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Neil Sharpe

Residence Permit Procedure in Izmir

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I live in Japan. I want to retire to Turkey with my Japanese wife. I have already been to Izmir to look around. I've decided Balcova would be the best place to live. It is near a great piano shop, the Symphony hall and, most importantly, a hot spring. In addition to my wedding certificate do I also need a criminal certificate for me and my wife with an apostille. Do my wife and I apply separately? My wife is very lucky because she doesn't need a visa. To start the procedure do I have to rent an apartment first, then get a medical insurance certificate, get a tax number, mobile phone and open a bank account. After I do all these things I can then apply for a residence permit online. Is this correct? Regards.

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Because you are coming to Turkey for the first time, you'll both be applying for a short-term residence permit, separately. These can be issued for up to two years. Your marriage certificate is not required for that.

I checked the required documents on i-ikamet.goc.gov.tr, and they are not listing a criminal records check as being needed, but Istanbul asks for one, and I believe some other locations also do. They can ask for additional documentation besides what is on the list. What I would recommend is calling the residence permit helpline. You can call this from outside of Turkey at +90 312 157 1122. There is an English-speaking option. Just to make absolutely sure, you can also call the Izmir Göç İdaresi Genel Müdürlüğü (Directorate General of Migration Management, or DGMM), at  +90 232 402 44 62.  I don't know if they have an English option, but English is often spoken in Izmir, and there is probably somebody there you can speak with. If not, send me a PM and I will call them for you and ask.

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To start the procedure do I have to rent an apartment first, then get a medical insurance certificate, get a tax number, mobile phone and open a bank account.

Before you apply online you will need your tax number, your photos (four biometric), your health insurance, and an address. When you go through the online application the system will ask for these. And you will scan and upload one of the photos. On your appointment day you will take these to the local DGMM in person.

You can actually use a hotel as your address, you just need to get documentation from the hotel which says you are staying there, then later get an apartment, or you can rent an apartment first. They you can register your address with the Citizenship and Population Directorate (called the Nüfus), when you get your apartment.

You will need a tax number which you can get easily with your passport, at any tax office. The health insurance is also easy to get, just go to an insurance company and walk in, it takes less than an hour. You can also buy it online here:

Health Insurance Online

They receive payment by bank transfer and then mail your policy to you. You can get two one-year back-to-back policies which will cover you for two years, so you could apply for a two-year short-term residence permit.

A bank account isn't mandatory. If you have regular retirement, you just need to bring proof of this to show that you can live in Turkey without working illegally. I have been living here since the whole system started and they only ask me to print off the last six months of my US bank account to show that I am receiving regular retirement income.

You should get a mobile phone because now a lot of the DGMM offices are sending the appointment date by SMS, however you can also opt for e-mail. Also, when they are finished processing your application in Ankara, and they put your card in the mail (calld the PTT), the PTT will send  you an SMS to let you know it's on the way, with a barcode tracking number.

Best of luck to you on your upcoming move and new life, Balçova is a good choice I think! :)

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I just had a thought. If my bank statement is in Japanese will I need to translate it to Turkish or English or just show the regular payment in the bank statement.

Sometimes they don't even ask for proof of income. So it may be that, if they do ask, and it is readily apparent that it is a bank statement and money is coming in to your bank account on a regular basis, that will be enough. The main thing they are concerned about is people who are trying to get residence permits, when really what they want to do is work illegally. I have a feeling that this won't be suspected in your case. If they do want a translation, you could find a sworn translator by visiting a notary public, since they often work with translators.

If anything is missing or inadequate in your documents, they do give you time to get them, up to 30 days, even longer sometimes.

I think a good rule of thumb is, if you know you can live in Turkey with sufficient funds, and not have to work, it is just a matter of explaining this to the immigration official. They look at each case based on the individual's personal situation. In my case, my bank statements were in English, and they didn't ask for a translation, it was pretty plain to see that I had a set amount of money coming in on the 1st of each month.

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If my wife is over 65, what happens with health insurance. If she goes to the hospital will she have to pay the full private fees. 

If your wife is over 65 the health insurance isn't required. Many insurance companies don't insure people over 65, because health problems become more of a certainty than a risk beyond that age. Some will insure her anyway, but the problem is that, if you get a health insurance policy and she has a medical problem, when she gets the next year's policy (if they even give her a policy), whatever health problem she had will be considered a pre-existing condition and they won't cover it after that.

I understand people over 65 can enroll in SGK, the state-sponsored plan. According to what I have read on it, you have to be living in Turkey with a residence permit for at least one year before you can apply. But I know of people who have enrolled in it without living in Turkey for a year. So in your case, you might want to look into enrolling into the SGK plan instead. They pay for everything at state hospitals. If you go to a participating private hospital, you can use your SGK and also pay a supplement, which will be a lot cheaper than it normally would be.

Have a look here:

 

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I would bring the police clearance certificate anyway, it is very difficult to get once you have left Japan. Who knows when the rules will change. Also after one year you may wish to take up SGK (Turkish government health care) you will need your marriage certificate to get this.

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I really appreciate all this advice. Would all the documents I bring from Japan require an apostille? Can I change my Japanese driving licence to a Turkish one if I have a Turkish translation? Would I also be wise to bring a translation of a bank statement?

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If the bank statement is in English it can be translated here (sometimes they don't require translation, but it should be original and stamped and signed by the bank). You need proof of graduating from High School to get drivers licence swapped for Turkish one.

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Would all the documents I bring from Japan require an apostille?

All public documents from other countries require an apostille. A public document is any document which is issued and kept by a government agency, like a marriage license, driving license, etc.

Japan is a signatory to the apostille convention, so it should be rather easy to get your documents legalized with an apostille. You need to contact the ministry of foreign affairs. They are what is called the "competent authority" with authorization to issue apostilles in Japan. Here is the address:

Competent Authority, Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Bring the documents and their apostilles, then take them to a notary (noter), who will know a sworn translator nearby (unless you find a sworn translator first!) The documents and the apostilles have to be translated to Turkish, then the translation notarized. This makes foreign documents legal in Turkey.

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Can I change my Japanese driving licence to a Turkish one if I have a Turkish translation?

See this article:

Getting a Turkish Driving License

This is a bit dated because when I did it, it was done by the police. Now it is done at the Citizenship and Population Directorate (Nüfus). There will be one in your area. I checked their website at www.nvi.gov.tr, but I couldn't find any information on the documents required. So you should go to the Nüfus and ask them. They do also require proof of at least a high school education, as IbrahimAbi said, this is also a new requirement. Bring the diploma if you have it.

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Would I also be wise to bring a translation of a bank statement?

Yes, definitely. A bank statement is not a public document (it is issued by a bank and not a government), so you can't get an apostille for it. They will probably ask for the last six months of your bank statement, so it is better to be ready with a translation. You must get a notarized, official translation of it, in Turkey. It is also possible they will not ask for it. So you could also go to the appointment and show them what you have (untranslated), and see if they want it translated. If they do, they will give you time to get it done and bring back the translation (no appointment required). However it is up to you.

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