Turkish Official Correspondence Regulation By the Turkish Presidency Decision Nr. 2646
In the Turkish Official Gazette dated 10 June 2020, the Official Correspondence Regulation of 2 February 2015 has been superseded by the Regulation on the Terms and Conditions Applicable on Official Correspondences (the “new Official Correspondence Regulation” or the “Regulation”) with the Turkish Presidency Decision Nr. 2646 issued on 9 June 2020.
The recently issued Official Correspondence Regulation is applicable on all the Turkish public institutions and organizations aiming to establish a fast, secure, and unique electronic system for the exchange of official information and correspondence between administrations and to determine rules concerning official correspondences exchanged in an electronic environment by using secure electronic signature or in a physical environment by using signatures put in handwriting.
The new Official Correspondence Regulation will be effective as of 1 July 2020 and steps forward with its changes on the use of the electronic environment by Turkish administrations firstly introduced by the preceding regulation promulgated in 2015. The new Official Correspondence Regulation enables Turkish administrations to produce documents in electronic environments only in one copy, to layout the preparation process of the relevant public document under its numbering section, to use verification code and QR code, to issue personalized documents, to use a public logo, to affix archive signature, to use unique templates in foreign language among others. The Turkish Digital Conversion Office Presidency prepared and published an e-Correspondence Technical Guideline on its web site defining the technicalities such as structure, format, signing and encoding of documents produced in an electronic environment as official correspondences aiming to enable Turkish administrations for a smooth adaptation process.
EBYS (Electronic Document Management System)
In order to comply with the rules of the new Official Correspondence Regulation, as mentioned above, a unique electronic system will be used by Turkish administrations called “EBYS” standing for the Turkish letters against the Electronic Document Management System.
EBYS is defined as the system protecting the content, metadata, format, and relevancy specifications of documents prepared by the administrations while conducting their activities and substituting as evidence for such activities complying with e-Correspondence Technical Guideline, constituting evidence for the function or transaction underlying the documents, and maintaining the management of documents within the chain of their origin in an electronic environment. EBYS was already being used before the new Official Correspondence Regulation entered into force. The provisional Article 1 of the Regulation stipulates an adaptation process of six months in the lack of an EBYS to be established after the Regulation has entered into force, which will have to comply with the terms and conditions of this new Official Correspondence Regulation. Additionally, the administrations not having obtained their user accounts over DETSIS (Turkish State Organization Central Registry System) will have to obtain and register their accounts within 30 days following the new Official Correspondence Regulation entered into force. Such user accounts will enable the administrations to determine the right addressee of a document put together in an electronic environment to be exchanged and received through EBYS.
The new Official Correspondence Regulation still excludes certain rules of the law stipulating the mandatory use of physical signature such as Article 5 of the Turkish Electronic Signature Law as per which “conducting of legal transactions mandatorily subject to an official procedure or a special ceremony provided by law and entering into guarantee agreements except for bank letter of guarantees by way of secure electronic signature is not permitted.”
Similarly, top-secret and secret documents along with documents with a special degree of secrecy have to be signed off physically as per the 2019/23 Turkish Presidency Decision. In the new Official Correspondence Regulation, the aforementioned exemptions have been accumulated under the definition “mandatory circumstance” to which apparently the new unique electronic signature system (EBYS) will not be applicable. Another type of circumstances excluded from the new Official Correspondence Regulation is named as “extraordinary circumstances” defined as circumstances, which may lead to security gap and negatively affect the Turkish state or administrations if occurred. Long-running electricity cuts, non-functioning of EBYS for a long time due to hardware and software problems as a result of which the physical preparation of documents is required are also defined as extraordinary circumstances. Documents produced under mandatory circumstances and extraordinary circumstances shall be exchanged and maintained within physical environment conditions.
e-Correspondence Technical Guideline
Any document falling within the scope of the new Official Correspondence Regulation has to be produced in an electronic environment by virtue of documents to be prepared in accordance with e-Correspondence Technical Guideline and to be affixed with secure electronic signatures as per its Article 4 of that Regulation. Such documents shall be exchanged with their correspondents and have to be kept in an electronic environment. Any document bearing a secure electronic signature shall not be separately printed and not signed by a signature in the handwriting of which storage in the physical environment is also not permitted.
Detailed Writing Rules
The new Official Correspondence Regulation set forth also rules for the number of documents to be produced by Turkish administrations in an electronic environment or under mandatory or extraordinary circumstances. The mentioned Regulation additionally stipulates the format of the document including its dimensions, type and size of character thereof. Accordingly, as per Article 7 of the new Official Correspondence Regulation, optional use of “Times New Roman” in 12 fonts or “Arial” in 11 fonts will be mandatory. If required, Turkish administrations will be able to decrease the aforestated fonts to 9 fonts where the communication section of the documents may be written in 8 fonts. The new Official Correspondence Regulation set forth from A to Z all the rules the Turkish administrations have to comply with for putting together a document in an electronic environment, i.e. spaces to be allocated in the text, how to use a logo in an official document, abbreviations, headings to be used therein, the numbering of such documents, where to put a date where to put a signature thereon, unique expressions to be used for signing off, picking up the addressees, how to express subject matters etc. The Regulation entails all kinds of templates where the rules of the Regulation will be applicable.
Exchange and Receipt of Documents
We believe that it is worthwhile to give information about the rules concerning the exchange and receipt of documents in an electronic environment provided in the new Official Correspondence Regulation.
According to Article 30 of the Regulation;
Timing for Fulfilling Opinion, Information, and Documentation Requests by the Administrations
According to Article 33 of the new Official Correspondence Regulation, requests for opinion, information, and documents inside and outside the administration shall be written daily. The administrations shall fulfil the requests for documents that are not specified in time, without prejudice to the special provisions in the relevant legislation, at least five working days after the request is received by them. Any information and opinion requests not specified in the deadline shall be fulfilled by the relevant administration within fifteen business days at the latest after the request is received. The date of request receipt, the time of the entry of the related letter to the EBYS for electronic requests; for the requests received in the physical environment, it shall refer to the time when the relevant letter enters EBYS or corporate document recording system.
Any replies to documents not adequately put together as per the new Official Correspondence Regulation, the addressee may be warned to comply with the relevant provision of the Regulation. If the non-compliance continues, except for documents with a deadline subsequent non-compliant documents may be rejected.
Initiative Granted to Administrations
e-Correspondence Technical Guideline explicitly states that except for any documents exchanged by the administrations under mandatory or extraordinary circumstances, all documents to be exchanged by the administrations have to comply with the rules of the new Official Correspondence Regulation. According to paragraph 2 of Article 36 of the Regulation, administrations have been granted certain room for determining additional rules in producing documents in an electronic environment, however, such rules should not be contradictory with the rules of the new Official Correspondence Regulation.
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