First Steps for Establishing Your Life in Turkey

You think it might be time to start a new chapter of your life, or maybe even a whole new book. You might be moving for a job, or you might be moving for a significant other. After all, a new start can be amazing, but it’s never a walk in the park. You will face challenges. Are you coming to Turkey for 6 months? A year? Three years? Might you, all being well, stay forever? Not sure how to start a new life in Turkey? Speak to a lawyer today who can walk you through the process. Simply click the contact page link to connect with one. Our guidence is covering the essential steps that expats must follow to move to Turkey.

starting a new life in Turkey

First Steps for Establishing Your Life in Turkey

The first steps in a foreign country are always a source of questioning.

“What documents are needed? Can I work on Turkish territory? Do I need to have Turkish health insurance? Can I rent or buy real estate?”

The questions are many, and we will try to answer them briefly. For more information, we invite you to regularly consult the legal articles that we put online and which explain more precisely each of the categories mentioned below.

In addition, the BIÇAK law firm has several lawyers, all competent in different sectors, so that ALL the procedures can be carried out by our firm.


Foreigners who wish to enter Turkish territory must have a national identity card or a passport. Many foreign nationals will need a visa to enter Turkey. The standard Turkish tourist/visit visa is valid on a multiple-entry basis for a period of up to 90 days in a 180-day period. Some cruise ship passengers, who arrive at sea ports to visit as tourists, may be exempt from needing a visa, assuming they have an eligible passport and are staying for less than 72 hours. Please note, if you wish to stay more than 90 days in Turkey, you must apply for an “ikamet”, residence permit.

Before you make any decisions about moving to Turkey, you are recommended to get a tourist visa and spend those 90 days travelling in the areas you think you might want to settle. You travel from Marmaris, Bodrum up the Aegean coast all the way to Izmir or even to Foça and beyond. Of course you can also go the other way to Fethiye, Antalya, Alanya or even beyond to the east. In 90 days you can get a pretty good idea of what area you may want to focus on for a first place to live. 

You can apply for your visa at your nearest embassy or consulate, or you can obtain an eVisa online. An eVisa costs around $35, plus a small service fee, which can be paid by credit or debit card. If you decide to apply for an eVisa, you must do so at least 48 hours, and up to three months, before you travel. It is always advisable to carry a printed copy of your eVisa, in case there are any technical errors.

An eVisa is only valid for the purpose of travel, tourism, and commerce. Be wary of using unauthorised websites, which could charge additional fees or issue fake eVisas. You can visit the official government website here.

If you are planning on remaining in Turkey for a period of more than 90 days, you can apply for a long-stay visa before you travel. Alternatively, once you are in Turkey, you can obtain a residence permit from the local authorities, so long as you do so before you have been there more than 90 days.

If you are entering Turkey by crossing a land border, be sure to check that your passport has a dated entry stamp, before you leave and continue your journey. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you enter Turkey, and that there is a full blank page available for the entry and exit stamps.

Living or working in Turkey

All foreigners wishing to live and / or work in Turkey are required to obtain residence and/or work permits. Work and residence permit application in Turkey is a complicated process due to the bureaucracy, language barrier and paperwork involved. We analyze expat’s “as is” visa situation and simplify the process with the related Authorities in obtaining residence / work permits.

Residence permit

Before applying for a residence permit, please clarify whether you are seeking;

  • An urban, town, small town, or village environment?
  • Stand alone home or apartment?
  • Furnishd or not?
  • Seaside or inland?
  • A place with lots of expats or mostly locals?
  • Willing to learn Turkish well enough that you can communicate with local Turkish folks?
  • Hope to buy a car? 

One should apply for a residence permit to extend the period of stay and reside legally in Turkey. While you can apply for a Turkish e-visa for reasons related to tourism or very short-term work, for any other reason and in order to stay legally on Turkish territory, you should apply for an “ikamet” within 30 days. following the date of arrival.

In addition to the “ikamet” which is the classic residence permit in Turkey, there are different types of residence permit:

  • Residence Permit for Tourist Purposes (Short Term Residence Permit)
  • Student residence permit.
  • Residence permit for work.
  • Long-term residence permit.
  • Humanitarian residence permit.
  • Family residence permit (family residence in Turkey).
  • Residence permit by owning a property in Turkey: “Visa for Property Title”.

Eligible foreigners intending to be in Turkey for more than a 90-day period can apply for a temporary residence permit; this must be done within 30 days of arrival. In order to be considered eligible for permanent residency status in Turkey, foreigners must have legally and continuously resided in Turkey for a minimum period of eight years. You may also be able to apply for permanent residency if you start a business or purchase a property in Turkey. There is no minimum investment required to do this, you just need to show sufficient evidence that you legally own a property or are running a business, and that you have sufficient financial means to live in the country.

The BIÇAK law firm can help you in your steps to obtain any necessary document and allow you to obtain a visa, ikamet, or any desired residence permit

Local Address Registration

Foreigners who reside in Turkey with permits are required to register their addresses on the Address Registration System following their entry. We assist expats in completing this registration.

Health insurance for foreigners in Turkey

If you wish to obtain a Turkish residence permit, the Turkish Government will require you to obtain health insurance which will cover your health in Turkey. When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.

There are 3 types of health care policies available;

  • SGK, the Turkish State health cover,
  • Private full health cover policies,
  • Private Health Cover purely for residence permit applications.

Health insurance is compulsory in Turkey for people aged 18- 65 who want to apply for a residence permit in Turkey. There are different options available for your health insurance, the paid government health insurance system, SGK, and private insurance.

The paid government health insurance system, SGK

There is a social security agreement between several countries and Turkey. This concerns salaried workers, of non-Turkish or Turkish nationality, exercising their activity in Turkey or home countries. If your country has reciprocal agreement you can show your countries health cover. (UK & USA amongst many others currently don’t) . List of Countries which have a Social Security Agreement with Turkey that includes reciprocal health insurance;

  • Austria,
  • Luxemburg,
  • Macedonia,
  • Netherlands,
  • North Cyprus,
  • Romania,
  • Belgium,
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina,
  • Croatia,
  • Czech Republic,
  • France,
  • Germany,
  • Luxemburg

The government health insurance is called SGK (Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu) which covers all your family and is paid monthly. In order to apply for SGK insurance you’ll need to make an application at your local SGK office. You’ll also need to meet the following requirement: to have held a Turkish residence permit for at least one full year [therefore, being in your 2’nd year or more of holding an RP]. if married to a Turkish Citizen,or your foreign spouse holds SGK,you can be added to their policy.

The Turkish general social protection system protects salaried workers in the private and public sectors as well as self-employed workers against the risks of illness, accidents at work, occupational diseases, invalidity, but also intervenes in the event of unemployment or pregnancy. The worker must be of Turkish nationality and reside in Turkey or be a permanent resident in Turkey.

SGK is not a healthcare service provider but financier of the health expenditures of the insured persons under the universal health insurance. Healthcare services are provided through contracts signed between the SGK and healthcare service providers. Except for emergency cases, the healthcare services given by non-contracted healthcare providers cannot be reimbursable by the SGK.

Private Health Care

The other option for health insurance is to go private, there’s a number of private health insurance companies in Turkey. Many of the larger European insurance companies also operate in Turkey. Such as Allianz, AXA Groupama & Aviva. For RP application purposes a policy that is not issued by a Turkish insurance company or if foreign, doesn’t have representation in Turkey will not be accepted.

It must be understood that the Private health Policies for residence permit applications give very basic cover.

The BIÇAK law firm can help you to obtain any document necessary for your request and allow you to be insured under the general Turkish social protection system.

Residents in Turkey who are registered with the social security system can obtain medical care free of charge in approved hospitals in the event of an emergency, accidents at work, occupational diseases, infectious diseases, births, or addiction prevention.

Attention, SSK does not take into account other cases, and in particular private hospitals. It should be checked whether SSK recognizes the contracted hospital as well as the desired care.

Opening  a bank account in Turkey

You should register for a Tax Number before you are allowed to open a bank account in Turkey. Many banks demand a residency permit from applicants before they are allowed to open an account in the Turkish Lira. However, some may make an exception, especially for customers with large investments. Even if you do not have a residency permit or fail to negotiate with the bank staff, do not give up because many banks will happily open up an account for you in other currencies including the US dollar, British Pound, or Euro. The only drawback with foreign currency accounts is that they offer little or no interest.

Generally, you will be required to fill in an application form and provide your tax number before you can open an account in Turkey. Consider opening a current account first because it allows you to deposit and transfer cash. Many banks in Turkey do online banking, which allows you to conveniently pay for utility bills. 

Turkish nationality

Turkey has been and continues to be a pole of attraction in Europe and Asia in terms of investment, tourism, health and science. The human character is undoubtedly the most positive and attractive aspect in the Turkish territory. Therefore, for the many people who wish to obtain Turkish citizenship, organizing and facilitating their movement to Turkey is of great importance.

Nationality can be acquired by various means: by filiation (birth, change of status, adoption), by place of birth, by marriage, by decision of the competent authority, i.e. say by naturalization, etc. We analyze status of the applicant and simplify the process with the related Authorities in acquisition of Turkish citizenship.

If the resident in Turkey has been living there for eight consecutive years on a regular basis, he has the right to apply for permanent residence in this country.

The acquisition of nationality can also be done by way of investment. Turkish nationality can be acquired by acquiring real estate with a value greater than or equal to 250,000 US dollars or other investment with a value greater than or equal to 500,000 US dollars.

For any additional information on obtaining Turkish nationality by way of investment, you can consult our article published online by simply clicking the link.

The BIÇAK law firm can help you in your steps to obtain any document and allow you to obtain Turkish nationality.

Renting Property

There are several ways to rent accommodation in Turkey: through an estate agent (an Emlak), directly from an owner or via a specialised agency. Rental fees vary depending on the size of the property and its location. 

Expect to pay one month’s rent in advance and one to two months’ rent as a deposit. Any taxes or property repairs are normally paid for by the landlord. Standard rental agreements are for one year. The tenant may terminate the lease by giving notice 15 days before the end of the lease term. 

Buying Property

The Turkish government has removed many of the hurdles that once made buying property in Turkey more difficult for foreign nationals. Therefore, if you are looking to purchase a home in Turkey, you can now do so just as easily as a Turkish citizen could. Military clearance, for example, while still required in some areas, is no longer needed in many parts of Turkey, including in Mugla, where foreign property ownership is high. 

It is strongly recommended that buyers obtain the services of an independent lawyer, before they commit themselves to purchasing property, or to paying a deposit. The lawyer should have no connection with either the seller or an agent of the seller. 

After signing a contract, the process should take around four weeks to complete. Your appointed lawyer will make all the necessary checks on the property, including title check and municipality check, to guarantee that the property is freehold registered in your name. Your solicitor / lawyer is responsible for overseeing the applications for the Tapu (title deed) and the Iskan (habitation licence), as well as for dealing with contracts. The Iskan is a technical passport for your real estate, which holds information about your property, such as the number of floors it has and its indoor infrastructure. The Tapu is an official document that shows property ownership.

The Tapu will include your photo, as well as an official stamp and signature. It is vital that the Tapu is checked for authenticity, by making sure that the name on it matches the seller’s. Your solicitor / lawyer will check all of this for you, and will make sure that the Tapu does not come with any debts, and that it matches the property in question.

In order to acquire the title of a property, an application must be submitted to the Land Registry Office local to where the property is situated. After carrying out necessary searches and checks for the above-mentioned requirements, the transfer of the title is done by the Land Registry Office. In Turkey, it is not necessary or compulsory for both sides (the seller and the buyer) to be present at the entry in the property register during the transaction. Our lawyers are able to transfer Tapu on behalf of you with the Power of Attоrnеу issued by the client

Once you have the keys to your new home, you will need to pay one off connection fees for utilities, such as electric, gas, water and internet. You will also be required to purchase earthquake insurance.

Competent lawyers in Real Estate Law

The BIÇAK law firm is competent in Real Estate Law, regularly helping people of foreign nationalities to look for accommodation, rent or buy one, establish an expertise, etc.

In case you want to rent or buy real estate, the BIÇAK law firm helps you to obtain a bank account as well as all the authorizations and documents necessary to acquire this accommodation.

Several lawyers of our firm are specialized and qualified in real estate law and can therefore carry out the work of a real estate agent in order to allow you to find accommodation, while ensuring legal certainty and the constitution of your file by meeting expertise, opening a bank account, gathering your documents, etc.

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