If you have been living in Turkey for more than six months and want to drive legally, you must get a Turkish driving license.
While this law isn't always enforced by traffic police, if you have an accident, the police will likely charge you with driving illegally if you don't have a Turkish license. Also, your Turkish car insurance (including rental car insurance) may not pay out. The more reputable Turkish car rental companies won't even rent you a car if you have been a resident for more than six months and don't have a Turkish driving license.
It is a good idea to have a Turkish speaker help you through this process, since few people in the government offices involved will speak English.
Documents You Will Need
- Five (5) passport-sized photos, four for the police, one for your health check. Cost: 10 TL
- Blue dossier, nothing more than a blue plastic folder you have to provide to store your documents. Cost: 2 TL
- Form EK-18, Driving License Application Form, with the official stamp of the Chauffeur's and Driver's Association. Cost: 1 TL
- Your current driving license
- Notarized translation of your driving license. Cost: 100-200 TL
- Criminal records check document. Cost: 5TL
- Health check document (may be unnecessary in your area)
- Card showing your blood type
- Residence permit
- Notarized translation of passport (notarization may be unnecessary in your area). Cost: 100-120 TL
- Tax office receipt for payment for the type of driving license you want
- Money for payment for your driving license. Cost: around 400-500 TL
The Turkish Driving License Application Process
1. Photo Shop, for Passport Photos
Get five (5) passport photos from a local photo shop.
2. Chauffeur's and Driver's Association, for Dossier and Application Form
Go to the local Şoförlar ve Otomobilciler Odası, or Chauffeur's and Driver's Association. Ask for a mavi dosya, which is simply a blue plastic folder, and form EK-18. This will cost you perhaps five lira. The form EK-18 must already have an official stamp on it. If they don't have any stamped forms, they will have to order more and you will have to come back later. If they don't have any blue dossiers, you can get one from a nearby kırtasiye, or stationery store.
Fill out the top half of form EK-18. The bottom half is for the police to complete. It is in Turkish, but you can easily figure it out with a Turkish-English dictionary.
3. Notary Public, for Translation of Driver's License and Passport
Go to the local noter (notary) and get your current driver's license and passport translated and notarized (ask if this is actually necessary for your passport, since sometimes this isn't required).
4. Hospital or Clinic, for Health Check and Blood Test
If a health check is required in your province, see a doctor and get one done. Make sure you tell the doctor that it is for a driving license and whether it is for a car, motorbike, or both. Provide one photograph to attach to the health check form.
If your blood type is not on file with the doctor, get a blood test. Go to a local state hospital rather than a clinic for this, since you can get the blood test done on the spot and won't have to wait for the clinic, which would probably send the sample to the state hospital anyway. It's also cheaper at a state hospital. If you are enrolled in Turkey's SGK national health insurance plan, the health check and blood test will be free.
5. Police Station, for Criminal Records Check
Go to the police station for a criminal records check. The records office is probably located somewhere in a complex of buildings known as the Emniyet Müdürlüğü (em-nee-yet moo-door-loo-oo), or Security Directorate. Give them your passport and residence permit, fill out a brief form, and pay the fee (around 5 TL).
6. Tax Office, To Pay For Your Driving License
Go to the vergi dairesi, or tax office, which is part of the maliye, or finance office. You will see a cashier's window there with a sign saying vezne, or cashier.
Pay the fee (around 400 TL) and get a receipt. If the receipt needs to be stamped, the cashier should tell you which office to go to for the stamp. To ask if a stamp is necessary, say "pul lazım mı?" (pull lah-zum muh?).
Then go back to pick up the results of your criminal records check.
7. Traffic Police Office, to Submit Your Application and Documents
Go to the Trafik Polis Ofisi, which will probably be somewhere in the same complex you are already in. Give them all of your paperwork, and the blue plastic dossier. You may have to go out of your way to get someone's attention because of all of the people there registering vehicles. Pay the fee (around 60 TL).
8. Wait from One Day to Five Weeks
This varies by province. In some regions, the traffic police send a letter to your home country (or state, in the USA), to verify that your home country or state is authorized to issue a driving license and that you are properly licensed in the same vehicle categories. This is done by snail mail, so it can take a long time.
In some provinces, they will take your license at face value, or they will go by a verification letter previously received from your home state or country. In any case, ask them when you need to come back (they will not notify you).
9. Return to the Traffic Police Office, Complete the Process and Get Your Turkish Driving License
Return to the police office after the required time has passed. Hopefully they will have received a reply from your home country or state. If not, come back again a week or two later. Once you and the reply letter are there at the same time, they will take your fingerprints, and create your driving license.
Verify that all of the information on your driving license is correct (including the vehicle categories you want). Pay 30 TL to have it laminated. Once they hand you your laminated license, you'll be able to drive legally in Turkey.
Some Helpful Notes
- Avoid going to the traffic police office at the end of the month. Otherwise you may face crowds of Turks who have waited until the last minute to pay their vehicle taxes
- Your Turkish driving license is valid for life and doesn't require renewal. A law was proposed to require yearly renewals, but enactment of this law has been delayed
Cars, Car Insurance, and Driving in Turkey Forum: For questions and discussions about anything having to do with cars and driving in Turkey.
How to Find a Noter (Notary): How to use the Turkish notary union's website to find a noter near you.
Chauffeur's and Driver's Association: In Turkish.