Turkish Residence Permit: The Definitive Guide

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Friday, February 13th, 2015 In Turkey By Ulrika
Turkish residence permit issuing office

Everything you need to know about your Turkish residence permit renewal

So you’re a foreigner living in Istanbul and it’s time for you to renew your residence permit. You’ve heard all the horror stories about getting a Turkish residence permit, but don’t want to live them for yourself, so here’s the definitive guide that will help you through many of the hiccups and roadblocks that you could potentially go through while on the path to extending your stay here, in this land of infinite intrigue. In this post, I’ll cover some of my personal experiences in getting my permit renewed and, hopefully, it’ll help you too.

Firstly, let me make it clear that I am a U.S. citizen living in Istanbul. If you are living in another city in Turkey, the required documents should be the same but the procedure for making your appointment will be different. I will make updates to this post as I hear stories from other friends (British, Swedish, Dutch).

Necessary documents / Background info

These are the documents that got me to the finish line:
  1. Application document
  2. 4 passport photos
  3. Photocopies of my passport ID page and last entry into Turkey
  4. Proof of US$500/month, or US$6,000 per annum
  5. Notarized rental contract that spans the duration of my application
  6. Proof that I’m up-to-date on my SGK payments (Provizyon belgesi)
Things that I didn’t need:
  1. Registration from the Interior Ministry’s Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality (Nüfüs ve Vatandaşlık İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü)
  2. Private insurance policy
By the way, there’s a super-useful page to search your Turkish national ID number.

However! Along the way, there were some things that needed to be in order, that could potentially cause you problems:
  1. Make sure your Turkish residence permit appointment is at the local police office of where your rental contract is!
    • I first made my appointment in Sisli because that’s where I used to live and I was registered there. I then moved to the Asian side to a suburb and made a rental contract out there. The officer in Sisli sent me way out to the suburbs because “that’s where I live”. When I kindly explained that I am officially registered in Sisli at every possible office, he didn’t seem to care. He simply said, “Your rental contract says xxx, so there’s nothing I can do.”
    • So, off I went. He wrote me a little piece of paper directing me to the foreigner’s office out there and kindly told me to get myself over there. So I did.
  2. When I went to get my rental contract notarized, I needed to pay a “stamp tax” (damga vergisi)
    • For this, I had to go to a tax office (Vergi Dairesi) and pay a stamp tax
    • Then, go back to the notary office and pay for that
    • Find your nearest tax office. Page in Turkish (loadtime is sloooow)
  3. On my rental contract, all the dates had to agree with the mood of the officer.
    • I recommend making all the dates match up. For example, the date that the agreement starts and the date of signing. He didn’t seem to like that they were more than a few days off. He accepted it in the end.

Step-by-step Turkish residence permit for foreigners – How I did it

Make your appointment

Step 1 is of course to lock in your appointment date with the Yabancılar Şube Müdürlüğü. According to the current rules, so long as you lock in your date within 15 days past the expiration date of your residence permit, you are golden. Most people find it incredibly hard to make the appointment because all the slots keep getting taken. My recommendation is to start pinging the site about a month in advance and check it everyday till you get it.
  • First-time applicants in Istanbul have to make their appointment in Aksaray at the Central Police Station.
  • For renewals in Istanbul, make your appointment at the local police station in your municipality (belediye).

Proof of money

The goal here is to prove that you have the equivalent of US$6,000 for the year. Important! The funds must be in a Turkish account*! I went to my Garanti bank and asked them to make a printout of my accounts. I have TL, USD and EUR accounts and they were able to print each one on a separate sheet. I requested that each of them be signed and stamped. In addition, I asked the clerk for the “imza sirküsü”**, which I heard might be needed. It was a little annoying that my US account of $10k was mute…apparently, that’s not money? In this age of global finance, money flows like water, but it also makes sense that they want to be sure that you have access to the money in-country.

One method that is often talked about is the exchange office “trick”. Use at your own risk! The trick involves going to an exchange office with your passport and asking them to print out a receipt that you exchanged money. You have to make sure that your passport number is printed on the receipt. Of course, they’ll ask for some money for the favor. I’ve heard of ranges between 40-100 TL. I recommend avoiding this trick because it obviously involves dishonesty, and it has been shown that these fake receipts are used to launder black market money. On top of that, there are tons of reports that exchange receipts are no longer accepted, although it seems to be up to the mood of the officer you’re dealing with.

* Get answers about opening a bank account in Turkey as a foreigner.
** An “imza sirküsü” is a document that shows that the person’s signature is approved by the business. It’s a strange bit of bureaucracy for most, but every company in Turkey has to have one to show who has signatory powers and what their signature looks like.

4 Passport photos

These must be biometric photos according to the international standard for passport photos. I have always gone in and said that I want passport photos and haven’t ever had a problem.

Tip: Don’t just get four. Get like 12 so you have extras for the future.

Photocopies of passport and last entry to Turkey

Just do it.

Notarized rental contract

I was directed to a Tax Office (Vergi Dairesi), where I first paid the “stamp tax” (damga vergisi). This is apparently calculated based on the entire amount of the contract, but I still have no idea. I paid 273 TL and went my merry way. After showing the receipt from the tax office, the notary was more than happy to process my job.

Make sure that your rental contract covers the entire time of your application. Otherwise, I’ve heard there can be problems, such as Ankara issuing your permit only for the duration of your contract.

SGK provizyon belgesi

This was by far the least fun of everything. Despite being sent around town and having to go here and there to pay random, annoying stamp taxes, having to wait in line and deal with the government workers at the SGK office was not only time consuming, but frustrating. In any case. Anakara wants to know that you are properly registered and caught up on your SGK payments, so this is important! I went to the office in Sisli, asked the older gentleman manning the desk in the middle of the room to direct me to the right desk. He gave me a number and pointed me on my way. After about an hour of waiting, my turn came up, the public servant spent a lot of time clicking around and finally printed me out my doc. Debt = 0 TL, yay!

Show up for your appointment

As I mentioned, get your appointment based on the address of your rental contract. Şişli was the wrong place for my Turkish residence permit appointment, so I had to move my cold butt across town in the middle of February. Bring all your documents with you and keep popping your face into the room till someone takes notice of you and calls you over. DO NOT just sit quietly thinking, “My turn will come.” It will not.

Incomplete documentation?

Don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world! If for any reason, the officer doesn’t accept any of your documentation, or says you have insufficient documentation, he/she will accept whatever they can and inform you to go and collect the missing documents. You’ll be given 30 days to get it fixed and submit whatever was missing. This happens to most people, so don’t sweat! Just muster up your energy and keep on truckin’.

I asked my officer whether or not he ever saw a situation where he submitted documents to Ankara and the application was rejected. He responded with a swift, “No,” so that was very reassuring. For now, I’m trusting his judgement and am in waiting…

Wait 1 month

The officer that processed my documents told me that after all the documents are sent to Ankara, it takes about 1 month for the card to be sent to my home address. So, now, I’m just waiting… Stay tuned for updates!

Hopefully I’ll be looking at something like this soon!

Turkish residence permit

How much does a Turkish residence permit cost?

What did I pay? Here’s the breakdown of Turkish residence permit fees:
  1. 273 TL – “stamp fee” that I had to pay before notarizing my rental contract
  2. 83 TL – notarization of rental contract
  3. 55 TL + 85 USD – fee for renewal
  4. Time = about 3 days
All in all time consuming and more money than I thought, but not that bad. The whole process probably took me 3 business days, including pre-prep.

Best of luck to you too!

Turkish residence permit 2015, check! What next?

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