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Ken Grubb

If you're between the ages of 18 and 65 and are applying for a residence permit, you'll need a health insurance policy that covers you for the duration of your intended residence. You'll submit a copy of this policy with your residence permit application package.

Numerous Turkish private insurance companies offer low-cost health insurance policies, called "expat insurance" or "foreigner insurance," which meet the Turkish government's minimum coverage standards (see below).

Private Turkish Health Insurance vs. Travel Insurance

The type of health insurance I'll be talking about here isn't "travel insurance." Travel insurance only covers your trip and medical costs while you're visiting Turkey with a visa. And by the way, everyone traveling to Turkey with a visa is required to have travel insurance.

If you need travel insurance to cover you in Turkey while on your visa, you can buy it online at TravelInsurance.com. This website collects information about the trip you want to insure, then gives you comparisons of different policies and prices from several of the top travel insurance companies. From the choices they offer you can buy the travel insurance policy that's best for you.

Visit TravelInsurance.com for more details.

Learn more about travel insurance.

The private health insurance covered by this guide is the type you'll need if you'll be applying for a residence permit. It's issued in policies lasting one year at a time, and it must be active during the entire duration of your residence permit.

Expat Health Insurance Policies for Residence Permits

Most Turkish insurance companies offer health insurance policies specifically designed for foreigners applying for residence permits. They're cheap, but the price varies according to your personal characteristics (especially your age). They meet the Turkish government's minimum coverage requirements but have some limitations.

First Year Coverage is Limited

In the first year, your policy will have limited coverage. The insurance companies do this to screen out those who might have a chronic, pre-existing condition. Then in the second and subsequent years, the coverage will be more extensive.

Be sure to read your policy so you know exactly what's covered and what isn't! If you need a private insurance policy that covers more than those with only minimum coverage, you can buy one of those instead. You can get private policies that cover as much as you want, with whatever copays and deductibles you want.

Medical Conditions Treated in One Year May Not Be Covered in the Next

Another drawback to the minimum-coverage private policies is this: If you develop a medical condition that's covered in one year, that condition will probably not be covered in the next year. It'll be considered a pre-existing condition, and there'll be nothing you can do about it.

You can get a free quote, or buy expat health insurance and have your policy within 24 hours by using our health insurance contact form.

Get Continuous Coverage with a More Comprehensive Private Policy

If you need more comprehensive (and continuous) coverage for conditions that develop during the life of your health insurance policy, you'll have to buy a more comprehensive health insurance policy.

With these more comprehensive policies, if the insured person develops a condition within the first three years of coverage, the insurance company may opt not to cover it if it happens a second time during that period. However, after three years of continuous coverage, the insurance company must cover the condition, for as long as the insured person continues to renew the policy.

The main drawback to these more comprehensive policies is that the companies offering them will only issue one one-year policy at a time. You won't be able to get two back-to-back policies to cover you for a two-year residence permit.

You can buy one of the more comprehensive policies which also meet the minimum health insurance requirements for a residence permit. If that's what you need.

Contact Selma Akdeniz of Mertsel Insurance for more information.

Buy your Policy Before You Apply for Your Residence Permit

Applications for residence permits are made online, at https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr/. İkamet means "residence."

The information the system will ask you for is your health insurance policy number, the name of the company which issued the policy, the start and finish dates of the policy, and the yenile no. (number of policies, or years of coverage, you've had with your insurance company).

So, you'll need to have this information ready before you can even start your online application.

What is a "Yenile No.?"

The Yenile numarası, or yenile no., means "renewal number." The residence permit application system will ask you for this, and I mention it here because the system doesn't explain what it is, and if you don't enter it correctly, it won't accept the information.

This number is the number of times you've renewed your health insurance policy. Sometimes it's printed at the top of the first page of your health insurance policy. But if it isn't there, just enter the number of times you've renewed your policy. If it's your first policy, enter 0 (zero). If it's your second policy, enter one (1), if it's your third policy, enter two (2), etc.

Learn more about the online residence permit application system.

Health Insurance Policies are Issued for One Year at a Time

When you buy a health insurance policy, you'll get 12 months of coverage, even if your intended stay in Turkey is less than 12 months. You'll pay the premium for all 12 months in advance. If you plan to stay in Turkey for less than 12 months, you may be able to get a refund for the unused months. Contact the insurance policy which sold you the policy to learn more about this.

Health Insurance Coverage for a Two-year Residence Permit

If you're applying for a two-year residence permit, you'll need two one-year health insurance policies. The first policy will be active and cover you for the first year. When it expires, the second policy will become active and cover you for the second year.

Validity Period of Your Health Insurance

If you're applying for a residence permit for the first time, your health insurance coverage should start the day after your visa expires, or the day you reach the maximum number of days your visa allows you to be in Turkey.

If you're extending your residence permit, your new health insurance policy should start the day after your current health insurance policy expires. 

Your residence permit will only be valid as long as your health insurance policy is valid. There can't be any gaps in health insurance coverage. Also, your residence permit's expiration date will never be later than the expiration date of your health insurance policy.

Buying Health Insurance

Walk-in Purchases

A private health insurance policy for a residence permit is easy to buy. You can walk into any insurance company office with your passport and explain that you're applying for a residence permit. They'll collect some information from you and quote a price. After you pay the premium, they'll print the policy. If you need it to start later (which you probably will), see "Purchasing a Policy in Advance," below.

Get two copies of the policy, one in Turkish, the other in English. You'll add the Turkish policy to your residence permit application and keep the English copy for yourself. The whole process takes 30-45 minutes.

Online Purchases

You can also buy a Turkish private health insurance policy online. Many companies offer them for sale on their websites. It's the same process as walking into an insurance company office. You fill out an online form and submit it with your personal information, and an insurance agent will contact you with a quote. If you want to buy the policy, pay the premium by bank transfer, and the agent will e-mail you a PDF version of your policy, and send the original by mail. If they're able to sign the policy with a digital signature, you can print and include the digitally signed PDF copy with your residence permit application package. If they send you a PDF copy that isn't digitally signed and mail you a signed and stamped original, then include the signed and stamped original policy with your package.

Purchasing a Policy in Advance

If you need to, you can buy a policy with a start date up to 90 days in advance. Having your policy's coverage period start at a later date enables you to have your coverage begin on the same day you want your residence permit's validity period to begin.

If the Online System Won't Accept Your Policy Information

If you apply on the same day that you bought your health insurance policy, and the online application system won't accept the policy information, it's probably because the insurance company hasn't yet registered the policy. In that case, you can wait a day and try again, or you can contact the insurance company and remind them to register it.

If you're still having problems, you can call the Göç İdaresi Genel Müdürlüğü (Directorate General of Migration Management, or Immigration Office). They have a 24-hour helpline you can reach at 157 from any phone inside Turkey, or at +90 312 157 1122 from outside Turkey. There is an English option.

What to Take to Your Appointment

At the end of your online application, the online system will give you an appointment date and time and tell you which immigration office to go to on your appointment day. It will also give you a link to download your residence permit application. You'll sign this application and take it, with the other required documents, to your appointment.

The immigration specialist will want to see the original pages from the policy which are stamped and signed by the insurance company. These are usually the first three pages. Just be sure you include all pages which have stamps and signatures. If the insurance company e-mailed you a digitally signed copy, the digital signature will suffice.

Switching Insurance Companies

When your current health insurance policy expires, nothing stops you from buying your next policy from another company. The main drawback to this is that you'll likely be given another first-year policy, with the more limited coverage mentioned above, again. So be sure to ask about this before you change companies.

SGK Supplemental Insurance

After you've lived in Turkey with a residence permit for at least one year, you can enroll in Turkey's Sosyal Guvenlik Kurumu (Social Security Administration, or SGK) national health insurance plan, called Genel Sağlık Sigortası (General Health Insurance). SGK insurance will cover you for the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions. Private hospitals also accept SGK insurance, then charge you the difference between what SGK covers and their price.

If you want to use Turkish private hospitals, you can buy private SGK supplemental insurance to cover the extra charges. It covers all of the additional charges beyond what SGK pays.

Learn more about SGK insurance.

If you're interested in buying SGK supplemental insurance, contact Selma Akdeniz at Mertsel Insurance using our health insurance inquiry form.

Required Wording on Your Policy

Whatever private health insurance policy you buy to include in your residence permit application package, it must have the following words printed on it:

Turkish:

İşbu poliçe 10.05.2016 tarih ve 16 sayılı vize ve ikamet izni taleplerinde yaptırılacak özel sağlık sigortalarına ilişkin genelgede belirlenen asgari teminat yapısını kapsamaktadır.

English:

This policy covers the minimum coverage for the general health insurance for private health insurances to be made on visa and residence permit requests dated 10.05.2016

If you get one of the minimum-coverage policies which meet the minimum government standards, the policy will already have the above printed on it. If you buy one of the more comprehensive private policies, make sure your insurance company prints the above words on your policy.

Mertsel Health Insurance and Residence Permit Application Service

Mertsel Insurance provides residence permit application services and health insurance policies (among other services) for the Turkey Central community. Mertsel charges only according to what you need. You won't find a better price for the services they offer.

Within 24 hours after you send them all of the required information, Mertsel will:

  • Get you a tax number
  • Create your health insurance policy
  • Apply for and get your Residence Permit Registration Form
  • Set up your appointment at the immigration office and
  • Send you the documents for your application package.

You can get a free price quote from Mertsel according to your needs. Contact them by clicking below:

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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