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Turkey Student Residence Permit: A Step-by-Step Guide


Ken Grubb

This guide is about the student residence permit, which you can apply for after entering Turkey with a student visa. To learn about the student visa, see Student Visas: Eligibility, the Application Process, and What to do When You Arrive in Turkey.

What is a Student Residence Permit?

A student residence permit is a biometric identity card which enables you to enroll in an accredited school or university and take courses until you graduate. You can get a student residence permit after you've formally enrolled in a school which offers a curriculum leading to graduation and a certificate or diploma.

If you're in another country and a school in Turkey has accepted you as a student, you must first apply for a student visa at a Turkish embassy or consulate in your home country (or the country where you're living), then travel to Turkey and enroll at your school before you apply for your student residence permit.

Student residence permits are issued by the Göç İdaresi Genel Müdürlüğü (Directorate General of Migration Management). You'll also hear this organization called the Göç İdaresi, the Göç, or the immigration office.

You'll need a student residence permit to attend

  • Primary and secondary education
  • Two-year associate programs
  • Four-year baccalaureate (bachelor's) degree programs
  • Postgraduate master's degree programs.

When a Student Residence Permit is Not Required

You don't need a student residence permit for courses you sign up for one-by-one, and which aren't part of a formal curriculum leading to graduation and a diploma.

For example, if you just want to take Turkish courses without formally enrolling in a bachelor's degree program at a university, you can enter Turkey with an e-visa and get a one-year short-term residence permit. You would use "learning Turkish" as your reason for getting the short-term residence permit.

If You're Already in Turkey and Have a Residence Permit

If you already have a residence permit, you can transfer from whatever type of residence permit you have to a student residence permit. It will depend on the school you're going to. If the school says you can take courses with a short-term residence permit, then you won't have to transfer to a student residence permit.

No Working Rights

The student residence permit doesn't give you the right to work. If you want to work, you'll need a separate work permit. There are rules concerning how many hours you can work as a student, so if you're going to work, contact your foreign student affairs office.

Duration

The student residence permit is valid for a maximum of one year or until your official graduation date, whichever is sooner. Your official graduation date is the one in your school records, not necessarily the date you want to graduate.

On the day after your official graduation date, your student residence permit will expire. You'll have ten days to leave Turkey or apply for a short-term residence permit.

If you're unable to graduate on time for whatever reason, you can extend your student residence permit one last time until your new graduation date, as long as the final extension doesn't exceed one year.

When to Apply

You must apply for your student residence permit after you formally register at your school, and within 30 days of arrival with your student visa.

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 Application Process

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

The online application system consists of several pages on which you enter your personal information. At the end of the process, you'll select an appointment date and time for an interview at the local immigration office. Then you download, print, and sign your İkamet İzni Kayıt Formu (Residence Permit Application Form).

If you need any other documents, you can collect them during the time between your online application and your appointment. On your appointment day, you'll go to the immigration office and present your application package to an immigration specialist.

If all required documents are there, your application will be accepted, and your residence permit card will be printed and mailed to your school where you can pick it up.

Note: Some universities are authorized to accept student residence permit packages and send them to the immigration office. If your school is one of these, you won't have to go to an appointment.

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 (more on this later).

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Required Documents at a Glance

Contact your school's foreign student affairs office for their list of required documents. Below is the usual list:

  • Passport
  • Copy of your passport, including the ID page and photo, validity dates, and stamp showing entry into Turkey
  • Four biometric photos
  • Tax number
  • Student enrollment document
  • Scholarship document (if any)
  • Health insurance (not required if under 18 years of age)
  • Proof of address 
  • Proof of financial ability
  • Letter of consent (from parents if you're under age 18)
  • Taahhütname (legal declaration), only if you're under 18 and have a sponsor in Turkey, declaring that they'll cover your expenses

I'll cover each of these documents in the application steps below.

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Step 1: Prepare for Your Online Application

Coordinate with your school's foreign student affairs office. They'll assist you with getting the documents you need for the online application.

Passport

You need the passport number, issue date, and expiration date.

Tax Number

To pay the fees for your residence permit application, you need a vergi numarası (tax number). Go to the vergi dairesi (tax office) or the maliye (finance office), which will have a tax office inside. Show the clerk your passport and ask for a tax number. After you fill out a form, they'll give you one immediately, for free.

Learn more about getting a tax number.

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)

You can have the photos taken at any photo studio. Just say "ikamet izni" (residence permit). They'll know what you need.

Health Insurance

As a student, you qualify for Turkey's comprehensive health insurance plan, called Genel Sağlık Sigortası (General Health Insurance) managed by the Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu (Social Security Administration). This plan will cover you for one year at a time. You'll have 90 days to join it. If you don't join in the SGK plan within 90 days, or choose not to participate, you'll have to buy private health insurance.

Learn more about Turkey's general health insurance plan.

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

Most insurance companies offer a cheap health insurance plan which meets the minimum government requirements for health insurance. These policies are often called yabancı sağlık sigortası, (foreigner health insurance), or expat health insurance policies. You can get one by walking into an insurance company office, providing some necessary information about yourself, and paying the premium. It takes around 45 minutes.

You can also buy it online and have the policy sent to you by e-mail and/or mail or courier. If you're applying for a two-year residence permit, you can buy two policies, one for the first year, and one for the second. Ask for one copy in Turkish and the other in English. You'll need the information from these policies when applying online, and you'll include the Turkish language policy in your application package.

Learn more about buying health insurance online.

Your Address Information

If you're staying in housing provided by your school, contact the foreign student affairs office for a document you can use to prove your address. If you're staying in your own place, you'll need your rental agreement. For now, you just need to know what your exact address is.

All legal addresses in Turkey (including rooms in student housing) are recorded in a central address database. The residence permit application system connects to this database. So you'll enter your address by "drilling down" through a series of drop-down menus until you get to your apartment or room number. Later, when you go to your appointment, you'll submit the address document to the immigration specialist.

Learn more about proving your address as a student.

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Step 2: Apply Online

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 start your application, you 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, since you'll need it if you stop and continue your application later.

If you have the documents you need, the online application should take less than an hour. Unfortunately, some people have problems using it.

For suggestions about what to do if you have a problem with the system, see:  e-İkamet: How to use Turkey's Online Residence Permit Application System to Apply for Your Residence Permit.

Your Appointment Date and Time

Some universities are authorized to receive your application package and make the application for you. In that case, you won't need to go to a separate appointment at the immigration office. Your university will take care of it for you, and the immigration office will mail your student residence permit to you at your school.

If you must go to an appointment, you'll create one at the end of the online application. The system may give you a choice of dates and times, or give you a fixed date and time, or you may see this message:

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

It 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 messages.

Learn more about residence permit applications in Istanbul.

Downloading Your Application Form

At the end of the online application process, there is a link to download your completed İkamet İzni Kayıt Formu (Residence Permit Application Form). So download it, sign it, and add the original to your application package. Print a second copy of the first page of the application document and keep it with you, with your passport, to keep you legal in Turkey until your appointment date.  

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 need to pay (see "Paying the Fees" below).

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Step 3: Create Your Application Package

In this step, you'll gather whatever documents you still need for your application package.

Proof of Residence

If you're renting a residence

A notarized copy of your rental contract. You can get this by taking your rental contract to a noter (notary).

To learn more, see: Proving You Have a Place to Live as a Renter.

If you're staying in a dormitory

A document, from your school, that you live in a room provided by the school.

If you're staying at a hotel

You can use a hotel as your legal address. You'll need an e-signed, or stamped/sealed and signed, letter, on hotel letterhead, from the hotel which shows your intended dates of residence.

To learn more, see: Proof of Address When Staying at a Hotel.

If you're staying with a friend

If you're using the home of a Turkish or foreign friend(s), your friend(s) will need to go with you to a notary. They must bring their identification and proof of their address (either a property title deed or rental contract) and sign a taahhütname (legal declaration). In this document, the renters or owners of the property where you're staying promise to make sure you depart Turkey when your residence permit expires (unless you extend it), and pay any debts you fail to pay. Each owner or renter of the property must sign the taahhütname. Your hosts don't have to go to your residence permit appointment with you—just put the taahhütname into your residence permit application package.

To learn more, see: Proof of Address When Staying with a Friend.

Utility bills: If you're renting your own place and have utility bills in your name showing service at your address, add them to your application package.

Proof of Financial Ability

This is documentary proof that you have enough money to live on while going to school in Turkey. It can be

  • Bank statements for the last six months (can be from a bank in your home country)
  • A letter from parents promising to take care of your expenses
  • A taahhütname, which is a Turkish legal declaration by someone in Turkey who is promising to take care of your expenses

To learn more, see: How to Prove You Have Enough Money to Live On.

Paying the Fee

The only fee you'll pay as a student is the değerli kağıt bedeli or kart bedeli (card printing fee). For 2021, it's ₺125.

How and Where to Pay the Fee

You can pay online, with a credit card, at the end of your online application. You can also pay at participating banks, including Vakıfbank, ZiraatBank, and Halkbank, or any vergi dairesi (tax office).

You'll need a copy of the first page of your application, your passport, and your tax number. Just show the clerk the first page of your application, and they'll know what to do.

If you pay at a bank, they'll need a payment code for the card printing fee to make sure it goes to the correct account. The payment code is 9207.

Include the original of the payment receipt in your application package and keep a copy for your records.

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Step 4: Go to Your Appointment

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. If there is an immigration office in your district, use your district's name. 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

During your appointment, the immigration specialist will go over your application package to make sure everything is there.

Missing Documents

If the immigration specialist finds that any documents are missing or inadequate, they'll give you time to get them and bring them back. You don't need another appointment for this; you can just walk in and ask for the immigration specialist who's handling your application.

The Residence Permit Application Document

At the end of the appointment, you'll receive an İkamet İzni Müracaat Belgesi (Residence Permit Application Document). This document proves your application is complete and serves as a "temporary residence permit" to keep you legally in Turkey even after your current residence permit expires. It's valid for 90 days or until the day you receive your residence permit card.

Leaving Turkey Before You Receive Your Residence Permit Card: If your current residence permit expires and you need to leave Turkey, you can stay out of the country for up to 15 days and re-enter without a visa, provided you have your Residence Permit Application Document, your passport, and the fee payment receipts.

To learn more, see:

If You Receive a Communique Document Instead of a Residence Permit Application Document

The Istanbul and Ankara immigration offices (and perhaps offices in other provinces) may give you a Tebliğ-tebellüğ Belgesi (communique document) instead of a Residence Permit Application Document. The communique states that the immigration office has received your application and that it will process it. It keeps you legally in Turkey until your residence permit card arrives (provided you also have your passport with you).

But if your current residence permit expires and you leave Turkey and return before your residence permit card arrives, it won't allow you to re-enter Turkey without a visa.

To leave Turkey and return, you'll need to call the immigration office's helpline at 157 and get an e-mail address to request a Residence Permit Application Document. They'll send a reply e-mail with the document attached.

To learn more about leaving Turkey if you get a communique document at the end of your appointment, see: Leaving Turkey After Your Residence Permit Appointment with a Tebliğ Tebellüğü Belgesi (Communique Document).

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Step 5: Receive Your Student 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 arrives. 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 PTT branch for seven days. After that, it 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's been approved, or if there's a problem with your application.

SMS Message 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

If you receive the message that your residence permit's been approved, then soon after, you'll receive this message:

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

This message comes from the PTT, to let you know that they're delivering your residence permit card.

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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Extending Your Student Residence Permit

You can apply to extend your student residence permit within 60 days of the expiration of your current permit. Extension applications work the same way as first-time applications and require an appointment (unless your school has other arrangements). In addition to the usual documents, bring your current residence permit to your appointment.

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Student Residence Permit Application Video

Here is a video guide to the student residence permit application process. It's the first in a series of videos, so the next video will automatically begin 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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