Hello all from Turkey.
There is a law that practically prohibits Turkish citizens to buy more than one cell phone
from outside of Turkey. An iphone
4S 16 GB is sold at 1600 TL which is about 880 USD. This price
includes a lot of tax in it. So when we can buy the same phone at what, 500 USD in US, who is going to pay the stupid price
in Turkey to buy one?
So everyone started to buy phones from abroad, i.e. USA, Dubai etc. Including the local phone dealers...
Thats why they have limited this, with a new law stating that; every one can buy one phone every two years (or one year I'm not sure) and must register the phone id number to the telecommunication system. For that; they require your passport copy with the page showing that you have actually been there to buy the phone and the receipt/invoice of the purchase of course. Once you register this (no cost for Turkish citizens) your passport can not be used to buy a second one for the next two years.
Anyway this is for the Turkish citizens. This is the same mentality that prevents us from buying
used cars or used boats from abroad. Just check the used car prices in the local market from any newspaper the next time you are here and see what we are paying lets say for a 5 year old Audi or VW. Then you'll get the idea.
Coming back to the subject.
For foreigners, they don't have to do squat. After all they are tourists and can not be forced to pay for their phones unless they want to use the local sim cards. This is again done to prevent us to go around the system and get cheaper phones in to the system.
For example, my friend from UK comes here, registers his phone with a local sim card and gives it to me. I pay him the phone cost and registering fee and hey! I have my new Iphone5 still at 500 usd cheaper with a valid Turkish number, although I had the new 4S already registered to me just last year. I'm not in any risk as long as the phone bill is paid.
Anyhow, this is all stupid as you can see. But given the price difference on the said gadets; you may imagine how desperately people are trying to find a way around it.
The best way for foreigners visiting Turkey for extended periods is to buy a cheap
phone with a local "pay per talk" kind of sim card. Such phones are available at around USD 40-50. Use it while you are here and after you are done with it give it to your 5 year old as a toy. Or to a marina worker as a present when you are leaving.
There are two points though;
1- The Turkish roaming charges are high (unless you have a special deal with your provider)
2- If you look at the map of Turkey, you will see that the Greek islands
are quite close to the Turkish mainland;(some of them as close as 2 miles only) therefore you will need a solution for the Greek coverage for most of the time while sailing. There are many anchoring
places on the Turkish mainland (or while on passage
from one anchorage to one) where, although in Turkey/Turkish waters, you can only get coverage from Greece
Vodafone Turkey might have better arrangements for Vodafone Europe
users which I suggest you check. Other two are Turkcell and Avea. Local phone shops in main yachting areas (Marmaris, Fethiye, Gocek, Bodrum etc.) are well equipped and mostly will be able to adress all your questions on the subject. If you put it forward openly, they will assist you for the cheapest solution; again; in most cases.
For internet, go for the 3G usb dongles of any of the above providers. They are sold with prepaid monthly quotas like 1GB, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB. You will be OK where there is cellular coverage, and if there is 3G coverage, it is fast. There is no coverage problem in any town or city, only in remote anchorages
and off the shore passages.
Having said that, in our 2000 miles of cruising in the area last season, we have encountered no coverage at 2-3 places only, all being remote anchorages.