Advice for British people living in Turkey, including information on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.
This guide sets out essential information for British nationals residing in Turkey, including advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our Our services section for British nationals. This information supplements the travel advice for Turkey.
Healthcare for 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.
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 enrolment 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;
- public schools (in Turkish)
- Council of International Schools
- Association of Private Schools (in Turkish)
Employment and recognised qualifications
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
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 eventually. 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. From 1 January 2015, when you enter Turkey your passport must have at least 60 days validity beyond the expiry date of your visa.
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 apply to 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.
The new law on Foreigners and International Protection which governs residency permits came into force on 11th April 2014. However, as the regional offices of Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) have not yet been fully set up previous methods of application still apply
Foreign nationals wishing to apply for their first residence permit can continue to do so from within Turkey until further notice. No date has been given for any change to this system. A formal application must be made to the police authorities in the province where you reside, or to the Foreigners Department of the Police in Ankara. You can find detailed information at Directorate General of Migration Management.
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. We recommend you to contact Turkish Consulate General in London for information about importation of your personal effects, household goods or car.
Foreign nationals arriving in Turkey after already staying the 90 days within 180 days permitted on a tourist visa may be allowed to enter into the country if there is not any other obstacle to their entry and if they pledge to apply to the Foreigners Department in the province where they will stay within 10 days to obtain a residence permit as of the date of entry.
Criminal record checks are required for the supporter in family residence permits and individuals in long term permits; if the checks are required to be provided by the foreign national’s country’s own authorities then they need to be submitted to the DGMM within 1 month of the application being made otherwise the application will be cancelled. To get a copy of criminal records from the UK please refer to http://www.acro.police.uk/subject_access.aspx
Any foreigner staying in Turkey on an e-Visa can be issued with a Foreigners identity Number on request without having to obtain a residence permit.
‘120 Day’ Rule:
If you are out of Turkey for more than 120 days in the previous 12 month period your residence permit will be cancelled on re-entry to Turkey and you must obtain either an e-Visa, or visa on arrival, to cover your stay until you wish to reapply for a residence permit. This rule is now being applied to both short term residence permits issued after April 2014 (new style card) and those issued prior to April 2014 (old blue book style).
Nevertheless, you will be able to apply for a new residence permit immediately following cancellation of your existing one.
The 120 day rule does not apply to first time applicants i.e. any period of time spent outside Turkey before applying for a residence permit is not counted.
For any foreign national who intends to stay out of Turkey over the 120 day period but wishes to stay in Turkey longer than the 90 days allowed by a tourist visa the DGMM recommends them to cover their stay by an e-Visa and a few months short term residence permit as necessary to meet their needs
Residence Permit for Work Permit Holders:
A valid work permit will be considered a residence permit. A residence permit fee equivalent to the duration of their work permit shall be collected from foreigners granted a work permit.
Long Term Residence Permits:
Applications for the long term or ‘indefinite’ residence permit are now being accepted at all Foreigners Departments of the Turkish National Police (TNP) in Turkey.
For eligibility criteria for this type of permit please refer to Articles 42 & 43 of the Law on Foreigners and International Protection (Law 6458). The English language version of this law can be found on the DGMM website [www.goc.gov.tr] (http://www.goc.gov.tr/Main/)
Types of Residence Permits:
There are 6 types of Residence permits which can be issued to foreign nationals. In addition to these 6 types you will be granted right to reside for the duration of work permit when you are issued one. These are;
- short term residence permit: up to 1 year
- family residence permit: up to 2 years
- student residence permit: for the duration of education
- long term residence permit: indefinite
- humanitarian residence permit: up to 1 year
- human trafficking victims residence permit: up to 3 years with 6 months renewals, initial permit 30 days
Residence permit fees:
- British nationals pay $80/year: fees will be charged at $25 for the first month and $5/month for each subsequent month
- a residency permit card costs 55 TL(for 2015)
- for a long term residence permit applicants pay only the card fee
The fees will be converted to TL at the day of payment using the official exchange rate. Further information is available from the Foreigners Department in your local area.
Please refer to the DGMM website for the most up to date list of supporting documents and criteria
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.
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.
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.
Social ethics and traditions
Please refer to our travel advice for further information.
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.
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.
Ex-pat community groups
For general information on living and working in Turkey, you can consult any of the following websites for expats
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.