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Turkish Citizenship and Military Service


Ken Grubb

Turkish males age 20 to 41 must serve in the Turkish military. If you're a male considering becoming a Turkish citizen or seeking citizenship for your male children, you should take this into account.

If You Have a Turkish Mother or Father

If you have a Turkish mother or father, the Turkish government considers you to be a Turkish citizen from birth, and you'll be required to serve in the military unless you can legally avoid it.

If You Don't Have a Turkish Mother or Father

If you don't have a Turkish mother or father and are over age 24 and become a naturalized citizen-that is, by choice, you won't be required to serve in the military.

How the Turkish Military Conscription Cycle Works

The call-up for military service registration occurs when a Turkish male reaches age 19. Their actual service begins at age 20.

Turkish military conscription (draft) generally works with age groups. Here's an example of how it works in a typical year:

In July, male Turks born anytime during the year which is 19 years previous are required to apply for military service (in 2021, for example, that birth year was 2002),

While applying, the recruits can choose what capacity they want to serve in, such as officer, non-commissioned officer, or private. Anyone who doesn't meet the requirements to be an officer or non-commissioned officer will serve as a private. The recruits may also submit reasons for a postponement of their service, or to be excused from service because of a medical condition.

In September, the applications are evaluated, reasons for postponement or excusal from service are considered, and assignments are made. In January of the following year, the first orders to report are sent out. In March of the following year, the first recruits report for duty. Typically the orders are sent out two months in advance of the start date of their training.

How Your Education Level Can Affect Your Service

  • If you don't have at least a four-year university degree, you'll serve 12 months as a private.
  • If you have a four-year university degree or higher, you can serve 12 months as an officer, or six months as a private.

Reducing or Avoiding Military Service

Your Age at the Time of Naturalized Citizenship

If you don't have a Turkish mother or father, are over 24 years old, and became a naturalized Turkish citizen after age 24 by choice, by marriage, or by investment, you won't be expected to serve in the Turkish military. This opportunity to avoid military service doesn't exist if you have a Turkish mother or father. If you have a Turkish mother or father, you're legally a Turkish citizen from the day of your birth. So you'll have the military service requirement no matter what.

Veterans of the Armed Forces of Other Countries

If you've already served in your home country's military, whether it was compulsory or voluntary, you probably won't have to serve again in the Turkish military. Turkey has agreements with many countries stating that if a person has already done military service in one country, and then becomes a citizen of the other, they don't have to serve in the military a second time. This also applies to those who've paid, in their home country, to forego military service. You would just need to have a document which certifies your military obligation, in your home country, has been fulfilled.

Postponing Military Service

Educational Reasons

  • If you're in high school or have graduated, you can postpone your military service until age 22.
  • If you're in or have graduated from a vocational and technical high school, you can postpone your military service until age 25.
  • If you're a university student, you can postpone your military service until age 28. If you are still in a university at age 28, you'll be required to take a break from your studies and perform your military service. Then after that, you can return to the university.
  • If you've completed your four-year university education and are working on a master's degree, you can postpone your military service for one year.

Medical Reasons

If you have a temporary medical condition, you can postpone your service until you are well enough and fit enough to perform it.

The Askerlik Bedeli: Paying Money to Shorten Your Military Service

From time to time, the Turkish government allows some who are obliged to serve in the military to pay a bedel (payment) to have their military service time shortened. They offer this paid opt-out to keep the civilian workforce healthy for economic growth. But it is always subject to the requirements of the military. Those who pay the Bedel attend 30 days of training, which fulfills their military commitment.

In 2018, potential recruits born before 1 January 1994 were allowed to pay a bedel of 31,000 TL to have their military service time shortened to a training course of 21 days. After reporting for duty, their training focused on the basics of soldiering, including military customs and courtesies, marching, physical training, and marksmanship.

While there have been discussions about making the Askerlik Bedeli permanent, as of this  writing, it isn't. It will only be available on a year-to-year basis according to the needs of the government.

Contacting the Turkish Recruitment Office

You should always clarify your personal situation with the Turkish military directly. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Contact the Askerlama Genel Müdürlüğü (General Directorate of Recruitment), at https://asal.msb.gov.tr/.
  2. Go to, call, or e-mail the Askerlik Şubesi (Military Local Office) responsible for the area where you live. You can find a list of these offices, which includes their contact information, at https://asal.msb.gov.tr/Askeralma/AsalIletisim.

References

Law Number 7179, Article 43, as of June 26th, 2019.

Consultation with Ender Keleş, Attorney at Law and Managing Partner of E&G Legal, August 22nd, 2019. If you would like to contact Mr. Keleş, you can do so through his website at www.eglegal.net.

Turkish Citizenship Law

Turkish Citizenship Law is the Turkish Nationality Act No. 5901 as amended.

Assistance and Support

Milli Savunma Bakanlığı Askerlama Genel Müdürlüğü Bedelli Askerlık: The Turkish military information page about making a payment and doing a shortened term of service.

The Nüfushandles citizenship applications made within Turkey. You can call their national helpline from any telephone in Turkey, at 150. Their international number is +90 312 591 2133 or 2389. It has an English option. For citizenship applications made outside of Turkey, contact your local Turkish embassy or consulate.

Turkish Citizenship Forum: If you have a question about Turkish citizenship, search our citizenship forum to see if it's already been answered. If it hasn't, feel free to open a new topic.

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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