Turkey: Compulsory Use Of The Turkish Language In Agreements Executed In Turkey

One who does business in Turkey and reads the above heading may ask himself whether there is such a requirement. Well, the answer is "Yes", but only a few are aware of it. On the other hand, the ones who still ignore the said requirement may face unpleasant situations such as the invalidity of a key agreement which they signed recently with their top business partner.

We are living in an era where rules in different jurisdictions are constantly reviewed to abolish trade barriers which obstruct investors' entry into new markets. Despite the latter, there are still a number of obsolete laws/regulations on which foreign investors are occasionally not duly advised. This causes such investors to overlook mandatory requirements of a given jurisdiction that they need to comply with. Law No. 805 on Compulsory Use of the Turkish Language by Economic Enterprises1 (the Law) is a noteworthy piece of legislation within this category.

Containing nine articles in total, the Law is short and to-the-point. It dates back to 1920s, which was a revolutionary period when the use of the Turkish language was intentionally being promoted as a state policy. Although the Law is quite old, its provisions are still in vigor and thus enforceable. No specific law has been subsequently enacted to hinder its application.

Although violation of the Law brings forth severe consequences, not many of the legal practitioners are aware of the seriousness of the matter. In such a legal environment, compliance with the Law becomes crucial.

Below you may find the (i) principles imposed by the Law on the compulsory use of the Turkish language that shall be respected at all costs; (ii) exceptions to these principles; and (iii) consequences attached to the violation of the principles.

I. The Principles

The Law sets forth a number of principles with regards to the compulsory use of the Turkish language in day-to-day transactions of enterprises including companies. Transactions entered into by natural persons are not within the Law's scope of application.

Pursuant to Article 1 of the Law, Turkish companies are obliged to execute their transactions and agreements, and keep all their correspondences, records and books within Turkey in the Turkish language. This principle does not have any exception. Therefore, regardless of the identity and/or nationality of its shareholders or partners, an agreement executed in Turkey between two legal entities duly established and validly existing under the laws of Turkey shall be in Turkish.

Article 2 of the Law states that the obligation for foreign companies to use the Turkish language is limited to (i) their correspondence, transactions and contacts (agreements not included) with their Turkish counterparts including natural persons; and (ii) documents and books they represent to any governmental authority, collectively referred to as the Restricted Domain. Therefore, an agreement2 executed in Turkey between two foreign legal entities or a foreign company and a Turkish company may be executed in a language other than Turkish.

Notwithstanding the above, the Law does not exclude the possibility of using a foreign language. In accordance with its Article 3, foreign companies may use a language other than Turkish within the Restricted Domain too provided that a Turkish version is added in such documents. This gave birth to the practice of executing bilingual, dual-column documents. Although the Law permits such practice, it specifies that in the event of a dual-column document executed within the Restricted Domain, the Turkish version shall prevail over the foreign language version.

To make a recapitulation:

  • Agreements executed in Turkey between two (or more) Turkish companies (regardless of their shareholders, managers, directors, etc.) shall be in Turkish;
  • Agreements executed in Turkey between two (or more) foreign companies may be in a language other than Turkish;
  • Agreements executed in Turkey between a foreign company and a Turkish company may also be in a language other than Turkish;
  • Foreign companies may execute bilingual documents in the Restricted Domain only on the condition that the Turkish version of the relevant document prevails in case of discrepancy.

II. Exceptions

The Law does not explicitly provide for any exception to the compulsory use of the Turkish language. Therefore, the interpretation of the Law by the Court of Appeals plays a decisive role in the matter.

Although the Law has been in full force and effect for more than 80 years, we were able to spot only five Court of Appeals judgments with regards to the Law. In such judgments, the Court has established two exceptions to the principles established by the Law:

  • In an agreement that has to be executed in Turkish, it is possible to include terms in foreign language provided that (i) the nature and specialty of the subject matter of the agreement necessitates the use of such terms, and (ii) it is customary to include such terms in similar agreements (e.g., standard insurance clauses containing terms in foreign language).
  • Since the Law does not explicitly prohibit, agreements between a foreign entity and a Turkish entity may be executed in a language other than Turkish.

Other than the aforesaid, the Court of Appeals judgments do not provide for any exception to overcome the compulsory use of the Turkish language.

In light of our above explanations, an agreement between a foreign-owned Turkish company and another Turkish company has to be executed in Turkish. It should be noted that when it comes to practice, such requirement is circumvented by either (i) including a foreign third party in the agreement that only has symbolic obligations or (ii) (since the Law is only applicable to the agreements executed within Turkey) determining the place of execution of the agreement as a country other than Turkey although the agreement is actually signed in Turkey.

III. Applicable Sanctions

The Law sets forth sanctions applicable in case of violation of its provisions:

  • Pursuant to Article 4 of the Law, documents and records that are prepared contrary to the provisions of the Law shall be invalid. Such agreements (e.g., an agreement executed in Turkey in a language other than Turkish between two Turkish legal entities) shall be considered as null and void and shall not confer any rights or obligations on their parties.
  • Pursuant to Article 7 of the Law, failure to comply with the Law may lead to the payment of an administrative fine amounting to at least one hundred days.


1. Published in the Official Gazette dated 22 April 1926 and numbered 353.

2. Which is not covered by the Restricted Domain.

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
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

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.

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 by clicking here .

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.


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.