When you apply for a residence permit or other official identification, the government official involved may ask you for a criminal record check from your home country. How you get this will depend on the procedure used by your government's office that maintains criminal records.
Because you'll be using the criminal record in Turkey, you'll also have to get it legalized and translated. Document legalization involves a separate document called an apostille, which I'll cover a bit later.
Step 1: Learn Where Your Home Country Keeps and Issues Copies of Criminal Records
Use Google to search for the government office in your home country which maintains criminal records. Use keywords and phrases which include the country, province, or district where you lived, along with the key phrase "criminal record."
In the search results, you'll find the website of the government office you need. Visit their website to learn how to have a criminal record check done and have the results sent to you.
ACRO, the Criminal Records Office, maintains criminal records for UK citizens. The website you need is
Regardless of how many states you've lived in, get your criminal record check through the department of state for the state listed on your passport.
Website addresses for all 50 departments of state are the state name followed by ".gov." For example, the website for the Arizona Department of State is www.arizona.gov. You'll find a link somewhere on your department of state website concerning criminal record checks.
Unfortunately, having a criminal record check done in the USA usually requires you to appear in person and submit fingerprints. If this is too difficult, the Turkish government office may make an exception for you.
I specifically asked an immigration specialist about this. He said they go by their impression of the person in deciding if they'll insist on a criminal record check from their home country or not. So if you can't go back to the States, dress nicely and look innocent when you submit your application.
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 criminal record sent to you, but they'll also charge you a lot of money for doing what you can easily do yourself.
Step 2: Have the Criminal Record Check Document Sent to You
The government office which does criminal record checks 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 criminal record check document, choose it! It will save you from having to do it yourself, and you can skip step 3.
Step 3: Have Your Criminal Record Check Document Internationally Legalized
Now that you have your criminal record check document in hand, you must now have it internationally legalized. How you do this depends on whether your country is a member of the apostille convention.
What Is an Apostille?
An apostille is an internationally recognized stamp or document attached to the document which is being certified. When a questioned document has an apostille attached to it, it is recognized and accepted by all countries in the international Apostille Convention.
How to Learn if Your Country is a Member of the Apostille Convention
You can see if your country is a member by going here:
You'll also see the various competent authorities for your country. Once you find the competent authority you need, click on the link provided. That will take you to a page with a link to their website so you can learn where to send the document and how much the fee is.
What is a Competent Authority?
A competent authority is a government office that, under the Apostille Convention, is authorized to issue apostilles.
If You Can't Find Your Country on the List
If you don't see your country on the list, then your country isn't a member of the Apostille Convention. You'll need to contact your country's embassy or consulate for instructions.
To learn more about apostilles, see Apostille: What it is, How it Works and How to Get One from Turkey.
Step 4: Have Your Criminal Record Check Document and Apostille Translated to Turkish
Now that you have your criminal record check document and its apostille, both documents must be translated by a sworn translator. The translator will take their translation to a notary and swear to its accuracy. Then the notary will put their stamp on it. At that point, your criminal record check document 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.
To learn more about sworn translators, see Sworn Turkish Translators: What They Do and How to Find One.
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 notaries, see Notaries in Turkey: What They Do, Why You'll Need One and How to Find Them.
Step 5: Submit Your Criminal Record Check Document With Your Application
Now that you have your criminal record check document, 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 the criminal record check document and the apostille with you in case they want to see it.
How to Get Another Copy of Your Legalized and Translated Criminal Record Check Document
When you get the official translation of your criminal record check document 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 the document 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. That second copy will be as legal as the first, and you can use it for future applications.
UK Criminal Records Checks for Overseas Applicants: From the UK government, explains how UK citizens can get a criminal record check while overseas.
ACRO Criminal Records Office, UK: The place where you can get a criminal records check certificate in the United Kingdom.
Criminal Records Checks for US Citizens: From the US Department of State, information about how you can obtain a criminal record certificate from the US.
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