After the hassle of relocating to Istanbul, my husband and I needed to apply for Turkish residence permits as soon as possible. The residence permit would allow us to stay in the country for more than 90 days. Most importantly having a Turkish residence permit makes life in Turkey easier.
Important update (2022): Turkey (now Turkiye) has announced that they are not issuing resident permits anymore for people coming with tourist visas. Unless you have bought a house or studying in Turkey, you are not will be granted a residence permit anymore.
The Application Procedure
Applying for a residence permit was our first step while waiting for our companies to issue work permits for us. In my case, my employer advised that I apply for it (a residence permit) first. Thereafter, it would be easier for the company to issue my work permit. I was a bit worried since I know a few cases where people had their applications rejected for no reason.
My husband applied first. He went to a private application office where he paid a 50 TL service fee and they do the application for you on the government website. You can also buy medical insurance from them for one year. The cost depends on your age, it is roughly between 150 and 200 TL. Then you take one photo to use on your application and that’s all. After a few days, you receive the appointment notification message sent to your mobile phone number or email address.
For your appointment, you will need a copy of your passport, entry-stamp page, visa page, or electronic visa if applicable, 4 photos (A special size for residence application) just go to a photography shop and ask them for residence permit application photos. It will cost you around 20 TL. You will also need a notarized proof of residence documents such as a rental contract or a notarized letter from the house owner allowing you to live in his house. In our case, we had a notarized house contract.
You also need your application form filled and signed (my husband had his done at the office, I preferred to do it myself on the government website) and a Tax number that you get from the tax office. Be prepared to pay the residence permit fee also at the Tax office when you go to request the Tax number. The residence fee depends on your nationality. My husband, who is a South African citizen, paid a total of 558 for the residence permit. Moroccans pay just 148.96 TL. You can use e-ikamet.com to get an idea of how much you will pay.
On the day of the appointment, you want to make sure you go an hour early. Most of the immigration offices are not that organized to consider the exact time of your appointment, the earlier you go the quicker you get done. You will get a ticket with a machine-generated number (the security guard will help you to get one). However, he will refuse to assist you if you don’t have the all-important pink folder for your application documents. Make sure to buy the required Pink folder before going to the appointment venue. You usually find it at small Kiosks or copy shops nearby.
Once your number appears on the screen in the waiting room, you will go to the designated desk that corresponds with your number to submit your application documents. They will check them and if any of your documents are incorrect or missing, they will give you another appointment to return with these documents. İf it’s something you can get done the same day let them know. Some of the immigration officers speak English and most of them are helpful. If all your documents are fine, they will give you a piece of paper that states that your application has been received and that the approval process may take up to 90 days. It usually takes less than that.
You will receive an SMS once your card is delivered to your home address. In case you don’t receive any response about your residence permit application within the 90-day period, get in touch with the immigration office because sometimes they don’t inform applicants when the application is rejected.
Work Permits in Turkey
Having a residence permit in Turkey doesn’t allow you to work in the country. You will need a work permit that is provided by your employer. That’s why it is important to check with your employer if they will provide you with a Turkish work permit or not.
My husband got a job as an instructor at a private university. The university requested the following documents in order to apply for his work permit:
- Copy of passport and entry stamp
- Copy of residence permit application form, including tax number
- Translated and notarized copies of degree certificates
- 6 passport photos
- Copy of e-visa page
- Copy of CV
Once the documents were submitted, he had to wait for a while with no response from the university. The waiting is the hardest part when making a transition into a new country or work environment. Finally, after 2 months of watching Netflix at home, he received an email of approval from the university. In his case, his work permit needed to be approved by the Turkish Council of Higher Education. This process took a while.
How much a resident permit costs?
Once his application was approved, he had to pay the work permit fee, 850 TL, which he paid to The Turkish Council of Higher Education. Two weeks later he received his Turkish work permit card which is valid until the end of the current academic year. The Work Permit card contained his Turkish Foreigner’s ID number, which begins with 99… He was also informed that if he has a work permit it is not necessary to apply for a residence permit also since the work permit is sufficient to live and work in Turkey for the duration of the work permit. It would have been awesome if we knew this before he applied for his residence permit and paid the fees.
In my husband’s situation, his employer didn’t request his residence permit approval to apply for his work permit. This is the opposite of my situation, where I had to apply and get the residence permit approved first; then my employer got the work permit for me. In Turkey, many companies require you to have a residence permit first before applying for a work permit.
Practical things to do
- Check the Expat Guide website for more information about the different types of residence permits and fees
- Submit your residence permit application as soon as possible
- Do the application by yourself, you don’t need to pay anybody to get it done
- The medical insurance should cover the duration of the residence permit (1 year)
- Get the right size pictures for the application
- In the case of applying for a work permit, check with your employer if you need to apply for a residence permit first
So this has been our experience with the Turkish residence and works permits so far. If anyone out there is planning to move to Turkey soon drop us a message we would like to help : )