Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated as of November 2016.
First things first: who exactly needs a residence permit? Anyone who enters Turkey as a tourist can usually stay for up to 90 days without a residence permit. If you plan to stay longer than that, you need it. Otherwise, you will pay a fine when you leave the country and be barred from Turkey for some time. It’s best to make your appointment as soon as you have decided to stay in Turkey.
Types of Permits:
Short-term Residency: For anyone not married to a Turkish citizen and living in Turkey for less than eight years. Will be valid for up to one year for first-time applicants. Two year permits are available for renewals, under certain conditions.
Long-term Residency: For anyone not married to a Turkish citizen and living in Turkey for at least eight years without interruption. Indefinite validity.
Family Residency: For those married to a Turkish citizen and/or foreign minors dependent on a Turkish citizen or a residence permit holder.
Student Residency: For those studying in associate’s, bachelor’s or graduate degree programs in Turkey.
The following steps apply to short-term, long-term and family residence permits. We advise those applying for student residence permits to consult with their university about the most up-to-date requirements. If too stressful, we do also have an arrangement for our readers with a local agency that takes care of the process for you.
1) Get your tax ID number. You will need this number to open a bank account and get insurance. Look online to find the nearest tax office (vergi dairesi) and go there with your passport. Tell them “Vergi numarası başvurusu yapmak isterim.” They will help you write a short petition called a dilekçe, which is a formal requirement for them to do anything for you. Sign it and they will produce a little card with your tax ID number written on it.
2) Get your insurance. The easiest and most affordable way to fulfill this requirement is to get a private insurance plan that you pay in one shot. All insurance companies offer a special plan specially designed for the residence permit that meets all of the requirements. The plans range greatly for one year of coverage depending on the insurance company, your age and a number of other factors, so shop around. These plans cover 100% of emergency services and around 60% of inpatient and outpatient coverage. No coverage for check-ups is provided, but you can go for a more comprehensive plan if you would like that. Yabangee has partnered up with Securance Sigorta to offer affordable packages to the readership (starting for as low as 240 TL), so if interested, you can fill out the form here or click the image.
Get a color copy of your policy OR a black-and-white copy that is stamped and signed by the insurance agent issuing it to you. Ensure the dates on your insurance policy cover a full year (your residence permit will end one day before your insurance coverage does). Additionally, the policy should include the following statement: Işbu poliçe 06.06.2014 tarih ve 9 sayılı Ikamet Izni Taleplerinde Yaptırılacak Özel Sağlık Sigortalarına Ilişkin Genelge’ de belirlenen asgari teminat yapısını kapsamaktadır.
3) Get your biometric picture taken. You will need to scan and attach it to your application. You will also need to send four hard copies of the photos. Go to any photo studio and tell them you need a vesikalık, which is basically a passport photo.
4) Apply online and print out your application forms. Go to www.goc.gov.tr and click on the e-ikamet link towards the middle of the page. Click on first application and the type of residence permit you wish to obtain (most people will select short term, but if you are a student, are married to a Turk or have lived here for eight years continuously, see below). After you fill out the application forms, you will be able to download PDF copies of your documents. Save and print them in color.
Note: In larger cities like Istanbul, appointments can be difficult to obtain, and when an appointment does become available, it is often for a date that is months away. So we recommend that you plan accordingly.
5) Pay the fees. After concluding your application, there is the option to pay with a Turkish credit card. Or, you can go to Ziraat Bank, Halk Bank or Vakıflar Bank and tell them “İkamet harçları yattırmak istiyorum.” This means, “I want to deposit residence permit fees.” Your fee will be listed in dollars on your documents and the bank will convert it to a lira amount for you. They only accept TL. You also have to pay 58.50 TL for the physical card. Say, “Kart harcı da yattırmak istiyorum.” This is deposited by the bank, as well, and you will get a separate receipt for it.
Note: Not all banks are totally familiar with this procedure, so it is important that you bring your documents with you to the bank. Click here for a list (in Turkish) of residence permit fees, which are determined according to the applicant’s country of origin.
6) Consider opening a bank account and putting money in it. It would appear that this is no longer a requirement for appointments. However, at the discretion of your appointed officer, you may be requested to present proof of financial stability. We’ve kept the following step just in case:
The Turkish government wants foreign residents to demonstrate that they have enough money to live on during their stay. Although the exact amount is not specified on the Migration Department website, it is thought to be US$500 for each month of stay. This is what the amount was during the time that the police managed the system. You have to have that money in a Turkish bank account around one week before your appointment. If you don’t actually have that much money, you can ask a friend to transfer it into your account, ask the branch to print out a statement, and transfer it back when you’re finished.
When the money is in your account, present your bankbook and your ID to the bank teller and say, “Hesap dökümü isterim” or “I would like a printout of my account statement.” Then ask them to stamp it: “Kaşeleyebilir misiniz?”
Note: Slips from exchange offices used to be accepted instead of bank statements, but this is no longer the case.
7) Provide notarized proof of address. The Migration Department does not specify that your rental agreement has to be notarized. However, some people have received emails asking them to bring in a notarized version after sending in un-notarized photocopies. So, just to be on the safe side, get it notarized.
What if my name is not on the lease? Go to a notary with whoever has signed your apartment lease, whether they be a Turkish person or a foreigner. This person will ask for a taahütname, a document verifying that you live with them. He/she must present a valid ID to the notary. Notary prices vary, but you can expect to pay 40-80 TL for this document.
Keep in mind: If the person on the lease is a foreigner, your residency permit can only be valid for as long as his/her residency permit is valid. Moreover, for a foreigner to grant you a taahütname, he/she must present a notarized translation of his/her passport to the notary.
8) Register your address. Take your rental agreement OR a utility bill in your name (Make sure it’s electricity, water, gas. Internet probably won’t count) to the Population Registry Office (Nüfus Müdürlüğü) of your district (Şişli, Kadıköy, Beşiktaş, Beyoğlu, etc.). Just google Nüfus Müdürlüğü and the name of your district to find the office’s location. Take your ID and your document and ask for an ikâmetgâh (pronounced ikyametgyah). This is a document showing that you have registered your address with this government.
9) Get your Turkish police record. This is a very new step. You must go to the courthouse and obtain a sabıka kaydı form, which is a record of your interactions with the police from the time you enter Turkey. In Istanbul, go to the large courthouse in Çağlayan, near Mecidiyeköy, with your passport. (The easiest way to get there is by metrobus, which has a specific stop for Çağlayan.) Use the main entrance of the courthouse; after entering, the desk to get your sabıka kaydı is on the same floor on the left-hand side. Make sure to get the form stamped and signed.
Some people will advise you to print out your sabıka kaydı using the e-devlet computer system. The Migration Department seems to want something more official looking, so it’s best to get it from the courthouse, as they will stamp and sign it.
10) Prove you haven’t received social aid. Like the sabıka kaydı form, this is a completely new requirement, and whether or not it is mandatory for everyone is unclear. Get it before your appointment if you want to play it safe. An organization called Sosyal Yardımlaşma ve Dayanışma Vakfı (The Foundation for Social Assistance and Cooperation) provides these forms. This organization has offices in every district of Istanbul, so you can use Google to find the bureau nearest you. Bring your passport and tax ID number.
11) Include other documents. Photocopy the front page of your passport (with a certified Turkish translation if it is in non-Latin letters), a photocopy of your most recent entry stamp and your previous residence permit (if you have one).
12) Go to your appointment. Appointments for first-time applicants are now taken at a number of locations in Istanbul depending on the district where you live. Here are the locations according to the poster at the Migration Office:
Beşiktaş, Sarıyer, Kağıthane, Şişli, Beyoğlu—Gönenoğlu Sokak No: 10, Gayrettepe
Beylikdüzü, Büyükçekmece, Esenyurt—Yakuplu Mahallesi, Hürriyet Bulvarı No: 18, Hükümet Konağı, Beylikdüzü
Kadıköy, Üsküdar—Bahariye Caddesi, Kuzu Kestane Sokak, No: 1, Kadıköy
Residents of all other districts will go to the central Migration Office on Vatan Caddis just off the Eminiyet stop of the M1 metro line.
Please note that Turkish nationals can only accompany foreigners into the building if their names are listed on the taahütname for their rental contract or if they have a notarized power of attorney (vekâletname). Otherwise, you might want to bring a foreign friend who speaks Turkish pretty well. Don’t expect the staff to speak much English.
Anyone entering the building has to show an original passport or valid residence/work permit.
13) Follow up. You will get a text message when your card has been shipped from Ankara. The “Residence Card Query” link on the home page of the immigration office directs you to the post office website, where you can track your card’s delivery.
How do I apply for an extension?
Everything is the same except:
- Now you have a foreigner ID number to use instead of the tax ID number.
- Now you will ship your documents (via PPT, MNG Kargo or Yurtiçi Kargo) to the immigration office rather than going to an appointment. The mailing address is given after you finish filling out the online application form. Don’t forget to sign the forms before mailing them!
Make sure to apply for you extension before your permit expires! You can apply as early as 60 days prior to the expiration date.
What if I am switching to a new permit type?
If you want to change the type of permit you have (from short-term to long-term, etc.) you have to apply as a new applicant, which means you have to make an appointment.
If you have any additional questions, be sure to check out our frequently asked questions.
What have been your experiences applying for a residence permit, either for the first time or as a renewal? We’d love to hear it in the comments.
If you’d rather not deal with the whole process or are struggling with a particular aspect, feel free to get professional help from our partner.
Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and should be construed as such. Yabangee does not accept liability or responsibility for any action taken based on this advice. Basically, folks, this is our collected wisdom to help guide you in this process. If you have a unique situation, it’s probably best to consult a lawyer.