Many years as a professional project manager drilled into me the discipline of sharing with others your lessons learned at the end of any project. And this was SOME project! So here it is, the story of my path to Turkish residency. Hope it helps.
Why am I here? That’s a long story. In a nutshell, life threw Turkey into my path in a significant way, and I figured there had to be a reason. So I came here to find out what that reason was. My postgrad distance learning lets me study anywhere in the world, so I chose Turkey.
What was the plan (visa)? A one year short-term (tourist) resident visa. (Sorry, but no advice to share on other visa types).
What support did I have? Very little. Came here alone. Basically no Turkish language skills.
11 Steps to a Turkish resident permit.
OK The steps to a Turkish RP (Ikamet) are:
1. You will probably come here on a 90-day tourist visa like me.
2. Rent a property and get the documentation notarised (legal authorisation).
Trying to rent was my first challenge. Most emlaks (estate agents), rolled their eyes and turned their backs with “yabanci yok”, meaning they don’t deal with foreigners. Solution – take a Turkish friend. I would never have got past this hurdle without local support.
Next challenge – get your agreement “notarised”. Turkey has official notaries for this purpose. Google them then visit their offices with your rental agreement (and a spare copy)…and a Turkish speaker! Again, no chance of success without Turkish language. Notaries are pedantic. My landlady had only signed the final page of the lease. I was asked to go away and come back with both the emlak and the landlady. I was also told to bring an official translator, which was totally unnecessary, and I didn’t do it. Somehow I managed to assemble the full gang, we returned, the landlady signed a few more pages, I paid about 180TL, they stamped the documents, and it was done.
3. Get yourself a Turkish Tax Number from the local Tax Office (Vergi Dairesi).
This step, I didn’t know about. It wasn’t mentioned on a lot of the advisory websites and blogs. I got caught out on the next step of health insurance, when they refused to proceed without a Tax Number.
Good news – it’s quick, it’s free. Advice – again take a Turkish speaker. They will want to see your passport and proof of local address (eg. lease). You need to tell them that you’re planning to apply for an RP. They will issue you with a Vergi Kimlik Numarisi Karti – a small card, business card size, with your name and new tax number.
4. Buy local Health Insurance.
I searched the internet for local “yabanci” health insurance, then visited their office, First time, they sent me away to get the Tax Number. Again keep mentioning ikamet (resident permit) and they’ll understand the type of insurance you need. It cost me 600tl for one year. There is a specific clause you need to check for – the wording is specific to foreigners health insurance (Google it). If you’re not sure, ask them to confirm. I Googled it while I was there and showed them the clause.
5. Get passport photos taken (4) plus a digital copy.
Advise you get them taken in Turkey, specifications may differ from your home country. Get a digital copy on a memory stick – you will need to upload this later. Tell the photographer what it’s for – Ikamet.
6. Open a Turkish Bank Account and provide proof of funds
You will need to open a Turkish Bank account. I used HSBC Bank and opened the account with the help of my local UK Branch before arriving in Turkey. You will need to show proof of sufficient funds in your account to support yourself in Turkey. The current “rule of thumb” is $500 US per month, which equates to a balance of $6,000 US in your Turkish Bank account if you’re applying for a 1 year Resident Permit. It’s recommended that you take 3 months of printed bank statements to your RP interview (may not be required, but best to take just in case).
7. Make an online appointment (e-ikamet website) for an RP interview.
You will need to enter details such as your passport, address, choice of visa type. You will need to upload your digital photo. You will need to choose an appointment date and time in your local area. Good news – the e-ikamet system has an English language option! https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr/
Challenge – my health insurance details (policy number) were rejected with a system error saying it didn’t match their database information. OK. So discovered that your health insurer uploads your policy details to the Government site within 3 days. After this, when you apply with e-ikamet online, they do a check with the details you enter. The Government help desk (dial “157”) kept telling me the problem was my Insurer, the Insurer (no English) kept telling me it wasn’t their problem. Several days and much stress wasted here.
Solution – you need your Turkish friend again. I took one to the Insurer with me and demonstrated with my laptop the problem. “Ahhhhhh…..” a few internal calls and conversations later, the Insurer admitted having uploaded the “Group Number” instead of the Policy Number. So I entered the Group Number and harika…next screen….
Next challenge – the e-ikamet system crashes a lot. In the week I tried to apply, it was down. It kept throwing up an error message (in Turkish) that no appointments were available in my city for the next 90 days. There is a help desk, dial “157” (yes, English option available), but they weren’t helpful – kept telling me try again tomorrow. I asked what happens if my visa is about to expire. Reply “you will leave Turkey”. Thanks mate.
Solution – if necessary, go direct to the GOC office…yes, with a Turkish friend! I had a face-to-face interview booked within a week.
8. RP Interview. (local GOC office)
Take all the above paperwork, passport, photos, big smile, positive attitude. Take lots of spare copies in case they want to keep them. Good news – this bit was the easiest. Provided all your paperwork is there, correct, and authorised.
Next challenge – pay for your RP….but not here, that would be too easy 🙂 Off to the Vergi Dairesi again….
9. Pay for your Ikamet (Vergi Dairesi).
All I was given by the GOC was a scrap of paper with the total amount to be paid scribbled on it by hand! Was wondering if this was going to work.
Take your “Vergi Kimlik No.” (important) with all the other paperwork. By chance, I had mine stuffed in the folder with everything else. And of course keep repeating “Ikamet” and the connection will be made. And take cash, they won’t accept anything else. Amazingly, completed this one step on my own. Make sure they give you a stamped receipt.
Now head back to the GOC with your receipt, I didn’t need to make another appointment, just went back on the same day.
10. Ikamet application approved.
Back at the GOC, show them your receipt. They will take a copy, update your application and tell you (hopefully) it’s all ok. You will be given a temporary permit authorisation, which also needs to be stamped. Hang on to this (make a copy) – it’s your permission to stay in the country until your official Ikamet card (RP) comes through.
11. Receipt of Ikamet card.
Comes by PTT delivery to the local address you gave. If you’re not home, they’ll leave a card and you need to go to the designated PTT (Post office) with ID to pick it up the next day or later. Mine was delivered just 7 days after the interview. All done!!!
Best piece of advice – if like me, you don’t speak Turkish, you WILL need help. I’m an independent type and liked to think I could do all this alone – I couldn’t. It was frustrating, embarrassing, confusing and at times a little scary, as the clock was ticking down to my final weeks of visa. So, take a Turkish friend, and if no-one’s available, take your mobile phone, ready to call for help. Was it all worth it? Ask me next year…
I know this information is specific to me and my circumstances. From what I’ve heard, every case may vary, every city may vary. And of course, the rules change regularly too (my RP story is 2018-specific). Anyway, I hope you find this a little bit helpful.
Iyi sanslar 🙂