Turkish Law Governing Visas and Residence Permits
The law which governs residence permits and foreigners in Turkey is the Law On Foreigners and International Protection. It is published in English and can be read online or downloaded (see "External Links").
Use the Official Residence Permit Website
Turkey's official residence permit site is at www.goc.gov.tr. The residence permit application site is at e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr. All Turkish government websites end with ".gov.tr." If the website address doesn't have that on the end, it's not an official government website.
Private Residence Permit Advisory Services
You will encounter people, especially around the offices of the Göç İdaresi Genel Müdürlüğü (General Directorate for Migration Management, or DGMM), who will offer assistance. While they may provide a valuable service, they are not officially authorized by the Turkish government. Each DGMM office has migration management specialists who can help you with the residence permit process. So before you consider paying a fee for a private advisor, go to the DGMM office and ask for assistance there.
When to Apply for Your Residence Permit
You should apply for your first-time residence permit within 30 days after you arrive Turkey. And you should apply for an extension of your residence permit within 60 days prior to the expiration date of your current residence permit. Sooner is often better, since the earliest appointment date you are able to get may be quite some time in the future, and it can take up to 90 days to get your residence permit approved and sent to you in some provinces.
Have your photos taken before you apply for your first residence permit or extension online, because you will need to scan and upload one of them. The photo you scan and upload must be the same as the photos you take to your appointment or mail to the DGMM.
Photos for your residence permit must be 3.5 cm in width and 4.5 cm in height. They must be all the same, taken within the last six months, against a white background. Do not upload or submit family photos, selfies, unrecognizable, or black-and-white photos.
For first-time applications, four photos are required. For extensions, two are required.
The "60-day Rule" for Passport Validity
Your passport must be valid for 60 days beyond the duration of the residence permit you are applying for. If it isn’t, the issued residence permit will only be valid until a date 60 days prior to your passport’s expiration.
Documents and Must Match What You Put In To The System
Be sure the information and dates on your documents are the same as what you enter into the residence permit application system. If something is inconsistent, you may end up running around at the last minute, or having to wait for a document to be delivered from your home country.
Residence Permit Extensions
After you complete your residence permit extension application on the online system, you have five business days to get your supporting documents in the mail. They must be sent to the DGMM address which is provided by the online system by taahhütlü posta (registered mail), using Turkey's national postal system, the PTT. You may also send them using a Turkish cargo delivery company.
Don't mail in your original passport, or original ID card in the case of family residence permit applications. Get notarized copies of them and mail those instead.
Mail each application package separately in a large, "A-4" size envelope. Do not put more that one application in any envelope.
You can pay both the residence permit fee and the card fee with a credit card in the online system, or you can pay the fees at any vergi dairesi (tax office) or at any participating bank, such as Ziraat Bankası or Halkbank. If you pay the fees while using the online application system, you don't have to mail in the receipts. If you pay at a tax office or bank, get two copies of the receipts, and include one copy of each receipt with your application package
Health Insurance Notes
Have your health insurance policy information ready before you apply for a residence permit online. The system will ask you for your health insurance information, including the start and end dates of the policy.
Whatever health insurance policy you have, keep it current. If you let it expire, your residence permit will become invalid. If you are making a first-time application, make sure that your health insurance policy is valid on the date of your appointment at the DGMM.
You can buy a health insurance policy for up to 60 days in advance from Ankara Sigorta (and probably other companies). This option will allow you to have your next policy activate as soon as your current policy expires. This is useful when you need to extend your residence permit.
SGK Insurance Renewal
If you are covered by the Turkish government’s SGK health insurance, take your new residence permit to the local SGK office so they can record a new expiration date, since SGK insurance coverage expires when your residence permit does (and vice-versa).
Leaving and Returning to Turkey Before You Get Your Residence Permit
At your residence permit appointment, the DGMM will give you a temporary residence permit printed on a sheet of A4 paper. With that, and with the receipts showing that you have paid the residence permit fees and card fees, you can leave Turkey for up to 15 days (one time), without having to get a visa on re-entry. You must have the temporary permit and receipts with you when you re-enter Turkey.
If you return after more than 15 days, you will have to re-enter Turkey with an e-visa. This will not affect your visa application or result in the cancellation of your residence permit application. This doesn't mean you can stay outside of Turkey for as long as you want. You must be present at your registered address when your residence permit is delivered. And if there is a problem processing your residence permit, you may have to go to your local DGMM office to straighten it out.
If you already have your Yabancı Kimlik Numarası (YKN, or Foreigner Identity Number), this will also help you when you return. The YKN is the number which will be on your residence permit card. You can ask to have your YKN assigned at your residence permit appointment or after that. It will help the immigration official when you return, since he or she will also be able to enter it into their computer to check your status.
Turkey's Foreigner Communications Center
The DGMM has a number you can call to speak to an immigration specialist. Call 157 from any telephone within Turkey. The call will be free. From outside of Turkey, call +90 312 157 1122. Long-distance charges will apply.
Family Residence Permits in Turkey
Residence Permit Forum: If you have questions or comments about the residence permit process, please ask them in our forum.
The Four Basic Steps of Applying for or Extending Your Residence Permit
DGMM, Required Documents and Explanations: Downloadable PDF files from the DGMM, including required documents, and explanations of the residence permit process.
Turkey Residence Permit Law (PDF): The Law on Foreigners and International Protection, Dated April, 2014. In English, this is the Turkish law which governs residence permits.