Gül Alpay
Associate Lawyer

Ships calling at Turkish ports are obliged to declare the bunker onboard to the Customs Directorate in accordance with the Customs regulation. If a difference is detected between the amount declared and the amount onboard upon routine controls carried out by the customs officials, the Authorities issue an order for the excess bunker to be discharged.

Furthermore, excess bunker can lead to criminal proceedings being brought against the Master and other crew members according to the Anti-Smuggling Law No. 5607 Article 3:

“The person who brings the goods into the country without subjecting them to customs procedures is punished with imprisonment from one year to five years and a judicial fine up to ten thousand days. If the goods are brought into the country from outside the customs gates, the penalty to be imposed is increased from one third to half.”

According to the sub-paragraph 10 of the same article:

“In cases the goods which constitutes the smuggling crime are fuel, tobacco, tobacco products, sheets of cigarette paper, ethyl alcohol, methanol and alcoholic beverages,

penalties to be imposed according to the above paragraphs are increased from half to twice. In any case the penalty to be imposed cannot be less than three years.”

If a criminal investigation is initiated by the public prosecutor, officials would proceed to take statements from the crew. If the prosecutor decides to prepare an indictment based on the above mentioned articles of Anti-Smuggling Law and the court decides to prosecute, the trial peiod begins.It should be noted that it is not possible to leave the undeclared bunker onboard against any security deposit. Although the difference in the declaration does not cause vessels to be arrested, it is important that the amount of bunker onboard is carefully measured by the crew and the utmost care is exercised in order to avoid the penalties and delays described above.