Turkey: Establishment Of Associations In Turkey

Last Updated: 20 May 2014
Article by Gary Lachman, Hande Hamevi and Fulya Mutaf

Under Turkish law, an association is a non-profit organization established to carry out a specific or common objective, without the intention of earning or sharing profit by its members. 

All associations in Turkey are registered with the Department of Associations under the Republic of Turkey's Ministry of the Interior. The function of the Department of Associations is primarily to make the procedures for creating, registering, and maintaining associations more efficient and cost-effective. To this end, the Information System of Associations ("Derbis") has been initiated by the Department of Associations to enable the directors of associations to submit declarations and notifications on-line without having to physically visit the Provincial Directorates of Associations. Accordingly, all formal/regulatory procedures of associations may be implemented by using e-signature through Derbis. At the time of the writing of this article, further infrastructural enhancements within Derbis were underway. 

General Rules for Associations

General rules and principles regarding the establishment, licensing, operation and liabilities of non-profit organizations are generally regulated under the Law on Associations (published in the Official Gazette as Law No: 5253 on November 23, 2004, and numbered 26649) and the Associations Regulation (published in the Official Gazette on May 31, 2005 and numbered 25772). Provisions of the Law on Associations are applicable for all associations in Turkey including branches and representative offices of pre-existing associations domiciled abroad.

Associations are established with a minimum of seven founding members. Real and legal entities with the capacity to take legal actions have the right to establish associations without obtaining any prior permission. However, members of the Turkish Armed Forces, law enforcement and public authorities and institutions are subject to the provisions of special laws with respect to founding or joining associations. Also, adults over 18 cannot become founders or members of what are known as child associations.

The application for the creation of a non-profit association is filed with the Department of Associations within the Ministry of the Interior. Associations are required to have articles of association and their internal management is composed of the general assembly, the board of directors and the board of auditors. Articles of association of an association should include the items that are explicitly set forth in the Law on Associations, as well as any other matters that are particular to that specific organization.

With respect to titles of associations, names such as Türk (Turkish), Türkiye (Turkey), Milli (National), Cumhuriyet (Republic), Atatürk, Mustafa Kemal, and other phrases originated by adding abbreviations at the beginning or the end of such words may only be used with the permission of the Ministry of the Interior.

Activities of Associations

An association may be engaged in local or international activities within the scope of its articles of association, and also may establish or join other associations or institutions abroad. Likewise, foreign associations may also pursue their activities in Turkey through establishing or joining parent institutions, opening branches or representative offices, or cooperating with already established associations in Turkey with the permission of the Ministry of the Interior in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

There are certain restrictions with respect to the scope of the activities of associations. Accordingly, associations may not carry out (i) activities that are not stated in their respective articles of association, (ii) activities that are prohibited by law and the Constitution, and (iii) preparatory educational or training activities for military service, national defense or security services, nor may they open camps or training centers for such purposes. To avoid confusion or misidentification with governmental, police, or military organizations, associations may not use special clothing or uniforms for their members. Moreover, the operation of dormitories and lodging for educational purposes, establishment of clubhouses for members and offering of alcoholic beverages in such clubhouses by associations are further subject to receiving the permission from the local administrative authority.

Internal auditing is an essential element in the management of associations. In this respect, the principle internal body responsible for the audit of associations is the board of auditors. This board is required to monitor the activities of an association to ensure compliance with its objectives and the subject of work carried out for the purpose of achieving such objectives, and to keep all books and records in the appropriate manner. Having said that, the general assembly or the board of directors may also conduct internal audits or hire an independent audit firm for this purpose.

Associations are also allowed to buy or sell real properties upon board decision based on the authority given by their general assemblies. Associations are obliged to declare the real properties they have acquired to the local administrative authority within the month following the registration of title to such real property.

Activities of associations may be conducted by volunteers and/or employed personnel.

Activities of associations are highly regulated and audited, and the Law on Associations includes a number of penalties for non-compliance, as set forth in detail within the law. Accordingly, members or administrators of associations who do not comply with certain provisions of the Law on Associations may be subject to penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment, depending on the severity of non-compliance.

Association Income and Collection of Charitable Donations

Public benefit associations are determined by the Decree of the Council of Ministers upon proposal by the Ministry of the Interior in consultation with other relevant ministries and the Ministry of Finance. Public benefit status is granted to associations which pursue activities yielding socially beneficial outcomes for at least one year. In addition to the receipt of charitable donations in Turkey, associations may receive donations from individuals, institutions, and organizations located abroad provided that prior notification of such contributions is provided to the local administrative authority. Monetary funds may only be received through bank transfers.

Collection of charitable donations by associations is further regulated under the Law on Charity Collection (Law No: 2860 published in the Official Gazette dated December 12, 1999 and numbered 23919). This law provides that associations are allowed to collect charity so long as they submit a petition to the relevant governorship explaining the aim and amount of the charitable collection together with the names of the cities in which donations will be solicited and collected.

An association may establish a fund for the purpose of meeting its members' essential food and clothing needs and providing short-term loans to its members, provided that no profits or any other sort of income is distributed to the members. In order to establish a fund, an association is required to have explicit provisions allowing such a fund in its articles of association and also obtain the approval of the general assembly. All assets of the fund are deemed to be the assets of the association. The Associations Regulation sets forth the types of income funds may receive as follows:

  • The one-time membership entry fee;
  • Membership fees;
  • Profit generated from economic activities;
  • Service fees or interest to be obtained from the loans granted to members;
  • Interest from the funds deposited in banks;
  • Cash, the owner of which is unknown and has been recorded as income after being kept in the escrow account for at least one year;
  • Charitable contributions;
  • Indebtedness proceeds; and
  • Other income not specifically prohibited by law.

The general assembly, board of directors or the board of auditors may always audit its own fund. Furthermore, the board of auditors is authorized to, and responsible for, auditing the accounts and activities of the subject fund at least once a year.

Associations are required to submit a declaration regarding the income and expenses as well as their activities to the local administrative authority by the end of April every year. The basis and procedures on issuance of declarations are further detailed by the Associations Regulation. If it is deemed necessary, the Interior Minister or local administrative authority may inspect an association to determine whether its activities are conducted in line with the objectives stated in their articles of association and whether their records and books are kept in compliance with the relevant laws. If any illegal activities are detected, such finding is notified to the chief public prosecutor's office by the local administrative authority, as well as to the association itself.


The legal framework and structure of associations in Turkey have attracted an increasing amount of interest, both from local organizations as well as large, international organizations. Currently, there are 252,138 associations in Turkey; 100,840 being active and 151,298 being inactive. These figures change every day. The number of foreign associations have also increased as the Turkish laws continue to provide a workable environment for associations with specific eleemosynary purposes or common goals.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

    Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of www.mondaq.com

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions