Turkey 10 min

How to set up as an independent contractor in Turkey

Written by Pedro Barros
Pedro Barros

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If you’ve decided to go it alone as an independent contractor, then Turkey could be just the ticket.

Whether you want to set up on the bustling banks of the Bosphorus, breathe in the Mediterranean air in Antalya, or work under the hot-air balloons in Cappadocia, this fascinating country offers a great balance between work and life.

Before you can start living the self-employed dream, though, you’ll need to know how to:

  • Register your business in Turkey

  • Avoid misclassification as an employee

  • Create compliant contracts that protect you

  • Invoice and collect payments from around the world

In this article, we’ll cover all these things, and help you navigate your tax responsibilities as a self-employed worker. We’ll also discuss some of the other risks and liabilities you should be aware of.

First, it’s important to clarify how Turkey defines independent contractors.

What is an independent contractor according to Turkish law?

Independent contractors are workers who provide paid services (or products) to another party. However, they are classified differently to employees, and are usually not entitled to the same benefits, such as paid leave, sick days, and minimum wage. On the flip side, contractors have more freedom and flexibility in the way they work.

See also: Why businesses hire contractors vs. international employees

In Turkey, there is no specific law that covers the legal differences between employees and independent contractors. However, Turkish labor laws clearly outline the legal boundaries of employment relationships. Based on these guidelines, you can generally be considered a contractor if you:

  • Determine your own work schedule and working hours

  • Perform work for other companies

  • Set your own rates and scope of work

  • Provide your own tools or equipment

  • Are not integrated into one specific company and its operations (i.e. you don’t have an internal email address)

  • Are able to delegate or subcontract work

  • Work without direction or supervision

When you work with clients, it’s important to be correctly classified to avoid penalties and fines, and to ensure that you are paying the right taxes.

Business registration in Turkey

Before you can begin working as an independent contractor in Turkey, you’ll first need to choose a formal structure for your business.

The most popular model for sole owners is the sole proprietorship structure, as it’s quick and easy to set up and maintain. In this structure, you have full control of the enterprise, although there is no legal separation between you (the owner) and the business; you are personally responsible for all its debts and liabilities.

If you want more legal protection, you’re working with other partners, or you anticipate generating a large amount of revenue, you can also incorporate a formal company or enter into a partnership. If you’re unsure which structure is most suitable for your business, it’s a good idea to speak with a registered solicitor or accountant.

If you do opt for the sole proprietor model, you will need to register as self-employed with the Turkish Revenue Administration (GIB).

If your business activity is regulated (i.e. you practice a protected profession such as medicine or law, or you’re handling food), you may also need to acquire additional business permits or licenses from your local issuing authority.

How do I get paid as an independent contractor in Turkey?

As an independent contractor, it’s down to you to handle your invoices and payment collection. Unfortunately, this means billing each client individually and collecting payment through their preferred payment method — which can be inefficient and time-consuming.

Some of the most common ways to collect payments include:

  • Bank transfers

  • Direct deposits

  • Paper checks

  • Money orders

  • Virtual wallets

  • Digital transfer services like PayPal and Wise

These methods all have their own pros and cons. For instance, bank and digital transfers can be pretty quick, but often come with hefty service fees. And if you have clients in other countries besides Turkey, the payment collection process can be even more complicated. 

Alternatively, you can use a trusted solution like Remote. Our platform is a simple, secure, and reliable way to get paid quickly in Turkish lira — and with no hidden fees. Learn more about how our platform can help.

Independent contractor taxes in Turkey

As an independent contractor, you’re responsible for filing and paying your own taxes.

The good news is that, as a sole proprietor, you pay personal income tax on your business profits. This means that you do not need to fill out additional returns or pay corporate taxes.

Like most countries, Turkey has a progressive income tax rate, and you can expect to pay anywhere between 15% and 40% depending on your level of income. Note that, if you work with clients outside of Turkey, this may affect your tax liabilities. In such cases, it’s a good idea to consult with a qualified tax specialist.

You must also make health insurance (SGK) and pension (BAĞ-KUR) contributions, which are based on your level of earnings. It may be possible to claim back some of these payments as tax deductions.

As a self-employed person, you must make quarterly advance payments of 15% of the previous quarter’s income. At the end of the year, the GIB will then calculate your final tax bill and determine if you have underpaid or overpaid. You must submit your tax return by March 31 each year.

On the plus side, you can claim tax deductions for multiple business expenses, including:

  • Travel costs

  • Insurance premiums

  • Professional services fees

  • Tools and equipment (including maintenance)

  • Vehicle expenses

VAT information for independent contractors in Turkey

In Turkey, all businesses and commercial enterprises must charge VAT, regardless of their income. You must file and pay your VAT returns on a monthly or quarterly basis.

The standard VAT rate in Turkey is 18%, although some goods and services are charged at the lower rates of 8% and 1%.

Liability considerations for independent contractors in Turkey

As a sole proprietor, you are personally liable for finance and tax debts, which means your private assets can be forcibly used to settle your business debts. Many independent contractors purchase liability insurance to help mitigate this risk.

It’s also important to cover yourself when drafting and signing agreements with clients. Our legal experts can provide you with fully compliant contract templates, for both Turkish and international clients.

Accounting requirements for independent contractors in Turkey

As a sole proprietor, you do not need to publish financial statements or accounts.

However, you must still keep organized, accurate records of all your income and expenditure (including client invoices, purchase orders, bank statements, and receipts). This will help you correctly file your taxes, give you a stronger picture of your financial situation, and generally make life easier if you are audited by the tax authorities.

You can either manage these records yourself using an accounting or bookkeeping tool, or hire a professional bookkeeper or accountant.

The dangers of contractor misclassification in Turkey

As we’ve mentioned, independent contractors are classified differently to employees in Turkey. Many of the protections and benefits employees enjoy do not typically apply to contractors.

As a result, companies may deliberately misclassify you to circumvent their legal obligations, while at other times, it may happen accidentally. Whether it’s intentional or not, misclassification can result in penalties and fines for both you and your client.

As an independent contractor, you can work with your clients to ensure this doesn’t happen. Discuss your role and responsibilities with them, and review the working arrangement regularly.

If your working relationship changes over time and you become more integrated into a client’s company, you can ask to be converted into an employee.

Use our Contractor Compliance Checklist to avoid misclassification

Work through this checklist to help determine if a new hire should have a contractor or employee relationship.

A tablet with the title contractor compliance checklist.

How do I ask the company I’m working with to convert me to an employee in Turkey?

Open a dialogue with your client and carefully discuss the risks and benefits of moving to an employer-employee relationship. In particular, be clear about how it can benefit both parties — not just you.

You can even suggest the help of a third-party solution, such as Remote, to ease the transition. Our global employment services help both parties stay compliant by taking care of key HR functions (like payroll management and benefits administration) in line with Turkish law.

4 ways Remote makes life easier for contractors and their clients

As you can see, there’s a lot to take on board when setting up as an independent contractor. Remote can help you with many of these challenges, allowing you to focus on growing your business and delivering to your clients. Here’s how:

1. International payments in countries around the world

Navigating all of your clients’ different invoicing, approvals, and payments systems can be complicated and time-consuming. And manual methods of invoicing and collecting payments can increase the risk of fees, errors, and delays.

Remote gives you access to a highly secure, streamlined dashboard that makes invoice management and international payments cost-effective and efficient. You can use our platform to get paid in Turkish lira (or other currencies), without any hidden fees.

2. Localized in-app contracts and advice

When you draft agreements and contracts for your clients, you run the risk of non-compliance with local labor laws — especially when working with international clients. Remote offers localized contracts tailored to Turkish laws, ensuring that you stay compliant. Our legal experts can also provide guidance on complex issues, such as local classification and intellectual property protections.

3. Invoicing automation

With Remote, you no longer need to rely on spreadsheets and other manual tools to invoice for payments; we remove many of the inaccuracies and delays caused by archaic processes and manual management. Our platform lets you create invoices, submit them for approval, and subsequently get paid in your local currency without needing to switch to any other tool or software.

4. Tax management

Tax management is notoriously complex work. Remote helps you quickly and efficiently deal with tax management by compiling data about your income based on your invoices and payments received.

Setting up as an independent contractor in Turkey

Having the freedom and flexibility to work on your own terms is liberating. But your administrative responsibilities can distract from what you really want to be doing: helping your clients, delivering great work, and collecting invoices.

By using a stable, trusted platform like Remote, you can manage these obligations quickly and efficiently, allowing you to focus on your business goals. Specifically, we can help you:

  • Avoid intermediary fees and delays with international client payments

  • Draft compliant contracts for Turkish and foreign clients

  • Enhance your invoice management and avoid manual processes

  • Comply with local labor laws regarding work practices

Our platform makes it quick, simple, and seamless to get started as an independent contractor. Learn more about how our expertise can save you time and resources today.

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