Understanding Visas, Resident Permits and Citizenship for Expats in Turkey

Most travelers and short-term residents in Turkey will opt for getting a visa to cover the remainder of their in country stay. But what if your stay is longer, or you frequently visit the country and don’t want to deal with visa forms each time? What are your options? And which options work for whom?

First, for visas:

Introduction: Unless you are from Europe or South America, you will need a visa to enter Turkey. Tourist visas are issued for 30, 60 or 90 days. If hold a European or South American passport, you should have via-exempt entry for 30, 60 or 90 days. UK citizens are required to obtain a visa prior to entry. Nationals from almost every North American or European country that is not visa-exempt are eligible for multiple-entry 90 day visas. With a 90 day visa you may stay in the country for up to 90 days out of 180 days. For a breakdown of different types of visas, please see this page here.

Who it’s for: Visas are intended for anyone planning to return to their home country after a stay in Turkey; this includes businessmen, one-off or annual vacationers, students, and people visiting friends or relatives.

How to get a Visa: Check visa requirements for your home country. Most likely you can pay for your visa online at evisa.gov.tr. Otherwise, you can pay $10 more and get a stamp visa upon arrival at the airport. Students and employees will need additional paperwork to legally study or work in the country, and that paperwork must be provided by your school or place of employment. More information on visas from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.


Residence Permits:

Introduction:Residence Permits are available from the short to long term and can be applied for in-country. Anyone staying in the country for more than 90 consecutive days will need to apply for a residence permit. Overstaying your visa without applying for a residence permit may result in a travel ban for up to several years.

Who it’s for: Residence permits are divided into the following categories: short-term residence permit (6 months), family residence permit, student residence permit, long-term residence permit, humanitarian residence permit, and victim of human trafficking residence permit. For a longer explanation of the different types of permits, please see this simple yet comprehensive UK guide.

Short-term residence permits are generally for tourists and students who wish to stay in Turkey for more than 90 consecutive days whereas long-term residence permits are generally for those who own property and reside in Turkey at least semi-permanently. If you want to be part of the Turkish national health care scheme, you must also apply for a long-term residence permit (see our post on national health insurance here).

How to get a Residence Permit: First, requirements will be different depending on your nationality, your type of residency, and your intended locale. You can make an appointment to discuss options or start your application at any of the 81 Provincial Directorate of Migrant Management Offices at e-ikamet.goc.gov.trYou should apply for your residence permit within 30 days of arrival in Turkey. Find full lists of documents needed for each type of residence permit here.

For a long-term residence permit: You must have 8 years of continuous residency in Turkey, not have received social assistance in the past 3 years, sufficient and stable income to support yourself, valid health insurance for anyone under 65, and pose no threat to national security. More details here.

residence permit

And, finally, Citizenship:

Who it’s for: Generally those eligible for Turkish citizenship include foreign nationals married to Turkish nationals and long-term residents who wish to switch over from their residence permit.

How to Apply for Citizenship: First, contact your local foreign affairs bureau to see if you are eligible. Generally you will have to fulfill the following requirements: residence in Turkey for 5 years with total interruption of less than 6 months, possession of good physical and mental health, demonstration that it is your intention to settle in Turkey, absence of any criminal record, ability to speak Turkish at a basic level, and ability to support yourself with either income or a good job (if not married to a Turkish national). If you meet these conditions, then you can apply to the City Population and Citizenship Directorate (İl Nüfus ve Vatandaşlık Müdürlüğü). Your “sufficient level of Turkish language” degree will be evaluated by the commission during your interview. A specific language degree or test is not required.  More information here.

If you are married to a Turkish national, a different set of requirements apply: You must be married to the Turkish citizen for 3 years, resides with the Turkish partner (exceptions granted if Turkish partner dies after application is lodged), avoids acts that would jeopardise the marriage, and poses no threat to national security and public order.  You can read the full document on Turkish Citizenship Law here.

Some Common Questions:

What if I want to purchase property? It is not required that one hold a residence permit prior to purchasing property in Turkey.  You will however need to obtain a Foreigner Identity number (Yabanci Kimlik No.) from the TNP Foreigners’ Department in the nearest city.  Owning property will not automatically grant you a residence permit either – you will still need to go online and follow the same application steps.

What if I own property, but do not reside in Turkey for more than a month or two at a time? If you are out of the country for more than 120 consecutive days, you may not be eligible for a residence permit, so you should probably just apply for regular tourist visas when you visit. You do not need a residence permit to rent out your property.

If I have a residence permit, am I automatically eligible to work in Turkey? No. You must hold a work visa and apply for the appropriate type of residence permit.  Your employer must provide the paperwork for your work visa.

If I don’t speak Turkish, can I be eligible for citizenship? This depends on how you are acquiring citizenship.  If it is through naturalization or marriage, then generally this is not a requirement.  However, you should check the requirements for your specific case.

If I become a Turkish citizen, can I still retain my original citizenship? This completely depends on the arrangements made between your country and Turkey. For the US and many European countries, the answer is yes. Before making any decisive steps, you should check the situation with your country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs or embassy in Turkey.

Have more questions?  Read the government’s e-residence booklet here, or check out the MFA’s FAQ section.



Filed under Legal Affairs, Practicalities, Retiring Abroad

2 responses to “Understanding Visas, Resident Permits and Citizenship for Expats in Turkey

  1. iResidence

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  2. iResidence

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