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Container Shipping to Turkey

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Updated on 29 Aug 20228 min read

Turkey is an active member of international trade, producing products such as motor vehicles, home appliances, textiles, and agricultural products to ship internationally. The country has an emerging market, with the 18-largest nominal GDP in the world.

If you are thinking about extending your reach to Turkey and contributing to a booming market, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about shipping containers to Turkey, including the requirements, costs, transit time, and options. Read on to learn more.

What are your options for container shipping to Turkey?

Shipping containers are done via ocean freight, in which you have two options: less than container load (LCL) or full container load (FCL).

Less than Container Load (LCL) to Turkey

Less than container load is the shipping option of choice for small goods or cargo in small quantities. It’s an economical option because of the shared container, where consolidated goods belonging to various shippers are transported together in one unit. While economical, the shipping process can take a while longer because of the added consolidation process.

Full Container Load (FCL) to Turkey

Full container load, on the other hand, is a more exclusive mode of ocean freight that is best for large, overweight, heavy, or bulky cargo. In this mode of shipment, your goods will be shipped individually in one container, which means that transit time is faster but it’s more expensive than LCL.

How much does it cost to ship a container to Turkey?

Shipping containers to Turkey involves different processes and specifics. As such, the cost of your shipment would depend on a variety of different factors. These include:

  • Type of goods you are shipping
  • Your choice of shipping service (LCL or FCL)
  • Weight of your cargo
  • Volume of your cargo
  • Distance between your port of origin and destination
  • Movement type (door-to-door, port-to-port, etc.)

While there is no exact rate, you can request for an accurate estimate from your freight forwarder.

What type of cargo can be sent in a container?

Ocean freight is able to accommodate almost every type of cargo. Whether you are shipping food, vehicles, agricultural products, machinery, or appliances, shipping containers can house and transport them for you.

However, one thing that you need to be aware of is the import rules of Turkey. The country may have prohibited and restricted goods, which are not allowed for import or require additional licenses, certifications, or documents. Be aware of these so that you don’t run into problems with customs clearance.

How long does it take to ship a container to Turkey?

The estimated transit time for container shipping to Turkey would be dependent on factors such as the mode of shipment that you select (whether FCL or LCL), whether your ship is direct or has multiple stops, and the distance between your port of origin and destination port in Turkey.

It can take anywhere from 3 to 44 days for your shipment to arrive. Below, we provide estimated transit times from United States ports to Turkey ports.

U.S. Port of Origin|Estimated Transit Time to Turkey| ---------------- | ---------------- |----------: New York|44 days Norfolk|42 days Seattle|42 days Atlanta|4 days Columbus|4 days Jacksonville|3 days

What container capacity do I need for my cargo?

Ocean freight ports offer a variety of container sizes, including:

  • 20 foot - 33.2 CBM
  • 40 foot regular - 63.5 CBM
  • 40 foot high cube - 76.4 CBM
  • 45 feet high cube - 86 CBM

The one you should choose would depend on the dimensions and measurements of your cargo. If you select LCL as your mode of shipment, however, we recommend that your goods don’t occupy more than half of the standard container.

Otherwise, your shipping cost would be close to what you would pay with FCL, so it’s wiser to choose the latter instead. If you initially select FCL as your mode of shipment, you usually will not have to worry about the dimensions and volume of your cargo because you own the space in the entire container. You can ship anything in an FCL container, whether small or large cargo.

Which mode of ocean shipping should I choose, FCL, LCL, or Break Bulk?

The right mode of shipment for you is dependent on the particulars of your cargo, as well as your priorities when shipping to Turkey. We provide some pointers below to help you make an informed decision.

Less Than Container Load (LCL) Shipping to Turkey

Less than container load (LCL) shipping may be the right option for you if your cargo is:

  • Small in size or quantity
  • Not delicate, perishable, or fragile
  • Able to withstand excessive movement and handling
  • Suitable for consolidation with cargo from other sellers
  • Not needed at an urgent timeline.

Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping to Turkey

On the other hand, FCL may be the best option for your container shipping needs if your cargo is:

  • Large, bulky, overweight, or heavy
  • Fragile, delicate, and perishable
  • Not suitable for frequent handling and movement
  • Best shipped in isolation
  • Expected in Turkey at a specific date or time.

Break Bulk

Break bulk shipping is the process of shipping cargo separately and in different containers. This is often recommended by freight forwarders in case the shipper’s goods cannot fit in a single standard container.

Customs Clearance in Turkey

Turkey requires that goods undergo customs clearance before they can enter the country. You need to submit complete and correct documents to the authorities to make this process as easy as possible. The following are the required paperwork:

  • Commercial invoice
  • Letter of credit/ other payment terms
  • Packing list
  • Certificates of origin
  • Import licenses
  • Bill of lading or airway bill, provided by Shipa Freight

We have a full documents list that you can look at to learn more about these documents and see examples.

Which Incoterms would be the right choice for my shipment?

Incoterms help you define your liabilities and responsibilities throughout your shipment. Below are the best Incoterms to use for container shipping to Turkey.

Best Incoterms for Exporters

CPT (Carriage Paid To): The seller must bring the goods to the agreed destination and carry out a contract of carriage. The seller is liable until the goods have been handed to the carrier.

CIP (Carriage and Insurance Paid To): Similar responsibilities as CPT, but with the added requirement on the seller’s part to obtain insurance.

DAP (Delivered At Place): The seller should deliver the goods to the buyer’s selected location and is responsible for the majority of the shipping process.

DDP (Delivery Duty Paid): The seller is responsible from the beginning to the end of the shipping process. This leaves the buyer with minimal responsibilities.

FCA (Free Carrier): The seller must deliver the goods to the carrier and shoulder the costs of customs.

Best Incoterms for Importers

FCA (Free Carrier): The seller must deliver the goods to the carrier and shoulder the costs of customs.

EXW (Ex Works): More responsibility is put on the buyer’s part, from picking up the goods at the seller’s premises or warehouse to arranging transport.

Processes to follow to ship a container to Turkey

To ship a container to Turkey can be a complex and complicated endeavor, which is why we recommend that you engage a freight forwarder who can assist you in all the technicalities involved and ensure that you have a stress-free and successful shipping experience.

Your freight forwarder will help you arrange your shipment, whether LCL or FCL. If you select LCL, your goods will be brought to a container freight station for consolidation. FCL goods do not undergo this process.

All shipments will go through the fumigation process, which eliminates pests, insects, and other harmful organisms that may contaminate the shipment. After this, the ship can begin its journey to Turkey.

When the goods have arrived in Turkey, they will pass through customs clearance. With the right documents, this process will be easy and quick. Once cleared by Turkish customs, your goods can be picked up in the port of destination or otherwise delivered to your nominated location.

Main container ports of arrival in Turkey


The Port of Istanbul is located in Turkey’s capital city and spans the area from the Galata Bridge to the west coast of Bosporus. It houses a well-monitored container terminal, which includes an open air parking lot, closed-circuit cameras, and 24/7 security.

Owned By: Turkish Maritime Lines Annual Container Volume: > 144,000 TEUs UN/LOCODE: TRIST


The Port of Mersin is located in the northeast of the Mediterranean sea, south of Turkey. It is one of the country’s largest harbors and serves as the gateway to the Mediterranean. It has a streamlined container handling process thanks to its facilities that include five berths with railway connections and direct loading and unloading docks.

Owned By: Turkish State Railways Annual Container Volume: > 1.9 million TEUs UN/LOCODE: TRMER


The Port of Haydarpasa, which is also known as the Port of Haldar Pasha, is a cargo seaport with a vast array of container terminals. It is located in Istanbul, Turkey where many industrialized areas are located.

Owned By: Turkish State Railways Annual Container Volume: > 323,000 TEUs UN/LOCODE: TRHAY

Why Ship a Container to Turkey With Shipa Freight?

Shipa Freight is a digital-first freight forwarder that makes container shipping to Turkey easy, seamless, and hassle-free with our digital platform. Through the comfort of your mobile phones, you can easily manage the entirety of the shipping process, including:

  • Book your shipment
  • Get a quote
  • Manage your shipments
  • Track your cargo
  • Settle shipping costs
  • Access 24/7 customer support
  • And more.

Get started with your easy and hassle-free container shipping experience by requesting a quote from Shipa Freight.

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