What is Service Export? How to Issue a Service Export Invoice?

The concept of export brings to mind commercial activities that are primarily based on the delivery of products to the end-user or another company after some logistics processes. However, in addition to goods, services can also be sold abroad. This brings us to the concept of service export. The aforementioned business model can enable companies working in the service sector to generate income in foreign currency and expand their fields of activity beyond the borders of the country. Therefore, it is possible to say that such transactions will be an extremely important step for the growth of companies. So what is service export?

What is Service Export?

Service exports can be explained as the sale of commercial values ​​abroad, which is defined as service in the most concise terms. This time, instead of goods already in Turkey, services are sold to buyers residing in different countries.

This model can be carried out in a way that the relevant personnel goes to different countries in order to provide the service in question, or it can be carried out in the digital environment. In other words, it is also possible to evaluate such sales within the scope of e-export. Services in areas such as IT, computer, database, consultancy, and engineering offered over the Internet are included under this heading.

Although Turkey’s service export figures experienced a decrease in 2020 due to the effect of the pandemic, they started to trend upwards again as of 2021. With a 60% increase last year, our total service export volume reached 56.7 billion dollars. These data also show that the service sector can also be preferred for e-export to Europe besides the classical methods.

What are the Terms of Service Export?

In order for a sale to be evaluated under this heading in the legal plane, it must have three different characteristics. The service export conditions, which are also included in the Value Added Tax Law, are as follows:

  • The service must be performed for a customer abroad.
  • The invoice and similar document for this sale must be issued on behalf of a customer abroad.
  • The purchaser or business must benefit from this service abroad.

Uncertainty about the place of benefit causes some confusion from time to time. To give an example, the work of a local team in the shooting of a movie that is planned to be broadcast on the internet and therefore can be accessed from all over the world, may not be considered a service export. Because the production in question has the quality to meet the audience in Turkey. The ambiguity in question has been clarified with the help of various examples within the scope of the VAT General Communiqué.

What Sectors Are Services Exported?

Service exports take place within many different sectors. Depending on the structure and operation of the sectors, the place and form of service delivery may differ. Like any sales transaction, this business model requires the presence of two different parties. What makes the difference we are talking about is the position of these parties. We can explain the subject through the examples of service exports in sectors where such transactions are frequently made.


Tourism is a sector in which the service offered by the seller in its territory is purchased by the other party. Although the concept of the holiday comes to mind when it comes to tourism, which is one of the important ways of earning income in foreign currency, the scope of this sector is actually much wider. Considering that business trips and visits for health purposes are also examined under this heading, the importance of tourism in terms of service exports can easily be seen.


The company, which provides services in the construction sector, goes there to carry out the works planned to be carried out in a different country. Such exports may include services such as labor, engineering, or architecture that will actively work in the field. Different types of constructions made by companies established in Turkey, especially in developing countries, are the clearest examples of this issue.

Transportation (Logistics)

It can be said that transportation is located at the intersection point of exports of goods and services. Because the transactions regarding the delivery of goods sold abroad to that country are considered services and are carried out by companies operating in the transportation sector. Goods transported through logistics processes carried out in this way can be used for direct sales or in the service sector.

What are the Exceptions and Conditions for Service Export?

Sales made abroad are considered as VAT exemptions and are not subject to this tax. A similar situation applies to activities carried out in the service sector. However, the service export exception is subject to certain conditions. The most important of these conditions is the application of VAT for the expenditures made in Turkey within the scope of the service provided to a buyer abroad. Let’s explain this situation, which can create confusion, especially for companies working in the tourism sector, through an example.

X Company, which was established in Turkey, provides services such as accommodation and food and beverage to a tourist group sent by a travel agency abroad and receives 50.000 TL in return for this service. If 15,000 TL of this amount is spent to provide the services we have specified, the VAT exemption, which can be counted among the service export incentives, can be used only for the difference of 35,000. 15,000 expenditures made in Turkey are subject to VAT.

Service export supports are not limited to the ease of VAT. You can visit the relevant page of the Ministry of Commerce to examine the incentives, including the granting of green passports to those working in this field.

How to Issue a Service Export Invoice?

After the information we have given, we can move on to the answer to the frequently asked question of how to issue a service export invoice. Such invoices are exempted if the transaction complies with the conditions stated above and is issued without VAT.

E-invoice is an important application in terms of service export. If you are using e-invoice, you need to issue an e-archive invoice for your service sales abroad. However, if the company you are issuing the invoice from is an e-invoice user in the free zone, this means that you cannot issue an e-archive invoice. Therefore, in such cases, an e-invoice should be issued and an “exception” should be selected as the invoice type.

When issuing a service export invoice electronically, the address information of the customer must also be included. In addition, the choice of 302, which indicates that service exports are made as to the VAT exemption code, is another detail that should not be overlooked. You can browse our content on the use of e-invoices in exports for more comprehensive information on this and similar issues.

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