Turks are traveling to Georgia for “phone tourism” to buy iPhones that are sold at a lower price in the neighboring country compared with Türkiye due to tax refund, reports TurkicWorld with the reference Hurriyet Daily News.
Not only people living near the Georgian border but from other cities in Türkiye are flocking to the Sarp border crossing.
Apple introduced its new iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max models in September. The prices of those models in Türkiye range between 30,000 Turkish Liras ($1,600) and 57,000 liras ($3,100).
But if Turkish consumers buy those phones in Georgia, they are eligible for a tax refund, which lures people in droves into the Apple store in Batumi in the neighboring country. With a tax refund, the price of an iPhone comes to around 15,000 liras cheaper if bought in Georgina than it costs in Türkiye.
People should have the phones they bought during their trips abroad and the IMEI number registered to be able to use their devices in Türkiye. Currently, the registration fee for this process is 2,700 liras but is expected to be hiked to 6,000 liras next year. Those, who want to avoid a bigger fee, are also flocking to Georgia, particularly over the weekends.
Travelers do not experience any problems when entering Georgia through the border crossing, but they have to wait in long queues for a tax refund.
“I could not find the [iPhone] model I wanted to buy, however, ended up buying one after browsing several stores. I went through the crossing in one hour but reentering Türkiye took me up to three to four hours,” said Ömer Faruk Kaşarcıoğlu, who traveled from Istanbul to Batumi.
The value-added tax is too high in Türkiye, and he took advantage of the tax refund, Kaşarcıoğlu said, explaining why he bought the phone in Georgia.
“I came to Batumi only to buy an iPhone. I paid 24,500 liras for an iPhone 14 Pro, whereas it costs between 45,000 liras to 50,000 liras in Türkiye. Also, I received 2,900 liras in tax refund at the customs,” said another consumer from the province of Osmaniye.