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Turkey Long-Term Residence Permit: A Step-by-Step Guide


Ken Grubb

What Is a Long-term Residence Permit?

The long-term residence permit is a biometric identity card that enables you to live in Turkey permanently (for life). You never need to extend it. It gives you the same rights and privileges as a Turkish citizen, except for things like voting and running for public office. You won't have to serve in the Turkish military, and you don't have to know Turkish. The long-term residence permit doesn't give you the right to work, but it does qualify you for an unlimited work permit. To be eligible to apply for a long-term residence permit, you must live in Turkey continuously with a work or residence permit for at least eight years.

The Unlimited Work Permit

Once you have a long-term residence permit, you can also apply for an unlimited work permit. The unlimited work permit is also for life and doesn’t need to be extended. It enables you to work in any job, for any employer, without the usual restrictions for foreign workers. It also allows you to open your own business and work in it.

Learn more about the unlimited work permit.

Eligibility

You can apply for a long-term residence permit if you:

  • Have enough income to live in Turkey permanently, from a source such as a pension, investment portfolio, or rental property, or otherwise convince the immigration specialist that you can live in Turkey permanently without working illegally
  • Have valid health insurance that meets the minimum requirements
  • Aren't considered to be a threat to public order or security
  • Have lived in Turkey continuously for eight years without interruption (time accrued on a student residence permit doesn't count)

A disqualifying interruption of continuous residence is:

  • Being outside of Turkey for more than a total of 365 days during the previous five years before the date of your application
  • Being outside of Turkey for more than 180 days in any one year from the sixth to the eighth year before the date of your application

An exception is made if you were outside of Turkey for education, health reasons, or compulsory national service.

Residence Permit Law

The law concerning residence permits is Law No. 6458, Law on Foreigners and International Protection.

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An Overview of the Long-term Residence Permit Application Process

The residence permit application process always begins on the e-ikamet (e-residence) website at https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr/.

You'll need to get a few documents together before you apply online, because the online application system will require some information from them. I'll cover these documents later in this guide.

The online application system consists of several sequential pages on which you'll enter your personal information. When you've finished, you'll select an appointment date and time for an interview at the local immigration office. Then you'll download, print, and sign your İkamet İzni Kayıt Formu (Residence Permit Registration Form). This, and your passport, will keep you legal in Turkey until your appointment date, even after your visa or current residence permit expires.

If you don't have all of your required documents after you've applied online, you can get them before your appointment date. Then at your appointment, you'll present your application package and undergo a brief interview.

If your interview is successful, and your application is accepted, your residence permit card will be printed and sent to your address by registered mail.

Istanbul Residents

If you're applying in Istanbul, you may not get the option to set up an appointment using the online system. Instead, the Istanbul immigration office will send you an SMS message telling you your appointment date and time. It may also tell you that they want you to bring additional documentation to your appointment.

Learn more about residence permit applications in Istanbul.

When to Apply for a Long-term Residence Permit

You can apply for a long-term residence permit any time after you've been living in Turkey for at least eight years, as long as you meet the other eligibility requirements. You don't have to wait until your current residence permit is about to expire.

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Required Documents at a Glance

I'll cover each required document and explain how to get it as we go through the steps of the process. For now, here's a quick list so you can see them all at once:

  • İkamet İzni Kayıt Formu (Residence Permit Registration Form) which you download and print at the end of your online application
  • Current residence permit card
  • Passport(s)
    • Current passport must have at least six months of validity remaining
    • If you have had a new passport during the past eight years, have both the old one and the new one available
  • Copy of your passport(s) (regular, non-notarized)
    • Include the identification and photo pages (see note below)
  • Four (4) biometric photos
  • "No Social Support Received" letter showing that you haven't received government support for the past three years
  • Proof of income and ability to support yourself
  • Proof you're registered at your address in the address registration system
  • Criminal record
  • Health insurance (not required if over 65 years of age)

You can also view required documents on the e-İkamet website at https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr/Ikamet/IstenenBelgeler

Insider Tip: You're no longer required to provide proof of residence for the previous eight years. The immigration specialist will check this with their computer during your appointment.

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Having Foreign Documents Legalized and Translated

If your application doesn't include any documents from a foreign country, you can skip this and go to Step 1: Prepare for Your Online Application.

Any document issued by a foreign government, such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate, or criminal record check, must be "legalized" before it can be accepted as a legal document in Turkey. Legalization is done with an attached document or stamp, called an "apostille." Then both the document and the apostille must be translated into Turkish by a sworn translator.

What is an Apostille?

An apostille is a special certificate issued by a country's secretary of state or another government office approved to do so by the international Apostille Convention. The apostille is attached to or stamped on the document in to certifies its authenticity.

Where Can I Get an Apostille?

Every country in the Apostille Convention has an office responsible for issuing apostilles. You just need to find out which government office issues them. Here's a list of all participating countries (and states in the USA):

https://www.hcch.net/en/states/hcch-members

The list also has links to each country's government office that issues apostilles. And it includes links to their websites so you can learn where to send your document and how to pay the fee.

Once the government office receives your document, they attach the apostille and send it back to you. Once you receive them, the next step is to have them translated.

If Your Country Isn't on the List

If your country isn't a member of the convention, don't worry. In this case, the document will be legalized with a similar document you'll get from your home country. If you can't find out which office of your government issues them, contact your foreign affairs office or local embassy or consulate.

Documents Which Don't Need an Apostille

A passport is already an internationally accepted document, so it doesn't require an apostille.

Also, documents that aren't issued by your government and which aren't part of your country's public records don't require an apostille. These would include diplomas and financial information from a school, bank, or private company.

Having Foreign Documents Translated

After you receive the document and apostille, you must have them translated into Turkish by a sworn translator. Then the translator will swear before a noter (notary) that the translation is true and accurate. You'll then get a notarized copy of your document and the apostille, and a sworn translation of them.

At this point, your foreign document will be as legal in Turkey as it is in your country, and you can submit it with your residence permit application.

Make a Note of the Notary's Document Registration Number

When you get the notarized translation, find the notary's stamp on the back. Photograph, scan or write down the number in the stamp. If you ever need the document again, you can go back to the same notary and use that number to get another copy from their records. That way, you won't have to go through the whole process again, and you'll save money.

Learn more about the apostille and sworn translation, and how to get them.

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Step 1: Prepare for Your Online Application

Start the process of getting any foreign documents and apostilles first. It will take more time to get them than it will take to get local documents. You won't need any foreign documents to start the online application, but you'll need them when you go to your appointment.

Collect the following local documents first, because the online system will ask you for information about them.

Passport

For the online application, you'll need the passport number, issue date, and expiration date.

Your passport's expiration date must be at least 60 days beyond the last day of the duration of the residence permit.

Later, you'll take your original passport to your appointment, with one regular (non-notarized) copy for the immigration specialist to keep. The copy must include the photo and identification pages, and the pages showing the stamps for your entries into and exits from Turkey.

If you've had more than one passport during the previous eight years, do the same for the old passport.

Photos

You'll need four (4) biometric photos. The photos must be

  • 5 cm in width, 4.5 cm in height
  • Taken within the last six months
  • Full frontal view
  • White background
  • In color
  • Professional quality (no selfies)

Health Insurance

You must be covered by health insurance until you reach 65 years of age. After that, it's optional. For the coverage, you can use the Turkish national health insurance plan or private insurance (see below).

If you're over 65: When you enter your health insurance information, the system will ask you if you're over 65 years of age. If you are, the system will skip the part which asks for health insurance policy information.

SGK Health Insurance

Turkey's national health insurance, Genel Sağlık Sigorta (General Health Insurance), is provided by the Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu (SGK, or Social Security Administration). It covers most procedures done in state hospitals. It also covers much of the cost in more expensive private hospitals, with the rest paid by the patient.

Learn more about SGK Health Insurance.

Bilateral Health Care Coverage Agreements

Some countries have a bilateral agreement with Turkey, which allows their citizens to be covered by the SGK insurance plan while living in Turkey (and vice versa). If you're a citizen of one of these countries, contact your government's health insurance representative to get the required form. Then take that form to an SGK office, and get a sicil numarası (registration number). You'll use this number while applying online.

Learn more about health insurance under bilateral agreements.

Private Health Insurance from a Turkish Company

You can use a private health insurance policy to apply for a long-term residence permit. This includes the low-cost "expat policies" which meet the Turkish government's minimum requirements (and also provide for limited coverage). You just need to keep renewing the policy to keep your coverage current. 

You can also buy a more comprehensive private health insurance policy at a higher price, according to your needs. But it must meet Turkey's minimum coverage requirements.

Buying Private Health Insurance Online: You can buy your health insurance online and have the policy sent to you by e-mail and/or mail or courier.

I won't go into this in-depth, because if you've been living in Turkey for more than eight years, you're already familiar with the health insurance requirement.

Learn more about private health insurance in Turkey.

Learn about buying your Turkish health insurance online.

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Step 2: Apply Online

An application for a long-term residence permit is a "transfer" application from whatever residence permit you have now. If you have a work permit, it will be a first-time application.

The only official website for applying for a residence permit is at https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr/. It has an English option. You can also view it using the Chrome browser with the Google Translate application.

When you enter the website, go near the bottom of the page and click the option for a transfer if you have a residence permit, and a first-time application if you have a work permit.

On the next page, click on the button to create a new application. Enter your passport and contact information. The system will send you a verification e-mail with a link to click on. When you click on it, you'll be returned to the application system and given an application number. Keep that number, as you'll need it if you stop and continue your application later.

If you've gathered all the documents above before applying, the online application should take less than one hour. Unfortunately, some people have problems using it.

Learn more about how to use the online residence permit application system.

Your Appointment Date and Time

At the end of the online application process, you'll make an appointment at the local immigration office. Depending on what province you're in, you may be given a choice of dates and times or be given one date and time with no other choice.

If You're in Istanbul

If you're in Istanbul, you may get this message: 

Randevu Tarihi GİGM Tarafından Belirlenecektir (the appointment date will be determined by the immigration office).

This means the immigration office will contact you by SMS or e-mail, depending on your contact preferences, and give you an appointment date and time. So keep an eye on your mobile phone or e-mails for this, and be patient. It can take a month or so to get an appointment in Istanbul.

Learn more about applying for a residence permit in Istanbul.

Downloading Your Application Form

You'll also be given a link to download your completed application. So download it, sign it, and keep the original on the top of your long-term residence permit application package. You should also print a separate copy of the first page of the application document and keep it with you, along with your passport. This will ensure that you're still legal in Turkey even if your current residence permit expires.  

The first page of your downloaded application will have the date and time of your appointment (if you were able to make one) and the address of the immigration office where you need to go. It will also have the residence permit fees you'll need to pay (see "Paying the Fees" below).

Important!

Your online application isn't complete until you've reached the point where you can download your completed application form. Your full application isn't complete until you've given all of the required documents to the immigration office.

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Step 3: Create Your Application Package

Now that you've completed your online application, you can get the rest of the documents you need.

Proof of Residence

According to the e-ikamet website, you only need to submit proof that your address is registered in the central address registry. You can download an e-signed document proving this on e-Devlet, Turkey's government website. You may also be asked to provide your

  • Copy of your tapu (property title deed), or a
  • Notarized copy of your rental contract.

Learn how to join and use e-Devlet.

Learn how to get a notarized copy of a document.

If Your Title Deed is More than Two Years Old

You'll need a tapu kağıt örneği (title deed registry document) to prove that the title is still valid. You can get this from the Tapu ve Kadastro Genel Müdürlüğü (Title Deed and Land Registry Directorate).

If You're a Spouse Not Listed on the Title Deed

A spouse not listed on the title deed will need a marriage certificate proving marriage to the property owner. If the marriage certificate is from another country, it must be legalized and translated.

Learn how to get a copy of a Turkish marriage certificate.

Learn how to get a copy of a foreign marriage certificate.

Proof of Income and Financial Ability

This requirement can be met with a regular copy of your bank account record going back six months, a letter from your bank showing your last six months' deposits and withdrawals, documents from your pension fund or investment company, or documents proving rental income from investment property.

Learn more about how to prove you have enough money to live in Turkey.

Criminal Record

As you've been living in Turkey for at least eight years, the immigration specialist doing your interview might only ask for your criminal record from Turkey. However, they may also ask for one from your home country. The criminal record must have a date within six months before the day you submit your application.

Getting Your Criminal Record From Turkey

The easiest way to get your Turkish criminal record is by downloading it from e-Devlet, Turkey's government portal. Here's a link to the e-Devlet guide where you'll find link to download your criminal history.

The criminal history you download from there will be digitally signed and requires no further authentication.

Learn how to get a criminal record check document in Turkey.

Getting Your Criminal Record from Your Home Country

Do this as soon as you can because it can take a while to get it, then have it legalized and translated.

Each country (and state in the USA) has its procedures for obtaining a criminal record. You can usually learn them from your embassy or consulate's website, or search Google for the name of your home locality and the keywords "criminal record." Be sure only to go to sites that have ".gov" in the suffix. Otherwise, it will be a company which is mimicking the government website, and which obtains the records for an additional fee.

Learn how to get a criminal record check from your home country.

Proof of Uninterrupted Residence

You don't need to provide proof of this anymore. At your interview, the immigration specialist will do a gün sayısı (day count) using their computer to verify that you've lived in Turkey for the previous eight years.

Letter Showing You Haven't Received Social Assistance

Go to the Kaymakam, or district governor's building, and visit the Sosyal Yardım Ofisi (Social Assistance Office). You'll get a stamped and signed letter, which states that you haven't received any social assistance for the past three years.

Learn more about how to get a "no social assistance" letter.

Applications in Istanbul

For applications in Istanbul, The immigration office may send you an e-mail or SMS requesting additional documents. If you receive a request for a document and aren't sure what it is or how to get it, see Documents, Forms & Numbers.

Long-term Residence Permit Fee

The long-term residence permit is free. There is a değerli kağıt bedeli or kart bedeli (card printing fee), which for 2021 is ₺125.

If you pay the fee online during your application, you won't need to submit a receipt with your application package.

You can also pay the fee at any vergi dairesi (tax office), or at HalkBank, Vakıfbank or ZiraatBank. Wherever you pay, have your Residence Permit Registration Form and your current residence permit with you.

If you pay at a bank, you'll need this payment code:

9207: Kart Bedeli (Card Fee)

Add the receipt for payment to your application package.

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Step 4: Go to Your Appointment

Appointments for long-term residence permits are held at the provincial immigration offices in the capital cities of each province.

Finding the Immigration Office

Your appointment date, time, and location will be printed at the bottom of the first page of your residence permit application. You can also find the immigration offices by searching for the Göç İdaresi Genel Müdürlüğü and your province in Google Maps. Make sure the address in Google Maps is the same as the one on your residence permit application form, because sometimes the offices move.

Your Appointment

If you're getting a long-term residence permit, then you've already been through enough appointments to know how things go. The only difference with this one is that at the end of your appointment, the immigration specialist will give you a Residence Permit Application Document with no expiration date (or with a generous expiration date). That's because it can take up to six months to get the long-term residence permit card. This document will keep you legally in Turkey until your card arrives, even if your current residence permit expires.

Missing Documents

If you're missing any documents, the immigration specialist will ask you to get them and bring them back. They can give you up to 30 days (sometimes more). If it's a local document, you should be able to get it on the same day or the next day.

Missing Documents

If you're missing any documents, the immigration specialist will ask you to get them and bring them back. They can give you up to 30 days (sometimes more). If it's a local document, you should be able to get it on the same day or the next day.

Important! Be sure to get any missing documents back to the immigration specialist during the time allowed, or inform them of whatever difficulties you're having so you can get more time. If you fail to bring the missing documents within the allowed time, your application will be rejected, not canceled. If your application is rejected, you won't be allowed to re-apply for the same type of residence permit for another 180 days.

Leaving Turkey Before Your Card Arrives

If your current residence permit expires and you must leave Turkey, you can do so for up to 15 days, then return without a visa, provided you have your current (even expired) residence permit card, the Residence Permit Application Document, and the payment receipt for the card fee.

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Step 5: Receive Your Long-term Residence Permit

Either you or someone with power of attorney to receive your residence permit must be present at your address when the residence permit card is delivered. You must show your passport or other identification and sign for it. If you aren't home, the PTT will keep your card at the local branch for seven days. After that, your card will be returned to the local immigration office where you can go, without an appointment, and pick it up.

Checking the Status of Your Application

After your appointment, you can use the e-ikamet website to see if your application review is still in progress, if it has been approved, or if there is a problem that may result in a rejection.

SMS Messages You Might Receive

2019-123-4567- nolu ikamet izni talebiniz olumlu degerlendirilmistir. Your residence permit request 2019-123-4567 numbered has been evaluated positively. B001

What it Means: Your long-term residence permit is approved. Your card will be printed and sent to the PTT for delivery to your address. It can take up to 30 days for your residence permit card to be printed and sent to the PTT.

It might take around 30 days, but you'll later receive this message:

Adınıza, 2345678 barkod nolu gönderi kabul edilmiştir. www.ptt.gov.tr adresinden gönderinin durumunu takip edebilirsiniz. B001

What it means: The PTT has received your residence permit card from the immigration office, and it's in their delivery system. Delivery usually takes two or three days. The first number in the message is the package's barcode.

Kayıt durumunuz:  It has been concluded. It is required to apply to Provincial Directorate of Migration Management.

What it might mean:

  • Your long-term residence permit application has been rejected, or
  • There's a problem with your application package. You need to clarify something or provide more documentation.

If you see that message, you must go to the local immigration office, as soon as possible, to find out what the problem is. You can walk in without an appointment.

Once you've received the message that your residence permit card has been given to the PTT, you can check on its delivery  using the barcode here:

https://www.turkiye.gov.tr/ptt-gonderi-takip

Learn more about how to check the status of your residence permit and receiving your residence permit card in the mail.

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Long-term Residence Permit Application Video

Here's the the immigration office's video guide to the long-term residence permit application process. It's the first in a series of videos, so the next video will automatically start playing when the first one ends.

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Mertsel Residence Permit Application Services and Insurance

Mertsel Insurance provides residence permit application services and health insurance policies (among other services) for the Turkey Central community. Mertsel charges only according to what you need. You won't find a better price for the services they offer.

Within 24 hours after you send them all of the required information, Mertsel will:

  • Get you a tax number
  • Create your health insurance policy
  • Apply for and get your Residence Permit Registration Form
  • Set up your appointment at the immigration office and
  • Send you the documents for your application package.

You can get a free price quote from Mertsel according to your needs. Contact them by clicking below:

Ken Grubb, author.

As a special investigator for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and teacher for the University of Maryland, Ken Grubb has lived and worked in Turkey since 1997. He now lives in Antalya, where he researches and writes guides to help others live skillfully in Turkey.


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