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US Military Retirees Now Have Base Exchange (BX) and Commissary Privileges in Turkey

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I've just been alerted that the status of forces agreement between the Turkish government and the US military in Turkey has changed. US military retirees now have BX and Commissary privileges. I have verified this with a contact at Incirlik Air Base.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you're talking about Incirlik, I don't know. Unfortunately it's pretty darned hard to get onto Incirlik Air Base. I understand people can get on for doctors appointments and such things but they need to schedule it in advance and have a sponsor. I don't know if you could get on just to go shopping. You can always ask.

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  • 5 months later...

This will be fantastic if valid.  Has anyone attempted to shop?  BX & Commissary websites do not currently reflect this change.  Looking forward to your report from Izmir.





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The websites probably won't. It's a change in the status of forces agreement. I got this info from the liaison officer with the OSI at Incirlik. Even when he told me this, I asked him to double check. He said it was a sure thing, US military retirees can now use the BX in Turkey. But I guess the acid test will be when I go there and try to use it!

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I corresponded last night with Mr. Georg L. Main, General Manager, Turkey Consolidated Exchange regarding this issue... here is his response:


It is true [new rules] but not as a SOFA amendment.  It was done under a diplomatic note.  Each installation handles the procedures slightly different... It also applies to commissaries.  Need to qualify this, the policy only applies to retiree's living in Turkey, it does not include retirees visiting Turkey.  For further details I need to refer you to either the US Embassy for Turkey or the Incirlik Air Base webpage.  For any retiree's living in Turkey, they can contact the JAG office or Commander at the three [Adana, Ankara, Izmir] locations for the proper procedures. Thanks - Georg


So there you go... I didn't ask, but I wonder how they handle taxes.  In other countries, retirees have limited on base shopping privileges, but they still have to pay duties on what they buy for private use... usually once they spend a certain amount or greater.


I am sure that everyone's mileage may vary regards use of these facilities until it becomes common practice.  If anyone tries it out, please let us know. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Received this from the Incirlik AB Public Affairs Office on my recent inquiry about retiree access:


Good morning from Turkey,


Unfortunately because this is a Turkish Air Force base and not owned by the U.

S., rules for entry are more restricted than what it is for states side bases. Retirees are allowed to use the commissary and BX facilities from 0800-1700, but are not authorized to stay overnight on base. However, you may stay overnight if an active duty member with NATO orders assigned to Incirlik sponsors you. As for the AMC flights, it is the same requirements for sponsorship. 


I believe times have changed here quite a bit. For us active duty members and our families we have to have a special TurAF ID card, our DoD common access cards are invalid for base entry. Because current events in the area, we actually have a base wide curfew for all U.

S. citizens.  Turkey is a lovely place to visit with rich history, but because of the proximity of Syria and Iraq we are restricted from traveling to eastern parts of Turkey. 


There is the local commercial airport in Adana that will fly direct from Istanbul. If you are looking to stay in the local area hotels here are very cheap. They do have the Hilton and Sheraton in Adana, but those are a bit more pricey.


I hope this information helps! 


And ....


I wanted to reaffirm with our pass and ID office. You must have an active duty member with NATO orders assigned to Incirlik sponsor you to get access onto base. If you know anyone here they may fill out a family and friends pass. If you do not have any contacts it may be difficult to visit. Unfortunately, since the Turkish Air Force owns the instillation, we have no authority in the matter as this is between our two nations in the Agreement for Cooperation on Defense and Economy or DECA.


Izmir (and perhaps Ankara, but also on a Turkish Military Base) looks more convenient.  We are in the early prep stages of retirement and trying to get some information.  Any updates greatly appreciated. 

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I'm in Izmir now and I just used the commissary and BX after getting an authorization letter from the legal office. I also talked with one of the lawyers about this issue. I'm working with an iPhone right now so I will give you a much more detailed update when I get back to Antalya on Monday.

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Great!  Any information on access to APO services?


You can use the APO as a retiree, but you are limited to 16 ounces or less. So letters are no problem, but packages are. For example, if you buy a book from Amazon.com, there's no telling how much the book, and the packaging, and the box is going to weigh when it arrives. Sometimes they let it slide, other times they actually send it back. It depends on who's working and what they decide to do.


Back to the BX/Commissary:


This is the exact wording from the official authorization letter on file at the Izmir JAG office:





SUBJECT: SDO Memorandum 60-70 - Retiree Access to the Base Exchange and Commissaries


1.    For several years the United States has been interested in extending Base Exchange (BX) and Commissary access to United States military retirees in Turkey. Under the applicable Department of Defense instructions, military retirees and their dependents are authorized patrons. However, because BX and commissary goods enter Turkey duty-free in accordance with the NATO Status of Forces Agreement and its implementing agreement, our concern has been whether the Government of Turkey would object to extending these benefits. To that end, the Office of Defense Cooperation has engaged in discussions with our counterparts on the Turkish General Staff. Receiving no objections, we further engaged with the United States Embassy to extend a diplomatic request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This resulted in Diplomatic Note No. 13-00368 being sent on 12 March 2013. The note explained the rational for the United States request and noted that extending access to United States military retirees within Turkey would have an insignificant impact on the Turkish economy and tax base given their extremely small numbers. While verbal discussions between the Embassy and the Ministry were positive and there was no objection to our proposal, to date the United States has not received a formal reply regarding the Diplomatic Note.


2.    While the impact on the Turkish economy and tax base is negligible, extending benefits to the approximately 200 United States military retirees in Turkey would be an enormous benefit to the individuals involved. Accordingly, on an interim basis SDO Memorandum 60-70, Individual Logistic Support, which provides guidance on eligibility for Individual Logistic Support based on U.

S. laws and regulations, policy, and international agreements with Turkey, is modified as follows:


4.d. Retirees. United States military retired personnel are authorized full ILS to include rationed items. Other U.

S. citizen relatives considered to be dependents in accordance with U.

S. regulations and that depend for support and reside with the retired military member are also authorized full ILS to include rationed items.



3.    As provided in SDO Memorandum 60-70, local commanders retain the authority to limit ILS access based on mission requirements and may determine whether to extend this interim authority at their installations.



Signed James E. "ED" Daniel, Brigadier General, US Air Force, Senior Defense Official/Defense Atache


You Must Have a Letter from the Legal Office


To actually use the BX and commissary, you must first go to the legal office, so don't make your first trip on a weekend or a Turkish or American holiday.


The letter you need to sign briefly explains the portion quoted above, and it has an additional paragraph explaining that you cannot sell or give any of what you buy to anyone else who isn't authorized (we all know that anyway). On the back, the letter has a calendar table for rationed items (liquor and tobacco).


The table says:


"Liquor: Monthly allowance: Total bottles 5, total liters 6.5"

"Tobacco: Monthly allowance: Total packs 4."


It then has rows for each month of the year, like a ration card, so the BX or commissary clerk can mark off what you have bought for each month.


I am assuming that by "packs," they mean cartons.


Once you and the legal officer sign the letter, you need to keep that letter with you, and bring it when you shop (along with your ID card of course).


Izmir is Probably the Most Convenient


Izmir is very convenient, you can basically just walk through security, and you're in. It's in a leased building, and not on a Turkish air base, so access for us is hassle-free. Incirlik, as described in a previous post here, is a big hassle, if you can even get on in the first place. Ankara I'm not sure about, I've gone to the Shoppette there before but I can't remember the setup.


By the way, OPSEC rules apply here, so please don't post the location of any of the military facilities in Izmir. Send me a PM if you can't find out through your own channels.




It is all tax-free and duty-free. There is no recording of your purchases except on the cash register receipt and on the rationed items portion of the letter you carry.


Size of the BX and Commissary at Izmir


The BX is quite small, I've seen bigger shoppettes. Clothing is quite limited, with maybe 100 pairs of trousers of various sizes (I found only five that fit me), a small rack of button-down shirts, and two small racks of T-shirts. Computers and electronics were very limited. There was a large selection of alcoholic beverages, lots of automotive stuff, and a whole wall of cooking-related items. The commissary is huge by comparison, with anything you could possibly want.


This May Be Temporary


From what the legal officer was telling me, we have this privilege because the Turks have had no objection to it. It is possible that, at some point, they could come back and say "no," so in that case they will have to stop selling to retirees.


I'm grateful that our senior defense officials in Turkey have been so thoughtful that they would go out of their way to arrange this privilege for us. I am sure they have a lot on their plate already, but somebody, somewhere, took the time to do this for us.

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  • 5 months later...

Unfortunately there is some kind of dispute going on between the US and Turkish command. From what I heard they aren't even letting any US-owned vehicles through the gate. You have to park it outside, and walk, or arrange other transportation to get from the gate to wherever you're going. I hope they settle this soon.

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