To work in Turkey, you must have a work permit. It's the employer who applies for the work permit, as you provide documents required for the application.
In this article, I'll teach you how to get your first work permit while outside or inside Turkey, then cover other types of work permits you might apply for. I'll also cover the types of work permits available, the benefits of working in Turkey, and the restrictions you should know as you search for a job.
What is a Work Visa?
A work visa is a sticker issued by Turkish embassies and consulates. It's applied to one of the pages in your passport, and it allows you to enter Turkey for employment. It's valid for six months, for one entry. If your employer hires you while you're outside of Turkey, your employer will simultaneously apply for your work permit, which should be ready for you when you arrive.
What is a Work Permit?
A work permit is an identity card that allows you to work in Turkey, subject to certain restrictions. It also serves as a residence permit. The definite-time work permit is the most common, issued for one employer and one job for a fixed amount of time, then extended as needed.
Other types of work permits include the independent work permit, for those who work for themselves, the unlimited work permit, which is issued for life, and the Turquoise Card, which is given to foreigners with exceptional talent or skills that Turkey needs.
How Can I Get a Work Permit to Work in Turkey?
If you've never worked in Turkey before, the type of residence permit you'll apply for is the definite-time work permit. How you get one depends on whether you're outside or inside Turkey.
If You're Not in Turkey
If you're not yet in Turkey, you must:
- Find an employer.
- Accept their job offer
- Go to a Turkish embassy or consulate and apply for a work visa.
While you're applying for your work visa, your employer will be applying for your work permit in Turkey. After you get your work visa, travel to Turkey, and go to your job site, your employer will give you your work permit.
Learn more about applying for your work visa and work permit while outside of Turkey.
If You're in Turkey
If you've been living in Turkey for at least six months, you don't need a work visa since you're already in Turkey. But you must still find an employer and get a job offer first.
You'll be supplying the required documents as your employer applies for your work permit. Once your employer receives your work permit and gives it to you, you can start working.
Learn more about applying for a work permit while in Turkey.
Restrictions for Foreigners Working in Turkey
The general rule is that you can't work in a job that a qualified Turk can do. After your employer applies for your work permit, the Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Security will check the national employment application database to see if there is a qualified Turkish citizen available. If there are no qualified Turkish candidates, they'll approve your work permit.
For that reason, many foreigners work as teachers of their native language or in positions requiring hard-to-find skills.
Also, an employer can only hire one foreigner for every five Turkish citizens.
Learn more about the restrictions for foreigners working in Turkey.
Learn more about professions which are prohibited for foreigners.
Types of Work Permits in Turkey
Definite-time Work Permit
If you're coming to Turkey for the first time or applying for a job after you've lived in Turkey for six months, you'll get a definite-time work permit. The definite-time work permit is for a single employer, for a specific job, for a definite amount of time.
At first, the definite-time work permit is valid for one year. After the first year, it can be extended for another two years, then for three years at a time. After eight years of work, you can apply for an unlimited work permit (see below).
For seasonal jobs, the definite-time work permit may be issued for less than 12 months.
How the Definite-time Work Permit Application Process Works
For the definite-time work permit, you must first find an employer. Your employer will then apply for your work permit online, using the e-Devlet system, at www.turkiye.gov.tr. e-Devlet means "e-Government." It's Turkey's government services website.
While your employer is completing the work permit application, you'll provide your identity information and various required documents (see below). Some of the documents you must provide will be scanned and uploaded into the online application system.
Changing Employers and Expiration of the Definite-time Work Permit
If you stop working for one employer and want to work for another one, you and your new employer must go through the work permit application process again. Definite-time work permits aren't transferrable from one employer to another.
If your work permit expires or you become unemployed, it becomes invalid. You must apply for a short-term residence permit or leave Turkey within ten days.
If you leave Turkey, you can return on the next day with an e-visa, then apply for a residence permit. Work permits are unrelated to visas, so your time in Turkey isn't counted against your visa. When you re-enter with the e-visa, your time in Turkey for the visa will start at zero.
Independent Work Permit
Independent work permits are given on a case-by-case basis to foreigners who work on their own, without an employer. Unfortunately, approvals for these types of applications are rare.
To apply for an independent work permit, contact an office of the Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Security for guidance on how to apply and what documents are required.
Unlimited Work Permit
Once you've lived and/or worked in Turkey continuously for eight years with no interruptions in residence, you can apply for a long-term residence permit and an unlimited work permit. You don't need to have an employer when you apply, and you can work for any employer, anywhere you want.
With the unlimited work permit, it doesn't matter if the job can be filled by a Turkish citizen or not, and it's not subject to the "one foreigner for every five Turkish workers" rule. However, the restrictions on what professions you can work in still apply.
The unlimited work permit is issued for life.
Learn more about the long-term residence permit.
Learn more about the unlimited work permit.
The Turquoise Card is an unlimited work permit without the requirement to live in Turkey for at least eight years. It's given to foreigners with exceptional talent or skills on a case-by-case basis and allows the foreigner to work in professions where their talent or abilities will benefit Turkey. It's first issued for three years, then can be made permanent.
Learn more about the Turquoise Card.
Finding a Job in Turkey
There are several websites where employers offer jobs to foreigners. Some are in English, some in Turkish. If the site you're searching is in Turkish, try searching in English, since jobs for foreigners on those sites are usually written in English.
Learn how to find a job in Turkey.
Legalization of Foreign Documents for Use in Turkey
All foreign documents must be "legalized" for use in Turkey. Legalization is done with an apostille, a separate document (or stamp) that authenticates the document it's attached to. Then the document and the apostille must be translated by a sworn translator.
Learn how to legalize foreign documents for use in Turkey.
Who Issues Work Permits
Work permits for most jobs are issued by the Aile, Çalışma ve Sosyal Hizmetler Bakanlığı (Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Services). This ministry also issues independent and unlimited work permits, and also the Turquoise Card.
Work permits for teachers are issued by the Yükseköğretim Kurulu (Council of Higher Education, or "YÖK"). Some universities are authorized to issue work permits. So if you're a teacher, contact your school or university for details.
Benefits of a Work Permit
For the first year, your family members can get short-term residence permits. After you've been employed and living in Turkey for one year, your family members will be eligible for family residence permits.
The family residence permit is valid until your work permit expires or for three years, whichever is soonest. So as your time on the job increases and your work permit is extended for two and three years at a time, your family's residence permits can have the same duration as your work permit.
Education for Your Children
Your children will be able to attend public schools for free until they reach 18 years of age.
Social Security and Health Insurance
Your employer will enroll you in Turkey's national social security and retirement plan, provided by the Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu (Social Security Administration, or SGK). They have 30 days to do this. Your employer will pay the monthly payments. After a required number of years working in the system, you'll be eligible to receive a pension.
Your employer will also enroll you in Turkey's national health insurance plan, provided by the SGK, and pay the monthly payments. Your family members will also be covered. The plan entitles you and your family to free medical treatment at state hospitals and will usually pay most of your bill at more expensive private hospitals.
Checking the Validity of Your Work Permit
To see if your work permit was issued or if it's still valid, go to https://izinsorgula.ailevecalisma.gov.tr/#/app/giris. The site is in Turkish.
- In the first menu, select Yabancı Çalışma İzni.
- In the second box, enter your foreigner identification number.
- In the third box, enter the document number of your work permit.
- Complete the "Captcha" verification and click Sorgula.
Don't work without a work permit. To learn more about working illegally in Turkey and what can happen if you do, see: Working Illegally in Turkey: How You Might Get Caught and What Might Happen to You.
Work Permit Law
Work permits are issued under Law Number 6735 on International Labor Force.
Assistance and Support
Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Security: They have a national customer service number, which, from within Turkey, is 170. From outside of Turkey, call +90 216 170 1122. It has an English option.
Yükseköğretim Kurulu (Council of Higher Education, or "YÖK"): If you'll be working at a University, contact the Council of Higher Education at 0 850 470 0 965 from outside Turkey. The call will be free. From inside Turkey, call +90 312 298 7000.
Work Visa and Work Permit Forums: If you have questions about work permits, search our work permit forums, or open a topic. We have quite a few expat members who have already been through the work visa and work permit process and who help.