In this article, I'll explain what a residence permit is and what types of residence permits you might be eligible for. I'll briefly explain the residence permit application process, what documents you need, what happens during your residence permit appointment, and what happens after your appointment.
What is a Turkey Residence Permit?
A Turkey residence permit is an identity card which enables you to stay in Turkey after your visa or visa exemption has expired. There are four main types of residence permits:
- Short Term Residence Permit: Issued for a variety of reasons, including business, homeownership, and tourism. It has a duration of up to two years.
- Family Residence Permit: For foreign family members of a Turkish citizen or a foreigner who has lived in Turkey for more than one year. It has a duration of up to three years or until the expiration of the sponsor's residence or work permit, whichever comes first.
- Long-term Residence Permit: For foreigners who have lived in Turkey for eight years or more with a residence or work permit. It's issued for life.
- Student Residence Permit: For foreign students studying at an accredited school or university. It has a duration of one year or, in the year of graduation, until the graduation date.
You must apply for your residence permit within 60 days before the last day your visa or visa exemption allows you to be in Turkey.
There are also residence permits issued for humanitarian reasons and to victims of human trafficking. If you need a residence permit for one of these reasons, call the DGMM's Yabancılar İletişim Merkezi (Foreigner's Communication Center) for free at 157 from any phone in Turkey. The international number is +90 312 157 1122.
The application for a residence permit is made online, at www.e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr. They're issued by the Göç İdaresi Genel Müdürlüğü (Directorate General of Migration Management, or DGMM).
You must enter Turkey with a visa before you can apply for a residence permit. Citizens of many countries can buy an e-visa online at https://www.evisa.gov.tr/. Even if you're ineligible for an e-visa, the system will tell you what you need to do to get a regular visa.
Learn more about the e-visa and how to get one.
There are no visa extensions. If you want to stay longer than your visa allows, you must apply for a residence permit.
The Short-term Residence Permit
Anyone can apply for a short-term residence permit. Here are the main reasons they're issued:
- Touristic purposes (includes staying in Turkey for a short time beyond your visa's expiration to living in Turkey for up to two years as a renter)
- Owning real estate
- Taking Turkish courses
- Conducting scientific research
- Setting up a business or other commercial reasons
- Attending in-service training programs
- Receiving training as an intern
- Undergoing medical treatment
- Remaining in Turkey after completing higher education
Learn more about the short-term residence permit and how to apply for one.
The Family Residence Permit
Family residence permits are issued to the spouse and children of a Turkish citizen or a foreigner who has lived in Turkey with a residence or work permit for at least one year. So, if your family comes with you to Turkey, for the first year, they'll apply for short-term residence permits. After that, they can apply for family residence permits.
Spouse: Must prove a marital relationship with a marriage license.
Children: Can prove a familial relationship with their passports. Birth certificates are only required if the parents can't be determined with the passports.
The sponsor: Must have a Turkish ID card, or a work permit or residence permit for at least one year. They must have health insurance covering the entire family and prove they make at least the Turkish minimum wage plus 1/3rd more of the minimum wage for each family member. They must have proof of an address and have no criminal record of crimes involving domestic violence.
Duration of the Family Residence Permit
Family residence permits are issued for three years or until the expiration of the foreign sponsor's residence or work permit, whichever happens first. After three years of marriage to a Turkish citizen, the spouse becomes eligible for citizenship, and so do the foreign children, hence the three-year duration.
Learn more about the family residence permit and how to apply for one.
The Long-term Residence Permit
The long-term residence permit allows you to live in Turkey for life and gives you the same rights and privileges of a Turkish citizen except for such things as the right to vote and run for public office or work in certain professions.
You must live in Turkey for at least eight years with a work or residence permit. The eight years must not have any significant interruptions except for periods of illness, education, or mandatory national service.
Learn more about the long-term residence permit and how to apply for one.
The Student Residence Permit
The student residence permit is for foreigners who attend an accredited school or university in Turkey. You must first receive a letter of acceptance from such a school before you can apply.
If you're outside of Turkey, you'll first go to a Turkish embassy or consulate and apply for a student visa. Then you'll travel to Turkey. Then you'll apply for your student residence permit.
If you're already in Turkey when you receive your letter of acceptance, you can transfer from whatever type of residence permit you have to a student residence permit. In some cases, universities allow students to attend classes with short-term or other types of residence permits. Check with the university you plan to attend to see if they allow this.
You must be accepted as a student by an accredited school or university in Turkey.
The student residence permit is issued for one year, then extended each year until graduation. In the final year, its expiration date is on your official date of graduation. After your graduation date, you have ten days to leave Turkey or apply for a residence permit. Currently, however, the Turkish government is giving students an additional six months to stay in Turkey. Contact your school's student affairs office for more information.
All residence permit applications are made online at https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr/.
Before You Apply Online
The system will require certain information and the upload of a scan of one of the photos you'll be including with your application. So before you apply online, you must have your
At the end of the online application process, you'll be given a link to download and print your completed İkamet İzni Kayıt Formu (Residence Permit Registration Form). On the first page of this form, you'll see the fees you must pay and your appointment date and time. If the system doesn't give you an appointment date and time, the DGMM will send you one by SMS message or e-mail, depending on your communication preferences. This may take a week or more.
After you apply online, you can get the other required documents, which include
- Proof of your address
- Proof you have enough money to live on
- Other documents according to the type of residence permit you're applying for.
You'll then assemble all of the documents into an application package with your Residence Permit Registration Form on top. Next, you'll go to your appointment.
Learn more about the e-ikamet system and how to use it to apply for your residence permit.
Applying for a Residence Permit in Istanbul
The Istanbul office of the DGMM is limiting extensions of touristic residence permits for citizens of some countries and asking for documentation beyond the usual requirements.
If they need additional documents, they'll send you an e-mail or SMS message asking for them. These additional documents may include
- A criminal record check (Turkish / Foreign)
- A health report
- A numerataj belgesi (for owners of real property, this document proves the existence and location of the property)
- A copy of the property title deed of the place you're renting
- A copy of the identity card of your landlord
If you're asked for these or any other additional documents, you can learn how and where to get them here: Documents, Forms & Numbers.
Learn more about applying for a residence permit in Istanbul.
Legalizing Foreign Documents for Use in Turkey
If the documents you need include those issued by a foreign government, you must have them legalized for use in Turkey with a separate, attached document or seal called an apostille.
You'll get the apostille by sending the document to the department of your government which is authorized to issue them under the International Apostille Convention. They'll attach the apostille and send it back to you.
Next, you must have the document and the apostille translated into Turkish by a sworn Turkish translator.
Your Residence Permit Appointment and Interview
You'll take your printed Residence Permit Registration Form and the rest of your documents to an appointment at your local DGMM branch, where an immigration specialist will interview you.
At the end of your appointment, you'll receive one of two documents:
- An İkamet İzni Müracaat Belgesi (Residence Permit Application Document): This is a stamped and signed A4-sized paper containing your photograph and personal information. It serves as a temporary residence permit until your residence permit card is delivered. With it, you can also leave Turkey for up to 15 days and return without buying a visa.
- A Tebliğ Tebellüğ Belgesi (Official Communiqué): This document is often issued in Istanbul and Ankara. It says your residence permit package has been received and that, if your application is approved or rejected, they'll notify you. It also says that the fees you paid won't be refunded.
Learn more about the residence permit appointment and interview.
Learn more about the Residence Permit Application Document.
Learn more about the Tebliğ Tebellüğü Belgesi.
Receiving Your Residence Permit Card
If your residence permit is approved, the DGMM will print your card and give it to the PTT (post office) and send you an SMS message or e-mail to notify you of the approval.
Next, you'll receive an SMS message from the PTT saying your residence permit card is being delivered by registered mail. Within a few days, a courier will bring it to you at your registered address.
Learn more about receiving your residence permit card.
Extending Your Residence Permit
Extensions are made in the same way as first applications, which includes applying online again, collecting documents into an application package again, and going to an appointment again. You may apply for an extension at any time within 60 days before the expiration date of your current residence permit. Extend as soon as you can, so if you need to leave the country for some reason, you can do so with your current residence permit, and so you won't have to buy a visa to re-enter Turkey.
Turkey is limiting short-term residence permit extensions for citizens of some countries. To learn these limitations and the countries affected, see: Short-term Residence Permit Extension Restrictions.