Moving Back Home from Turkey

There may, for various reasons, come a time when you decide that you want to leave Turkey and return ‘home’. This is something that worries many people thinking of settling in the country but it is, in fact, a rare thing to happen.

Ignoring people who have obtained employment in Turkey on a relatively short-term basis, in our experience fewer than 20% of people who settle in Turkey will decide to leave.

There are usually two main reasons why those who leave make the decision to do so.

The first, and probably the more common, is that they moved to Turkey when they retired, with their husband or wife, and that the spouse has since died. The surviving spouse wants to go back to be closer to the children and other family members.

The second main reason is ill health. Although Turkey has a good medical system and although, especially if you speak English, you will probably find that there will be people in the medical profession who speak your language, there is no pretending that everybody will do so and there is no doubt that it is more complicated to deal with doctors, nurses and other health professionals in a language which is neither their own nor your own. If you are going to have to have regular contact with doctors and hospitals, it is tempting to go back to a place where communication will be easy.

Of course, communication is vitally important. There is not much room for error if you’re trying to communicate your symptoms to a doctor and the sort of subjects that you’re likely to have to discuss – and the technical terminology you’re likely to have to use – will challenge both your grasp of Turkish and the doctors’ grasp of your language.

The good news is that, although we in Turkey will be very sorry to see you go, moving ‘back home’ is simple – at least from our point of view.

There are five main steps you need to take.

  1. If you have a tax residency in Turkey, you need to tell the tax office in Turkey that you are leaving the country. You need only to tell your main tax  They will then pass the information on to all other relevant government departments such as the healthcare system, your local town hall etc. You need to tell them when you will be leaving or you can delay notifying them until after you have left and tell them the actual date of your departure. It is better done before you leave. Either way, the tax office will then assess any taxes that you might owe (or any refund to which you might be entitled) and arrange payment with you
  2. You need to end your tenancy by giving notice to your landlord or, if you own your own home, you may want to sell it. You’re not obliged to sell it. You could continue to own a home in Turkey which you might use for holidays or which might be used by your family and friends. The choice is yours
  3. You need to tell your bankthat you are no longer going to be living in the country. You can either close your bank account or leave it open. If you choose to leave it open (and many people will, at least for a year or so), they will make a note on your account that you’re no longer a resident and this will change the way in which some paperwork is dealt with
  4. You will need to notify the utilities – electricity, telephone company, water company etc. – that you’re leaving, and pay any outstanding bills
  5. You should notify your neighbours and the president of the community of ownersis you live in a place with such a community

So, that’s all easy. Of course, in your case there may be other things that you need to do but they’re all likely to be obvious and simple.

However, one thing we cannot control here in Turkey is the difficulty you might face back home when you arrive back in your own country. We would strongly recommend that you consult your own lawyer in your own country to seek advice on how you should deal with the move.

A number of problems commonly arise.

The easy ones tend to be things such as reregistering as a tax resident in your own country and the importing of any goods that you’re bringing back from Turkey.

The more complicated and challenging can relate to healthcare. You will need to make sure that you are entitled to healthcare in your own country. What you will need to do will vary from country to country.

In some, you will need to take out fresh healthcare insurance and you may find that its terms are much less favourable than you had when you left because you no longer qualify for any discounts as a long-term customer and you are now older and may be suffering from an existing medical condition. In some countries (such as the UK) you will need to re-register with the health service and they may impose limitations on your eligibility to use that service until you have been resident in the country for a certain amount of time.

One thing you can do to help on the healthcare front – if you lived in and are a citizen on an EU country – is to make sure that you have an up-to-date EU healthcare card, based upon which you will be entitled to emergency medical treatment in any EU country until you again become officially resident in that country.

One practical point that it’s probably worth mentioning when talking about going back home is that many of my clients have reported a sense of disappointment when they return home: so much has changed, so many things are not as they remember them and re-igniting friendships (which may have been run at a distance for many years) can be more difficult than you might imagine. They say that the transition when moving back to your old country is nearly as difficult as the transition when moving to Turkey.

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