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How to Get a Foreign Marriage Certificate from Turkey

Ken Grubb

If you apply for a family residence permit, or if your spouse owns or rents a home that you want to use as your residence but you're not on the title deed or rental contract, you'll need to produce a marriage certificate. You'll also need it if you'll be benefiting from your spouse's income and don't have enough independent income to meet the requirements for living in Turkey.

How you get your marriage certificate sent to you depends on the procedure used by the office in your home country that maintains them. Since you'll be using the document in Turkey, you'll also have to get the document internationally legalized and translated. Document legalization involves a separate document called an apostille.

I'll explain all of this as we go through the process step-by-step.

Step 1: Learn Where Your Home Country Keeps and Issues Copies of Marriage Certificates

Use Google to search for the government office in your home country which maintains marriage records. Use keywords and phrases including the country, province, or district where you got married, along with the key phrase "marriage certificate."

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 marriage 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 marriage 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 Marriage Certificate Sent to You

The government office which issues copies of marriage certificates in your home country 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 marriage certificate, choose it! It will save you from having to do it yourself, and you can skip step 3.

Step 3: Have Your Marriage 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 marriage certificate legalized is quite easy. In a few minutes, you'll understand it all!

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.

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:

List of Members of the Apostille Convention and Their Competent Authorities

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 see a link in the list you can use to go to the website of the competent authority you need. Follow the instructions on their website, pay the fee, and send your marriage certificate to them. 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 marriage certificate.

Learn more about apostilles and how they work.

Step 4: Have Your Marriage Certificate and Apostille Translated to Turkish

Now that you have your marriage 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 marriage 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

Use Google

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.

Learn more about sworn translators.

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.

Learn more about notaries.

Step 5: Submit Your Documents With Your Application

Now that you have your marriage 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 the copy of your marriage certificate with you in case they want to see it.

How to Get Another Copy of Your Legalized and Translated Marriage Certificate

When you get the official translation of your marriage 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 another copy of your marriage 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. That second copy will be as legal as the first, so you can use it for future applications.

Assistance and Support

Turkey Central Forums: Do you have a question? Search our forums to see if it's already been answered. If it hasn't, feel free to open a new topic.

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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