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I am intending to bring a few bottles of Australian wine into Turkey as a present for friends. Each bottle contains 750ml of wine (14.5% alcohol).

The customs rules says:

Muafiyet kapsamındaki eşya tür ve miktarları şu şekildedir:

ALKOLLÜ ÜRÜNLER

1- Alkol derecesi % 22’yi geçen alkol ve alkollü içkiler 1 lt.

2- Alkol derecesi % 22'yi geçmeyen alkol ve alkollü içkiler 2 lt.

Strictly speaking, my wine does not fall under the item #1 as it is below 22% alcohol, which means I only can take 2L of wine, which is no more than 2 bottles.

However, a lenient interpretation could assume that if I am allowed to take 1L of 22%+ alcohol additional to the 2 l of 22%−, then there is no point in requiring that 1L of alcohol to be at least 22%; a weaker percentage should be permissible too. This logic would allow either:

  • 3 bottles (1 bottle within the 1L of 22%+ concession and 2 bottles within the 22%− one); or even
  • 4 bottles (750 ml × 4 = 3 l = 1 l + 2 l)

Would I be able to assume/argue the lenient approach? How many bottles can I take?

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    You can also take three or four and declare and as such indicate you are willing to pay tax. – Willeke Sep 24 at 10:17
  • If your interpretation were the right one, then I would expect the rule to be worded differently: "up to 3 L of alcohol, of which 1 L may be above 22%". But I do not know Turkish; perhaps there are some subtleties of grammar or idiom that would make it unambiguous to a Turkish speaker. – Nate Eldredge Sep 24 at 13:13
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    I do not think you will get anywhere with "arguing" a particular interpretation. The customs officers know the rules, and they know how they intend to interpret them - your argument is not going to change their mind. Since you are unsure, declare the wine, and if told to pay duty, just pay it. – Nate Eldredge Sep 24 at 13:15
  • @NateEldredge your approach essentially negates the whole point of making duty free rules available to travelers. Only the officers know how to interpret them, so get everyone declare everything. I'd rather take less bottles than pay tax on the extra ones, but equally I'd hate to take less if I could take more duty free. – Greendrake Sep 24 at 21:53
  • @Willeke I am asking this question because I would rather take less bottles than pay tax on the extra ones. At the same time, I would hate to take only 2 if I could take 3 or 4 tax-free. – Greendrake Sep 25 at 0:24
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Would I be able to assume/argue the lenient approach? How many bottles can I take?

Most likely no. The two criteria are mutually exclusive. Either the alcohol volume is < than 22% or the volume is >= 22%. Therefore, the rule is extremely clear: you can bring up to 2L of alcohol < 22% volume, and up to 1L of alcohol >= 22% volume.

Since you wish to bring wine, you are allowed two 750ml bottles of wine duty free. You cannot use the allowance for the >= 22% volume alcohol since wine contains < 22% alcoholic volume.

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