Close your inactive Turkish bank accounts

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Nobody likes someone giving them bad news all the time.
I don’t like to give bad news to good people, and I am sorry for doing so. It is my job to inform expats in Turkey about all changes, whether they’re good or bad. Usually the changes introduce more inconveniences.

In Turkey opening a bank account is not that easy at the beginning in that banks require more documents every day due to legislative changes and bringing themselves in line with the EU’s system, as though we will become a member. Once you provide the documents, it becomes easy for a particular bank to open new accounts. It is also easier to check with other banks for better rates or for other reasons.

What are some other reasons to open a bank account in a new bank? Just recently I asked one of my clients why she keeps changing her bank account every two years. Her answer is quite logical: She needs someone in the bank who can speak English. Once in a while, the staff in her bank changes and with no one able to speak English at that bank, this lady opens a new account with another bank. This has the side effect of leaving behind inactive bank accounts when you change banks.

The thing is that it is very difficult to close a bank account since the number of accounts in a branch is also an asset for the bank manager and even for the person who runs your account. I have experienced this myself and spent several weeks trying to close a bank account and had to put in a lot of effort.

This is almost a kind of do-it-yourself thing. That said, retaining the services of a lawyer is always good to make sure that you have the desired result and have a paper signed by the bank concluding that your accounts are duly closed and no future charges will be applied.

The content of your petition to the bank to close your account should involve your customer number, your ID number (you should have this when you open the account so ask this from the bank if you don’t have it with you), the account numbers (again these can be provided by the bank) and a clear wish to close your accounts in this bank.

As I mentioned above, banks are sometimes very stubborn about closing accounts and in such a situation, your request may be hanging around the bank, having no effect. To avoid this please get a signature from the bank management stating that your application has been received. If you are doing this via the Internet or an ATM machine, then keep your receipts. If you are speaking to the bank’s helpline, then please make sure you make a note of your conversation and its exact date and time. You will need these in case the bank does not close the accounts and you may need to prove that you have in fact applied for your account to be closed.

Thank God we now have the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), which is an avenue for bank customers to file complaints about those banks which fail to comply with regulations. Any complaints about administrative matters concerning a bank can be made with this authority.

To cut a long story short, there is a new regulation that allows banks to charge customers for unused accounts. In order to avoid facing a big charge several years later, please take action to close down your bank accounts if you are no longer using them.

NOTE: Berk Çektir is a Turkish lawyer and available to answer questions on the legal aspects of living and doing business in Turkey. Please kindly send inquiries to If a sender’s letter is published, names may be disclosed unless otherwise is expressly stated by the sender.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is intended to give basic legal information. You should get legal assistance from a licensed attorney at law while conducting legal transactions and not rely solely on the information in this column.

BERK ÇEKTIR (CihanToday’s Zaman) C