Coming to Turkey to Start a Business (Immigration/Visas)

This guide is about your options, should you want to start your own business in Turkey. Dedicated "starting a business visas" are available in Turkey, but they're so rare as to be largely irrelevant for most of our readers. With that in mind, this guide mainly covers the alternatives.


People wishing to come to Turkey on a long-term basis in order to set up or run a business will need to apply for an Independent Working Permit.

Independent working permits are very hard to obtain unless you are going to create lots of jobs for local people. Many people thinking of applying for such a visa might find it easier to seek one of the new (January 2017) residence permits and citizenship based on investment or as a highly skilled person – (see our other immigration guides).

Alternatively, they may decide to set up a Turkish company and become a senior employee of that company. On that basis, they would apply for a work permit to work for that company. See our Guide to Coming to Turkey to Work for more information.

The easiest way of doing this is often to come as a director of company you have set up. You can get a permit as a director/shareholder holding at least 20% of the shares of that company provided it has capital of at least TRY100,000 (US$28,000) or turnover of at least TRY800,000 (US$224,000) and employs at least five local people.

Are there restrictions on what I can do?

Turkey is very welcoming when it comes to people wanting to set up new businesses. They realise that new business boosts the economy and creates local employment – and they also recognise that, for historical reasons, Turkey lacks some of the skills required by innovative businesses in the 21st century.

However, certain sectors restrict the involvement of foreigners. For example, you cannot start a school, be a dentist or involved in patient care, be  a vet, pharmacist, hospital director, lawyer, notary or security person, be engaged in fishing, or be a customs agent or tourist guide.

In Turkey, there are also quite a large number of activities where a professional qualification is required. These include many activities which may not be restricted in other countries. For instance:

  • Estate agents
  • Hairdresser
  • Pharmacist’s assistant
  • Tailor
  • Beauty parlour staff

Professional help

Whatever your method, you’ll need to get professional advice before coming to Turkey to start a business. The visa or permit you’ll need will depend hugely on your personal circumstances – and you need to check that the business you want to start is even permitted in Turkey.

At the very least, it will make things a lot quicker.

Video guides to visas/residence permits for Turkey

You can learn about immigration and visas in Turkey by watching our series of video interviews with Turkish lawyer Başak Yıldız Orkun. You can also read our other written immigration guides for Turkey.

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