Foreigners typically first enter Turkey with a visa. If you want to remain in Turkey beyond the duration of your visa, you must get a residence permit. There are no "visa extensions."
Residence permit applications are handled by the Göç İdaresi Genel Müdürlüğü, (Directorate General of Migration Management, or DGMM). There is a DGMM office in the capital city of each province in Turkey, and in many towns with a significant foreign population. All applications for residence permits (both first-time and extensions) are made online. Supporting documents are then delivered to the DGMM.
For first-time applications, the documents are delivered in person, at a time and date you will select as an appointment during the online application.
For extensions, you can mail the documents to an address you will be given during the online application.
In all cases, you must provide documents proving:
Who You Are
Done with your passport or passport substitute, and a copy of it. The copy must include the identity information page, the page containing your photo, and the page showing the stamp for your most recent entry into Turkey. If your passport is in a non-Latin language, you must have it translated by a sworn translator.
That You Have a Place to Live
Done with a rental contract, a tapu (title deed to a property), or even a letter from a hotel manager stating that you are using a hotel for a residence. Learn more here.
That You Have Enough Financial Support
Usually, you only have to declare that you have the financial capacity to live in Turkey for the duration of the residence permit you are applying for. You make this declaration during the online application process. However, the DGMM may ask for supporting proof of financial means, so you should be prepared to present it on demand.
Cash: Until recently, the standard of proof was the equivalent of $500 USD in a Turkish bank account. However, the DGMM no longer uses this as a set rule. Obviously, if you have that amount of money in a Turkish bank, that will certainly be accepted as proof that you can support yourself. But if you have less, don't worry. You just need to convince the immigration specialist handling your application that you have enough to live on, based on your monthly expenses and lifestyle.
Income from a Pension or Other Source: If you have a pension or other income, you can present a letter or statement from the organization which manages your pension or otherwise pays you. Learn more here.
4. That you have health insurance which is valid in Turkey, and meets certain minimum coverage requirements. The following types of insurance are accepted:
Health insurance from a Turkish private insurance company.
Health insurance from your home country if if it meets certain minimum coverage requirements.
Turkish government health insurance, managed by the Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu, or SGK, which you can purchase after you have legally resided in Turkey for one year or more.
Coverage under a bilateral agreement between the Turkish government and your country.
Some types of residence permits, such as family residence permits and long-term residence permits, require additional documentation.
For new applications, four (4) photos are required. For extensions, two (2) are required. You must also scan one of the photos and, when applying using the online residence permit system, upload a scanned copy of your photo (so have your photos taken before you apply online). Photos must meet certain official requirements.
Types of Residence Permits
Short-term Residence Permits
The short-term residence permit is what most foreigners who live in Turkey have. It allows you to stay in Turkey beyond the time allowed on your visa from one month to two years. Then you can extend it when it is within sixty days of expiring. You can continue to extend it for as long as you want to remain in Turkey.
Family Residence Permits
The family residence permit is for the foreign spouse, or foreign children or dependents, of a Turkish citizen or foreign legal resident who acts as the family sponsor. In all cases, the sponsor is already legally living in Turkey as a citizen or with a residence permit.
Long-term Residence Permits
If you have been legally residing in Turkey for at least eight years with any type of residence or work permit, you can apply for a long-term residence permit. This type of residence permit never has to be extended, but the approval of your application can take six months or more. Once you have one, you can also apply for an unlimited work permit, which will enable you to work for any employer, without the restrictions other types of work permits have.
Student Residence Permits
If you want to attend a university in Turkey, you will need to get a student residence permit. This requires an application at a Turkish embassy or consulate outside of Turkey, after being accepted as a student by an educational institution within Turkey. You must first get a student visa, then come to Turkey, and then apply for a student residence permit after you arrive.
Four Steps for Residence Permit Applications and Extensions
Residence permit applications and extensions both involve four basic steps:
1. Gather Your Documentation
Before you apply online, you need to get some of your documentation ready, because the online system will ask you for information from them, or ask you to scan and upload them.
A Copy of Your Passport: Get a color copy of your passport to include with your application.
Photos: You'll need to upload one of these, and the one you upload must be the same as the photos you include with your application.
Health Insurance Policy: You'll need the name of the company from which you bought the policy, the policy number, and the start and end dates of the policy. If you already have one policy and have bought a new one which activates when your old one expires, enter the start date of the first policy, and the end date of the second policy. Get a Turkish and an English version of the policy. Keep the English version, and send the Turkish version in with your application.
Proof of Your Address: For first time applications, you'll need to have a notarized copy of your tapu (title deed) or a rental contract. For extensions, you'll need a Yerleşim Yeri ve Diğer Adres Belgesi (Place of Residence and Other Addresses Document). You can get this at the local Nüfus ve Vatandaşlık İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü (Citizenship and Population Directorate) office. If you are staying at a hotel or with a friend, or are in another situation, get the documentation as described in this guide about proving you have a residence. You'll be entering your address exactly as stated on whichever document you use.
2. Online Application
Turkey has an online system where you can fill out the residence permit application forms and upload scanned copies of your documents, and a scanned photo of yourself. If it is your first application, it will then allow you to choose an available day and time for an appointment. If you are extending the duration of your residence permit, it will give you the address to which you must mail your documentation. The online system also allows you to pay the residence permit fees, using a credit card. All applications and extensions are done at this website:
Online Residence Permit Application System
Tip! You should already have your health insurance arranged before you begin the process, since the system will require you to enter information from your health insurance policy. You should also have your photos ready beforehand, since you must scan and upload one of them, and this photo must be the same as the ones you submit with your application.
3. Payment of Fees
If you didn't already pay the residence permit fees by credit card online, you can also pay them at any vergi dairesi (tax office) or at any Ziraat Bankası (Ziraat Bank). Tell the clerk you need to pay the ikamet ucreti (ee-kah-met ooj-reh-tee). Be sure to get at least two receipts: one to give or send to the DGMM, and one for your records.
4. Delivery of Documentation
First Time Application
After you successfully submit the online application, you must go in person on the day and time you selected for your appointment. During your appointment, a migration management specialist will go over your documents to make sure everything is in order. If anything is missing, you can go and get it, then bring it back. You have 30 days to get any missing documents, but typically things like getting something notarized or getting health insurance can be done in a few hours.
If you are extending a residence permit, the process is the same, except instead of an appointment, the system will give you an address to which you must mail the supporting documents by taahhütlü posta (registered mail), using Turkey's national postal system, PTT. You may also send them using a Turkish cargo delivery company.
Important! Each extension application must be mailed separately. Do not combine more than one application in the same package.
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.
Need to buy the required health insurance coverage for your residence permit? You can buy it online, or just get a free quote, by using our Expat Health Insurance Inquiry Form.
Residence Permit Forum: If you have questions or comments about residence permits in Turkey, please post them in our residence permits forum.
Directorate General of Migration Management, Required Documents: Several downloadable PDF documents available here, which cover the documents required for first-time applications and extensions.