If you're between the ages of 18 and 65 and visiting or planning to live in Turkey, you must have a health insurance policy that meets the Turkish government's minimum standards.
Here's an overview of the different types of insurance you might need, with links to more detailed articles about each type.
What Kind of Health Insurance Do I Need in Turkey?
If you're visiting Turkey with a visa, you and those traveling with you must have travel insurance covering your entire stay.
If you want to remain in Turkey and get a residence permit, and you're between the ages of 18 and 65, you must get a Turkish health insurance policy to cover you for the duration of your residence permit. Insurance companies in Turkey offer low-cost policies for foreigners applying for residence permits. While inexpensive, they offer only the minimum coverage required by law. If you want more coverage, you can buy a more expensive private health insurance plan.
After you've lived in Turkey for at least one year, you can apply for the Turkish government's Genel Sağlık Sigortası (General Health Insurance), provided by the Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu (Social Security Administration, or SGK).
Citizens of countries that have a reciprocal agreement with Turkey for healthcare can be covered by the SGK plan for free by getting a letter from their government proving their eligibility and applying at any SGK office.
Types of Health Insurance You Can Use in Turkey
You can only use travel insurance for visits to Turkey with a visa. You can't use it to apply for a residence permit. So you would initially buy travel insurance to cover your stay on the visa, then buy Turkish private health insurance before you apply for your residence permit.
Learn more about travel insurance.
Turkish Private Health Insurance Policies for Residence Permits (Foreigner or "Expat" Insurance)
Many insurance companies in Turkey offer health insurance policies specifically for foreigners with residence permits. They're cheap, but they provide only the minimum coverage required by the Turkish government. The first year of these policies often excludes many procedures to screen out any chronic, recurring medical conditions. In the second and subsequent years, there will be more coverage, but if you're treated for some condition, it will likely be excluded in the following years.
Private health insurance policies are sold by the year. If you're applying for a two-year residence permit and need two years of insurance coverage, you can buy two back-to-back one-year policies. When the first policy expires, the second one will begin.
How to Buy Private Health Insurance
You can buy a health insurance policy by walking into an insurance company office with your passport and paying the premium. It's that simple, and it takes around 30-40 minutes. You can also buy a policy online and have it sent to your address anywhere in Turkey.
If you want to buy residence permit insurance online from our agent, Selma Akdeniz at Mertsel Insurance, you can get a free quote here:
Learn more about buying Turkish health insurance online.
More Comprehensive Private Health Insurance Plans
Comprehensive private health insurance policies have more generous coverage than the cheap policies designed for residence permit applicants. They can have as much coverage as you want, with whatever deductible and co-payments (minimums you have to pay) you want. You can even buy a policy that exceeds the coverage of Turkey's national health insurance plan, Genel Sağlık Sigorta (General Health Insurance or SGK Insurance) managed by the Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu (Social Security Administration).
The insurance policy must have a statement printed on it stating that it meets or exceeds the Turkish government's minimum requirements for coverage.
Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu Genel Sağlık Sigorta (Social Security Administration General Health Insurance, also called "SGK insurance") is Turkey's government-managed comprehensive national insurance plan. After you've lived in Turkey for one year, you can join this plan and pay monthly premiums to stay enrolled.
With SGK insurance, one policy covers the primary insured person and their family at no additional cost. The price for single people and families is the same.
SGK insurance provides for free treatment in state hospitals for a wide range of conditions. There's no card involved. Present your residence permit card and they'll use your foreigner identification number (printed on your residence permit card) to check your coverage under the SGK plan.
With SGK, you can also get discounted treatment in private hospitals. But you'll have to pay part of the bill out-of-pocket since treatment in private hospitals is more expensive. If you have insurance from your home country, which covers you in Turkey, you can use that to help pay the additional amount.
You can join the SGK plan at any age. Pre-existing conditions are not covered, but if you develop a chronic illness after you enroll, it will be covered for as long as you remain enrolled in the plan.
Learn more about the SGK health insurance plan.
SGK Insurance Coverage Under Bilateral Agreements
If you're a citizen of a country that has a bilateral agreement with Turkey to provide free healthcare for each other's citizens, you can be covered by the SGK plan for free. To be covered, you'll need a document from your country (the name or number of the document varies according to the country involved), stating that you're entitled to government-sponsored health insurance while in Turkey.
Take that document to an SGK office. The SGK office will give you a provizyon belgesi (provision document) stating that you're covered by the SGK plan. Include that in your residence permit application package to satisfy the health insurance requirement.
SGK Insurance for Employees
If you're working for a Turkish company, the company will arrange for your insurance coverage under SGK. The company will pay the premiums for you.
Health Insurance from your Home Country
A health insurance policy issued by a foreign company won't be accepted with residence permit applications unless the company is licensed in Turkey and has an office in Turkey. However, you can use your foreign policy to pay for the portion of your medical bills that your Turkish insurance doesn't cover.
Assistance and Support
Residence Permit and Health Insurance Assistance: Mertsel Insurance offers health insurance for residence permits that you can buy online. They also provide residence permit application services. They'll create your health insurance policy and complete your residence permit application for you within 24 hours. Contact them for a free price quotation.
Health Insurance for Residence Permits Forum: 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.