Residence Permits in Turkey

This guide is about residence permits in Turkey, and which kind you're likely to need if you're thinking of moving to Turkey. It goes into detail about short-term residence permits, and links to detailed guides about longer-term permits.

A person wishing to live in Turkey will, in many cases, need a special visa authorising entry to the country (see our other guides on immigration). However, in other cases, they will merely need a residence permit.

Any person who wishes to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days in a 180-day period requires a residence permit. This is the case whether they wish to stay in Turkey to study, to work, or simply to pass their time during retirement as people who are ‘economically inactive’. See below for more details.

This need for two documents is merely a reflection of the way in which the Turkish visa system is organised. In practical terms, in both cases you will need to produce the required documentation and show that you have a valid basis to be in the country.

However, it’s important to realise that if you are a person who requires a visa to enter the country (whether to work or to study) you will also need a residence permit.

Applying for a residence permit

The process for dealing with applications for residence permits was modified in 2015 and then again in 2017 with a view to making things more consistent throughout Turkey. It is not clear that it has succeeded in doing this.

Proof of income

For most categories of residence permit, you will need to show proof of adequate income.

For a single person, this is, generally, interpreted as proof that you have at least the equivalent of the Turkish minimum wage. In March 2017 this was TRY1,400 per month (approx. US$400, €350 £300).

For a person with dependants it is higher: usually an additional one-third of the minimum wage per dependant.

Coming to Turkey as a student

See our Guide to Coming to Turkey as a Student.

Coming to Turkey to work

See our Guide to Coming to Turkey to Work.

Coming to Turkey to start a business

See our Guide to Coming to Turkey to Start a Business.

Coming to Turkey to retire

See our Guide to Coming to Turkey to Retire.

Short-Term Residence Permits

These are the normal residence permits issued in Turkey. They can be issued for a period of one or two years.

A person wishing to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days in any 180-day period can, fairly simply, obtain a Short-Term Residence Permit.

To do this, you go to the police headquarters (Diyarbakır Emniyet Müdürlüğü) in the area where you are living and ask for the yabancı şübesi – the foreigners’ department. Ideally, go with a Turkish-speaking friend! The police will give you a printed list showing all the documents you need to gather together. Once you have them gathered, go back to the police to make your formal application.

As a general rule, you will need:

  • Six recent passport-style photographs.
  • An original and a photocopy of any document showing proof of your savings. This can be bank statements, or a receipt from a foreign exchange office with your name and passport number on the top. You will need to have a minimum of US$500 for each month you’re applying to stay for.
  • An original document showing your Turkish health insurance, plus a photocopy. To get state health insurance, you first need to go to the tax office (Maliye) and get a foreigner’s tax number
  • Proof of ownership of a property in Turkey (your tapu), or your rental agreement or the agreement from the hotel you’ll stay in. If you are staying in a private house then you need a letter from the householder offering you accommodation, and they need to supply proof of address (ikamet belgesi, obtainable from the nüfüs office). This point is important because you are applying for a residence visa, and so must show you are resident at a particular address. Whether you stay at that address all the time is up to you, but the police will want to see a fixed abode!
  • Two completed application documents.

It is likely to take anything up to six weeks for your visa to be issued – and that’s assuming you fulfill all the criteria and provide all the correct documents.

Once you have supplied all the paperwork, you need to go to the payments (tax) office (Maliye) and pay for the visa. This will include the admin fee for the visa itself and also the cost of the official visa card.

A 12-month visa currently costs around US$80, and a six-month one US$50.

These are the general rules. However, there are, if fact, several types of Short-Term Residence Permit. Each type requires slightly different documentation.

Foreigners owning immovable property in Turkey

You will need:

  • A completed residence permit application form
  • Your original passport or travel document, along with a clear photocopy
  • Four passport-style photographs
  • Documentation showing proof of your savings/resources to keep you going for the duration of your stay
  • Documentation proving that you own the property
  • Proof of valid health insurance – whether that’s private insurance, or documentation showing you can use Turkish state healthcare.

Foreigners establishing business or commercial connections

You will need:

  • A completed residence permit application form
  • Your original passport or travel document, along with a clear photocopy
  • Four passport-style photographs
  • Documentation showing proof of your savings/resources to keep you going for the duration of your stay
  • Proof of valid health insurance – whether that’s private insurance, or documentation showing you can use Turkish state healthcare.

Foreigners participating in on-the-job training programmes

You will need:

  • A completed residence permit application form
  • Your original passport or travel document, along with a clear photocopy
  • Four passport-style photographs
  • Documentation showing proof of your savings/resources to keep you going for the duration of your stay
  • Documentation showing the location, duration and nature of your training, given by the organisation offering the training.
  • If you’re under 18, a letter of consent from your parent or guardian
  • Proof of valid health insurance – whether that’s private insurance, or documentation showing you can use Turkish state healthcare.

Foreigners taking part in student exchange programmes

You will need:

  • A completed residence permit application form
  • Your original passport or travel document, along with a clear photocopy
  • Four passport-style photographs
  • Documentation showing proof of your savings/resources to keep you going for the duration of your stay
  • Documentation detailing the training/internship
  • If you’re under 18, a letter of consent from your parent or guardian
  • If you’re under 18, a letter of commitment from the people you’ll be staying with in Turkey
  • Proof of valid health insurance – whether that’s private insurance, or documentation showing you can use Turkish state healthcare.

Foreigners staying on for tourism purposes

You will need:

  • A completed residence permit application form
  • Your original passport or travel document, along with a clear photocopy
  • Four passport-style photographs
  • Documentation showing proof of your savings/resources to keep you going for the duration of your stay
  • Information (documentation if possible) regarding where you’ll be travelling and staying during your stay in Turkey
  • If you’re under 18, a letter of consent from your parent or guardian
  • Proof of valid health insurance – whether that’s private insurance, or documentation showing you can use Turkish state healthcare.

Foreigners transferring from a family residence permit

This could be, for example, a person who has reached the age of 18 and so needs his own permit or a couple who are divorcing.

You will need:

  • A completed residence permit application form
  • Your original passport or travel document, along with a clear photocopy
  • Two passport-style photographs
  • Your previous residence permit
  • Documentation showing proof of your savings/resources to keep you going for the duration of your stay
  • Documentation supplying information on why you’re switching over from a family visa. Depending on circumstance, this could be:
    • Divorce documentation (your marriage must have lasted three years under normal circumstances, but if a court has found you to be a victim of domestic violence then this limit does not apply).
    • The death certificate of your sponsor
  • Proof of valid health insurance – whether that’s private insurance, or documentation showing you can use Turkish state healthcare.

Foreigners attending a Turkish-language course

You will need:

  • A completed residence permit application form
  • Your original passport or travel document, along with a clear photocopy
  • Four passport-style photographs
  • Documentation showing proof of your savings/resources to keep you going for the duration of your stay
  • Documentation from the (state authorised) course organiser
  • If you’re under 18, a letter of consent from your parent or guardian
  • Proof of valid health insurance – whether that’s private insurance, or documentation showing you can use Turkish state healthcare.

Foreigners attending an education programme, research, internship, or course by way of a public agency

You will need:

  • A completed residence permit application form
  • Your original passport or travel document, along with a clear photocopy
  • Four passport-style photographs
  • Documentation showing proof of your savings/resources to keep you going for the duration of your stay
  • Documentation from the (state authorised) course, internship, research or other programme organiser
  • If you’re under 18, a letter of consent from your parent or guardian
  • Proof of valid health insurance – whether that’s private insurance, or documentation showing you can use Turkish state healthcare.

Extending your Short-Term Residence Permit

Residence Permit extension applications can be submitted online up to 60 days before the expiry of the old permit.

The application MUST be submitted no later than the expiry date of the old residence permit.

Whilst the application is being processed you may continue living in Turkey perfectly legally.

Long-Term Residence Permits

A foreigner may be eligible for a Long-Term Residence Permit, valid for an indefinite period, if:

  • They have resided in Turkey legally, with a valid residence permit, and without interruption for eight years
  • They have not spent more than 180 days abroad in any year
  • They have not received Social Help (Social Security) within the last three years
  • They have adequate funds to support themselves and their family
  • They have valid health insurance
  • They have no criminal convictions and are not considered a threat to public order or security

If you leave Turkey for any reason except health, education and compulsory public service for more than one year your Long-Term Residence Permit might be cancelled.

Foreigners who are classified as refugees and conditional refugees, or foreigners who have residence permits issued for humanitarian purposes (or who are under temporary protection) are not eligible to apply for Long-Term Residence Permits.

Conclusion

Residence permits can seem a bit confusing at first, but just bear in mind that whatever your circumstance you will need a residence permit, but you may also need a visa. Seeking professional advice is a very good idea, as the best permit for your situation might not be the most obvious one.

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