Turkey Residence Permit Types
The official name of the residence permit is ikamet. It can be compared to a temporary internal passport. If you have it, you'll be able to enroll your children in a local school for free or open bank account in a local institution. You'll have a right to work in this country, receive medical treatment at no cost and buy real estate with a mortgage.
This document is available in several varieties. Below, we'll describe the requirements and conditions for each one. We'll indicate the prices in USD because the Turkish lira has become too volatile.
Short Term Residence Permit
A shortterm residence permit is normally issued to foreigners who visit this country for one of these purposes:
- Scientific research
- Establishing business or commercial connections
- Educational programs, including professional training and language courses
- Medical treatment
- Buying or owning real estate
- Waiting until the authorities make administrative or judicial decisions
In all these cases, foreigners need to prepare the papers to prove the purpose of their visit to Turkey. They will be allowed to stay in the country only for as long as this purpose remains valid — for instance, until the end of a training program.
Long Term Residence Permit
To apply for this document, you need to spend at least 8 years legally in the country. If you were a student, only half of the time that you spent in Turkey will contribute to this period. With all the other permit varieties, 1 year will be calculated as 1 year. With this document, you shouldn't stay outside Turkey for more than 1 year. There are only three exceptions to this rule: you're away for compulsory service in your homeland, to improve your health or to get an education.
It's vital that you earn enough to sustain yourself and haven't benefitted from social assistance in the past 36 months. Another important requirement is to have valid health insurance. No need to say, you shouldn't pose a threat to national security. If you tick all the boxes, a longterm permit can be issued to you for an indefinite period.
One of the most popular ways of obtaining a long-term permit is by working for a local employer. Initially, they will issue you a permit that can be renewed every 2 years. If you keep on working for the same company for 5 years, you'll become eligible for citizenship.
For a Family
When a Turkish citizen marries a foreigner, the latter can get a permit that will remain valid for three years. Then, this document will be subject to a renewal if the couple stays together. The couple will need to prove with documents that they have been living in one house or apartment. Plus, the foreign partner will need to prove they have always been law-obedient and respectful toward the local society. Thanks to the legal marriage, the foreign partner can also apply for citizenship.
If the couple divorces, the foreign partner has a right to apply for a short-term residence if they spent at least 36 months being married to their Turkish partner. If they manage to prove that they were a victim of domestic violence, they can apply for a permit even if they haven't spent three years together. If the Turkish partner passes away, their foreign better half can apply for a permit if they prove that they were dependent on their late spouse.
If the foreign spouse of a Turkish citizen has minor children or children who remain dependent on them, they can apply together with these kids. Turkey doesn't support polygamous marriages. If a person has several legal spouses in a country that allows it, only one partner can apply for a residence permit in Turkey. The kids from the other spouses can apply together with that partner.
For a Student
Minors need to get this type of permit if they study in Turkey without having a family permit. If they have the family one and come of age while they keep studying in this country, they have to get a student permit.
Such a permit can remain valid for several months or a maximum of one year, depending on the duration of the program. It can be renewed if the student performs well and isn't expelled from the school or university.
If a student wants to quit their current educational establishment and keep on studying in another province, their permit will be terminated and they will need to get a new one. Their current permit will remain valid if they switch to a new establishment within the same province or another faculty within the same establishment.
After a student graduates from a higher education program in this country, they can apply for a short-term residence permit within half a year. This permit variety can be issued only once and for up to one year. That should be enough to find a job, sign a contract and apply for another type of residence.
This type of document was invented for extreme cases. Sometimes, for circumstances beyond their control, a foreigner can't obtain a residence permit normally. For example, they might need to stay in Turkey for a while to travel to a safe country from the place that they had to leave. Even people who were banned from entering Turkey might get this type of permit for a short while if their lives depend on it.
The owners of this type of permit are usually not allowed to apply for long-term residence. If they apply for the residence varieties that they qualify for, the number of days that they spent in the country with the humanitarian permit won't be taken into account.
For Victims of Human Trafficking
People with the status of a human trafficking victim can get a residence permit for one month in Turkey. In many cases, it's enough to collect the papers and money and decide where to move next. If necessary, the foreigner can repeatedly renew this permit for 6 months. Further renewals will become impossible as soon as the person has spent 3 years in total in Turkey with this type of document.
Step-by-Step Guide on Submitting the Application
The process is rather straightforward:
- Fill in a form at https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr/
- Make an appointment through the online Central Appointment System to an offline office of the migration authorities
- The system will assign a date and time to you as well as display the list of papers to prepare
There are no intricate questions in these forms, only the very basic information — such as your nationality, local address and a few other parameters. It's crucial that you start the procedure during your first month in the country.
To apply for a residence permit, be ready to prepare these papers:
- Filled-in application form
- Passport (original and a notarized copy)
- Four biometric photos
- Health insurance
- Proof of having enough money
- Proof of having somewhere to stay
For each month that you're planning to spend in Turkey, you need to have at least $500. It's not necessary to have these funds in your pocket right away. It's enough to prove that you will get them on time.
The list of the papers and the requirements to them might vary depending on your circumstances — such as the chosen permit variety and the country from where you come.
How Long Does It Take to Get the Permit
Typically, it takes no more than 90 days to obtain this document. You'll be able to use online tracking tools to monitor the progress of your application.
The average cost of obtaining residency is around $200. The exact number might vary depending on the age and nationality of the applicant and the required type of document. This sum includes not only the price of the permit but also notary and interpreter fees, medical insurance and state duties.
If we take the price of the permit separately, it varies from one country to another. For over 150 states, it's $25 for the first month and $5 for every subsequent one. For some countries, it's cheaper. Selected states are entirely exempt from the fees. The highest possible price is $140 for the first month and $30 for every subsequent one — it's valid, for instance, for Norway and Serbia.
Which City Is Best to Live in
According to the new rules, expats can't get residence permits in many neighborhoods of Istanbul, Antalya and Ankara. It's because there are too many foreigners there already. It drives up the housing prices and the overall inflation. Locals struggle to find well-paid work and accommodation. The good news is that there are many alternative locations in Turkey where expats can comfortably live. Below, we'll describe the worthiest ones.
Mugla is situated close to Bodrum, the world-famous premium-class resort. There are many picturesque harbors and historical sites in the region. The climate is mild here thanks to the mountains that surround the bays and protect the territory from strong winds. It's a great place to grow cotton, cereals and fruits.
Tekirdag is located to the West of Istanbul. It sits on the borderline between the European and the Asian parts of the country. Agriculture is thriving here, especially farms that grow sunflowers, grains and grapes. The tourism sector is developed — but not as posh as in Bodrum. Tekirdag has a huge investment potential. Now, it's a great time to purchase a property for renovation here — such as a city apartment or a rural boutique hotel.
Kocaeli is an industrial hub near Istanbul. The majority of the population is young and the demand for houses keeps growing. Foreign investors love Kocaeli for its affordable prices for everyday products as well as its excellent transport connectivity with ports and big cities. Most importantly, there are tax breaks and free zones for foreign investors.
Yalova is a seacoast city not far from the Asian half of Istanbul. It's a great place to relax and have medical procedures in hot springs. The surrounding landscapes are breathtaking and there are many historical sites. The cost of living is affordable, that's why Yalova attracts many retirees and weekend tourists. The real estate sector offers lucrative opportunities to investors, especially in the hospitality niche.
Bursa used to be the main city of the Ottoman Empire. Until now, it has preserved its unique historical charm and can boast dozens of cultural attractions. It's surrounded by gorgeous lakes and mountains and you can comfortably drive here from Istanbul. The silk industry is well-developed and there are many different properties to invest in.
Mersin is located not far from Antalya. Compared to this popular recreational hub, Mersin is less globalized. Many foreigners visit it for the first time when they come to the Turkish coast as tourists. Business people actively use the opportunities of the local port and the industrial sector. Farmers grow citruses here. Scientists come here for the sake of research institutes and higher education establishments. The Mersin real estate market is well-developed and not too prone to sudden price fluctuations. If you settle down here, you'll appreciate the rich culture of the region that was shaped under Arab influences.
To become a Turkish citizen for buying property, it's necessary to invest at least $400,000 in the purchase. It's vital that you transfer the funds to the vendor from another country. If you own a property that costs $50,000 or more, you can qualify only for a Turkey residence permit by investment. Please mind that the authorities will rely not on the market price of on the property but the cadastral one.
As an alternative to buying a property, you can spend at least half a million dollars on:
- Deposit in a local bank
- Investing in a local business
- Opening a new business that employs 50 or more locals
- Government bonds or units of an investment fund
However, most expats take the real estate purchase route because it's the easiest one. Besides, you should have somewhere to live anyway.
To apply for citizenship, it's essential to spend at least five years in this country. During this period, you'll allowed to stay outside the country no more than one year in total and no more than one month in one go. Plus, you'll be required to pass an exam to prove your command of the Turkish language. If you tick all the boxes, it will take you around 7 months to become a local citizen.
If you're planning to travel to Europe frequently and stay there for a long time, you'd better opt for an EU residence program. A Turkish passport won't grant you a comparable freedom of movement. However, you'll be able to visit over 70 countries visa free as a tourist.