If you plan to live in Turkey full-time or spend extended periods of time here, you’ll need to apply for a residence permit or ikamet (ick-a-met). How long you can stay in Turkey on a tourist visa will depend on your passport – different nationalities are subject to different rules.
If you are from the UK, for example, the need for a physical visa was removed in March 2020 but you can still only stay for 90 out of 180 days, calculated on a rolling basis. For some people this is enough, but if you’ve bought your dream villa in Antalya, chances are you’ll want to visit more frequently and stay for longer!
Different types of permits
When you start looking into applying for residency, you might hear people mention several different kinds of permits. For most people, especially as a first-time applicant, all you need is the standard short-term version.
However, it’s worth knowing there is also a family residence permit which should be applied for by anyone with a Turkish spouse. There is also a long-term residence permit, which you can apply for once you have lived in Turkey for eight years.
What do you need?
To apply for your Turkish residence permit, you’ll need to fill in an online application which you can find here. Have your mobile phone handy, as you’ll receive an activation code to allow you to proceed. You can apply for either a one-year or two-year permit.
You’ll need various documents and paperwork too, so it’s a good idea to get everything together before you start.
- Title deeds or rental agreement. If you own property, you should have a title deed or tapu (tap-oo). In some areas, the authorities may also want to see the land registration document, or tapu kaydı (tap-oo k-eye-duh). You can obtain this from your local tapu office.
If renting, you’ll need to supply your rental contract, signed by you and your landlord and notarised. If the agreement is in English, you’ll also need a signed, notarised translation. Some areas require the landlord to sign the contract in person at the notary office, so find out if this is the case where you will live.
- Proof of address. This is no longer required officially, but you may still be asked to produce it. You’ll need to take your title deed or rental contract to the local population, or nüfus (noo-fus), office to get it.
- Passport. This must be valid for at least 60 days beyond the application period – so if you want a one-year residence permit, it should be valid for 14 months from your application date. You’ll also need a colour photocopy of the identity page. (For first applications, passports do not need to be translated and notarised; this may be required at renewal.)
- Four biometric photographs, 3.5cm x 4.5cm, and taken within six months of application. You’ll need to upload one as part of your online application; the file size should not exceed 500kb.
- Proof of income. There is some debate about whether this is needed; the simple answer is, it often depends on where you are and who handles your application. To be on the safe side, have bank statements for the previous six months from Turkey or your home country. These should show savings of at least 25,000TRY or your monthly income. (For the online application, if you don’t have an income, try either dividing your savings by 12 and submitting that figure, or stating the total amount as annual income.) If you are in receipt of a state pension from your home country, you may need to provide an official notification letter, translated and notarised.
- Health insurance. Your policy dates need to tally with your application and, for a two-year application, will need to cover the full period. Costs vary; a policy fulfilling the basic residency requirements are just a few hundred lira, but cover is limited. SGK – the Turkish state health cover – is only available once you have been resident for a full year.
- Payment. There is an application fee and also a charge for the physical permit. Currently, this is around $80 for a one-year application, plus $60 for a second year, and the card is 89 Turkish lira. The dollar amount is converted to lira based on the rate at the time of application. Payment can be made online with a credit card, or in person at your local tax office. Be sure to obtain receipts in either case.
The next step
As part of your online application, you should select an application date and make an appointment to attend your local GOC office for interview. Print off your completed form and take it, and all your other paperwork, to the office at your chosen date and time.
Your fingerprints will be taken – most offices use a digital scanning system – along with further photographs taken face-on and from each side. Although the word ‘interview’ sounds intimidating, it generally means confirming your identity and details, and checking your paperwork. You will then be given a form confirming your application, which will be accepted by the authorities if you need to produce it and also allows you to travel outside Turkey.
Your residence permit will arrive after anything from seven to 80 days; you’ll normally receive a text telling you when it’s on its way.
What about children or dependents?
Under-18s need their own permits and health insurance – some providers offer a family policy – but don’t need proof of financial status. You will need to supply a translated, notarised copy of their birth certificate.
For any adult children living with you without their own income, it’s possible to act as their sponsor. This involves filling in additional paperwork in which you undertake to provide for them financially, take responsibility for them, and agree to inform the authorities if they move out of your home.
Does it all seem a bit complicated?
While it’s generally a straightforward process, the different elements can seem confusing. There’s often also the concern you’ve forgotten something or got it wrong.
Many people therefore choose to get someone to help them. This might be an experienced expat, a Turkish-speaking friend, or a professional provider of such services. The latter will charge, but the peace of mind is often worth it.
Still planning your move?
If you’re on the lookout for your perfect property, whether it’s a villa in Kalkan with an infinity pool or a penthouse apartment in Antalya city, we’d love to help. We’ll hold your hand every step of the way, from viewing to sale completion and beyond – just get in touch.