Turkey has taken many measures to guarantee that health tourism services are appropriately regulated and subject to official control. Patients should be able to trust the service providers they deal with when using health tourism as a result. This also implies that the initial entrance barrier into the Turkish health tourism market will be greater, as a new company will need to meet the requirements and acquire the necessary permits to lawfully provide health tourism services.
Many legislative frameworks, beginning with the main law text, the Law on the Method of Execution of Medicine and Medical Sciences No. 1219 (Medical Law), the Law on Health Care Services No. 3359 (Healthcare Law), and their secondary regulations and communique, are in place to tightly regulate medical services and health tourism-related issues.
This framework states that the organizations, entities, and individuals who are permitted to offer healthcare and patient care services (including health tourism) are carefully regulated and are primarily covered by licenses given by the Turkish Ministry of Health.
Agencies serving as intermediate operators for medical tourism must submit two separate applications for two separate licenses to two separate ministries following the Regulation Regarding International Medical Tourism and Tourist Health (Health Regulation). The licenses are a Medical Tourism Intermediary Agency License obtained from the Ministry of Health and a Group A Tourism Agency License obtained from TURSAB. Both of these licenses have specific standards and guidelines that new firms must follow to receive them.
The Group A tourism agency license is the most crucial one (tourism license).
The Law on Tourism Agencies and Tourism Agency Associations No. 1618 (Tourism Law) and the Tourism Agencies Regulation govern tourism agencies and licensing for tourism agencies (Tourism Regulation). A capital company must first be established by the investor before they can apply for a Group A tourism license. During the incorporation process, specific terms must be added to the articles of association of the company. Investors are strongly recommended to seek out expert counsel.
Once the business is operational, a reservation request for a tourism agency title must be submitted to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. To prevent wasting time during the approval process, it would be crucial to choose the agency title properly. A separate application will be made to TURSAB to receive the Group A Tourism License after the Ministry has approved the application and reserved the agency title.
Following the receipt of the tourism license, the business must apply for a medical license (health tourism certificate) to the Ministry of Health.
These applications are subject to a different set of conditions and must be submitted to the relevant Provincial Directorate of Health where the enterprise is located. These prerequisites include written agreements with various accredited medical facilities, call center infrastructure, and the employment of skilled staff.
Following receipt of the initial application, the ministry will inspect the business, the office location, and the declared employees to ensure that all three are in good working order, that all employees are qualified and employed by the business, and that the business has the equipment and technological infrastructure required to effectively handle applications from potential tourists.
Any firm that will operate in this sector must exercise caution in the handling of patient personal data in addition to obtaining the usual licenses necessary for a company to provide health tourism services in Turkey. This is significant because, following the Law on Personal Data Processing, any business engaged in medical tourism will handle and process patient health information, which is categorized as sensitive personal information.