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Working Online in Turkey

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Hi everyone,

I'm planning to move to Turkey and work online from there. My online business will be a website that I've already created and will generate me profits from doing affiliate marketing and financial support from my readers/followers using the Patreon network, and basically the affiliate network and Patreon will pay me through PayPal and/or Payoneer. My website is targeting audience in the US, UK and Canada, and it has nothing to do with Turkey or Turkish people (unless it happened and someone visited it of course).

So my questions are:

  • Do I need to have a work permit to work online on this idea I have?
  • Or is it that I have to establish a company?
  • Do I have to pay taxes in Turkey?
  • Do Turkish banks accept money transfers from PayPal/Payoneer?

Thanks in advance!

 

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Do a Google search for your country's tax treaty with Turkey. You'll probably have to pay taxes in Turkey when your tax home becomes Turkey. According to a conversation I had with the Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Services, you have to apply for an independent work permit once your tax home becomes Turkey. Unfortunately I didn't ask where in the law it says that, sometimes government officials tell you what they think rather than what is.

You don't have to establish a company.

As Cukurbagli said, PayPal has been banned in Turkey. However, if your bank account isn't in Turkey, people can still use Paypal to send money to you. For example, if I try to go to the PayPal.com website from here in Turkey, I get a message saying that I can't use PayPal. But if I access it from anyplace not in Turkey, it works just fine. So if people can get to PayPal, they can pay you.

I don't think Turkish banks can receive money transfers from PayPal. I doubt it, because when you enter your country and banking information into PayPal you may get a warning saying it won't work. You could try it and see.

If you go to the PayPal website from Turkey and get that message, be sure to remove the PayPal cookie. If you don't then PayPal will continue to block your access until you remove it.

As for Payoneer, I haven't heard of that being blocked. I don't think they have any presence in Turkey. You could give it a try.

Note: The information I have crossed out above is incorrect. A friend of mine and I called the Ministry again today to find out where in the law it says this. They said the information I was given previously is wrong. See my fourth post after this one for more information.

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Thanks Ken!

I followed your advice and I checked if there's a tax treaty between my country and Turkey. It turned out to be one and that I need to pay taxes in the country I'm residing in, means it will be Turkey.

As for the work permit, it looks a bit ambiguous! Would you please do me, and all people on your blog, a favor and investigate it more with the Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Services? Maybe giving them another call to get a clear answer? I would love to do it myself but I'm not in Turkey yet and also my Turkish is not good.

Since PayPal is not working in Turkey it will not allow me to associate it with a bank in Turkey even if I have an account set in another country.

As for Payoneer, I contacted their support and they told me all I need to associate my account to a bank in Turkey is that I send them a proof of my address in Turkey (lease contract, bill,...). The thing that I'm not sure of yet is if the bank in Turkey will approve the transfers (it's working fine in other countries all over the world, but I have no idea about Turkey).
The thing about this question about PyaPal/Payoneer is that I want my payments to be withdrawn to a Turkish bank so I can use it for big payments, and also to have a debit card to use for online shopping in Turkey. For instance Payoneer is offering me a prepaid card that works fine to withdraw money from ATMs anywhere in the world including Turkey, it's accepted for US/UK/EU online stores but I don't know if I can use it on Turkish online stores! Have you any idea if Turkish online stores accept international credit cards?

Also I want to ask about the residency permit process. As far as I looked it seems to be just a matter of couple of steps and conditions to fulfill to get one, either one year or two residency. What about renewing it? Would it be that easy to get a new one? Would there be any other extra conditions to fulfill? And any recommendation of any lawyer or company that can work on my residency permit on my behalf?

Thanks,

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I have a friend coming over on Monday. I'll ask her to make a call and ask about this.

PayPal got banned over some dispute with the government years ago. I don't think any other payment systems are affected by it.

There should be no problem with the transfers. I don't see why a transfer from Payoneer would be different from any other kind of transfer.

Turkish online stores do acccept international credit cards and bank cards. The only time I've had a problem is when my bank back home wouldn't process the payment because it was in Turkey. So contact your bank and have them insert something into your record which says you're in Turkey.

I'm writing a new article about applying for a residence permit. But I have one now which explains step-by-step how to apply for a short-term residence permit, here:

Regarding paying a company to apply for your residence permit for you, see this:

I recommend Mertsel application services and insurance. They not only do your application for you at the best price I've seen, they also create your health insurance policy and send it to you. They'll have it done within 24 hours after you send them the information they need. They have a contact form here:

Turkey Residence Permit Application Service

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Sorry I remembered another thing to ask about. In the thread you have created about the Short-Term Residence Permit there's one document you mentioned which is Proof of Financial Ability which can be a bank statement for the last 6 months.

Unfortunately recently my bank account is not that active and doesn't hold that much of money, so almost no movement within the last 6 months! As I said I launched this website recently and it's getting me some decent income, and since I get paid on the Payoneer card it's the only thing I'm using to withdraw cash from ATMs or pay online.

As I'm planning to move to Turkey so soon (in one month at most), it's gonna be impossible for me to have a 6 months bank statement with reasonable movement. Do you think if I open a bank account in Turkey and deposit a good amount of money in it would work? Do you have any particular suggestions?

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Thanks Eddy. It's what I do.

I definitely need some feedback on the process of getting an independent work permit. Unfortunately I don't know anybody who's done it (or at least they haven't told me), and that kind of feedback is usually the best.

The six-months of bank activity thing is usually what they ask for because it's the easiest for somebody to get. And it's pretty straightforward. But the proof of financial ability doesn't have to be a bank account statement. Here's a good rule of thumb. If you have enough money to live on while you're in Turkey, then you must have some documentation to prove it. Whatever that documentation is, that will be what the immigration office will want to see.

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I'm gonna look for some info about the independent work permit myself in Facebook groups of expats in Turkey, and I will share with you if I find anything valuable.

For the proof of financial ability, I've found on the Turkish governmental website invest.gov.tr a section about what's needed for a short-term residency and among the documents they ask for a "proof of sufficient and sustainable financial resources for the duration of the stay", and there's no mention of what kind of proof or how long your history of it should be.
Also there's an expats community organization in Turkey called Yabangee, that I've started following their Facebook page recently, I've checked their website and discovered a guide on how to get a short term residence permit. For the proof of financial resources they mention that you should open a bank account in Turkey and deposit some money in it to cover your period of stay. And they mentioned there's no specific amount but it's known among permit holders to be $500 for every month of the intended stay.

Anyway I'm gonna check about this "proof of financial resources" matter as well in Facebook groups, see what different solutions had been used by expats, and I'll share with you here as well if I find anything worth being shared.

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I'm glad you mentioned that, because the Yabangee article is incorrect. The $500 requirement in a Turkish bank was abolished some years ago. Banks stopped giving accounts to people without residence permits because they were depositing money, getting their residence permit, and withdrawing it as soon as they got a residence permit.

The immigration office now accepts foreign bank account records, and the minimum you need is equal to or greater than the Turkish minimum wage. The Turkish minimum wage is listed in my article, which covers how to prove you have enough money to live in Turkey, here:

You should double-check what you read on other sites, because a lot of the information is wrong. Everything I write I verify with the immigration office, and also through actual experiences, including my own.

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I checked the article you wrote and it's very detailed and helpful.

As I mentioned before I would search for personal experiences in Facebook groups and I did, and here is what I got so everybody on your website might benefit from the info.

I got some direct answers, and also YouTube video suggestions from expats living in Turkey. So, first everybody is mentioning only these documents for the interview; application copy, lease contract, tax number, personal photos, passport copy, and paying fees.
Second, everyone is saying that they didn't show any proof of financial resources of any kind! Even some of them mentioned that what's being shared about this (6 months bank statement, bank deposit) are all false information!!!

The answers said simply during the interview the immigration officer will ask what you will need a Residency Permit for, and the immigration bureau might just send police officers to the address you hand them so they make sure you are living there. And that's it!

Some YouTuber mentioned that because so many many people are visiting Turkey regularly for business (basically as tourist escorts, interpreters, buying clothes and selling them in their home countries,...), the immigration office knows about this very common case, so they know they won't live in Turkey, they know they are asking for Residence Permit just to be easier for them to travel all year long without the hustle of renewing a visa every now and then. So they don't ask them for a proof of sufficient financial resources. As for the lease contract they buy one from some leasing company and create them a power of attorney to receive the Residency Permit card on their behalf when it comes to that address!!!

The answers really blew my mind! :seestars:

P.S Just note that all the answers/videos I received were from either Arabs, Pakistani, Afghani. I don't know if these nationalities have some special treaty with Turkey, or because these nationalities travel so much to Turkey so somehow they are giving them this privilege (as that YouTuber I mentioned have described it).

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The six months of banking activity is not false information. I have not only been told this by an immigration specialist, but I also extended my residence permit in February and they asked for exactly that.

If you don't believe me, then when you go to your residence permit appointment, take no proof of financial ability at all, and see what happens.

I've listed all of the required documents in my articles linked above, so I won't repeat them here. The best source, obviously, is the immigration office. So go to their website here: https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr/. And at the bottom, click "Required Documents."

Regarding the Need for a Work Permit

A friend of mine and I called the Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Security again today. I wanted to learn where in the law it said a foreign online worker needed a work permit as soon as their tax home became Turkey (as I was told by a person in the ministry previously).

They said the work permit law, No. 6735, does not cover foreign online workers. In fact, there is no law about foreign online workers. And what the person from the ministry told me for is not found anywhere in any law, and it is incorrect.

They said the only thing that triggers the need for a work permit is when a foreign online worker does business directly with a Turkish company or individual, selling goods or services, and getting paid for them. If a foreign online worker never does that, they can work online in Turkey, without a work permit, indefinitely.

Additionally, if or when a foreign online worker's tax home becomes Turkey, it has no effect on their need for a work permit, as long as they don't do anything which is defined as work, as I have written above.

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Thank you so much Ken! And yes I do believe you sir for the information you are providing! As I said before I found the same requirements you mentioned listed on a Turkish governmental website, so I trust your words! I'm just surprised how all those people got their residency permit without a proof of financial ability although it's required! Even I've just have a chat with a guy from my hometown who is living in Istanbul now, and he said that he didn't show the immigration office any proof of financial resources yet they issued him a residency permit! Who knows what's the explanation behind this!

Also thank you so much for the effort to get the correct trusted info regarding the working permit; I really appreciate it!

Now I have a question regarding paying taxes, have you any idea about this? Means how it's defined for people working solely? What percentage of their income they should pay? What income calendar they follow in Turkey? Is it yearly or quarterly?

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I do a LOT of research before I write something. Sometimes I don't even believe what the government officials say. I have to see it in the law or a government publication implementing the law. For example the man at the ministry who told me a person must get a residence permit when their tax home becomes Turkey. That's why I asked my friend who speaks fluent Turkish to find out where in the law it says that, so I could check it for myself. I've read the law before and never saw anything like the man was telling me, and sure enough, this time we talked to someone else who said the information was wrong.

It's up to the immigration specialist who reviews your application what they ask for. If a person has bought property, they often don't ask for financial proof. I've also heard of cases where foreigners weren't asked for it. Personally they ask me for it every time. Like the "required documents" section of the government site says, thee immigration specialist may ask for proof. So it's better to have it when you go to your appointment. Otherwise you'll have to go get it and bring it back. They give you time to do it, but it's better just to have it when you go to your appointment.

For individuals, Turkey follows a yearly tax period. Your country probably has a tax treaty with Turkey. Under the Turkish law it says foreigners must pay taxes for all worldwide income. But the tax treaty will say "except for this income... and that income..."

For example, under Turkish law, I have to pay taxes on all of my income. But my country's tax treaty with Turkey says I don't have to pay taxes on my government retirement or rental income from property I own in the USA. So because of the tax treaty I pay taxes in the USA and not in Turkey. You can find your country's tax treaty with Turkey by Googling it.

Unfortunately I can't advise you on paying taxes, since I've never paid them in Turkey. What I would do is talk to a tax advisor in your country who is familiar with your tax treaty. Or find a Turkish accountant and ask them to be sure. If you'll be in Istanbul you can find an English-speaking accountant, they are kind of rare everywhere else.

I have heard, but never verified, that once you have your taxes done once and get familiar with the paperwork, you can just fill out the documents yourself and send them in.

If I ever find an English-speaking accountant in Antalya I'll be able to get more solid information on paying taxes, but for now that's all I have.

Just a tip about Facebook groups and what people say... a lot of it is wrong, based on rumor or a single situation, or based on information that has been misunderstood. Every time I hear something like doesn't sound right, especially about residence permits, I call the Foreigner's Communication Center at 157 to check the information. You can call that number from any phone in Turkey, and they have several language options. That's the best source of information you can get.

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