Turkey is a country with beautiful beaches, bustling cities, lovely people, delicious food, and amazing nature! Who doesn’t want to spend a few months or years in this country?
For most countries getting a Visa to stay up to 90 days in the country is very easy. But what if you would like to stay longer? How do you get a Residence Permit to stay in Turkey?
There are a few different Residence Permits you can apply for in Turkey. The most common one is a Short-Term Residence Permit.
These include foreigners who like to stay for tourism purposes, foreigners who intend to receive medical treatment, foreigners with immovable property (a house), foreigners who will establish business or commercial connections or will participate in on-the-job training programs.
For ourselves, we always request a Residence Permit for tourism purposes. This will allow us to stay up to one year at the first application, and up to two years for the consecutive applications.
The application process, once you know it, is very easy! Therefore, we would like to share the steps you need to take in order to apply for a Residence Permit in Turkey.
Of course following these steps does not guarantee that the Turkish Government accepts your application for a Residence Permit, or that you will get a Residence Permit for the duration that you requested. This decision is made by the Directorate General of Migration Management.
But to have the biggest chance of a positive outcome, it is good to follow the steps outlined below!
The application for an E-visa can be started here on this website: https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr
Please be aware! As soon as you start the process, you only have 30 days to finalize the application.
If you do not finalize the application within 30 days, it will be automatically denied and there is no way to start the process again. Therefore, we recommend having all documents ready before you start the application process.
Which Documents Do You Need, and How to Get Them?
Before you go to your rendezvous appointment after filling out your application online you need to have the following documents ready and with you.
- Residence Permit Application Form
- You will be able to print this form after filling out all details in your application online.
- Photocopy of Passport
- All pages containing identity information
- All pages that have stamps
- 4 Biometric Photos
- Taken in the last 6 months
- White background
- Statement on having sufficient and regular financial means
- As stated in the Application form (Administration may request supporting documents)
- Receipt for payment of Residence Permit Fee and card fee
- Taken from the Tax office
- Valid Health Insurance
- The period covering the period of the requested residence permit
- Document of Residence
- Document showing registration in Address Registration System
- Photocopy of Title Deed of your own home
- Notarized copy of your rental agreement
- Proof of staying in a hotel
- Signed and stamped document that shows that you are staying in a dormitory
- Notarized approval of the host in a third person’s residence
Having some of these items is important even before starting the online E-visa application. Therefore we are happy to share with you the 13 logical steps to take to get a residence permit in Turkey.
Step 1 through to step 5 can be taken in random order, but are important to have done before you start on step 6.
Are you coming to Turkey any time soon to apply for the residence permit? Then take the time to check out these articles before you travel here:
- What Is a HES Code? Do You Need One as a Tourist in Turkey?
- How to Connect Your IstanbulKart to Your Hes Code?
- How to Get From the New Istanbul Airport to Istanbul City Center?
- Should I Visit Ephesus, Cappadocia or Pamukkale When in Turkey?
- Clothing In Turkey, Modern and Traditional Clothing
- Lockdown in Turkey, All You Need to Know for the Summer of 2021!
- Ultimate Turkish Hammam Guide 2021
- What Is Turkish Kahvalti?
- What Is the Best Way to Travel Through Turkey?
- Can you use Uber in Istanbul, Turkey?
Step 1 – Document of Residence (Rental Contract)
To start our adventure of getting the Turkish Residency permit, I want to start by looking at the rental contract. Point number 7 in our list of needed items.
I would like to start with this point because this will probably take the most time. You will need to decide where you want to live in Turkey and find an apartment where you can feel at home for the coming year.
As you can see, you can apply for your Residence Permit with a few different living situations, but the most common situation is to rent a house and apply with a rental contract.
If you have bought a house or apartment in Turkey, it would be sufficient to have a photocopy of your Title Deed of your home. I guess that you won’t just buy a house in Turkey immediately after arriving. Most likely you might spend the first year in a rental place to see where in Turkey you really want to live.
And if you are applying for a renewal of your Residency Permit, you could save some money by getting the document that is showing your registration in the Address Registration System at the T. C District County Population Directorate. You can find this in every district in the city. We are happy to share with you how to get this document in this article.
When you have found your dream apartment in Turkey, the next step is to get your rental contract and get it notarized.
If you are a couple moving to Turkey, make sure that both your names are on the contract! Because both of you need to share proof that you have a rental contract in Turkey for your Residency Permit. De Resident Permit is based on each individual, not on a couple.
Contracts in Turkey are usually not very fancy. They just state the details of the apartment, what the monthly and yearly amount for rent is, who the owner is, and the details of the new tenants.
Sometimes in the contract it includes the dos and don’ts. For example, can you rent it out when you are out of the country for some time? Do you need to paint the apartment when you leave the place? Etc.
The most important part of step one, for now, is to find a home where you want to live and get your rental contract signed. Getting it notarized can be done later.
Having finished step one you now know which address to fill out on your online application.
Step 2 – Tax Number
In order to get your resident permit you have to pay tax and fees for your resident card. This means that you need to get a Turkish Tax number.
A Turkish Tax Identification Number is a ten-digit number that will be assigned to each individual. This number is essential for each registration and financial transaction in Turkey.
For example when you want to open a bank account, want to get health insurance, opening up utility services, getting health services, any processes at the notary office, or even when buying property, you need this tax number.
This is completely free and very easy to get.
To get your tax number you need to bring two things to the office.
- your Passport
- a copy of your Passport
- an address in Turkey
It is an easy 15-minute process if there is not a queue lined up at the office. You can get your tax number at any Tax Office (Vergi Dairesi) in town. This doesn’t need to be the one in your area.
At the moment Turkey has also opened up the possibility to get your tax number online, but we have not tried this option yet.
You can apply for your tax number online here: https://ivd.gib.gov.tr/
Click on this box, and fill out the requested details.
Introduction to details needed to get your Tax number in Turkey online.
Details to fill out to request your Turkish Tax number online.
Before you can confirm your details you have to fill out the security code.
Step 3 – Health Insurance
After getting your Tax Identification Number in Turkey you can get the Health Insurance you need to apply for your Residence Permit.
If you are working in Turkey having a Work Permit, you will probably be part of the government-approved insurance system the Sosyal Guvenlik Kurumu (SGK). This insurance has a lot of benefits, but if you are not working and have to pay for it yourself it might become a little expensive.
For foreigners, there are many available Health Insurance companies that provide the necessary insurance to apply for a residence permit for 1/12 of the price of the SGK insurance.
These insurances do not cover much of the expenses that you might have when needing medical treatment. So it is always a good idea to have insurance from your home country to cover the cost in case of need.
Maybe this is not possible for you? Then it is a good idea to get a Health Insurance that covers more than just the basics for the Residence Permit.
We noticed that it is hard to get a good deal on Health Insurance online in Turkey. We recommend talking to an insurance agent in your area to see what options are available for you.
Make sure you tell your agent that you want to use the insurance for applying for a Residence Permit in Turkey.
Our first year, we tried to get a better-than-standard Health Insurance at Alliance, but we learned, just in time, that this insurance they offered was not acceptable for applying for the Residence Permit.
Step 4 – Biometric Photos
This is an easy step and will set you back just a few dollars. You will find a photoshop close to almost every government buildings.
Biometric photos are needed for many documents in Turkey, including your Residence Permit. They have some rules that your photos should abide by, but almost every photoshop takes these photos standard with these requirements unless you ask them to do it differently.
What are some requirements for the photos?
No older than 6 months
Plain white or off-white background
Size: 50×60 mm
Head size: 20-30 mm
Neutral face expression
Glasses are allowed if they do not obstruct or hide the eyes
Headwear is allowed only if due to religious obligations
Since you need to upload a photo on your online application, it is recommended to have your pictures taken before you start filling out your online application.
TIP: When you have your pictures taken, ask the photographer to send you the digital photo by email. This will make it easier to upload your photo.
Step 5 – Get a Turkish Phone Number
Although having a Turkish phone number is not mandatory for your Residence Permit, it will make it easier to get updated messages from the government and utility companies when you have your own home.
Also, many government online services require you to log in with a Turkish phone number. They will often send you a text with a confirmation code when you log in to one of the online portals.
So although not mandatory, we recommend getting a Turkish SIM card as soon as possible. It will also help you to stay in touch with estate agents (emlak) when searching for a home.
Just a small reminder, if you bring in a phone from outside Turkey, you need to pay Tax over it after 4 months. These months will start counting from the day you put a Turkish SIM card in your phone.
If you refuse to pay the Tax over your phone, the government will lock you phone and no other SIM card wil work in it in Turkey. Not even your SIM card from back home!
To solve this issue, either buy a new phone in Turkey or carry a second cheap phone with you where you can use your Turkish SIM card with. This can be a second hand phone bought in Turkey (not from foreigners) or it can be a dumb phone.
Step 6 – Filling Out the Online Application
Once you gather all the above information it will be easy to fill out all necessary details in the online application.
You can find the online application here: https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr
First, you have to fill out a Pre-registration Form. This requires you to fill out some personal details. See the picture below.
Sometimes the image with letters and numbers can be hard to read. You can always press refresh if you are not sure about what it says.
When filling out the main application form, you will notice that you have to go through many pages of the requested information.
TIP: you only have to fill out the details that are marked in Red or with an asterisk (*), so feel free to skip all the other questions.
TIP 2: sometimes the online application does not respond anymore in English, we noticed that if you change the language to Turkish for that page, fill it out and continue, you can go back to English on the next page.
TIP 3: When you are asked what your income is, we recommend filling out that you earn at least more than the minimum income wage in Turkey. Make sure you can support this information with evidence if they request this at the appointment in the office.
There are companies that are willing to help you fill out the online form, but they often charge a lot. We noticed that it is very easy to fill everything out yourself if you have all the documents ready.
Step 7 – Pay Residence Permit and Card Fee at the Tax Office
After filling out the online application you can print out the summary with all the details that you have filled out in the application.
This summary, also states the amount of tax and card fees you will have to pay. This might be different for persons from different nationalities.
In the online portal, there seems to be an option to pay for your tax online. Until now we have not been able to get this to work.
We just go to a Tax Office, the same place where you got your Tax Identification Number, and pay our dues there.
Again this process at the Tax Office is very easy and fast, depending on the line waiting.
After you hand them your application form and your passport, they will fill out the details and you can pay them. After paying them they will print out a receipt that states the amount of tax and fees that you have paid.
This original form needs to be added to the documents that you submit at the office during your appointment date. But make sure you make a copy of this paper because you do not want to pay the tax and fees again when you lose the paper.
There is a way to get a reprint from the office, but I would try to avoid these situations at all times here in Turkey since you will be met with a lot of frustration and extra work you need to do.
Step 8 – Get Your Contract Notarized
Getting your contract notarized is easy, in almost every district in Istanbul, and actually, throughout Turkey, you will find notaries where you can get your contract notarized.
As mentioned before it is important that you have all the names in the contract that need the same contract for an Ikamet. So make sure you add them before heading over to the Notary.
What to bring to the Notary to get your contract notarized?
- Your rental contract
- Your passport
It seems a bit unnecessary to mention, but you need to bring your rental contract to get it notarized. The Notary will make copies of it and stamp it to notarize it.
They want to see your passport to make sure you are the person mentioned on the contract. So make sure you bring your passport.
To get your contract notarized you have to pay the fee for the Notary. This will cost you approximately 350 TL, although this can be different from Notary to Notary. It is definitely worth checking a few Notaries before committing to one in particular.
So although this is not a difficult step, you need to prepare well before heading over to the Notary. And just be aware of the fee that is required to get your contract notarized.
The fee you will have to pay is per person, not per contract. So if you need two copies of the notarized contract for two individuals who are applying for a residency permit, you will need to pay the fees twice.
Step 9 – Make Copies of Your Passport
You will have to submit copies of your passport when handing over all the documents. Of course, you will have to submit a copy of the main pages of the passport with the picture and personal details.
But you will also have to submit a copy of all pages in your passport that have stamps. Including the stamp that shows when you last entered Turkey.
In our situation, it means we have to copy many pages with stamps of all the countries we have visited. But this is easy to do and doesn’t require any additional notarizing work.
Step 10 – Add a Copy of Your Entry Visa
When you came into Turkey, you probably had a 90 day Visa to enter Turkey legally. This Visa is very important to add to your files when you apply for the Residence Permit for the first time.
Not providing this paper copy of the Visa with the entrance stamp, can lead to significantly higher fees for the Residence Permit.
So make sure you keep your Entrance Visa and make a copy to add it to the paperwork that you will submit for your Residence Permit in Turkey.
Step 11 – Bind It All Together in a Pink Binder!
In order to accept all your documents, the office requires you to bind all your documents together in a pink binder.
Why this should be pink, or why to submit it at all in a binder is unclear, but in order to avoid wasting time at the office, it is better to prepare well.
The last time that we had to submit our documents for our Residence Permit, we got sent back out of the office to buy a pink binder in order to submit our documents. Because we were not the first and probably also not the last, many shops around the office are selling these folders.
The folder we bought was about 10 TL, so better get it before going into the office, since it will save you a lot of time standing in line again if they send you out just for this binder!
Step 12 – Don’t Miss Your Appointment Date at the Office!
After filling out your application online, you will be able to print your application. Because of the high number of applicants, it will not automatically assign you a date right away when you have to appear at the office.
You will need to check a few times online before getting the date for your appointment at the office. This will be written at the top right corner of your application. Both the day as well as which office you are assigned to go.
Make sure you print your full application with the location and date of your appointment. Keep this with the rest of your documents for submission at the office.
Even if, for some reason, you might not have all your documents ready for submitting at the office, make sure you do NOT miss your appointment date at the office.
When you come to the office, you are required to submit all documents for your Residence Permit, but if for some reason you are missing something, you will get 30 days to bring the missing items.
If for some reason you miss your appointment date, you will not have any option to submit your documents at another time or date. So whatever happens, make sure you will go to the office at the time and date assigned to you, even if you have nothing to submit yet.
Step 13 – Wait for Your Ikamet Card to Arrive in the Mail
When you submit all your documents, the person in the office will let you know if you submitted everything correctly. If this is the case you will receive a form that proves that you have submitted all your documents and are waiting for the Residence Permit.
This form will allow you to stay legally in Turkey for the remaining time until you either receive your Residence Permit Card or a message that notifies you that your application has been denied.
Be aware that this form doesn’t give you permission to leave the country. It is only valid in Turkey to prove that you have submitted your documents and are waiting for the outcome.
At this point, you have finished your journey of applying for the Residence Permit in Turkey and can start enjoying this wonderful country. If you decide to move to another region in Turkey, note that you need to apply again for a Residence Permit in that district.
What are some of the places you like to go visit during your first year in Turkey?
How long does it take between submitting the documents and receiving the Ikamet card?
Although the official answer will be that it might take up to 90 days from the date you applied online, we noticed it usually takes just a few weeks, somewhere between 2 and 6 weeks.
Can I change my appointment date at the office?
The system automatically appoints you a date that you have to be at the office to submit your documents, there is no way to change this. And if you miss this date, your application is automatically denied.
What is the total cost of a 1-year Residence Permit in Turkey?
All documents, insurances, Tax and fees will probably set you back somewhere between 2000-3000TL, for an average 35-year-old person. This includes 1000 for tax and fees, 500 for insurance, and 500 for notary and document cost.
What is the phone number in Turkey that I can use to get information about my residence permit?
In Turkey there is a special phone number that is ready to answer any question you might have about your residence permit, the number you can call from inside Turkey is 157. If you are calling from outside Turkey you can use this number: +90 312 157 1122. They speak English among other main languages that live in Turkey, like Russian, Arabic, Persian, etc.