Every yabancı has at least one tale of woe and regret when it comes to residence permit applications in Istanbul. I am no exception.

After passing through the application process without a hitch, I was given a piece of A4 paper saying that I now officially had a residence permit. However, as most readers will know, I needed to wait up to two months for my actual residence permit card to be mailed to me. While waiting for this card, I couldn’t leave Turkey for more than 15 days.

Two months passed, and I was still waiting. By this point, I had been booked on a work trip to the USA for three weeks – leaving in a week. Panic ensued once I realised I only had a week left in which to get the card or I would face serious problems on my return to Turkey. So off I went to my favourite of Istanbul’s municipal offices (with so many to choose from!) to enquire as to why my residence permit had still not arrived.

After waiting 45 minutes, someone took me into an interview room, and asked my name. I said it. As a look of perfect recognition crossed his face, extremely unexpected, I became quite concerned.

“Oh riiiiiight!!!! It’s you!” he exclaimed, and beckoned me into the photocopying room. There, he pulled out a drawer and handed me an envelope.

Printed on the envelope was my full name, address and a stamp. Inside it was my new, shiny, and very much untouched residency permit card.

“Congrats!” he beamed. Asking the obvious question was needless, I realised, but I just couldn’t help myself. “But I don’t get it… The envelope has my whole address on it… Why would you not have sent it to me?”

He pondered for a moment. “I don’t know, really. I guess we just didn’t.” Unsatisfied with this answer, I pressed further. “But what if I hadn’t come here to get it? Would it have just been in that random drawer forever?”

His answer? “Yeah, probably. Anyway, welcome to Turkey!”

Slightly bewildered, I left a proud resident of this utterly confusing nation.

Featured images courtesy of Talya Baker and Sveta Nekrasova.

Awkward Tales from the ‘Bul is a series of the funny, strange and utterly confusing experiences we experience in Istanbul. 

To contribute to this series, email your submission or query to: editor@yabangee.com.

Joey Leskin
Joey is a friendly wannabe hipster from London trying to make it in the big city as a lifestyle and travel writer. But now the big city isn't London, it's Istanbul, although much of the parameters are the same, other than the weather, lifestyle, food, people, culture and language. He is lucky to be able to grow a beard to help him fit in, although the real reason he has one is so he looks older than 14. Passions include playing music, beer and ice cream.


  1. Joey, please ask people before you take pictures of them. This is particularly important in Turkey. There are cultural, religious, and political reasons that Turks may not want their photos on a blog, or anywhere else. And if your Istanbul is like London (“much of the parameters are the same” – although I realize this might be tongue in cheek) you are hanging out in the wrong Istanbul.

    Also – please do not require anyone’s personal information, like an email address, to leave a comment. I can’t think of any reason to do this except email-farming to make money off your advertisers and others who sell email lists. It’s unfriendly. You won’t find the one below very useful.

    • As is stated in the article, I did not provide the images. But I believe our photographers do tend to ask.
      And as for my bio…if you continue reading after the sentence you quoted, it might shed light on whether it is tongue in cheek : )

  2. Well I had waited for a year and two days to get my passport back from the IND in Croydon so one week is not bad, if not outstanding hehe…


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