Guidance

Living in Turkey

Advice for British people living in Turkey, including information on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.

Introduction

Health

Healthcare for visitors and residents

Visitors

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), is not valid in Turkey. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Universal Healthcare Scheme for residents

It is not compulsory for foreign nationals to join the Social Security Institution health scheme. Those wishing to join may do so after one year of residency in Turkey with a residence permit. Applicants will be required to undergo medical tests before being accepted onto the scheme and pre-existing conditions will not be covered. Married couples may qualify for joint membership under the scheme where one is the policy holder and the other is the dependant spouse. However, a British national in receipt of a UK state pension can only be a member of the scheme as a policy holder not as a dependant spouse. Anyone who joined the health scheme before 29th May 2013 and who no longer wishes to remain in the scheme has the option of withdrawing by informing their local SGK office. If leaving Turkey on a permanent basis an individual must surrender their residence permit to the Foreigners Police Department and write a letter to their Social Security Institution informing them that they are leaving the country. On joining an official health scheme a letter proving membership of the scheme must be submitted to the Social Security Institution.

Education

Elementary school education starts at 66 months and lasts 4 years. This is followed by 4 years middle school and 4 years high school. 12 years of education is compulsory for all Turkish citizens. There are three types of schools; Public, Private and International. Governing body for Public & Private Schools is MEB (Ministry of Education) (in Turkish). Some private schools catering to Turkish citizens and teaching in a foreign language have primary, middle and higher sections. For the enrolment policy, refer to a school’s website. International schools specifically for foreigners in Turkey follow a different curriculum and have their own enrollment policies. They are mainly located in metropolitan cities. YOK(Higher Education Council) is the governing body for higher education. Turkish citizens have to sit a university entrance exam but there are exceptions for foreign nationals. Detailed information is available in Study University in Turkey. Links;

Employment and recognised qualifications

Work Permits

A work permit is required for employment in Turkey. The employee or employer (depending on the type of work permit) should apply to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. You should contact the Turkish Embassy in London and/or your prospective employer in Turkey before travelling. Special arrangements for tour operators exist. You should contact your employer for full details.

Entry and residence requirements

Visas

British nationals need a visa to enter Turkey, except for cruise ship passengers entering the country for a day trip and returning to the ship the same day. British nationals should obtain an e-visa before travel from the Turkish Electronic Visa Application System. E-visas are only available for tourists and business visitors. Until further notice, multiple entry visitor visas can also still be obtained on arrival at any port of entry on payment of £20 in cash (Scottish and Northern Irish bank notes are not accepted). This method will be phased out later in 2014. Although other options are in place, we advise all British nationals to obtain an e-Visa prior to arrival in Turkey to avoid any unnecessary delays.
More information, in English, is available from Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Turkish visit visas are valid for multiple stays up to a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period. If you plan to remain in Turkey for a period of more than 90 days, you should either apply to the Turkish Consulate General for a longer stay visa before you travel, or get a residence permit from the local authorities in Turkey before your 90-day stay has elapsed. If you exceed the 90-day limit, you may be fined, deported and banned from re-entering the country.

Residency permits

Important note: The new law on Foreigners and International Protection which governs residency permits will come into force on 11th April 2014. However, as yet there is no confirmation from the Department of Migration Management of when the new rules will be put into practise. Until further notice the existing rules and methods of application still apply.

These are:

Residency permits are obtained after arrival in Turkey.

A formal application must be made to the police authorities in the province where you reside, or to the Aliens department of the Police in Ankara, if no fixed abode in Turkey is intended. However, well before your departure from the UK, you should contact the Turkish Consulate in London for information about residency requirements and for information about importation of your personal effects, household goods or car.

A residence permit is an absolute necessity before you can clear any personal goods/car from Turkish Customs. Therefore an application for a residency permit must be made within one month from the date of your arrival in Turkey. Failure to do so will result in additional daily storage costs for your goods/car by the Turkish Customs Authorities, which can be expensive.

Residence permits may be issued for a two-year period, thereafter for a maximum of five years at any one time.

Residence permit fees:

  • British Nationals pay 60 Euros/$80/year: fees will be charged at $25 for one month and $5/month for each subsequent month
  • a residency permit book costs 198 Turkish lira (TL)

The fees will be converted to TL at the day of payment using the official exchange rate. Further information is available from the Alien’s Department in your local area.

Benefits

All employees have to pay into the state-run social security scheme (Sosyal Guvenlik Kurumu - SGK). A percentage of employees’ pre-tax earnings is paid into the scheme. Employers and employees both pay premiums. A British national working in Turkey and contributing to the social security fund in the UK does not have to contribute to the Turkish Social Security Fund as there is a reciprocal agreement between two countries.

Agricultural workers, the self-employed, and people receiving benefits from other organisations in the system are not eligible for SGK benefits. Those contributing to the social insurance scheme and their spouse and children are insured for work injuries and work-related illnesses, medical care, illness and pregnancy care. Disability benefits are available only to Turkish citizens.

Social Insurance Benefits & Pensions Provided by SSI System

To find out what UK benefits you might be able to get while abroad and how to claim them please visit Benefits if you’re abroad and Moving and retiring abroad pages.

Driving licences and vehicles

Bringing your car as a visitor

If you are travelling through Turkey, en route to another country or just visiting, you need to get a visa/permit for your vehicle on entry and you must ensure that you have all the documentation for your car eg registration papers, full insurance, a carnet de passage and your driving licence. You can only keep your car in Turkey for 180 days in one year. You will be heavily fined and even your car can be confiscated if you fail to do so.

Bringing your car as a resident

You may temporarily import your car to Turkey if you fulfil some requirements. You can find detailed information on the Turkish Touring & Automobile Club website.

Driving licences

If you drive in Turkey, you must have either an International Driving Permit or a notarised copy (in Turkish) of your UK driving licence. Provisional driving licences are not recognised.

You will need an ‘A’ category standard motorcycle licence to hire a motorcycle over 50cc in Turkey. An ‘A1’ category ‘light motorcycle’ driving licence is only suitable for motorcycles below 50cc. By law you must wear a helmet. Failure to do so could result in a heavy fine.

Finance & Banking

You can easily open an account by visiting nearest bank branch. You will need to provide:

  • Your passport
  • Tax identification number
  • Your residence permit

Banks offer different investment tools. You should consult your bank for detailed information.

Telephone and internet banking are widely used. Most of the banks offer these services free of charge. Your bank will provide you with details. VAT is the main turnover tax and the percent of VAT charged is different on every subject. A tax refund is applicable for short-term visits.

Guidance on bringing medication into country Turkey

Individuals are allowed to bring most medications for personal use based on the prescription, in amounts required for the medical treatment only. Please check with NHS & Turkish Embassy in London to learn what rules apply to taking your medicine:

  • out of the UK, and
  • into Turkey

Property and property disputes

Numerous property disputes were reported to British Embassy and FCO over the years. The common problems are: banks confiscating properties due to builder/owner’s bank debts., properties sold to multiple clients, unfinished property deed transactions, fraud by international or local property services. We highly recommend prospective buyers to take precautions before any purchase. Further information available on following pages.

Buying Property Abroad

Buying Property in Turkey

Social ethics and traditions

Please refer to our travel advice for further information.

Earthquakes

Many parts of Turkey lie on a major seismic fault line and are subject to earthquakes and tremors. In August 1999 an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale resulted in over 17,000 deaths when it struck Izmit, a town 55 miles south of Istanbul.

The Turkish Government is responsible for assisting foreign nationals immediately after a major earthquake or serious natural disaster. It is important to co-operate with the authorities. Despite much research and speculation, nobody can predict when or where a large earthquake might occur, but there are things you can do to be ready. These can make the difference between life and death. In the event of a major earthquake we will try to locate British nationals affected by the disaster and check on their condition. Please note, however, that the Embassy and/or consulates may also be severely affected by an earthquake and may not be in a position to offer immediate assistance. Local infrastructure including roads, phone systems and hospitals are also likely to be affected.

We recommend that you make preparations at home and at the office to help you survive an earthquake. Guidance available by Red Cross.

Leaving Turkey

If you have been resident in Turkey and wish to leave for good, you should inform Foreigner’s Police department to cancel your residency permit and the Ministry of Labour to cancel your work permit, in order to avoid any problems should you wish to visit Turkey in future. If you have joined SGK Universal Health Insurance Scheme you should also visit nearest SGK office to cancel your membership. If you fail to do so you will be asked to pay your monthly contribution.

Government Pages

Turkish Government Digital Platform

Turkish Ministry of Culture & Tourism

Go Turkey

Ex-pat Community Groups

For general information on living and working in Turkey, you can consult any of the following websites for expats

Online Newspapers in English

Stay up to date with local and international news

Disclaimer

This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCO and the British Embassy will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.

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