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Turkish Residence Permit: Frequently Asked Questions

Getting your residence permit can seem like a massive undertaking, especially if you’re unclear of certain steps along the way or have your own unique circumstances. We’ve assembled this Turkish residence permit FAQ to supplement our guide and hopefully answer some additional questions you might have.

Note: All the information present is subject to change (and it often does). There are frequently variations between regions, branches and even the individual assigned to your application. If in doubt about your situation, contact the official helpline at 157, a legal representative or your consulate. The following is simply to help clarify, but should not be perceived as 100% reliable. Readers should also note that our scope is focused on Istanbul, although almost everything is standard across the country.

1. Who should apply for a residence permit?
A typical tourist visa lets you stay in Turkey for 90 days. If you plan to stay in Turkey longer than this, you’ll want to be sure you’ve applied for your residence permit before the final day of your visa. If you fail to apply before the conclusion of your visa, you will almost certainly face a fine and possible ban on your next exit from the country.

2. Where can I apply for my residence permit?

3. What are the various types of residence permit application options?
The four most common are:

  • Short-term residency – New applicants can expect up to a one year permit, while renewals can often be extended to cover anywhere from a few months to two years.
  • Long-term residency – For those who have managed to maintain eight years of continuous residence permit coverage. These are valid indefinitely.
  • Family Residency – For those who are married to a Turkish citizen; minors dependent on a Turkish citizen.
  • Student Residency – For those pursuing associate’s, bachelor’s or graduate degrees in Turkey.

4. Am I applying for a first time application or an extension (renewal)?
If it’s your first time applying for a residency permit, then of course you’ll be applying as such. If transitioning off of a tourist visa or work permit, you’ll be a “first time” applicant, even if you’ve previously held a residence permit in Turkey.

Extensions are only for those who are holding a valid residence permit at the time of applying for renewal. Extensions are possible via registered mail, while first-time applicants must go their appointment in person.

5. What documentation will I need for my residence permit application?
The official site outlines the necessary documentation here. The basics for a regular short term residence permit are:

  • A completed residence permit application form, printed in color
  • Your passport – We suggest taking multiple color copies, including of your entry stamp page, along with you. If your passport is in non-Latin letters, get a notarized translation.
  • A tax number (or foreigner identification number for repeat applicants)
  • A color copy of your health insurance policy (or officially stamped & signed black and white copy). We actually suggest getting the stamp and signature for color copies as well. This is not necessary for applicants under 18 or over 65. [Question 6 offers more details.]
  • Four biometric passport photos – These are required to have been taken within the last six months, against a white background.
  • Proof of financial capacity – Your statement within the application may sometimes be enough, but sometimes you will be requested to return another day with a bank statement. To avoid this, we suggest bringing a bank statement from a Turkish bank showing that you have at least $6000 (for a 12 month application). We’ve heard varying numbers (from 1,300 TL to 2,000 TL per month), but have opted to go with $6000 USD ($500/month) as a safe route.
  • Proof of residency – The safest method is to sign an official housing contract with an emlak and then bring a notarized copy.
  • Proof of payment for residence permit application fees – You can pay these online after logging in to see your application, in which case we suggest printing a copy of your confirmation.
  • Registered Address Documentation – Your district’s population registry office (nüfus müdürlüğü) can provide you with it (an ikâmetgâh) after showing a utility bill or rental agreement.
  • Health Report from State Hospital – These generally run from 300 to 600 TL and must be requested at a state hospital.
  • Criminal Background Check* – First time applicants(*), unless in Turkey for longer than five years, need to generate a background check from their country of citizenship within the last six months. (If in Turkey longer than five years, you can produce the Turkish police record mentioned below.)
  • Letter of Intent* – For renewal applications(*), you’ll need to include a letter of intent in Turkish explaining your reasons for deciding to stay in the country.

The following are sometimes also requested. You can attend your appointment without these, but just be aware that they might request you get one of the following and return. If it’s urgent that you complete the process as quickly as possible, you can get these ahead of time to play it safe.

  • Turkish police record – This is another unlisted requirement that is sometimes requested. You’ll need to venture to a proper courthouse (Çağlayan in Istanbul) and request your sabıka kaydı. Be sure to have it stamped and signed.
  • Proof you haven’t received social aid – Rarely requested but easy enough to procure. Head to your district’s Sosyal Yardımlaşma ve Dayanışma Vakfı, along with your passport and tax number.

6. What should I know about registering for health insurance?
The major things to note when getting health insurance are:

  • SGK and private insurance are the available options.
  • Your residence permit will only extend to the day BEFORE the expiration of your insurance coverage. If your insurance coverage ends on 09/09/2016, then your residence permit will only be issued to last until 08/09/2016.
  • Your insurance documentation MUST include the following statement: Işbu poliçe 06.06.2014 tarih ve 9 sayılı Ikamet Izni Taleplerinde Yaptırılacak Özel Sağlık Sigortalarına Ilişkin Genelge’ de belirlenen asgari teminat yapısını kapsamaktadır.

7. How long after my application is approved can I expect to receive my card?
This tends to depend on luck. If fortunate, you’ll have it in a week or so. The official maximum wait is 90 days.

8. Can I leave Turkey in the time between having attended the appointment and waiting for my residence permit card to arrive via mail?
Yes, assuming you aren’t on a valid visa, you can leave for a maximum of 15 days AFTER completing the appointment portion of the application process. You will receive documentation at your appointment (which you should make sure they sign and stamp) which you’re expected to carry with you at all times until your residence permit arrives. With this, and your payment receipts, you should be able to exit and enter Turkey, as long as it totals to less than 15 days abroad.

9. Can I leave Turkey if my appointment is scheduled, but my visa is expired?
No. You could always try your luck at the local immigration office in regards to speeding up your appointment date, but it’s our experience that this doesn’t work except in very rare circumstances. If you try to leave before getting the official documentation after your appointment, you will likely face a fine, ban and your application will be voided.

10. How do I make sure I haven’t overstayed my tourist visa?
The ONLY reliable way is to keep up with the 90 days yourself. If entering and exiting frequently, you can ask when entering Turkey at passport control, but we’ve been told that people have been misinformed. Always be sure to keep track and include your entry and exit dates when tallying. There are many online tools like this one that can be helpful.

11. How long after the expiration of my residence permit am I permitted to leave the country without penalty?
The official count is 10 days, but not every passport control agent is aware of this and they will sometimes refer you to a different desk. Factor in a bit of extra airport time for these types of issues. We’d suggest not risking the overstay at all, as some passport control officers seem to be unaware of the rule entirely.

12. My residence/work/etc. permit is about to expire, can I exit and return on a tourist visa?
Yes, this is a common tactic. You will then have the additional 90 day window covered by your tourist visa to apply online for your next residence permit. Just make sure to leave Turkey before your initial permit finishes. This will be counted as a ‘break’ in a continued stay, so avoid this if you’ll eventually want to apply for a long-term visa.

13. Where can I apply for a tourist visa?

14. Am I allowed to stay in Turkey after the expiration of my tourist visa if I’ve scheduled a residence permit appointment?
Yes, as long as the appointment was scheduled before you used up the 90 eligible days on your visa, you should be fine.

15. What should I do if my residence permit is lost or stolen?
You need to report this to the police immediately and get an official report. You can then go to your local migration office (without an appointment), show them the report and pay the necessary fees.

16. What should I do if my passport is lost, stolen, renewed, etc. and I’m on a valid residence permit?
Go to your local migration office with your new passport, color photocopies and a corresponding biometric passport photo and inform them as soon as possible (we’ve heard between two weeks and twenty days as the limit). You won’t need an appointment, just wait to be seen.

17. What should I do if I have a change of address while on a valid residence permit?
You’ll have to head to your district’s Nüfus Müdürlüğü Office and retrieve an official change of address form. Take your residence permit with you, your rental agreement, a utility bill and your passport.

Then, much like with your initial application, you’ll need to take all the relevant proof (we recommend getting your rental contract notarized) to your local migration office.

18. If I need to have money in a Turkish bank account for proof of financial capacity, how can I open one?
We have a guide on the process here.

19. What are the fees for the residence permit application?
Citizens of most countries will have to pay 58.50 TL for the card and roughly $80 for the annual fee. A few other countries have varying fees. Although slightly out of date, the official list can be found here.

20. How can I pay for the residence permit application fees?
Thankfully, it’s now possible to pay online. You’ll see the option at the end screen of the online application process. Unfortunately, only Turkish credit cards are currently accepted.

Your other option is to pay at TC Ziraat, Halk or Vakıflar Bank. You’ll need to take your application form, passport and tax number. They should know what to do (if having issues, point to the payment fee section).

21. How long can I stay outside the country on a residence permit?
It would appear that under new guidelines, there is no limit to time spent abroad for a short-term residence permit. It should be noted that when applying for a long-term permit, they often consider how long you’ve spent outside the country in making their decision.

Long-term residency permits still appear to have a one year limit on being outside of Turkey.

22. I heard I can do *insert illegal method* to make the process easier?
Those who have been dealing with this process for many years might tell you that they know of a “workaround” that includes fake documents, a professional who will provide notarized documents for a fee, etc. We strongly advise against this. The application process has become dramatically more organized over the past two years and they’ve recently announced that they’re specifically targeting individuals who engage in these activities. The likelihood of being found out and penalized is high.

23. I am applying for a student visa. What should I do?
These are best done in collaboration with the institution that has invited you to study. The more established universities will likely take care of all the steps. Newer institutions might struggle a bit, so it’s worthwhile to keep up with the process as they go along.

24. If I’m told at my appointment that I need to retrieve additional documentation, how long do I have?
Officially, it is 30 days, but we strongly suggest doing it as soon as possible. It’s also worth trying to get documentation (or at least the name of your assigned officer) in regards to returning later.

Note: It would appear that for renewals, they are stating as little as 10 days permitted to get the necessary documents together.

25. Is it possible to choose the date of my residence permit appointment?
No. The site will assign you a date.

26. Should I carry my residence permit with me during my day-to-day?
Yes. Even when the state of emergency has been lifted, you are expected to carry this with you at all times. You should however, photograph or photocopy both sides of your card and keep them someplace safe.

27. What should I do in the case of having a baby born in Turkey?
If the baby is born with a parent who is a Turkish citizen, they are entitled to citizenship in Turkey.

If the baby is born to two non-Turkish citizens, the baby’s birth certificate will permit them to stay in Turkey for up to six months (or less, corresponding to the remaining time on a parent’s residence permit). If planning to stay in Turkey longer than six months, a residence permit application should be filed on the baby’s behalf.

28. Is there a service I can use that will sort my residence permit for me?
There certainly are, but our general opinion is that they’re significantly overpriced, often uninformed, and perhaps most importantly of all… they can’t legally enter your appointment with you, so you’ll be on your own during the interview regardless. If possible, we encourage you to accept your fate and pursue it on your own, reaching out to local friends for minor steps along the way.

Have you had experiences that contradict any of the above? Have another question you think we should include? Let us know in the comments!

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