Alcohol laws of Turkey

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Toasting with rakı, in the typical rakı glasses.

Alcohol laws of Turkey regulate the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The laws are enforced by the Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority (TAPDK).


The consumption of alcohol is prohibited in the Islamic faith, but was practised widely in the ruling class of the Ottoman Empire. Murad IV (1612 - 1640) forbade drinking alcohol by law despite being a drinker himself.[citation needed] Turkey has been a secular country since its establishment in 1923, and the consumption of rakı in particular is a significant part of Turkey's food culture. However, today, 83% of adult Turks report being teetotal, and at 1.5 litres per head, alcohol consumption is amongst the highest in the Middle East.[1]

Consumption measures[edit]

Age limits[edit]

In Turkey, the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages is age limited to persons 18 and over. A governmental act imposed in January 2011 restricted the sale of alcohol at certain events to persons under 24 years of age rather than 18 as it was previously established. However, the restriction was later overturned by the courts.[2]


Turkey's driving under the influence law gives a blood alcohol content limit of 0.05mg/ml (as of January 2013) and 0 for commercial drivers.[3] Under the new 2013 laws, breaching the drunk driving limit is punishable with a six-month driving ban.[4]

Sales measures[edit]

Graffiti seen during the 2013 protests in Turkey, showing the words "At least 3 beers", a reference to the new alcohol restrictions and a government recommendation for families to have at least three children.[5][6]


Licences are required in Turkey to sell or serve alcohol (including beer); they are administered by the Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority.[4] In 2008 shops with retail licenses were barred from selling alcohol out of its original packaging, preventing the custom of some shops of setting up chairs and tables outside to become de facto small bars.[7]

In 2013 the government passed laws limiting retail licenses from 10 pm to 6 am[1] and banning "student dormitories, health institutions, sports clubs, and all sorts of education institutions and gas stations" from selling alcohol.[4] 185,000 kiosks with alcohol licenses could be affected.[8]

The 2013 laws also created additional restrictions on obtaining new licenses. No new licenses would be issued for locations less than 100 metres from a school or mosque. In addition, new licensees would now need to obtain a business permit from the local municipality, and "a tourism document from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism" before applying.[4]


The high tax on the alcoholic beverages, called special consumption tax (Turkish: Özel Tüketim Vergisi ÖTV), established first in 2002 and dramatically increased in 2010 by the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), whose leadership is known for their aversion to alcohol,[9][10]. For instance, the increase in prices of an average rakı, a traditional Turkish alcoholic beverage, was only slightly higher than the regular inflation, 204% to 206%, from 2003 when Justice and Development Party (AKP) came into the office until 2012. However, between 2013 and 2020, the average price of rakı has far more exceeded the inflation of commodity prices, 359% to 213%, due to the high tax rates.[11]

The high taxes on alcohol is related to a significant rise in smuggling and fraud involving alcoholic beverages in the country.[12] Bootlegging is blamed for the alcohol poisoning in Turkey, including 2011 Turkish Riviera mass alcohol poisoning and causality of at least 67 people to methyl alcohol poisoning in Octorber 2020. [13]

Advertising and promotion[edit]

In 2013, new laws banned all forms of advertising and promotion for alcoholic beverages, including "promotions, sponsored activities, festivals and free giveaways."[4] Beverage companies ran ads criticizing the ban.[14][15]

The law also included a requirement to blur depictions of alcoholic beverages on television and in films, as was already done for cigarettes,[1] and for bottles to carry health warnings similar to tobacco packaging warning messages.[4]

A 2011 ban by the TAPDK on advertising in sports meant the basketball team Efes Pilsen had to change its name to Anadolu Efes S.K..[16]


  1. ^ a b c Constanze Letsch, The Guardian, 31 May 2013, Turkey alcohol laws could pull the plug on Istanbul nightlife
  2. ^ "Russian woman has died in Turkey from poisoning by counterfeit alcohol". World News – Russian opinion. 2011-05-30. Archived from the original on 2011-08-22. Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  3. ^ "BAC and BrAC Limits". International Alliance for Responsible Drinking. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Hurriyet Daily News, 24 May 2013, Turkish Parliament adopts alcohol restrictions, bans sale between 10 pm and 6 am
  5. ^ "Turkey's Islamist-rooted AKP to propose new bans on alcohol". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  6. ^ "Turkish PM pushes for 'three children incentive'". Hürriyet Daily News. 10 February 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  7. ^ The Guardian, 16 May 2008, New alcohol law prompts fears for Turkish bar trade
  8. ^ Hacaoglu, Selcan (28 May 2013). "Erdogan Denies Turkey's New Alcohol Curbs Encroach on Lifestyle". Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Archived from the original on 8 June 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  9. ^ "AKP, alcohol, and government-engineered social change in Turkey". Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. 2010-05-10. Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  10. ^ "Turkish consumers dazed by another alcohol tax increase". Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. 2010-10-29. Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  11. ^ "Turkish boozers resist alcohol restrictions - sometimes at deadly risk". Al-Monitor The Pulse of the Middle East. 2020-10-19. Retrieved 2020-10-21.
  12. ^ "High alcohol, cigarette taxes in Turkey promote smuggling, fraud". Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. 2011-05-05. Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  13. ^ "Turkey: 67 died of alcohol poisoning in last 13 days". Anadolu Agency. 2011-10-21. Retrieved 2020-10-21.
  14. ^ Bloomberg, 12 June 2013, Diageo Facing Raki Trouble in Turkey After Booze-Ad Ban
  15. ^ 1 June 2013, Alcohol Marketers Say Farewell to Ads In Turkey--With Ads
  16. ^ Announcement Archived 2012-03-24 at the Wayback Machine,

See also[edit]