporting companies with a three-year export average of $1 to $10 million, while five executives for companies which export more than $100 per annum will be granted green passports.
The Economy Ministry will issue green passports to executives who qualify on Feb. 15 each year. Companies selected by the Ministry will be notified via the secretariats of their respective regional directorates and exporters' associations within 15 days of the date of issuance.
According to the decision by the Cabinet of Ministers on Principles Regarding Issuance of Special Passports to Exporters, according to export revenues reported over the last three calendar years -- 2014 to 2016 -- one green passport will be issued to companies with an annual export volume between $1 and $10 million, while companies with an annual export volume between $10 and $15 million will be awarded two green passports and companies with an annual export volume of between $25 and $50 million will be issued three green passports followed by four executives of companies exporting between $50-$100 million and five executives of companies exceeding $100 million in exports.
The qualifications of the aforementioned companies will be determined by the Economy Ministry on the basis of official foreign trade statistics. Sales in free trade zones abroad will also be taken into account when determining a company's export volume. However, sales made overseas, which are not subject to production and processing activities after being brought into the free zone from within the country, will not be taken into account when calculating this amount.
How to apply
Owners, partners and employees of exporting companies will be given special passports. If the owner or partner of a firm is a legal person, a special passport may be given to the owners, partners or employees of that legal entity. Applications for the special passport are to be made via the request form jointly determined by the Interior Ministry and Economy Ministry. The relevant exporters' associations will examine documents submitted by the applicant, suggesting that the applicant is an executive of the company and determining whether the applicant is authorized to commit and represent the firm signing the request form. The signed request form will be presented to the regional directorate. The presiding executive of the applicant company, those authorized to represent the company, the chairman of the exporters association and the deputy authorized by the chairman will maintain legal responsibility for any missing, incorrect or misleading declarations provided on the request form. The executives of the company receiving the special passport will return the green passport within 15 days after it is understood that they do not fulfill any of the aforementioned requirements or the passport has lost any of these conditions within the validity period. Companies will be barred from obtaining a special passport for 10 years if it is found that they have not returned the passport or they have not notified the authorities regarding the issue.
A push for exports
Mehmet Büyükekşi, head of the Turkish Exporters' Assembly, noted that 10,000 companies are expected to benefit from the decision with around 14,000 passports. Büyükekşi highlighted that the passports are meaningful especially for exporters travelling to European countries since Turkey sends almost half of its exports to the EU.
Highlighting that the green passport application is of critical importance for exporters who constantly travel abroad, Istanbul Minerals and Metals Exporters' Association (IMMİB) Coordinating Chairman Murat Akyüz said, "The entry into force of the green passport application, which our exporters have been eagerly waiting for since the day it was brought to the agenda, is good news for all of us. We had a good start in 2017 and as our exports are on the rise, this decision will be the driving force for our exports and will carry our exports much higher."
Suggesting that international travel by exporters who are released from visa problems will increase by at least 20 percent, Akyüz recalled that Turkish exporters used to experience commercial losses due to visa-related delays.
"The green passport application, which provides visa-free travel to many countries around the world, has been a very valuable step for us. We would like to thank everyone, the Economy Ministry in particular, for contributing to this decision on behalf of our exporters," Akyüz added.
Meanwhile, the Economy Ministry foresees that about 22,000 exporting companies will be given special passports in 2017.
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