Ikamet: how to get your residence permit in Turkey

Turkey is a wonderful place to live. That’s what we felt after just a few weeks in Finike, a small city on the Aegean coast. So we decided to apply for a residence permit, also known as the ikamet. (İkamet means “residence” in Turkish.)

Though the process is fairly straightforward, there are a lot of details, lots of opportunities to make mistakes, and none of the information we found online was 100% complete or 100% accurate. That’s why I decided to write this post – to provide a complete list of documents and an accurate list of the steps you need to take, in the right order.

Here’s a simple overview of the steps to getting a Turkish residence permit:

  • Fill out an online application.
    • In the last step of the application, choose an appointment date and time at the immigration office for your region.
  • Go to the office on the appointed day, at the appointed time.
    • Turn in your documents.
    • Pay the fees at the tax office.
    • Take your temporary ikamet paper with you.
    • Go home and wait for the ikamet card to arrive in the mail.

The temporary ikamet paper is how you demonstrate that your presence in Turkey is legal, even if your ikamet card doesn’t arrive by the time your tourist visa runs out. So if you get on a bus to go to another province before your ikamet card arrives, make sure to bring your temporary ikamet with you.

In this post, I’ll cover the following:

  • The documents you need to apply for the ikamet (Yes, it’s a complete list!)
  • The documents you should obtain first so you can fill out your online application
  • The steps to follow for obtaining your documents, and what to watch out for in the application
  • Things that will change once you’re a resident (the ones I know of, anyway)
  • When to apply
  • Checking the status of your application
  • Picking up your ikamet card

Documents you need for your ikamet (residence) application

We chose to apply for the six-month touristic residence. There are other types of residence permits available for staying in Turkey; these are described at https://visaguide.world/europe/turkey-visa/residence-permit/.

This page doesn’t give a completely accurate list of the documents you’ll need, but it’s good for understanding the range of Turkish residence permits available.

The Turkish immigration site has a list of documents here: https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr/Ikamet/IstenenBelgeler/IlkBasvuruIstenenBelgeDownload

This list isn’t complete either. We needed at least one document not on this list, and it includes at least one item we didn’t need. We made these discoveries as we moved through the process of gathering documents.

It’s important to make sure all your documents are correct before you go to your appointment at the immigration office. If anything is wrong, you’ll have to go away, fix the problem, make another appointment and come back. You do have a 30-day grace period for this, but it’s a nuisance, and there are reasons to get your process done quickly. I talk about these below in the section When to apply for your Turkish residence permit.

Documents you need to fill out your online application

There are a few documents you must have available to fill out the online application correctly:

  • Address verification
  • Biometric photo (digital copy)
  • Health insurance (unless you are 65 or older)
  • Financial info

Address verification from the belediyesi (municipality)

You need this for a couple of reasons:

  • You’ll be asked to fill in your address as you complete the online ikamet application. The system will force you to fill the address in a certain way. This may not exactly match the address verification you get from the municipality, but you’ll have an easier time making choices in the application’s address fields if you already know the correct address. (For example, our building had a different name in the ikamet system, though the building number, apartment number, postal code and neighborhood all matched.)
  • If you are renting an apartment or house, you must have a signed lease showing your address for your appointment at the immigration office. The address on the lease must match the address that the municipality has recorded. If the addresses don’t match, the immigration office probably won’t accept your papers; you’ll have to go away, fix the issue and come back.

When you look on Google Maps for the belediyesi (municipality) office, look for Türkiye Cumhuriyeti [name of your city] Belediyesi, or TC [name of your city] Belediyesi. We went to the TC Finike Belediyesi, which is in the downtown part of Finike, not far from the marina.

Before you head over to the office, make sure you get your landlord or the hotel owner – someone in charge of wherever you’re staying – to write down the address of where you live. Once you get to the municipality office, you need to ask for the person who can give you the numarataj belgesi (numbering document). Show that person the address you’ve written down, and they’ll find the correct address in the computerized belediyesi records.

If you’re applying in Finike, you’ll want to go upstairs and ask for Yusuf Bey – his full name is Yusuf Gölgeci, and he’s a very nice, helpful person.

You’ll need to pay for the document. If you are a couple, you each need your own copy of the numarataj belgesi, because it will have your name on it, and each of you will apply individually for the ikamet (unless one of you is Turkish – more on that below). We paid TL 30 per document.

Biometric photos

You will need four physical photos for your interview, and a digital copy of the photo for uploading to your online ikamet application.

We went to Foto Venüs in downtown Finike for our photos. There was an advertisement for biometric photos in the window, so we figured he knew what was needed. I brought a USB drive with me for the digital copies.

Health insurance

If you are under 65 years old, you will need to buy Turkish health insurance. I got mine from Sigorta Cini in Finike, simply because a friend told us about that agency. The insurance was not terribly expensive (about US $120), and the agency printed it for me in both English and Turkish.

For filling out the online residence application, you will need your insurance policy number, the name of the company that’s insuring you (not the agency), and the expiration date for the policy. These are all on the front page of the policy.

At the agency, make sure you get a copy of the policy in Turkish and one in English. I recommend that you ask for a second copy of the Turkish version; when I went for my ikamet appointment, the immigration office took the first two pages of my Turkish-language policy document. I had to go back to Sigorta Cini later and ask them to reprint those first two pages for me in case I actually need to use the policy sometime.

Financial documents

The online ikamet application will ask about your financial status. You will need to declare your occupation, your total monthly income and your source of income.

We read some advice saying you can show a bank statement verifying your savings, then divide that savings by 12 to arrive at a monthly income. Then you multiply the monthly income in your own currency by the exchange rate with Turkish lira, and that’s what you declare on your ikamet application. (Keep in mind that to work legally in Turkey, you must obtain a work visa.)

You may not be asked to produce financial documents during your appointment. However, you should have these ready, and the information on them should match the financial information you put on your application.

How to fill out the residence permit application

To fill out the application, go to the residence permit website: https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr/

Make sure you use a supported web browser. The site tells you which browsers are supported. At the time that we filled out our applications, Google Chrome (our usual browser choice) was not supported and it threw errors. We were far better off using Microsoft Edge, which is a supported browser.

You can choose to use the residence permit website in English, Turkish, Russian or Arabic. As we filled it out, we ran into some errors with dates (the date format kept switching), so we ended up using the Turkish version of the site. We kept an English version open in another browser window so we could follow along step by step.

Note that the family application choice is for foreigners married to Turkish citizens. If you are a couple, but neither of you is Turkish, you should each apply as an individual.

If you’re applying with another person – a friend or significant other – I recommend sitting down with two separate laptops and all your documents so you can do your applications at the same time. This way you can make sure you go from step to step in tandem, helping you avoid misunderstanding the application (you can confer with each other). You can also make sure you fill in the same information (e.g., you both put down the same date you want the residence permit to start), and set your immigration-office appointments for two consecutive times on the same day.

When filling out the application, be careful about dates. As I noted above, the English-language version of the site kept switching to the month/day/year format. That’s why we shifted to filling out the application in the Turkish-language version – it allowed us to consistently use the day/month/year date format.

You’ll be asked what date you want your residence permit to start. You can choose the last date that your tourist visa is valid, or a couple of days before that to play it safe.

You will be asked for your foreigner ID number. If this is your first application for an ikamet permit, you don’t have that number yet. You can leave it blank.

You will be asked for both your Turkish address and your address in your own country. As I mentioned above, for your Turkish address you should use the address provided on the numarataj belgesi (the address verification form you obtained from the municipality).

When you finish filling out your application, make sure you save the digital copy. You will need to print this and take it to your appointment. I copied it to my trusty USB drive.

At the bottom of the first page, you’ll see the fees you need to pay. There will be at least two – one for the application and one for the residence permit card you’ll receive in the mail.

Physical documents you need from the online application process

For your immigration appointment, you need the following physical documents from the online application process described above:

  • A printed copy of your online ikamet application
  • Four biometric photos
  • A copy of the address verification form (numerataj belgesi)
  • Health insurance policy (Turkish-language copy)
  • Financial documents supporting the income you declared on your application

As I said earlier, the office where you have your appointment may not ask for the financial documents. They may also take only the first two pages of your health insurance policy; make sure you have a second copy of the policy for your own use.

There are other documents you’ll need for your appointment that you did not need to fill out the online application. I’m listing these next, and right after that, I’ll sum up all the documents that you need to take to the immigration office.

Documents you need for your immigration office appointment

In addition to the documents listed above, you must have the following:

A notarized copy of your lease

If you are renting an apartment or a house, you’ll need a copy of the signed lease.

There are several things you need to be careful about:

  • Make sure the address on the lease is identical to the address that the belediyesi (municipality) puts on your numerataj belgesi document.
  • Make sure both you and your landlord sign the lease. You most likely will need to sign in front of the notary, or at least initial each page to prove the signatures are yours. So it’s best to meet at the notary office.

We got our lease notarized at T.C. Finike Noterliği on Atatürk Caddesi in downtown Finike.

You will want to keep the notarized original copy of your lease, so make a color photocopy to provide at your ikamet appointment. If you’re a couple or two friends sharing the rental, make two copies; you will each need one.

I don’t have direct experience of this, but if you’re staying at a hotel or other kind of accommodation, I believe you need to get a receipt or other form of proof that you’re staying there, with your name on it. I think you will also need the address confirmation from the belediyesi, but that’s an assumption, not something I’ve confirmed. You will certainly need to be able to receive mail at this address, because the ikamet cards are supposed to be sent to the address on your ikamet application.

Photocopy of your passport

Make a photocopy of the information page of your passport – the one that shows your photo, expiration date and passport number. (If you don’t already carry a few copies of this with you, make them now. They can be useful for hotels and other places that require a copy of your passport.)

For good measure, also make a photocopy of the page where immigration officials stamped the date of your arrival in Turkey. You probably won’t need this, but it’s helpful in case you do.

Print out your Turkey e-visa

If you applied for your three-month tourist visa online, copy this to your USB drive and print it out. You do need this – it’s not optional.

HES code

The HES (Hayat Eve Sigar) code is used to track and trace when a case of Covid is reported. If you’re exposed, the code lets health authorities inform you so you can get tested.

You need the HES code to enter government buildings, and in some cases, restaurants or other businesses. You also need it to travel – for example, you need the HES code to buy a bus ticket when you’re going to cross province boundaries.

You certainly need the HES code to report to the immigration office and to the tax office, where you will pay the fees for your ikamet permit.

To get the HES code, go to https://hayatevesigar.saglik.gov.tr/hes.html

You will also be downloading the HES app to your phone. If you prefer, you can simply download the app and get your code that way – skip the desktop version.

You don’t need to print anything after getting your HES code, but you may want to write it down somewhere as a backup in case you can’t use your phone for some reason.

Government tax number

You need the government tax number to pay the processing fee for your ikamet application and to pay for the card itself. To get it, go to https://ivd.gib.gov.tr/tvd_side/main.jsp?token=d1078f5e3dc646b78d5d4e5842f21e97feb48d366bc7617458b6679dec12675154a01fccc42292bb04d926bc259dbc75e39dd8e202535fd70a7098396c74a6f7

On the screen shown below, click on the Application link below the box with the text Yabancılar İçin Potansiyel Vergi Kimlik Numarası
(APPLICATION FOR NON-CITIZEN’S POTENTIAL TAX NUMBER)

Fill out the application. Once you are done, save the document and then print it out for your appointment. It’s best if you print two copies, so you can keep one in case you need the tax number for other purposes.

After you turn in all your papers to the immigration office, you’ll have to wait for a while. Eventually they’ll hand you a paper to take to the tax office, where  you’ll pay for your ikamet card and processing fee. In Kemer, where we went for our appointment, the tax office was a short distance away.

Putting together your documents for the immigration office appointment

We asked Tarık Toprak to drive us to Kemer for our immigration appointments. Tarık has a business called Tarık Turizm near the marina in Finike; normally he takes people on tours of nearby archaeological sites and runs people to the airport, but he’s recently developed some expertise in what’s needed to get through the ikamet process.

Tarık went through all our documents, checked them over and assembled them into a pink folder labeled “Dosya” (dossier), one for each of us.

I liked the quaintness of these folders, but they’re also really practical; they keep all the required documents together, and you can carry the optional supplementary documents in another folder.

Here’s the final list of what you need in your dosya (or dossier):

  • Printed ikamet application – all pages (but not any blank pages that somehow get printed as well)
  • Tax number document
  • Printout of your e-visa
  • Photocopy of passport page (the page with photo and passport number)
  • Copy of the notarized lease
  • Address confirmation from the municipality
  • First two pages of health insurance policy in Turkish 

In addition, bring the following documents:

  • Four biometric photographs
  • Financial documents
  • Photocopy of the passport page with your entry stamp

When to apply for your Turkish residence permit

Don’t wait too long to apply for your permit. It can take at least a week to round up all your documents. When you apply for the immigration appointment, you won’t get it right away – we were able to get one three weeks from the day we applied, and we were applying in Covid times, in an area that doesn’t have a super-high level of demand even in normal times. Then once you’ve had your immigration appointment, it can take a few weeks to get the actual ikamet card. (We got ours 26 days after the appointment.)

Once you have applied for the ikamet online, your presence in Turkey is legal, even if your visa expires before your appointment. But there are reasons to get the process done quickly. We discovered a couple, and there are probably more:

  1. If you registered your phone’s SIM to your passport, the SIM will stop working on the last day your visa is valid. You can’t re-register your SIM until you have a foreigner ID number, and you won’t have that until your ikamet card arrives in the mail. (The temporary ikamet paper you get at the end of your immigration office appointment does not have your foreigner ID number on it.)
  2. We wanted to buy a Turkey museum pass, but we couldn’t do that with the temporary ikamet paper, because we didn’t have a foreigner ID number. This isn’t a serious issue, but the museum pass really is a great deal and we would have loved to buy them for ourselves.

As I said, these are only the things we know about.

What it costs to get a Turkish residence permit

Your costs won’t be the same as ours, because situations vary. But this should give you some idea of what to expect.

  • Ikamet application fees – TL 479 per person (TL 354 for the application and TL 125 for the card)
  • Address verifications – TL 30 per person
  • Lease notarization – about TL 200 should do it, depending on the number of pages for your lease form
  • Photos – about TL 20 per person
  • Health insurance – TL 850 (just for me; my husband didn’t need it)
  • Photocopies and printouts – about TL 40

For two of us, this all added up to about US $295. In addition, we had Tarık drive us to our appointment and back; he charged TL 450 for the trip. He did so much more for us, though: checked our documents, helped round some of them up, and assembled the dosyas for us.

We made a mistake that raised our costs by almost US $30: We did not have the correct address from the municipality on our lease, so we had to write a new lease and have it notarized again. If you follow the steps I laid out – in particular, making sure you have the correct address on your lease before you get it notarized – you won’t have that problem.

Things that will change when you are a resident

Once you’re a resident of Turkey, a few things change. We don’t know all the changes yet, but here are the ones we’ve experienced.

Covid-related restrictions

Turkey has instituted a number of restrictions for limiting the spread of Covid. We’ve had daily curfews and for the first couple of months we were here, weekend curfews as well. We’re back to weekend curfews again now, as infection rates have gone up across almost all of Turkey.

These restrictions don’t apply to tourists, who are given a bit more latitude. For example, we went out for a walk before 10 AM the first Sunday of January, and were stopped by a police patrol. When we explained we were tourists, we were allowed to continue (we were wearing masks, of course).

Once you’re a resident, the restrictions that apply to Turkish citizens apply to you as well. This includes travel restrictions and curfews.

For more information about Covid restrictions in Turkey, see this page on the U.S. Embassy website: https://tr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information-2/ It’s updated routinely, so it’s quite reliable.

Lower medical costs

A number of private hospitals in Turkey offer services in different languages to foreigners. If you’re a tourist, these services cost a lot more than they do if you’re a resident. So if you’re planning to get medical treatment in Turkey – or even just a checkup – it’s well worth waiting until you have applied for your ikamet card. Once you have even the temporary ikamet paper, you’re good.

Checking on the status of your application

If you’re like us, you’ll get a bit impatient to know when your ikamet card will arrive. The immigration website has a procedure for checking the status of your application, and I’ll describe it below. Honestly though, you’re better off simply calling 157 to get an update.

Call 157

The call is automatically answered in Turkish; stay on the line because you’ll have the option of choosing a different language. The woman who helped me was absolutely fluent in English, very polite and friendly. She asked a few identifying questions: my name, birthdate, passport number and my parents’ names (you need the latter for all kinds of forms in Turkey, by the way). She then gave me the bar code number needed to pick up the ikamet card from the local post office, and asked me to read it back to her to make sure I got it right. Then she went through the same process all over again with my husband; he got his own bar code number, different from mine.

I advise making your first call to 157 when you’re already pretty sure the process is complete. We’d been told to expect our card about three weeks after the appointment, and that’s when we started checking the website daily. It was only after the website check went sideways that I decided to call 157.

Remember when I said that your SIM will expire once your three-month visa has expired? Fortunately, you can still call three-digit numbers even with a SIM that has no service. All emergency numbers in Turkey are three-digit, and fortunately, so is the number for checking your residency.

If I’ve convinced you not to bother checking your application status online, skip down to Picking up your ikamet card.

Checking your application status online

To check the status of your application online, go to https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr/ and select the button that reads I would like to see my application result. You’ll be asked to fill in your application number, passport number and email address or phone.

I started checking results after a week, and each time, I’d get to a page with all the options – the ability to resume filling out a saved application, etc. – greyed out and unclickable.

Finally, 22 days after our interview at the immigration office, I made the request for an update and arrived at a page saying Your application has been concluded positively. Your Residence Permit Document is at the printing stage.

My husband checked his status the same day, but his status was still at the Application Registration in Progress stage. And when I checked my own status later the same night, it had reverted back to the Application Registration in Progress screen.

When I called 157, I asked the lady about the website reverting to the in-progress screen. She said the website was malfunctioning. That’s why I think you’re better off calling 157 to begin with.

Picking up your ikamet card

At your immigration office appointment, they tell you that your card will arrive at the same address you put on your application. But we ended up fetching our cards ourselves from the post office (PTT).

When you call 157 to get an update, you’ll be given a bar code number if your ikamet card has already been mailed. This bar code number is what you need to pick up your ikamet card at PTT.

There’s another way to get that bar code: If you have a functioning Turkish phone number, the immigration office sends you the bar code as a message. However, as I have mentioned, my phone stopped working, so we didn’t get that message.

In addition to the bar code, we needed to show our passports to receive our ikamet cards. The PTT employee who helped us had already printed out two documents, using our bar codes; he then wrote our passport numbers on these documents and kept them. I think these were receipts in case PTT needed to show they had given us the ikamet cards.

For the past three months I have been confused about how a person gets their mail here. I’ve never seen mail delivered to the building where we live; there are no post boxes in the entry, there’s never any mail on the stairs, and I’ve never seen mail piled up at anyone’s door.

Today for the first time, I saw a notice from the post office stuck to the front door of our building. Even with my limited Turkish, I could see it was telling someone to come to the post office and pick up a piece of mail. At last! Now I know how people in this building, at least, get their mail. If we hadn’t proactively gone to the post office, we would have seen one of those stickers, addressed to us, appear on the front door of our building. Maybe.

A few parting thoughts

Like I said at the top of this blog post, the process isn’t really difficult – there are just a lot of details.

While you certainly can take care of the details yourself, we felt lucky to have Tarık’s help. We’re also grateful to Chuck and Justine of The Tea Chest Blog for offering tips and advice – and especially, telling us about Tarık.

Tarık was helpful in so many ways. Of course he is local and speaks Turkish; but more than just the language, his experience with helping foreigners through the the ikamet process is invaluable.

For example, it was Tarık who told us we would need the numarataj belgesi from the municipality. He called the office to confirm Yusuf Bey was available and offered to take us to the office. It was close, so we walked, but we would not even have realized we needed the address confirmation without Tarık. And Yusuf Bey knew exactly what we needed when we arrived, because of Tarık’s call.

It was also Tarık who told us we needed the HES code and the tax number. He helped us download our HES code from the website and applied for our tax numbers on his computer, printing out the documents for us. Again, you can go through these steps yourself (as I described above), and both items are in fact listed on the immigration website. But it was great to get help from someone who knows how it works, and to be confident it was all done correctly.

There was one more thing that would have delayed the whole process quite a lot if Tarık hadn’t caught it in time. As I’ve explained, we had a mismatch between the address on our lease and the address on the numarataj belgesi document. When Tarık discovered the discrepancy just an hour before we had to leave for Kemer, he took us over to the municipality to see if the numarataj belgesi could be changed.

As it turned out, our neighborhood used to be Sahilkent, which is what it said on our lease. But in recent years, our building had been zoned into another neighborhood, Kum Mahallesi. The municipality could not give us a document stating otherwise, and obviously our landlord had no idea that the neighborhood designation had changed.

Thank goodness we were able to contact our landlord; he met us a few minutes later at the notary office. We got a new lease form next door, filled it out and had it notarized. We had just enough time to make it to Kemer for our appointments (and then had to wait a couple of hours for the whole process to be completed).

Good luck with your ikamet process! If you have had experience with this already and have more information, please do share in the comments below.  

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