When you apply for a residence permit or other official identification, the government official involved may ask you for a birth certificate from your home country. If you don't have your birth certificate, you'll need to apply to the office of your country's government that maintains birth records, and have a copy of it sent to you. The procedure will vary from country to country.
Since you'll be using the birth certificate in Turkey, you'll also need to have the document internationally legalized and translated into Turkish. Document legalization involves a separate document called an apostille.
In this guide, I'll explain what an apostille is and what you need to do, from getting a copy of your birth certificate from your home country to having it legalized and ready for inclusion in an application package to give to the Turkish government.
What Is an Apostille?
An apostille is an internationally recognized document that attaches to and certifies the origin of another document. When a document has an apostille attached to it, it will be recognized and accepted by all countries which have signed the Apostille Convention.
Step 1: Learn Where Your Home Country Keeps Birth Records
Use Google to search for the government office in your home country, which keeps records of and issues copies of birth certificates. Use keywords and phrases including the country, province, or district where you were born, along with the key phrase "birth record," "birth certificate," etc.
In the search results, you'll find the website of the government office you need. Visit their website to learn how to have a copy of your birth certificate sent to you.
Warning!: Always use websites with an address containing the ".gov" suffix. This suffix means the website is an official government website, and not a private company or individual. Never use a website with an address containing the ".com" suffix. There are many private companies and people with official-looking websites who'll get your birth certificate sent to you, but they'll also charge you a lot of money for doing what you can easily do yourself.
Step 2: Have Your Birth Certificate Sent to You
The government office which issues copies of birth certificates in your home country, state, or province will have its own procedure, so follow the instructions given on the website and pay whatever fee is involved.
Important!: If the government website has an option to have an apostille or other internationally legalizing document attached to your birth certificate, choose it! It will save you from having to do it yourself, and you can skip step 3.
Step 3: Have Your Birth Certificate Internationally Legalized
A Word of Comfort here: I'll be talking about international conventions and a lot of important-sounding stuff, which makes it sound like you might need diplomatic credentials to do this! But don't worry, getting your birth certificate legalized is quite easy. In a few minutes, you'll understand it all!
Okay. Now you have your birth certificate in hand. In this step, you'll get it internationally legalized. How you do this depends on whether your country is a member of the apostille convention.
How to Learn if Your Country is a Member of the Apostille Convention and which Government Office Issues Apostilles
You can see if your country is a member by going here:
You'll also see the various competent authorities for your country.
What is a Competent Authority?
A competent authority is a government office that, under the Apostille Convention, is authorized to issue apostilles.
You'll need to visit the website of the competent authority and learn what you need to do to get the apostille. Click the link provided on the list for the competent authority, go to their website and follow their instructions, pay the fee, and send your birth certificate to the competent authority. When they receive it, they'll attach an apostille and send it back to you.
If Your Country Isn't a Member of the Apostille Convention
If you don't see your country on the list, then your country isn't a member of the Apostille Convention, so you'll need to contact your country's embassy or consulate for instructions. They'll have a different, but probably similar, way of legalizing your birth certificate.
To learn more about apostilles and how they work, see Apostille: What it is, How it Works and How to Get One from Turkey.
Step 4: Have Your Birth Certificate and Apostille Translated to Turkish
Now that you have your birth certificate and the apostille, both documents must be translated by a sworn translator. The translator will take their translation to a nearby notary and swear to its accuracy. Then the notary will put their stamp on it. At that point, your birth certificate will be officially recognized in Turkey, and a copy of it will be kept in the notary's archives.
How to Find a Sworn Translator
Search Google or Google Maps using the name of the province and district where you live, and the keywords yeminli tercüman or yeminli çevirmen. Both phrases mean "sworn translator."
Use the Sworn Translator Federation Website
Go to the website of the Yeminli Çevirmenlik Federasyonu (TURÇEF, or in English, Federation of Sworn Translators), at https://www.turcef.net/. At the bottom of their home page is a menu of the regions of Turkey. Just select the option for where you are to get a listing of sworn translators showing their addresses, contact information, and the languages they specialize in.
Ask a Notary
Notaries in Turkey always work with sworn translators. So, if you see a big red noter sign anywhere, walk into their office and ask where you can find a sworn translator. There will be one nearby.
To learn more about sworn translators, see Sworn Turkish Translators: What They Do and How to Find One.
To learn more about notaries, see Notaries in Turkey: What They Do, Why You'll Need One and How to Find Them.
Step 5: Submit Your Documents With Your Application
Now that you have your birth certificate, the apostille, and the official notarized translation of both documents, you can include them in your application package. The Turkish government office you're applying to will only need the notarized translation, but also take your birth certificate copy with you in case they want to see it.
How to Get Another Copy of Your Legalized and Translated Birth Certificate
When you get the official translation of your birth certificate from the translator, you'll see a notary stamp on the back of it. This stamp contains a document number because the translation is now part of the archive at the notary's office. If you need to get another copy of your birth certificate later, you won't have to go through the whole process again. Just go to the notary office which notarized the translation and give them the document number. They'll pull the document again and give you another copy of it. The second copy will be as legal as the first, and you can use it for future applications.
Assistance and Support
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