Some U.S. servicemembers who have recently arrived to posts in Turkey are having to get by without their cars.
An apparent change in customs regulations has left personal vehicles shipped into the country waiting in holding facilities until the issue is resolved.
"We are working with the Turkish customs officials to clarify some possible procedural changes that are temporarily affecting our ability to receive personal vehicles," 1st Lt. Nicholas Plante, public affairs officer for the 39th Air Base Wing, wrote in an e-mail. "We have every confidence that this issue will be worked out."
Col. Philip McDaniel, the wing commander, wrote in an e-mail sent out to all base personnel Tuesday that "inbound vehicles are the topic of current disagreements with the local customs director. Under his proposed system, each individual would have to get an extra "vehicle" stamp in their passport or on their NATO orders showing they have a tax-free vehicle in country.
"Then, each time a member departs Turkey (even if for just one day), he or she would have to store that vehicle in a customs lot off base, at a cost of $5 per day.
"In addition, they would be required to get a letter from the customs agent to show to the passport police before being allowed to depart the country. This arduous system is obviously not in anyone’s best interest and is why we have elected not to move any vehicles while this issue is being worked."
Responding to a question posted on the base’s Web site April 20 regarding the situation, McDaniel had written: "Any POV which arrived to Incirlik AB after March 09 is being held while these changes can be addressed with Turkish authorities.
"Releasing POVs to our members now would create the potential for additional costs, or even a possible recall of vehicles for an indefinite period of time. This temporary delay will save you money and frustration in the future. Many folks around the wing and in Ankara are working this issue hard."
About 1,400 servicemembers and Department of Defense civilians are assigned to Incirlik Air Base, which is the largest U.S. facility in Turkey. Other military personnel are stationed in Izmir and Ankara, with smaller detachments elsewhere in the country.