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Leaving Turkey and Returning While Applying for a Residence Permit


Ken Grubb
leaving-turkey-during-residence-permit-application.jpg

In this article I'll explain what you must do if you must leave Turkey and return during the residence permit application process. I'll give you the general guideline, and also some workarounds if you're unable to follow them.

A foreigner may leave Turkey during the residence permit application process for up to 15 days per trip and return without a visa with a Residence Permit Application Document from the immigration office and the fee payment receipts. Without these documents, reentry may be made with a Conditional Entry Information Form.

To avoid the hassles of leaving Turkey and returning during the Turkey residence permit application period, you should:

  1. Not plan to travel.
  2. Do what's necessary, before you apply, to prevent the need for travel.
  3. Apply for your residence permit as early as possible.

Applying early minimizes the amount of time between when your current visa or residence permit will expire and when your residence permit card arrives in the mail.

But if you're in the process of applying for a residence permit and must leave Turkey after your current residence permit or visa expires, or after you've exceeded the number of days your visa allows you to be in Turkey, there are still ways to do it. I'll explain all of them in this article.

Note: Of course, if you still have a valid residence permit, or if you have a valid visa and you haven't exceeded the number of days it allows you to be in Turkey, you can still leave Turkey and return as much as you want. Your departure from and return to Turkey won't affect your residence permit application at all.

What's the Earliest You Can Apply for a Turkey Residence Permit?

You can apply for a Turkey residence permit anytime within 60 days before the expiration of your visa or current residence permit. Once the immigration office has received all your application documents, it has 90 days to process the application.

What You Must Do to Leave Turkey and Return Depends on Which Part of the Residence Permit Process You're In

You can think of the Turkey residence permit process as having three steps. First the registration period, beginning after you've registered your application online. Next is the application period, beginning after you've submitted all of the required documents to the immigration office. Third is the approval period, beginning after your residence permit has been approved and ending when you receive your residence permit card in the mail. Since it's possible that you'll be outside of Turkey when you get the approval message, I've included that as a fourth situation. Click on a link in the menu below for whatever situation you're in, to learn what you must do to leave Turkey and return.

Situation 1: You've registered your Turkey residence permit application online, but you haven't submitted your application documents yet.

When you register your residence permit application online at https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr/, you have done only that—you've registered for your residence permit, and that's all.

Your application isn't complete until you submit all of your application documents to the immigration office. After that, an immigration specialist must review your documents and approve your application.

The Residence Permit Registration Form

A Residence Permit Registration Form that foreigners get after registering online for a residence permit.

The Residence Permit Registration Form keeps you legally in Turkey until your appointment. But doesn't give you any travel privileges.

At the end of the online registration process, you're given a link to download a document called an İkamet İzni Kayıt Formu (Residence Permit Registration Form).

The Residence Permit Registration Form contains your identity details, passport number, the date, time, and location of your appointment at the immigration office, and the fees you must pay. It also includes your photo.

You must sign and include the first page of the Residence Permit Registration Form with your document package the package to a specialist at the immigration office, then keep a copy of it, and your passport, with you to remain legally in Turkey after your current residence permit expires, your visa expires, or you exceed the number of days you're allowed to be in Turkey with a visa.

If Your Visa is Expired, and You Haven't Exceeded the Number of Days You're Allowed to Be in Turkey

If your visa has expired, but you haven't exceeded the number of days you're allowed to be in Turkey with a visa, you can pay a fine for any overstay and leave Turkey, then get a new visa and re-enter.

For example, let's say you got an e-visa that is valid for 180 days, and it allows you to be in Turkey for up to 90 days during any 180-day period. Your visa expires on, say, July 5th. You've either just used it for a few short visits or one long visit near the end of its validity period. And sometime near the expiration date of July 5th, you register your application for a residence permit. Then your visa expires, but you still have a number of days left that you're allowed to be in Turkey with a visa.

In this case, you'll pay a fine at the airport for any overstay beyond the expiration date of your visa, then leave.

Then you can buy a new visa and re-enter because now you have a new visa and you haven't been in Turkey for more than 90 of your allowed days during the previous 180-day period.

If Your Visa is Still Valid, and You've Exceeded the Number of Days You're Allowed to Be in Turkey

If your visa is still valid, that is, it hasn't reached its expiration date yet, you don't have to buy a new visa because you already have one.

But because you've used all of the days you're allowed to be in Turkey, you must re-enter by signing a special form called a Şartlı Giriş Bilgi Formu (Conditional Entry Information Form) when you arrive.

What is the Conditional Entry Information Form?

A Conditional Entry Form with which a foreigner can re-enter Turkey.

The Conditional Entry Information Form allows you to re-enter Turkey even if you've reached or exceeded the number of days you're allowed to be in Turkey with your visa. After signing it, you must apply for a residence permit within ten days.

A Şartlı Giriş Bilgi Formu (Conditional Entry Information Form) is a document you can use to reenter Turkey after exceeding the number of days your visa allows you to be in Turkey. On it, you declare that you will apply for a residence permit within ten days.

Important: If you re-enter Turkey using the Conditional Entry Information Form and don't apply for a residence permit within ten days, you'll receive a re-entry ban for up to two years when you leave.

What the Conditional Entry Form Says

Translated to English, the conditional entry form says the following:

"As per the records it is understood that you have expired 90 days stay period with in (sic) 180 days within the scope of first paragraph of article 11 of the Law on Foreigners and International Protection No. 6458. However, your entry to the country may be permitted in the case that you accept the fulfill the condition of applying for residence permit within 10 days to the Foreigners Branch Directorate / Foreigners Bureau Directorship in the province/town that you live."

Insider Tip: The text above refers to visas with a validity period of 180 days and 90 days allowed in Turkey during any 180-day period. But according to the Visa Violation Office at Istanbul Airport, foreigners with a visa having a different validity period or a different number of days allowed in Turkey can also reenter Turkey by signing a conditional entry form.

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Situation 2: You've registered your Turkey residence permit application online, and submitted your application documents, but your application hasn't been approved yet.

The Tebliğ Tebelluğ, which is an official communique or memorandum.

A tebligat is a simple memorandum that says an immigration specialist has received your residence permit application package and that it will be processed. It keeps you legally in Turkey until you receive your residence permit card, but gives you no travel privileges.

So, you've completed your online registration and gone to your appointment at the immigration office, and an immigration specialist has checked your documents and received them. At this point your residence permit application is complete, and the immigration specialist may give you a simple, one-page (or half-page) document called a tebligat (an official communique document, also called a tebliğ-tebellüğü).

A tebligat is an official notification used when communication from one person to another must be documented. For residence permit applications, it notifies the foreigner that their residence permit application has been received and that it will be reviewed.

The tebligat is  signed by both the immigration specialist and you. It just says they've received your application and they'll review it and let you know when it's approved. It may also say that you can't get a refund for whatever application fees you've paid. There's no photo on it.

And it doesn't give you any travel privileges.

If You Must Leave Turkey, You must get an İkamet İzni Müracaat Belgesi (Residence Permit Application Document)

An İkamet İzni Müracaat Belgesi (Residence Permit Application Document) is an A-4 sized paper with your photo, identifying information, and application number. It's signed by an immigration specialist and stamped. It contains a statement giving you permission to leave Turkey for up to 15 days and return without a visa and without paying any fines.

The Residence Permit Application Document also serves as a temporary residence permit. So, even if you've overstayed your visa or residence permit, if you have the Residence Permit Application Document, you can leave Turkey for multiple trips of up to 15 days at a time with no overstay fines, and re-enter Turkey without having to get a new visa.

If you stay out of Turkey for more than 15 days, you must have a visa to re-enter.

The Residence Permit Application Document.

The Residence Permit Application Document is what you need to leave Turkey and return during the residence permit application process. It allows multiple trips of up to 15 days each.

If your residence permit application appointment involves an interview, the immigration specialist may give you the Residence Permit Application Document instead of a tebligat. If they do, you're in luck, because you won't have to request one for travel. You already have exactly what you need.

Important: When you re-enter Turkey, besides the first page of your Residence Permit Application Document and your passport, you must also have a copy of the receipt showing that you've paid the residence permit application fees. So don't throw away your receipt and make a copy of it just in case.

Insider Tip: You may hear foreigners refer to requesting a "travel letter." What they're referring to is actually the Residence Permit Application Document. There is no "travel letter."

How to Get a Residence Permit Application Document

Here's how to get a Residence Permit Application Document so you can travel:

1. Get the e-mail address for the immigration office where you submitted your residence permit application.

The e-mail address you need should be printed on the tebligat. If it isn't, call the Yabancılar İletişim Merkezi (Foreigners Communication Office, or YİMER) at 157. You can call that number from any telephone in Turkey. There is an English option, as well as options for other languages. Ask them for the e-mail address you need.

2. Send an E-mail to the Immigration Office Requesting a Residence Permit Application Document.

It might help if you use the Turkish name of the document, İkamet İzni Müracaat Belgesi in your request to prevent any confusion. Explain the reason for your travel. It must be something urgent, because since your application hasn't been approved yet, an immigration specialist will have to find your application package and do an approval ahead of all of the other applications, then create a Residence Permit Application Document just for you.

They're not going to do this for you just because you want to go on a shopping trip. Your reason for travel must be urgent and unavoidable, and something you can't delay.

The Immigration Office will Send Your Residence Permit Application Document by E-mail.

How Long does it Take to Get the Residence Permit Application Document?

Officially, it can take up to 14 days to get a Residence Permit Application Document sent to you. However, a Turkey Central member recently asked for one and it was sent to her in three days.

What if I Leave Turkey Without Getting a Residence Permit Application Document?

As I mentioned before, it's best not to do this. If you leave Turkey without the Residence Permit Application Document, you'll have to pay a fine for any overstay you have when you leave. If you're already outside of Turkey, send an e-mail to the immigration office where you applied and ask them to send you a Residence Permit Application Document. Because it's sent by e-mail, it doesn't matter if you're out of the country. Otherwise, you can re-enter by signing a Conditional Entry Information Form (see above).

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Situation 3: You've received a message saying your Turkey residence permit application has been approved and that it will be printed and mailed, but you haven't received your residence permit card yet.

A woman receives a message saying her Turkey residence permit has been approved.

If your residence permit has been approved but you must leave Turkey before you receive the card, and you don't have a Residence Permit Application Document, e-mail the immigration office and ask them to send you one.

Let's say you've received an e-mail or SMS message saying your residence permit has been approved. The SMS message looks like this:

2021-**-******* nolu ikamet izni talebiniz olumlu degerlendirilmistir. Your residence permit request 2021-**-******* numbered has been evaluated positively. B001

Note: the "B001" is just a number that appears after every SMS message.

Congratulations! You've been approved for residence in Turkey! The immigration office will now have your card printed and mailed to you by registered mail. But what if you suddenly have to leave Turkey before you get your residence permit card?

According to the immigration office, you must still request a Residence Permit Application Document if you want to re-enter Turkey without a visa.

However, I also called the Visa Violations Office at the Istanbul Airport. They told me that if a foreigner has an approved residence permit but doesn't have a residence permit card, they'll be able to see in their computer system that the foreigner has a residence permit and will let the foreigner leave Turkey without paying a fine and re-enter without a visa.

So what should you do? Personally, I always do as much as I can to avoid any hassles, so my advice is to go ahead and request the Residence Permit Application Document and get one before you leave.

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Situation 4: You've received a message saying your Turkey residence permit has been approved, but you're not in Turkey.

As I mentioned before, when your residence permit is approved, the immigration office adds that information into a central computer system, which the border police at ports of entry can see.

So when you enter Turkey, you won't need a visa. Just let the visa police know your residence permit was approved while outside of Turkey, and they'll be able to see that you're a legal resident. You can then enter Turkey without your residence permit card.

Receiving Your Residence Permit Card When You Return to Turkey

If your residence permit card is delivered before you get back to Turkey, and you miss the delivery, the PTT (post office) will keep it for seven days. After that, they'll send it to the immigration office where you applied. You can then get it by going to the immigration office. No appointment is required.

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Additional Information

If You're Going to Miss Your Appointment

If your travel outside of Turkey will cause you to miss your residence permit application appointment, cancel it. You can re-apply when you return to Turkey. Canceling your appointment allows another foreigner to use the time and saves an immigration specialist from waiting for someone who isn't going to be there.

You can cancel your appointment by going back into your online application. There you'll see an option to cancel. You can also call the Foreigners Communication Center at 157 from inside Turkey. If you're outside of Turkey, call +90 312 157 1122. Have your application number ready when you call. It's printed on the first page of your Residence Permit Registration Form.

Giving Another Person Power of Attorney to Receive Your Residence Permit Card

You can give someone else power of attorney to receive your residence permit card for you. The PTT will still send it to your registered address, so they'll need to be there, but with power of attorney, they can sign for it.

You can get a power of attorney created for you at any notary office. The person you're giving power of attorney to doesn't have to be there, but you must have a copy of their ID card or passport, and their mobile phone number.

Contacting the Visa Police at the Airport or Port of Entry

The visa violation offices at airports and other ports of entry handle issues concerning visas and issues that might come up when exiting or entering Turkey. You can contact them by going to the website of the relevant airport or port of entry and asking the operator to connect you.

Contacting the Foreigners Communications Center

The Foreigners Communications Center handles issues concerning residence permits. But they also have a department to answer questions about visas. When you call, just press the number according to which one you want. You can call them at 157 from any telephone in Turkey. If you're outside of Turkey, call +90 312 157 1122. It may help to have your passport, current residence permit (if you have one), and your residence permit application number when you call.

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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's now retired and living in Antalya, where he researches and writes guides to help others live skillfully in Turkey.


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